Friday the 13th (Friggatriskaidephobia)

Image by Huda Nur from Pixabay

The first references to 13 being an unlucky number come from Norse Mythology when 12 gods held a dinner in Valhalla, Loki, the god of mischief, who was not invited, appeared and persuaded the god Hoor to fire a bow at the god Balder with an arrow the tip of which was covered in mistletoe to disguise it, killing Balder and causing the earth to fall into darkness and thus the number 13 became associated with bad shit.

In early Christianity it was thought reference to the 13 present at the last supper the 12 disciples plus Jesus Christ one of whom, Judas, betrayed Jesus.
The first reference to Friday the 13th comes from the middle ages. The Knights Templar, long regarded as the rockstars of chivalry, owing allegiance only to the Pope, by papal decree they were fully protected, Kings and Queens were required to grant them land and tythes and the right to raise armies to support their crusades against Islam to protect the Holy sites. However after a couple of hundred years, with fractious Barons also asserting their claims domestically, those Kings began to doubt the wisdom of having such powerful armed militia operating within their realms with impunity and began to petition the Pope.
In 1307 the Pope removed his support and on Friday 13th of October, Phillip IV of France began rounding them up and slaughtering them using the typically gruesome methods of the time.
An early example of the church supporting the establishment to the benefit of Islam which continues to this day.
Friday 13th occurs when the first of the month falls on a Sunday and there is a minimum of one per year.
A study in 1993 claimed there may be a 52% increase in hospital admissions in traffic accidents on a Friday 13th although they admitted the number was from such a small sample that no meaningful conclusions could be made, that of course did not stop the media creating some fanciful headlines, Plus Ca change!
In Greece and Spain Tuesday 17th is considered unlucky and in Italy it is Friday 19th so much for EU conformity.

Black cats

I can’t find a specific phobia to do with black cats, Ailurophobia is the fear of cats so Dinduailurophobia will have to do , maybe it’s to do with black cats being either a sign of good luck or bad luck depending where you lived.
In Japanese mythology a black cat is sacred, as in some Celtic myths, although in other Celtic areas of Mythology the black cat is considered bad fortune, In Welsh folklore Cath Palug grew from a black kitten into a mighty beast which killed 180 warriors on Anglesea and in Scotland an evil spirit named Cat Sith haunts the Highlands stealing the souls of shepherds.
In Germanic and Anglo Saxon Mythology the black cat is associated with witches and bad luck.
Over the centuries most countries of the Christian tradition began to consider the black cat as an omen of bad, although us Britons remained steadfastly on the fence with conflicting views,for instance; A black cat walking towards you is considered good fortune, whereas one walking away is taking it away. The process was reversed at sea by 18th century pirates believing the opposite. Sailors also believed a black cat walking on to a ship then walking off, the ship would sink on its next voyage.
A woman with a black cat was also thought to have had many suitors. ( a tart).
It’s commonly believed the Puritans set forth to the Americas to escape religious persecution, nothing however could be further from the truth, they went to inflict religious persecution of their own. They despised other Christian denominations, Catholic, Baptist, Quakers and Anglicans and viewed black cats associated with witch craft and killed any, and their owners, they came across.
I am of course pleased to be able to tell you that, as a nation of animal lovers there are no recorded incidences in the UK of black cats being thrown on to midsummer bonfires as in Europe, in fact many fishermen would keep a black cat on their boats and their wives would keep one at home for the safe return of their husbands.
In Chiloe, Peru, black cats were kept to hunt for the Carbunclo, an animal believed to contain a precious stone, but as the Carbunclo is an entirely mythical creature the success rate is unknown.

So, are there any connections between these two superstitions? well in fact yes, although they relate to more modern times and our somewhat more cynical views of the wisdom of the ancients.
In the early days of US television some stations which had been allotted the VHF channel 13 chose a black cat as their mascot to poke fun at having been given an unlucky channel.
and also across the pond the space shuttle or correctly named space transportation system missions, were named STS-1
STS-2 etc right up until STS-12 when to avoid a repeat of Apollo 13 they chose to skip a number and go straight to STS-14.
The crew were having none of this superstitious nonsense and the mission patch was a bemused black cat with the number 13 on it with the shuttle flying between its legs.

Spilling salt (halophobia)

A popular modern myth is that this dates back to Roman times when soldiers were paid in salt and that to spill some was to lose your hard earnt, however since there is no evidence that they were ever paid in salt it’s likely an urban legend, although salt was a valuable commodity on the road, the Romans quickly began producing salt everywhere they went especially an island nation like Britain. Of course in the ancient world salt was a symbol of longevity as it was used to preserve food for long periods, so possibly spilling salt offered to you was a symbol that when offered it, as guests were, it was a sign the friendship was not destined to last. Leonardo Da Vinci famously in his last supper has spilled salt in front of Judas before he betrayed Jesus, which is the most likely origin of our modern superstition of throwing spilled salt over the left shoulder to ward off the devil who was believed to reside there whilst God kept watch over the right.

All seems simple enough, well not quite, salt has different mythologies across numerous religions.
In Brahmanic, Semitic and up to the Greeks salt was thrown into fires for the fun snap crackle and pop sounds it makes.
In Jainism it was sprinkled on the cremated remains of the dead to prevent any putrefaction of bits that weren’t quite burnt enough.
For followers of the Shinto faith it is used to purify locations and to ward off evil.
For Buddhists, once again we’re looking at cleansing, warding off evil and the act of throwing it over the left shoulder which no doubt predates the Christian practice.
The old testament mentions salt in many verses the most famous being Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of it as she looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah after its destruction and Abimelech sowed salt upon the ruins of Shechem after he destroyed it.
Jesus ruins it by describing his followers as the salt of the earth at the sermon on the mount , but by and large, salt is largely considered to be associated with fun, fire, destruction and cleansing and that is why we should consider spilling salt to be a bad omen because we’re going to need every fucking grain we have when we raze the BBC, the political/ media cabal and salt the earth beneath them. Let’s say Friday 13th shall we?

© Wycombewanderer 2024