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Number 13, Myths,Legends and Facts

(c)Bonnie Moss 2006-03

Why does the number 13 evoke feelings of uncertainty and uneasiness? Is it really an unlucky number? What started this stigma about 13?


means the fear of number 13.Sometimes, this fear triggers panic attacks, affects family and business relationships. Is this rooted in superstition? Number 13 reflects man's fear of the unknown.

Tradition traces this fear of 13 at the table to the Last Supper- Jesus dined with his twelve apostles. The inference was someone was going to die within a short time. Judas betrayed Jesus, overcome by his guilt,he hang himself.

Mythology has its own story. The Norse gods were having a banquet for 12 at the Valhalla when Loki, one of the evil gods gatecrashed the party. Balder was the god of light, joy and reconciliation. He had a blind brother whom Loki tricked into throwing a sprig of mistletoe on Balder's chest which killed him ( Balder). Mistletoe is the only earthly thing that was fatal to Balder.

Into the Middle Ages, the stigma against Friday the 13th grew stronger. On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Phillip V of France ordered the arrest of the Grand Master of the Knights Templar and his senior knights and other members. They were tortured to compel them to admit to wrongdoings. They were executed. Sympathizers of the Templars condemned Friday the 13th as an evil day.

Later in the 18th century, this belief about Friday the 13th was again reinforced. The British ship HMS Friday was launched on a Friday , the 13t , the captain was a man named Jim Friday. The ship was never seen nor heard from again.

Do these events justify the stigma attached to number 13? It is documented that this fear of Friday the 13th costs millions of dollars a year in business loss due absenteeism and cancelled appointments. Some unlucky event asssociated with 13 is the famous Apollo 13 mission in 1970. It was launched on 1313 hours, from pad 39 ( 13 x 3) , 3 of the sleeping arrangements for the astronauts were timed to start at 13 minutes past the hour and so was one of the possible splashdown.

On April 13th, the first of the several setbacks to Apollo 13 occurred and this added drama to the mission.

In many hotels and skyscrapers, there is no 13th floor.Most airplanes have no seat No. 13. In Italy, it is usual to leave out 13 in numbering the lottery tickets.

Thirteen for dinner? Not in France. A party of thirteen can hire a professional quatorzieme, a fourteenth person, from an agency.

In some big hospitals, there is no Operating Room 13, to spare the patient added anxiety being wheeled into Room 13.

13 is the ideal number of people in a coven. It is believed that to left-handed people, 13 is their lucky number.

But why is number 13 given such a negative implication? This dates back to many centuries, and still holds today in the 21st century. Perhaps the anticipation of the negativity of number 13 makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why could it not be any number?

Ref: Number Power by Keith Ellis

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