December 13, 2013
Today is Friday the 13th; a day fraught with superstition and history. I probably didn’t need to tell you that. So what is today really all about? The history runs so deep that the roots of the day are difficult to find, so I endeavor to share with you what I do know and what the day means for me.
Early in my spiritual studies, I learned about pre-historic matriarchal societies. Prior to this, I had no idea that women had ever been in charge of culture and religion. This was thrilling information. Along the way, I heard tales of how powerful women, the midwives, ‘witches’, and herbalists, gathered on Friday’s, often the 13th, to concoct their tinctures and brews as well as hold spiritual ceremonies. As patriarchy and Christianity took over, it was important to them to vilify these practices in an effort to establish their power. My research has not proven this exactly to be true and there are other things I have found that support this in general.
The word “Friday” is derived from a female Norse goddess known as ‘Frigga’, goddess of marriage and fertility or ‘Freya’ the goddess of sexuality and fertility. Fridays were also Sabbath days in ancient pagan cultures. When the patriarchy took over, they claimed Fridays were witches Sabbaths and that Eve even tempted Adam with the apple on a Friday. (Seriously…how did they know that??) Friday was getting a bad rap.
Next add the power of the number 13. In prehistoric goddess worshipping cultures, their calendars were based on lunar cycles, the 13 moons of the year or menstrual cycles. There are numerous artistic examples from these cultures that incorporate the number 13 offering more evidence of their belief in the power of women. When the solar calendar took over under patriarchal leadership and the lunar was cast out, 13 was classified as evil as a means to get people to embrace the new.
Add to that the fact that a coven of witches numbers 13. Keep in mind that a ‘witch’ was historically a label given to women of power who practiced powerful spiritual and medicinal work that assisted their cultures. We’re not talking about wicked old witches who want to cast evil spells on you. Hmmm…I wonder who started that idea. Are you starting to get the picture?
For me, Friday the 13th represents a powerful day for women. As I think on the brave women who went before me, the persecution they endured, and the traditions that were snuffed out in fear, I stand firm in the day as an opportunity to embrace the power of women. The fear and superstitions hold no meaning for me except as a reminder of the power a society can have over its members to shape their beliefs.
The history goes much farther than I have taken you and I encourage you to explore it on your own. (Check out the Urban Legends website where I found some of my information) Hopefully as you delve into this topic, you will at least conclude that the dread of the day has been contrived by many beliefs touted by patriarchal spin-doctors who were invested in promoting their own systems. So check it out, take back your power, form your beliefs about the day, and go forth without fear!