On superstitions

I felt compelled as an amateur witch and lover of all things macabre, to share some thoughts on this day of supposed universal bad luck.

Friday the 13th can occur once a year, but may also rear its scary head up to three times in a 12 month span. (We had two this year.)

Westerners prefer things to come in an even dozen. One oddball more than that and we get nervous. Twelve months in a year, twelve eggs in a carton. Twelve apostles at The Last Supper. The number 13, which is actually my favorite number, has led some architects to eliminate the 13th floor from buildings. I have heard it told that the modern-day Master of Horror himself, Stephen King, has a genuine fear of the number 13.

In the late-19th century, a New Yorker named Captain William Fowler (1827-1897) sought to remove the enduring stigma surrounding the number 13—and particularly the unwritten rule about not having 13 guests at a dinner table—by founding an exclusive society called the Thirteen Club.

The group dined regularly on the 13th day of the month in room 13 of the Knickerbocker Cottage, a popular watering hole Fowler owned from 1863 to 1883. Before sitting down for a 13-course dinner, members would pass beneath a ladder and a banner reading “Morituri te Salutamus,” Latin for “Those of us who are about to die salute you.”


Most of us exhibit superstitious behavior in some form or another. After interviewing for a job, we try not to vocalize a positive outcome to friends and family in fear of jinxing our chances. When was the last time we may have told someone seeking good news on some issue, I have my fingers crossed for you? (I generally add my eyes for good measure and comic relief.)

So where did this fingers crossed thing originate? Wikipedia fingers the Christians and claims it originated as an association to the Holy Cross. But crossing one’s fingers also has a darker meaning. We used it as children to buttress white lies – an extra layer of protection against the fib to come. And then there was the incantation Cross my fingers hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye. Jesus! That’s a rather dark declaration for a child to make, don’t you think?

But getting back to today, those of us who revel in all things spooky have the added bonus of a full moon. There are of course, a host of superstitions tied to that symbol. Check out this goofy music video: I used to be a werewolf…but I’m alright nowoooh!

I believe Goethe tackled the importance of talismans against the darkness well in his short essay that begins “Superstition is the poetry of life; both build an imaginary world, and between the things of the actual, palpable world they anticipate the most marvelous connections.”

And so with those wise words penned more than 150 years ago, I will wish you an incident-free, Happy Friday the 13th. (Knock on wood!)

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