I’ve been thinking a lot about numbers this week. One day it’s over 100 degrees, and the next, it’s in the low 90s. My car is approaching the 25,000-mile mark, so I need to take it in for service. I managed to buy groceries today with a fixed amount, and came within 90 cents of what I had, without keeping track of it in the cart. That was interesting to me.
Numbers are informative. They are also nonsensical. They have no meaning beyond what we give them, so I am especially intrigued by the role 13 plays in our culture. Today is Friday the 13th, and for some it conjures up images of a horror movie unfolding in ever more gruesome episodes. Some may think about the absence of a 13th floor in many buildings, as though not calling it 13 didn’t make it the 13th floor up from the street. That’s an interesting notion, when you think about it.
For others, it is simply an unlucky day—one where driving, decision making, and acquiring new debt should be avoided. Some people are so afraid of the number 13 and its connotations that they suffer from triskaidekaphobia, working hard to stay away from 13 of anything.
Where did this fear of the number 13 come from? Some say it started in the middle ages, when theologians started thinking about the story of the 12 apostles and Jesus (making 13) sharing the last supper before Jesus went to his death. Others point to Friday the 13th as the day the Knights Templar were arrested by order of King Philip IV in France; most were subsequently tortured and killed. Still another explanation is that having 13 moons in a year that had only 12 months vexed the hard-working monks who maintained church calendars. It made keeping track of the various holidays and feast days very difficult, even though more years have only 12 moons (about 67 in a century) versus 13 moons (about 37 in a century). The way the date of Easter moves around is an indication that the way they resolved it still had some drawbacks. Yet another explanation is that as the solar calendar of 12 months overcame the lunar calendar of 13 months (the solar being a masculine energy and the lunar being a feminine), hostility arose with respect to the number 13. A lunar calendar makes a lot more sense—there are 52 weeks in a year and 52 is divisible by thirteen. I think fear of the number 13 is a belief that gets passed from one generation to the next, without much idea about why it might be unlucky.
Not only is today Friday the 13th, it is a full moon on Friday the 13th. This is very rare; the last was in 2010 and the next won’t be till 2049. It’s the Harvest Moon, preparing us for Autumn Solstice next week and the feast of Mabon. For witches, it’s a special day, combining a number we deem important (13) with the goddess Freya (for whom Friday is named). Freya is the Norse goddess of love and is also associated with cats (she has a cart pulled by two of them), sex, lust, beauty, sorcery, fertility, gold, war and death. Tonight, it’s a good night to cast spells, particularly those associated with money, romance, and luck. At full moon, I take time to celebrate what has happened since the last full moon, and I cast spells for my home, for love, for creativity, and for prosperity.
Here is the way I will celebrate this majickal day. As dark approaches, I will set up my altar in my back yard, where I can see the moon after it has risen. In addition to my usual candles associated with the elements and spirit (yellow for air, green for earth, blue for water, red for fire, white for spirit), I’ll include candles in orange, brown, pink, and purple. I’ll watch the moon rise from my east facing front yard, over the treetops and the houses on my street. After watching it rise, I’ll return to the back yard, where I’ll soak myself in hot tub and relax, preparing for ritual. When I get out, I’ll sit with my eyes closed, letting the air dry my skin, feeling the water leave my body. As the moon appears over the roof of my house, I’ll cast a circle, inviting the Elements and Spirit to join me. And I will cast this spell:
Hail, Goddesses of the Moon
Thank you for all the gifts of this moon cycle
I ask for your blessing in the coming cycle
I ask for abundance
food to eat
money to pay bills
creativity in my work
peace in my household
I offer the flame of my brown candle, asking protection
of my home, my family, and my dogs and cats
I offer the flame of my orange candle, asking for my
business to prosper as wise decisions are made
I offer the flame of my pink candle, asking that love may
grow and deepen in my life
I offer the flame of my purple candle, asking for creativity
in my art and writing
Great and gracious moon goddesses, the faces of
women in life through death
I will be strong in the protection of my home and family
I will be diligent in the running of my business and in my
use of money
I will be one who loves and receives love
I will be open to ideas that the universe sends me
As I will it, so mote it be.
Afterward, I will say farewell to Spirit and to the Elements, take my circle down, and sit in a chair with my wine, gazing on the moon until She bids me goodnight and tells me to sleep.
I hope you have a majickal day and night. Thirteen is simply a number. It can be frightening or empowering. It can mean nothing at all. But majick is all around us and living majickally is within your grasp. Let your life be majickal on this day. Blessed be.