Happy Friday the 13th!
As some of you may know, today is no ordinary Friday the 13th. We are also blessed with a full moon, known as the Harvest Moon (so christened by Native Americans and coinciding with the September harvest.) The Harvest Moon is said to be so bright, farmers could actually go out at night and reap their summer harvests beneath it.
A full moon occurring on a Friday the 13th is a bit of a phenomenon in itself. We haven’t experienced this since October 13, 2000, and there will not be another one until August 13, 2049. So be sure to celebrate this rare occasion, harness this full moon power and perform whatever festivities you so choose.
September 13th is no ordinary day either. Some pretty rare and phenomenal events have happened on this day, and some significant characters share this birthday. For example:
On this day in 1224, Saint Francis of Assisi is said to have been affected with a stigmata. Forty year old Francesco went off to pray at the lonely mountain of Alvernia. He planned on undertaking a 40 day fast in order to prepare himself for the Feast of Archangel Michael, the most powerful of angels. It was during this time that Francesco received the condition known as “stigmata” — the Sacred Wounds of Christ appearing in his hands, feet and side.
According to Catholicism.org “The wounds Jesus gave him stayed in his hands, feet and side, and continually bled for two more years.” When the bleeding finally ceased, Francsco died, at the age of 42.
Speaking of famous Italians, Cesare Borgia, Italian nobleman, politician and spy, was born September 13, 1475. Cesare was the bastard son of Pope Alexander VI, child of the Pope’s long term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei. (It was pretty common back then for popes to have children.)
Cesare grew up to be unscrupulous and terrifying in his quest for power. He was groomed by the Church and originally held a position as Cardinal of Valencia at the tender age of 18, but he abdicated to become a war strategist. He is said to have murdered his own brother Giovanni. The two men shared the same mistress, Sancha of Aragon. (Sancha was actually married to their other brother, Gioffre Borgia! You can’t make this stuff up!) It was rumored that Cesare may have been jealous Giovanni’s involvement with her, and also his military position.
Interestingly, Sancha, also known as the “Jezebel of Naples” was thought to be a witch. After being imprisoned in 1503 she somehow charmed her way out of an execution and went on to live a productive life as the guardian of her young nephew Rodrigo, son of Cesare’s sister Lucretzia.
Cesare was promoted in the military and given the title Duke of Valentinois, which led to his nickname “Valentino”. He ruthlessly commanded mercenaries and Papal armies, bloodthirsty and horrendous in his ambitions. He was the inspiration for Niccollo Macchiavelli’s novel The Prince, which has been a toolbox for power mongers ever since (including King Henry VIII!)
For his notorious spying activities, Cesare is often called James Bond of the 15th century.
Who doesn’t love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, James and the Giant Peach and The Witches? The author of these children’s classics, Roald Dahl, also entered our world on this day, September 13, 1916. Born in Cardiff, Wales, to Norwegian parents, young Roald was educated at the Cathedral and Repton schools. He was no stranger to the barbaric practices of canings and hazings, often receiving punishments for his pranks, or subject to bullying by upperclassmen. After graduation, he worked for the Shell Petroleum Company, and during WWII served in the Royal Air Force.
Dahl’s books are known for their unsentimental outlook, use of the macabre, and their dark comedy. They often feature villainous adults and sweet underdog children who are victorious in the end. Perhaps they are a bit reminiscent of his caning and hazing days at Repton, where he was often the victim of cruelty.
Beware the Weird Sisters and their book of spells!
Speaking of chocolate factories, today is also the birthday of Milton Hershey, the chocolate tycoon and founder of the Hershey Company. Milton was born on September 13, 1945 in Derby Pennsylvania.
Gotta love Hershey!
And don’t forget the music! Also born on this day in New Orleans, 1953, was Larry Shields, an American jazz clarinetist. Larry was one of the players in the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.
So there you have it! Today is no ordinary Friday the 13th. Tonight would be a great time to do some moon gazing, eat some chocolate, listen to jazz and read a copy of The Witches. Braver souls may want to channel the spirits of Cesare Borgia or Saint Francis. Whatever you do, have a safe, healthy and happy Friday the 13th.