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UpBeat Spiritual Living: Who’s Afraid of Friday the Thirteenth?

July 6, 2012

© 2012, 2013 Kebba Buckley Button.  World Rights Reserved

When I was about 8, I heard kids talking fearfully about Friday the Thirteenth.  They said it was Bad Luck, which made no sense to me.  How could a day be bad luck? My birthday is October 13th, and that year, my birthday was landing on a Friday.

This was my chance.  This was the year I started challenging “bad luck”.   Although I knew perfectly well that I had been born on a Monday, I started telling people that  thirteen was my lucky number and that Friday the Thirteenth was an especially lucky day for me.  So:  my own little protest movement at a tender age.

As a teen, I discovered tall buildings didn’t have thirteenth floors! Even the  elevator button for 13 was always missing.  I began to crave an apartment on the thirteenth floor.  This superstition about the number 13 became a fascination for me.

Thirteen turned out to be a pleasant number, in bakeries.  If you bought a dozen of something, they gave you a thirteenth one free; I have no explanation for this yet.  However, also on the positive side for the number thirteen, there are thirteen moon cycles in a year, and some cultures have loved the number.  A number of peoples have honored the number thirteen in different ways.  The Aztecs used a 13-day week, and the thirteenth day was ruled by a god named Tezcatlipoca, who represented mystery and magic.  The Greeks held the number thirteen to be powerful, as Zeus was the thirteenth and most powerful of their Gods. In Tarot cards, the Death card is associated with the number thirteen, plus the qualities of transition, change, new beginnings, and inevitability.

In the Christian tradition, a negative belief about the number thirteen goes back at least to the Last Supper.  Twelve apostles dined with Jesus, so there were thirteen diners.  The first one to leave, Judas, became also the first one to die.  In France, today, when there are thirteen dinner guests, some make an effort to get a fourteenth, a quatorzieme, to keep the event from being unlucky.

More powerful in cultural memory may be the date when the Knights Templar were banned and arrested across Europe: Friday, October 13th, 1307.  Many hundreds were violently killed or tortured to death during the campaign to eliminate the Templars.  In France, the Grand Master of the Spiritual Order of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, and his successor, were burned to death on Friday, March 13th, 1314.  Terrible memories of Fridays the Thirteenth would have persisted for many years.  However, today, all that remains is the fear of bad things happening.

So does the number thirteen now have any power for you?  Are you still afraid of any ill effects on any Friday the Thirteenth?  In the Bible, God said, “fear not” over 80 times.  We are not to live in fear, but to practice knowing more and more deeply that God is with us at all times.  In 2 Timothy 1:7, we are told (NIV), “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

So let’s not allow a number to give us the creeps.  Let’s enjoy our spirit of power, our spirit of love, and our sound minds. Let’s live as we are meant to live.

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● Rev. Kebba Buckley Button is the author of the 2013 book, Peace Within:  Your Peaceful Inner Core (Second Edition).

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