Friday and 13: To Fear Or Not To Fear?

 

Have you ever noticed that notorious killers have 13 letters in their names?

JACK THE RIPPER (count ’em)

CHARLES MANSON (count ’em)

JEFFREY DAHMER (you guessed it!)

Cue eerie music.

Humankind has long associated the number 13 with evil.  Some office buildings and hotels have been built without a 13th floor. Some airlines, including  Continental and Air France, do  not have a 13th row in their planes. Even Winston Churchill, the ultimate pragmatist, refused to sit in the 13th row in theaters.

But wait!  Thirteen may not be as bad as we think.

Consider the ancient Aztecs. They were pretty smart, and they  revered the number 13.   The Aztec week lasted 13 days.  They measured their year in 260 days.  It was divided into 20 thirteen day periods. The thirteen day period was called a Trecena.

The Aztecs even had a goddess of the number 13.

In Aztec mythology, the goddess Tlazolteotl ruled the 13th Trecena. She was, to be fair, a bit of a bad girl — the goddess of sin and patron saint of adulterers.  However, Tlazolteotl  was also beneficent and wise. It was her place to forgive sins of a sexual nature. In Aztec culture, she was associated with the steam bath and encouraged it as a purification ritual.

In Tarot, although 13 is the Death card, it is not necessarily to be feared, as the card represents true change and reinvention that can only come about through symbolic death.

One of the reasons 13 got its bad rap was because of the Last Supper. Jesus had 12 disciples, so including himself there were 13 people attending the infamous dinner.  Some say Judas Iscariot was the last to arrive (the 13th guest). Some say it was Jesus himself. Regardless, both men came to a bad end. Judas betrayed Jesus, resulting in his crucifixion. Later, in grief, Judas hung himself from a tree.

On the other hand — the events were necessary for the salvation of humankind. The Gospel of Judas speaks of these events as a Divine plan, conspired between Jesus and Judas, all necessary for the enlightenment of planet Earth. So maybe 13 turned out to be lucky in the long run.

Norse Mythology tells a similar tale of a Valhalla Banquet in which  12 gods were invited. Loki, the famous trickster, crashed the party. Using poison mistletoe, Loki then caused the death of Balder, one of the most beloved gods. Balder, unlike Jesus, did not resurrect.  Despite numerous efforts by Odin and other gods, in the end Balder was not permitted to leave Hel.

On the other hand, Hel, the Underworld, was ruled by the goddess Hel. It could also be seen as a place of transformation and contemplation.  Perhaps Balder found peace with Hel after all.

In 19th century America, a society was created to dispel the myth of unlucky 13, once and for all.

In 1881, Captain William Fowler,  an American Civil War veteran, took it upon himself to form “The Thirteen Club”.  Fowler  had taken part in 13 major battles and had been forced to resign on August 13, 1863. On September 13, 1863 he purchased the Knickerbocker Cottage in New York. The cottage would later be used for his club dinners.

The first dinner of The  Thirteen Club took place at 8:13 P.M. on Friday, January 13th, 1882, in Room 13.  There were of course, 13 people in attendance.  All subsequent meetings took place in room 13 on Friday the 13th.

On the December 13, 1886 meeting, Robert Green Ingersoll, a member and prominent lawyer, declared:

“We have had enough mediocrity, enough policy, enough superstition, enough prejudice, enough provincialism, and the time has come for the American citizen to say: “Hereafter I will be represented by men who are worthy, not only of the great Republic, but of the Nineteenth Century.”

By 1887, the Thirteen Club was 400-strong, over time gaining five U.S. Presidents as honorary members: Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Not bad pickings!

It should also be noted that the United States came from 13 original colonies.  The 13 stripes on our flag represent these. (Count ’em!)

And what of Friday?

Friday got a bad rap because of its association with evil events in the Bible. Besides Jesus crucifixion, the Great Flood allegedly took place on a Friday, as well as Eve’s temptation of Adam. Back then of course, they didn’t have weekends!

For us, Friday marks the end of the work week and beginning of weekend fun.  Besides that, Friday is the day of Freya, the Norse goddess of love, sex, beauty, fertility and gold.  She was also fond of black cats. What’s not to like?

Have a safe, happy and healthy Friday the 13th!

 

 

 

 

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Fun on Friday the 13th

 

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Our final Friday the 13th of this year happens to fall in October, the same month as Halloween. Supernatural vibes are high for the entire month. This Friday the 13th will be particularly sacred and special for a number of reasons, and we should celebrate accordingly!

Interestingly, the numbers 13 and Halloween’s date of 31 share a numeric root of 4. The number 4 symbolizes structure, stability, logic, reason, power and control.  The number 13, which is the inverted, or ‘flip side’ of 4, symbolizes change, transformation, mystery, mysticism and upheaval.  As such, this Friday the 13th is a great time to establish control of the supernatural, and seek the type of transformation that will lead to power and stability.

In honor of this day, I am offering 13 suggestions for some interesting, other-worldly and transformative things you could do to celebrate.

1. Visit a haunted house!

‘Tis the season, and haunted houses are in full swing all around the country. They offer fun and exhilaration, plus the added bonus — great fear leads to great release of tension.  (Ever notice how everyone is always laughing when they come out?)  If you are near Chicago, this video will help you choose one to attend.

 

2.  Invite the gang over for a séance!

If you have some adventurous friends who are open minded, this night is particularly good for contacting the otherworld, before the BIG lifting of the veils on Halloween.

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If your friends are not game, you can always do your own private séance. Light a candle for your loved ones. Find your breath in the darkness and silence. Invite spirits of the dearly departed to help and guide you.

3.  Watch a Hitchcock movie!

Believe it or not, the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, was actually born on a Friday the 13th! Honor him by watching one of his cinematic gems. I recommend The Birds, but there are a bunch of great ones to choose from.

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4. Adopt a black cat.

Contrary to popular belief, black cats can be very lucky, and they make great companions! Support your local shelter by giving a home to one of these black beauties. For more information about lucky black cats CLICK HERE.

5. Do a 13 card tarot reading.

For Tarot aficionados, this will be easy. Use the traditional Celtic cross spread of ten cards, but at the end add three more cards.  Interpret these three as aspects of transformation, stability and luck. If you do not read Tarot personally, consider visiting your local soothsayer, or contact one via internet.

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6. Bake a batch of 13 cupcakes.

A group of 13 is also known as a ‘Baker’s dozen’. Interestingly, the phrase ‘Baker’s dozen’ originated in Medieval England. Bakers had a practice of throwing in one extra loaf of bread when selling a dozen, in order to avoid being penalized for shortchanging their customers. Weird as it sounds, the bakers could actually be fined, sent to the pillory or whipped for cheating their customers!

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(Sounds like one Medieval practice we should bring back, as portions mysteriously ‘shrink’ at the supermarket, and fraudulent practices abound…)   At any rate, your 13 cupcakes will be great to serve your friends if they do come over for the séance.

7. Honor the goddess Freya. Today is truly her day!

The word Friday is derived from Freya, the Norse goddess of love, sex and fertility. She is worshipped on every Friday, but Friday the 13th holds special meaning. Legend tells us the witches of the North would observe their sabbat by gathering in the woods by the light of the moon. On one such occasion Freya herself came down from her sanctuary in the mountaintops and appeared before the group.

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The witches numbered only 12 at the time. Freya joined the circle, making the number 13, after which the witches’ coven — and every properly-formed coven since then — comprised exactly 13. You can make a personal homage to Freya by lighting a pink candle and offering her an apple, the traditional fruit of love.

8. Contact 13 people you have been out of touch with lately.

Wish them a happy Friday the 13.  You could call them, contact them on social media or send an old fashioned Halloween card. By doing this you will send 13 love vibrations into the universe. They will come back to you threefold. Plus you will get back in touch with your long lost buddies, old friends, maybe an old flame? Who knows what will happen…

9. Carve a Jack o’ Lantern!

Pumpkins are a traditional fruit of the fall harvest. A Jack o’ Lantern helps guide spirits from the Otherworld who wish to visit us on Halloween. Carving your Jack o’ Lantern on Friday the 13th will imbue it with the sacred energy of this day.

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Save the pumpkin seeds and bake them on a flat, salted cookie sheet.  Eat exactly 13 seeds each day between now and Halloween. This will serve to remind you of the magical number 13 and increase your spiritual focus as you wait in anticipation of Halloween. Besides that, pumpkin seeds are full of zinc, magnesium and protein. They are great for your immune system and heart health.

10. Make, sew or shop for your Halloween costume!

Your costume will also be imbued with special energy, having been created on this day. When Halloween rolls around you will truly dazzle everyone with your unique style!

costume

11. Make a crystal grid consisting of 13 stones.

Position the stones however you like. Use your grid for specific wishes and intentions. Meditate on your crystal grid each day from now until Halloween. Even if you do not have special crystals, any type of stone can be used for this – even those you find in the garden or in the street. All rocks hold sacred energy!

12. Read, like and comment on 13 WordPress blogs that you do not normally follow.

By doing this you will raise energy, learn new things, make new friends and create good vibes in cyberspace!

13. Read 13 Edgar Allen Poe stories by candlelight.

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Not only was Poe an exceptional poet and Master of the Macabre, but he actually invented the short story form. Nothing like a good old Murder in the Rue Morgue or Masque of Red Death, read by flickering candlelight, to set a Friday the 13th mood!  And if you are looking for more scary short stories, be sure to check out our anthology The Box Under The Bed , aimed to delight and thrill you!

Most of all, have a safe, fun and fantastic Friday the 13th!

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Appreciating Black Cats

 

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Today, August 17, is Black Cat Appreciation Day!

Black cats are often feared, mistrusted and misunderstood.  For centuries they have taken on a soiled reputation and are often thought to bring bad luck. This theory seems most prominent in the United States. Perhaps because of Puritanical roots, or perhaps because of the color black itself — these cats have long been associated with all kinds of willy-nilly superstition.

It is time to dispel these myths! In truth, black cats are loyal, affectionate, funny and fantastic pets.  Historically,  black cats have been celebrated and revered in many cultures. In fact, these ebony beauties were thought to bring good luck in many parts of Great Britain and Asia. Consider the following:

 Seafaring Cats:

In Yorkshire,  it was believed that a black cat kept in a fisherman’s home would ensure his ship’s safe return from sea.  It was also believed that a black cat aboard ship would bring a bounty of fish.  If the cat was banished from the ship, the supply of fish would run out as well.  Cat ahoy!

black cat boat 2

Doctor Cats:

In Cornwall,  it was believed that passing a black cat’s tail over one’s eyes would cure soreness and headaches.  In Wales, it was believed that  a black cat could ensure good health.  Modern day scientists have proven that  keeping a cat can actually lower one’s blood pressure, so there may be some truth to these theories.

black cat doctor

Wealth and Love:

“Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers will have no lack”  — Scottish Folk Saying

In Scotland, it was believed that a bride seeing a black cat on her wedding day would ensure a happy marriage.  Scottish folklore also states that a black cat found on your porch will bring financial prosperity. In Japan, a black cat was considered an all around good luck charm.

In Ancient Egypt, black cats were worshiped and revered because of their association with the goddess Bast.  Many pharaohs and queens owned black cats.

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21st Century Cats

In modern times,  the engineer and professor of animal science Temple Grandin has spoken praises of black cats.  Grandin claims that there is a relationship between fur color and animals’ behavior.  Black cats, she says, are known to be more sociable and adaptable. A stray black cat is often more likely to make friends with strangers. In groups of cats, the black ones will often be more affectionate.

If a black cat has graced your life, you already know they are smart, with a great sense of humor!

black cat humor

Despite all of this, black cats are still the last to be adopted out of animal shelters. If you are in the market for a pet, please consider one of these dark lovelies.

Famous black cat owners include Frank Zappa, Marlon Brando, Joey Ramone, Morgan Freeman, Brigitte Bardot, Vincent Price and John Lennon.  (And maybe even smart guy Groucho Marx…)

“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” — Groucho Marx

Take time to appreciate a black cat today!

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Love for BenBen

 

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A few days ago I came across an amazing story of a remarkable cat named BenBen. I immediately fell in love with this little kitty. Because so many of my followers are cat lovers, I thought I would share his story. (Be warned, you might cry. Tears of joy!)

In April, 2016, BenBen was brought to a shelter in Canada with multiple wounds – a broken spine, broken paws, several lacerations and a damaged ear – called a cauliflower ear.

benben

No one knew what had happened to him but veterinarians speculated he may have been attacked by a bigger animal.  He was given several surgeries, but with little hope for a complete recovery. Because of his severe injuries, veterinarians said he would never walk again.  If he remained alive he would need extreme care, and it was unlikely anyone would be prepared to help him.  He was in fact, eventually deemed ‘unadoptable’ and scheduled to be euthanized.

BenBen was depressed, but to make things worse, he has a condition of excess skin on his face, which gives him a permanent mournful expression. (Still, he is so cute!) BenBen was called the ‘saddest cat in the world’.

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As the days passed, BenBen grew more listless and sulky.  He refused to eat or drink. Shelter workers thought he was preparing to die. He was on death row and he knew there was no hope for him.

However, one kind-hearted soul met BenBen and could not allow his demise. Sandy Windover is an ER veterinarian who had assisted with BenBen’s care. She did not want to let him go, and just a few hours before BenBen’s scheduled euthanasia, arranged to adopt him.

BenBen went home to his ‘forever home’ with Sandy.  Even as a passenger riding in her car, he already began to perk up.

benben car

Once they were home, Sandy reports that he immediately (within one hour!) began to get better. He was moving, purring and snggling up to her.  Sandy got a special non-slip training mat to help assist BenBen’s recovery so he could strengthen his legs and learn to walk again.

Little by little, BenBen was rehabilitated. Now, not only can he walk, but he also plays and can fetch a toy! His appetite is great, and he is even known to sometimes snack  on pizza.

benben pizza

The resilience of animals never ceases to amaze me. The story of BenBen touched me so much because in part it reminds me of my own cat Jasper.

Jasper, like BenBen, had been taken into Chicago Animal Care & Control by a good Samaritan who found him in an alley. It was the dead of winter (and Chicago winters are brutal!) Jasper was half starved and suffering a respiratory infection that would have killed him if he had not gotten help. The veterinarians treated him, nursed him back to health, gave him all necessary shots, and within a few weeks Jasper was deemed ‘adoptable’.

Jasper adoption pic

However, no one wanted him. Jasper is a black cat and it is notoriously hard to get anyone to adopt black cats. Apparently, old superstitions die hard and many people still consider black cats to be ‘evil’ and bad luck.

black cat scary

Jasper had been sitting in his cage for six months when I walked in, specifically looking for a black cat. (My previous one had died a few weeks before.)  Needless to say, it was destiny!  The shelter workers were thrilled that I wanted him and confided to me that they would not have been able to keep him for much longer.

When I brought Jasper home his muscles were somewhat atrophied and he could not jump. I knew if I had to carry him around, or if he was less active than a normal cat, that would be okay.  However, within two days Jasper became Supercat, able to leap tall counters and kitchen sinks in a single bound!  He has a permanent soft voice due to his respiratory infection, and he rarely meows. We call him ‘the quiet man’ but in danger he has a mean hiss!

Although Jasper’s situation was in no way as severe as BenBen’s, both cats illustrate an important point – with a little love and care, animals can recover from horrendous situations and go on to lead happy, fantastic lives!

Jasper 1

If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, please consider a shelter animal. They are very loving and loyal, easily trained and resilient. Having seen the worst and overcome great hardships, your shelter pet will be so happy to have you!

Many people were moved by BenBen’s story. Here is one video to celebrate his new life!

 

 

 

Friday the 13th and the Divine Feminine

 

fridaythe13th

It is a day shrouded in superstition and fear. Supposedly it is the most unlucky day of the year.  It created a cottage industry of movie franchises, which I’d say was pretty lucky for Jason, Freddie Kruegar and certain Hollywood moguls…

Nonetheless, many people have a specific fear of this day. So many, in fact, that apparently we now have a medical term for the phobia known as ‘fear of Friday the 13th’. That term is known as ‘paraskevidekatriaphobia’.  (I can’t pronounce it either.)  This term was apparently coined by one Dr. Donald Dossey, a phobia specialist.  According to Dr. Dossey, paraskevidekatriaphobia is the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t dine in restaurants and many wouldn’t dare have a wedding on this date.  My my my.  But it wasn’t always like this.

In many pre Christian and goddess worshipping cultures, Friday and the number 13 were not so bad.   In fact, they were actually very lucky 🙂

To the ancient Egyptians, for example, the number 13 symbolized the joyous afterlife. They thought of this physical life as a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in twelve stages, leading to a thirteenth which extended beyond the grave.  (This explains why they had such elaborate burial and embalming rituals.)

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The number 13 therefore did not symbolize death in a morbid way,  but rather as a glorious and desirable transformation.  Interestingly, the 13th card in the Tarot deck is Death, which often represents not a physical death but a transformation, a chance for change or an opportunity  to release what no longer serves us.

kats-death-tarot-card

When Egyptian civilization perished, the symbolism of the number 13 was, unfortunately,  corrupted by subsequent cultures. Thirteen became associated with a fear of death rather than a reverence for the afterlife.

The number 13  has a unique association with the Divine Feminine. Thirteen is said to have been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The ‘Earth Mother of Laussel’ is a 27,000-year-old carving  that was found near the Lascaux caves in France. She is an icon of matriarchal spirituality. The Earth Mother holds a crescent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches.

laussel

Primitive women kept track of time by the passing of their menstrual cycles and the phases of the moon, as well as the change of seasons and the wheel of the year.  However, as the solar calendar, with its 12 months, triumphed over the 13 month lunar calendar,  so did the ‘perfect’ number 12 over the ‘imperfect’ number 13. (But note that they really had to discombobulate those 12 months, giving some of them 30 days, some 31 and poor old February with 28, to make the 364 days…) Twelve became the sacred number after that, with, for example, 12 hours of the clock, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus and 12 signs of the zodiac.  Thirteen became unpredictable, chaotic, untrustworthy and evil.

Friday (the Sixth Day) also offers a unique connection with the Divine Feminine. The name ‘Friday’ was derived from the Norse goddess Freya (or Frigg) who was worshiped on the Sixth Day. She is a goddess of marriage, sex and fertility.

Freya/ Frigg corresponds to Venus, the goddess of love of the Romans, who named the sixth day of the week in her honor “dies Veneris.” Friday was considered to be a lucky day by Norse and Teutonic peoples — especially as a day to get married — because of its traditional association with love and fertility.

As the Christian church gained momentum in the Middle Ages, pagan associations with Friday were not forgotten.  Therefore the Church went to great lengths to  disassociate itself with Friday and thirteen.   If Friday was a holy day for heathens, the Church fathers felt, it must not be so for Christians — thus it became known in the Middle Ages as the ‘Witches’ Sabbath’.   Friday became a big deal in the Bible. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the apple, thus banishing mankind from Paradise. The Great Flood began on a Friday. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday. Christ was crucified on a Friday, PLUS, there were 13 attendees at the last supper, the most infamous of course being the betrayer, Judas Iscariot.

Interestingly the sacred animal of the Goddess Freya is the cat (probably a black one) which also became associated with evil as Christianity began to encompass the Western world.  Freya then became known as (you guessed it!) an evil witch, and her cats were evil as well.

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Various legends developed around Freya, but one is particularly pertinent to this post.  As the story goes, the witches of the North would observe their sabbat by gathering in the woods by the light of the moon. On one such occasion the Friday goddess, Freya herself, came down from her sanctuary in the mountaintops and appeared before the group.

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The witches numbered only 12 at the time. Freya joined the circle, making the number 13, after which the witches’ coven — and every properly-formed coven since then — comprised exactly 13.

So, on this Friday the 13th embrace the luck and grace of the Goddess Freya! Pet your cats, engage in some moon-gazing, celebrate love and fertility with your significant other.  Rest assured, the Divine Feminine is with you and there is nothing to fear 🙂

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1st of the Month: White Rabbit!

White rabbit

Do you say  ‘White Rabbit’ on the first day of the month?  In my family we have  this tradition. We do it as a fun competition. The first one to say it wins.  (We don’t actually win anything, we just Win — if you remembered first you are the smartest smart guy. )

I got to thinking about this tradition and wondered if anyone else practiced it, where it came from, and if it make any sense at all. Actually, it always made a lot of sense to me, because as an Alice in Wonderland fan, I knew Alice found all her adventures by  following the White Rabbit!

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I did some sleuthing and found out that the rabbit utterance  apparently  started out as an ancient Celtic tradition.  It was used  at the beginning of the lunar month to honor the sacred animal. This animal was not exactly a rabbit, but something other-worldly that resembled a rabbit.  The image of this rabbit-like animal could then be found in the full moon.

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In some parts of Scotland and northern England, children are still taught to say ‘White Rabbit’ at the beginning of the month as a magic charm to attract money through unexpected means.

This quote comes from a ‘Notes and Queries’ book dated 1909:

“My two daughters are in the habit of saying ‘Rabbits!’ on the first day of each month. The word must be spoken aloud, and be the first word said in the month. It brings luck for that month. Other children, I find, use the same formula.”

Another tradition holds that ‘Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits’ should be spoken as the first words and the beginning of the month, and ‘Hares, hares, hares’ as the last words at the end of the month.

Interestingly, the tradition was also adopted by RAF bomber aircrews in WWII, who believed uttering ‘white rabbit’ as their very first words upon awakening would keep them from harm.

I found this quote from the 1922 novel  ‘Solomon in all his Glory’ by Robert Lynd:

“Why,” the man in the brown hat laughed at him, “I thought everybody knew ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.’ If you say ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit’—three times, just like that—first thing in the morning on the first of the month, even before you say your prayers, you’ll get a present before the end of the month.” 

So this month I am going to be the first to say White Rabbit.   Maybe I will even get a present 🙂

Try it and let me know if it works for you!

“Never underestimate a great superstition.”