When I turned 13, my grandmother gave me a pendant with the number 13 on it, and told me it was a very special number. Because of this, and what I subsequently learned about history and how it has been re-written, re-told and revised, I have never feared the number 13. And nor should you.
When 13 appears in our dreams, it can of course refer to the things we are afraid of. If you have grown up with a sense that 13 is unlucky, your very belief can manifest your negative thoughts and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. We do dream of what are afraid of. But that does not mean the thing we fear has any inherent quality of danger. In fact, the things we fear in dreams are often the result of our ego resisting transformation. Fearful things in dreams may represent our shadow side, that part of our nature we need to integrate in order to become whole. Or fearful things may appear to guide us, reveal what we need to face up to, or what we need to release so that we may grow and move forward. But dreams work on many levels, and if the number 13 does appear in your dreams, it may also be signalling that it is time to move past out-dated superstition and start understanding the way symbols can be appropriated and manipulated by various cultures, and to try and understand an alternative interpretation of this number.
If you research the origins of associations of bad luck with the number 13, you will find some very old stories. 13 apostles at the dinner with Jesus, the 13th who was a betrayer. 13 guests at dinner with the Norse god Odin, the 13th who was a trickster.
Other people contend that 13 is considered unlucky because it comes after 12, a perfectly balanced mathematical number, after which 13 seems unbalanced and strange. It is worth noting that the fear surrounding the number 13 is primarily a Western construct, and that other cultures do not have any fear or bad luck associated with this number.
There is more to the number 13 than this though. The first known calendars were lunar only, making no allowance for the seasonal or solar year. In these calendars there were 13 lunar months. Following that, and still in many parts of the world, a lunisolar calendar was used, which uses the lunar cycles as a base but aligns them with the solar year. In order to smooth out the fact the solar year is not equally divisible by lunar cycles, usual cycles would have 12 months, but every couple of years a thirteenth month was added. This rare 13th month was considered sacred, a time for special celebrations and ritual.
The moon is traditionally associated with feminine qualities. In the polar dynamic the moon is feminine, dark, mysterious, passive, associated with intuition and feeling, compared to the sun which is masculine, light, illuminating, active and associated with intellect and rationality. A woman’s menstrual cycles are typically about 28 days, the same as the cycle of the moon, and occur also 13 times a year. Then consider the (approximately) 27,000-year-old carving of a female figure known as the Earth Mother of Laussel, who holds a crescent-shaped horn with 13 notches. l
It is likely no coincidence, that in a patriarchal society, those things associated with the feminine – the moon, the number 13, intuition and so on, are things seen as “other” by the ruling masculine. Those things that are unknown are often feared. Just as wise women herbalists have been feared and destroyed as witches, so too have other feminine associations been maligned and attacked, including the sacred and mysterious number 13.
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