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Friday, September 13, 2013

Numerical Coincidences and Superstitions

It is Friday the 13th. Many people would quiver in their boots to hear that. I don’t. When I was at school, I decided that if everyone else was going to have a crap day just because of a numeral co-incidence, then I was not going to play that game. In fact, 13 became my lucky number, along with 7 and 3 but 13 is the big one.

Whenever I am asked ‘pick a number’, I pick 13 (and get some very strange looks sometimes). If I ever become a crazy cat lady, I will have to get 13 cats (as long as they are all Devon Rexes or sphinxes, as I am allergic to cats. But that would be a very expensive exercise. eep.) So no crazy cat lady for me.

Shall I wear black today as well, or would that be taking the whole Friday 13th (Black Friday) thing too far? That brings me to black cats; another thing that scares many people. A black cat on Friday 13th would send them into a state of discombobulation. I remember one school friend walking home via a different street once, just to avoid crossing paths with a black cat she saw ahead of her.

While cats are canny and cunning, they do not have the power to curse you.  The superstition possibly has more to do with the association with misunderstood, lonely little old ladies (who were victimized in the Europe’s Witch hysteria in the Middle Ages) feeding the exploded feral cat population, rather than with ghosties and ghoulies. Leave that til Halloween.

Then there is the poor misunderstood raven, co-incidently also black in colour. This majestic creature has been long associated with ill omens and death. (well it does have a good sense of smell and feeds on carrion, so it is not unreasonable that it would be found near places associated with death.) God forbid there be 13 of them! Discombobulations  again!

It all depends on your cultural heritage really. Personally I love ravens and feel very comfortable when they are around. I feel protected. Welsh superstitions imbue ravens with bringing luck to those inside the house on which they perch. The long tradition of keeping ravens at the Tower of London still holds today, as it is thought that the Monarchy and United Kingdom will last only while there are ravens at the Tower. King Charles II’s decree was that, not 13 of them, but only 6 need be kept at the Tower at all times.

And what about our poor maligned feline? I did some research on this one for my short story The Feline Principle. Many think of them as a talisman of good luck in Britain (and Japan if I remember rightly) and they are a symbol of prosperity in Scotland. Not so in parts of Europe and America. I think they purr nicely.

So today is Friday 13th. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Make yourself determined that it will be a good day. (self fulfilling prophesies and all that). Remember that Friday is the end of the working week for many. Tomorrow is the weekend. 13 is just a number that only has the power that you afford it. For me it is defiance; in the face of the rest of the world, I will not conform to being ruled by a number. (Maths, after all, is my weak point.) As The Prisoner said to his captors “I am not a number!”

If you were carefully reading this and you are an observant type you may have noticed how many times I used 13 in this post. For everyone else, feel free to go back and count.

It appears 13 times (including this one).  Numerical coincidence?

(self portrait: with 13 of my favourite things (c) Karen Carlisle )

Numerical Coincidences and Superstitions

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