Lucky For Some…

Why the number 13 is special

 By Karen Pereczes  

  As appeared in 'Chat - It's Fate' magazine. Copyright Karen Pereczes 2005.


The fear of the number thirteen, known as Triskedekaphobia, is one of the most common of all superstitions. Regarded as unlucky, it is commonly removed from hotels and street addresses around the world. To counterbalance the negative stigma associated with it, here is a refreshing look at this remarkable number...

The Lunar Cycle

The moon covers, on average, thirteen degrees per day. Although there are twelve months in a year based on the movements of the sun, there are 13 moons of 28 days with a day left over - hence the expression 'a year and a day'. The thirteenth full moon is the second full moon that occurs in the same month and is called a 'blue moon'. Many ancient cultures used a calendar based on these thirteen lunar cycles. The first known civilisation known to man (approximately 3800 BC) was an advanced society of people known as the Sumerians, who possessed extraordinary astronomical knowledge. They followed a solar-lunar calendar alternating between 12 and 13 months - as did their successors, the Babylonians.

The first calendar that the North American Indians used was on the shell of the turtle. The outer shape of the shell is a circular shape that represented what they call a Sacred Hoop or Medicine Wheel and within the shell are thirteen segments that they used to mark the passing of each full moon. These thirteen moon cycles gave birth to their legends of the Thirteen Original Clan Mothers, who represented the talents and abilities that humankind can develop during their 'Earth Walk', or physical lives.

Traditionally, thirteen was considered a powerful number strongly connected to women and fertility, as the female menstrual cycle follows the phases of the moon. Women bleed approximately 13 times per year, roughly every 28 days. Freya - the Norse goddess of love and fertility - became associated with the number 13 because of this, and is specifically linked to what was once regarded as sacred but now is the most ominous of dates - Friday the 13th. The word 'Friday' itself is thought by some to be derived from her name, and is the only day of the week named after a woman. Incredible as it may seem, the origin of our very existence is related to the number 13. One sperm (13 chromosomes) + one ovum (13 chromosomes) = a human life.

The Meaning of Numbers

The Greek philosopher Pythagoras said, "the world is built upon the power of numbers", and believed that numbers possessed individual qualities. He created the system of divination known today as numerology, where all words, names and numbers are reduced to single digits. Using this system, the number 13 is the higher vibration of 4 (as 1 + 3 = 4), 4 being the foundation and root of all numbers associated with the earth and the four elements.  13 symbolises love for the world and is the most selfless of all numbers. It is a number of the practical, alert and intelligent and is associated with genius. People born on this date are said to be innovators and explorers, successful in scientific research and development.

The Gematria is an ancient system for discovering hidden meanings and truth behind words using numerical values for letters of the alphabet. It was used to search for the secret, holy names of God, which were believed to carry incredible power. The Greeks used it to interpret dreams, and the ancient Hebrews used it as a form of divination. Kabbalists developed the system further. 13 is considered to be among the holiest of numbers, directly connected to Yahweh (God). It means 'love of unity', as the Hebrew words for 'love' and 'one' both total thirteen.

A Company of Thirteen

Throughout the ages, there appears to have been great power in a collective of thirteen members, although the true significance of this has been lost over time. It is well known that Jesus had a following of 12 disciples. In the holy visions of Maria Valtorta from Italy, who lived from 1897 to 1961, Jesus explained how he purposefully chose his apostles to represent the 'thirteen veins of humanity'. The Knights of the Round Table also numbered 13 (King Arthur himself included), and together they searched for the thirteen treasures of Britain. According to early Welsh legends these treasures belonged to the Celtic Gods and heroes - the most famous of all these being the Cauldron which, in later adaptations of the tale, became known as the Holy Grail. Robin Hood is alleged to have had a band of 12 'merry men'. In Rome, the city founder Romulus had 12 companions. The Norse God Odin and 12 deities reigned over Valhalla. Zeus and 12 Gods ruled over Greek Olympus. The Danish Hrolf had 12 berserkers. There were 12 retainers around the Egyptian God Osiris. The Hebrew Yahweh had his 12 tribes. There are 12 Namshans around the Dalai Lama. Traditionally, a witches coven has 13 members.

Since ancient times, the number 13 has had divine importance 

for many cultures worldwide...

To the ancient Aztec and Mayan people of South America, thirteen was the most sacred of numbers that they used to measure time. They used two calendars - one that was based on a 365-day count, and another based on cycles of 13. The latter was known to the Aztecs as the Tonalalmatl, or the 'Sacred Year', and to the Mayans as the Tzolkin - considered by some to be the most astronomically precise calendar ever created and still used for magical purposes by some remote Mayan tribes even today. It consists of a 260-day cycle made up of a series of time known as Baktuns. They believed that the entire span of time was to last for exactly 13 Baktun cycles. The cycle of time we are in now is said to have begun on August 13th 3114 BC and is to end on December 22nd 2012.

The Aztec calendar also had a week consisting of 13 days, which was ruled by the God Tlazolteotl the 'Rainbow Serpent' - Goddess of sexuality and childbirth and the 'eater of sins'. The thirteenth day itself was dedicated to the God Tezcatlipoca, also known as the 'Smoking Mirror', and was God of the night sky, God of time and ancestral memory.

At religious ceremonies in ancient Babylon, 13 people were chosen to represent the gods. For the Egyptians this number was associated with immortality, as there were 12 rungs on the ladder to eternal life and knowledge - to take the thirteenth step represented the transition through death into everlasting life.

The ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet, used by the Druids as a secret language and for divination, was also known as the 'sacred tree alphabet' and was based on 13 trees native to Britain. The sacred cord of the Druids has 13 segments.  
In the Bible (the gospel according to St. John) Jesus uses 13 comparisons to describe who he truly is. The number thirteen is said by some to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as it is believed that she died on August the 13th.
In Judaism there are thirteen attributes of Yahweh's divine mercy. Maimonides - the Jewish physician, rabbi and philosopher - had thirteen principles of faith that he considered the minimum requirements of Jewish belief. The Hebrew Bible has 39 books, which is 3 X13.

In the Indian pantheon there are 13 Buddhas. There are said to be thirteen stages a man must pass through to achieve 'Buddha-hood'. In the Mo system of Tibetan divination, 13 is the most favourable number of them all. It represents the Goddess Penden Lhamo - who is protector of the Dalai Llama and the Tibetan nation. There are 13 Golden Doctrines central to the Sakya tradition in Tibet. This tradition is closely connected to the Khon ancestral lineage, which is claimed to be derived from celestial beings.  

The 13th Sign of The Zodiac?                

There are thirteen constellations that the sun appears to pass through on the ecliptic (the apparent path of the sun through the stars), although only twelve of these have been represented as signs of the zodiac. The 'missing' constellation, which lies between Libra and Sagittarius, is Ophiuchus - the 'Serpent Bearer'. He is associated with Aesclepius, the Greek God of healing, whose symbol (snakes coiled around a staff or rod) is used worldwide to represent places of healing and medicine. The Greek philosopher Plato insisted in his time that it be included in the zodiac, to no avail. This continues to be a controversial matter that has divided astronomers and astrologers for thousands of years.  

Thirteen Facts About The Number Thirteen

  1. Miles Davis got a trumpet for his 13th birthday. 

  2. Rugby League is played with teams of 13 players. 

  3. In Japan, Friday the 13th is considered to be a lucky day. 

  4. There are 13 bumps in the anti-clockwise spirals of a pineapple. 

  5. The cost of the average wedding is £13,000. 

  6. The 13th card of the tarot deck is Death, which signifies change and transformation.  

  7. There are 13 loaves in a bakers dozen. 

  8. Neil Young recorded an album of 13 songs called 'Lucky Thirteen'. 

  9. The element associated with the atomic number 13 is the metal aluminium. 

  10. There are 13 petals in Corn Marigolds, Black-Eyed Susans and Ragworts.  

  11. The number 13 is considered a lucky number in Italy, where a gold charm depicting the number is traditionally given to infants to ensure good luck and prosperity in life. 

  12. Wales has 13 counties including Monmouthshire. 

  13. The number 13 bus in London remained unharmed during World War II.