Charlotte Babb: Aphrodite, Venus and Frigg, Oh My!
Charlotte Henley Babb has studied folklore, mythology and fairy tales of various cultures and wonders what happened to ours. She is the author of Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, a contemporary fantasy about a woman of a certain age who gets a job as a fairy godmother, and must find her personal power to put together the pieces of the fractured fairy tales for her clients’ happily ever afters. Available at http://bit.ly/MAvenFGM and http://amzn.to/Maven-k
Aphrodite, Venus and Frigg, Oh My!
Today’s topic intends to cure any of your lingering paraskevidekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th). According to Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, most of the notion of Friday the 13th being unlucky derives from a 1907 novel Friday, the Thirteenth, by Thomas W. Lawson, about a crooked stockbroker using the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. Few references to Friday the 13th exist before that date.
Since the use of the word phobia came into use in the psychological sense around 1895, nobody could possibly have had paraskevidekatriaphobia before that.
The superstition has fostered various explanations. The Knights Templar, a group of warrior monks, were arrested on Friday, 13 October 1307, by King Philip IV of France. There are 13 steps to the platform of a gallows, and it supposedly takes 13 turns of the rope to make the noose strong enough to break the victim’s neck. From a different perspective, the Egyptian book of the Dead describes 13 steps on the ladder that leads to eternity, where the soul reaches its source to reach spiritual completion.
While certain religions around the world have worked to give both the number 13 and the weekday Friday a black eye, all of us know the relief of T.G.I.F. Since the day and the number were sacred and mystical in pagan cultures, the Christians who converted Europe demonized both, and anything else associated with Goddess religion.
In early cultures, the year was described by the phases of the moon, each quarter of the moon taking seven days, creating 13 months of 28 days, and one extra day—a year and a day—not coincidentally the same as the menstrual cycle. Chinese women developed a lunar calendar 3000 years ago. This correspondence made the number 13 sacred to the goddess.
Women who live together, bleed together (if only exposed to natural light) as science has lately discovered. All the women of a village or tribe would have synchronized cycles, leading to such customs as the Red Tent, or other retreats where women took off a few days to gather their blood for use as fertilizer, to party, and generally to take a break from their never-ending work. This was very frightening to the menfolks, who could not understand the wound that does not heal—so they started up men’s secret societies.
Friday was originally the seventh day of the week, the holy day, the Sabbath, and continues to be the holy day in Islam. In the EuroZone, this day is named for the goddesses of sex and fertility: Greek Aphrodite, Roman Venus and Norse Freya. The Aztec week lasted for thirteen days called a trecena. There were twenty weeks in a year, and the thirteenth was ruled by the goddess Tlazolteotl, a goddess of both sexual license and purification, who forgave sins of an adulterous nature but only once in a lifetime.
Pagan cultures in Scandinavia and rural Scotland, as well as the Hindu, considered Friday the most auspicious day for marriages because Friday favored fertility. Ironically, it is sex that seems to be the association of bad luck with Friday. That is the day Eve offered Adam an apple. Since in many goddess-worshipping cultures, the apple, and the snake for that matter, were sacred to the local goddess, it’s pretty funny that Adam’s bad luck was to “get lucky” for the first time ever!
The illuminati believed that the number 13 was representative of death and rebirth—much like the metaphor of “the little death” for orgasm. Another association was the number of people at the last supper, 13, counting Jesus. In ancient Greece, Zeus was counted as the thirteenth, and most powerful god. A witches’ coven also has thirteen members, with one person leading the circle as priestess—a dozen disciples and a leader.
Thirteen is a prime number, one that cannot be divided except by itself and one,and it’s reverse, 31 is also prime. It is the seventh Fibonacci number (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, etc.), which gives it mystical properties symbolic of integrity, purity and incorruptibility. Unlike the male camaraderie of twelve, the thirteenth is the one, the indivisible.
There is little real evidence of why Friday the thirteenth has such a bad rep, except that people like me keep writing about it. But if it bothers you that much, try using the expression POETS Day, which is a term used by workers in the United Kingdom and Australia to refer to the last day of the work week: Piss Off Early–Tomorrow’s Saturday.
This is the third Friday the thirteenth this year, and I hope you all get lucky tonight.