#Friday13th – Ancient Origins of the Fear Myth.

There is a deep-rooted fear in many cultures that Friday 13th is a very unlucky day, yet no one knows where this superstition has come from, or why it is so widespread.It is certainly true that some pretty rotten things have happened in the past on this day, which have earned it such a terrible reputation.

For example, on Friday 13th October 1307, hundreds of Knights Templar were rounded up and put to death in France.In the Bible, Judas was the thirteenth person present at the Last Supper. Jesus was crucified the very next day, which was a Friday.

Black cat resting against dark background, disappearing into the shadows

Innocent pet, or witches familiar? It wasn’t just the woman who was roasted alive.

In numerology, the number 12 is considered to be a number of ‘completeness’; there are 12 months in  year, 12 hours in a day followed by 12 hours of night, there are 12 signs of the zodiac, etc.In comparison, the number 13 is seen as irregular, imbalanced.

There is a Norse myth which tells that twelve Gods were dining in the great hall of Valhalla, when the trickster-God Loki turned up uninvited. He proceeded to convince the blind God of Darkness, Hoder, to shoot Baldur the Beautiful, God of Joy with a mistletoe-tipped arrow, thus we have another example indicating why the ancient people may have believed the number 13 to be unlucky.

By contrast, the ancient Egyptians actually believed the number 13 to be very fortunate indeed. They thought that man experienced twelve phases during his mortal life, but the 13th was to ascend to eternal after-life, which was considered a joyous event, even though achieved through death.

The moon is associated with the divine feminine as the feminine cycles were linked to the phases of the moon. In Ireland, Aine was Goddess of love, growth, cattle and light. Her name means “bright” as she lights up the dark.Although the origins of this superstition cannot now be traced, some say it goes right back into our distant pagan past. Ancient pagan religions were matriarchal; they believed in the Goddess and Mother Earth, and venerated the ability of the female to bring forth life.

The year was counted by lunar cycles, unlike today’s Gregorian calendar, of which there were thirteen, and also thirteen menstrual cycles in a year.

As the priests of the new religion, Christianity, tried to wrest control from the pagans, they suppressed the power of the female; fertility and the sexual act was seen as unclean. Where childbirth was once seen as joyous and miraculous, the new religion considered the new mother unclean and she was not allowed into the church until she had been ritually purified forty days later.  I’m pretty sure the thirteen menstrual cycles were seen as unclean, as well!

La Super Pleine Lune

Over time, this dislike of the number 13 may have adopted a more sinister tone, as the pagans associated with it became thought of as evil devil-worshippers.

For the ancient Celts, everything was interconnected, even numbers. All numbers had meanings, or associations.

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Source: Irish Mythology | Friday 13th… Unlucky for Some?

43 Comments on “#Friday13th – Ancient Origins of the Fear Myth.

  1. What a host of thoughts you have dug deeply into human nature and come up with the fact that we love superstitions right up to the present day. The Catholic Church is very concerned maintaining we must trust intelligent divine providence not superstitious nonsense yet it has its icons and its beads ; it says it is a deviation of religious feeling.
    We often consider every event in the light of how it affect us and give no thought as to how chance may govern future outcomes. I suspect disasters happen every day regardless of the date. There is just as much madness when the moon is half as when it is full.
    ‘ The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves that we are underlings.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree! I think that is one of the reasons we like the idea of having a god, or gods… it kind of takes away our responsibility. We can say it was pre-ordained, or God’s will, we can even repent our sins and still get to heaven. Yes, disaster happens every day, but because we are humans, we look for the patterns. We’re good at that. Do I sound cynical to you? I used to think that there must be a grain of truth in everything. Now I realise that truth is subjective, and we just tell ourselves stories, and stories have power if people believe them. 😊


      • No you are not at all cynical your like most of us just trying to make sense of it all. The most consistent and biggest story is the story of science which has given us technology and the ability to conquer our environment. The snag is it has no moral qualities and we are moral by nature always asking ourselves how we aught to behave. This moral nature does not sit well with progress , since progress means taking over the world , using it for our own ends . Progress has also badly unbalanced the human world such that one third of the globe live on $2 a day.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Science, and capitalism. They really rocked the world! And they are both double edged swords, bringing good and bad with them. The problem is, humans just don’t know when to stop or how far to go. Or rather, they do, but those who benefit most keep on pushing with total disregard for the consequences on the rest of society, or the planet’s resources. Progress simply means moving forward, but in a lot of ways, I think we’re actually doing the opposite.


          • We must take care not to create in our minds a them and us scenario. Science and capitalism implicates us all , we are all part of the story. The most unfortunate are at the bottom of the pyramid but 75 million of the earths population is the top 1%. The total population is an enormous 7.5 billion. Most of that 1% are in the world’s rich nations. Interestingly a qualified national health service nurse is in the top global 1%.
            I’m in the world’s top 2 % but in England I’m below the poverty line.

            Liked by 1 person

            • That’s a lot of statistics. I doubt that nurses feel like they are in that top 1%. Crazy that you can be included in the top 2% and still be below the poverty line.


            • That’s the problem no one has enough from top to bottom. How do we define enough? What is essential? Don’t we all deserve more?

              Liked by 1 person

            • The ‘them and us’ attitude has always existed, still does, and not just with regard to wealth and class, but all minority groups, religions, nations, etc. Humans are social beings, and have to have a sense of belonging, but we all have different priorities, and different criteria regarding who we identify with. I don’t think that will ever change.


  2. I knew some of this, but not about the “unclean” woman’s cycle. My son was born on the 13th, and it has always been a lucky day for him. Thanks, Ali.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And lucky for you! Yes, the unclean woman thing does rankle, doesn’t it? We give birth, we deserve some respect for that. Instead we are seen as unclean, and the worst insult you can give someone is to call them the c-word, which is a derogatory word for that very part of a woman which brings forth life.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm, interesting how so many of these superstitions seem to have their roots in Christianity. Not surprising, though. Sue was saying they now think that the ancient stone circles were approached anti clockwise, which made us think perhaps that’s why the direction is nowadays associated with ‘the devil’. I’m sure the list goes on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I was just saying to Kertsen, I used to believe that there was a grain of truth in everything, but now I realise there is no such thing as absolute truth, just versions of it. We like to tell ourselves stories, and stories are power, if enough people believe them. Cheery thoughts for a Friday night… 😀


        • Definitely the global warming thing! Flat earth rests on the back of a turtle doesn’t it? Or is that the shoulders of a giant?


          • I’m not sure the Flat-earthers have that much imagination. There’s the earth (flat) and all around it is the void that God created it out of. I’m not sure if the moon and the sun are flat too. And the stars…

            Liked by 1 person

            • I think the stars are an illusion projected onto the surface of our atmosphere to mask what’s really there. I think that’s quite imaginative. But to be honest, how do we actually know what’s real and what’s not? We only know what we are taught, and who’s to say that’s right? Think of all the stuff we’ve been told that was proved wrong. Current accepted norms in all fields are very resistant to change and new ideas, because it makes experts look like I’ll informed fools… they’d rather we look like fools and remain ignorant. I am very sceptical of what we are told is fact, and what is not.


            • Are you telling me you believe the stars are an illusion? Who’s doing the projecting—us or them out there? I’m sceptical about lots of things, but I actually believe in stars.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Haha! Of course I believe in stars. I can’t not at this time of year, on a rare clear night… they fill me with joy and wonder.


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