RESEARCH, WRITING AND FRIGGATRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA
I decided to write my first blog on Friday the 13th for two reasons. One, I was born on the Friday, October 13th, 19…never mind about the year. Contrary to common belief, it’s always been a lucky day for me. Second, it gave me the chance to delve into the phenomenon of Friggatriskaidekaphobia, or the irrational fear of Friday the 13th.
Research is one of my favorite things about writing. Folklore, myths and legends shape many of our present day traditions and beliefs. With the internet at our fingertips, it’s never been easier to discover out of the ordinary events that have taken place in human history throughout the world.
In my current release, Twin Flames, the main characters discover they have spent many past lives together. I wanted their past lives to be exciting and unique so I typed in obscure events in history and never looked back. While exploring a time in American history on a little known Omaha Indian Reservation, I stumbled upon how highly the Omaha people regarded the men of their tribe referred to as the Mixu-ga. Mixu-ga translates to instructed by the moon, and follows the tradition of those born with “two spirits” both male and female. I hadn’t planned to weave a gay Omaha Shaman into my story, but before I knew it, he landed a supporting role and became one of my favorite characters.
In my current work, the main character, Sofia is an Italian hereditary witch or a Strega. Stregheria or La Vecchia Religione, (The Old Religion), has similar rituals to wiccan traditions but, in and of itself, is very different. Growing up with a grandmother who loved to tell stories of the Strega that resided in her Sicilian village, discovering the mysterious world of Stregheria has been fascinating.
That brings us to the countless myths that have given Friday the 13th its bad reputation. There are many names given to the fear of the day, all of them long and unpronounceable, but Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the original Scandinavian word. The English word Friday is derived from the ancient Norse love goddess and wife of Odin, Frigga. Legend tells us she threw a banquet with twelve Gods in attendance, purposely not inviting Loki the God of Mischief. He crashed the party anyway making the number of guests thirteen. Chaos ensued. Food and mistletoe were wielded at each other and in the end, the God Balder the Good, was dead. The moral of the story: Never have thirteen people for dinner. This is shown to us again in the Bible, although the Gospels don’t mention Judas was the thirteenth person to arrive at the Passover dinner.
Why does the sixth day of the week get a bad rap? We can go back to the love goddess Frigga for a partial explanation. The Germanic pagan tribes worshipped her on Friday. Early Christians thought her a witch and declared Friday the witch’s Sabbath.
Although not stated in the Bible, oral traditions from biblical times told that Eve tempted Adam on a Friday and the Great Flood started on a Friday. Because it was execution day in ancient Rome, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
The number thirteen’s history is more involved. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, twelve was believed to be a complete number. There are twelve months in a year, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel and twelve disciples of Jesus. Thirteen, considered an imperfect number, may have pagan roots. Many nature-based religions worshipped the moon as well as the sun. There are thirteen lunar cycles and women with a regular period will have thirteen menstrual cycles a year. To pagans who worshipped both Gods and Goddesses, the moon represented the feminine. The Abrahamic religions weren’t keen on giving women power, spiritual or otherwise.
One popular speculation of how Friday the 13th became a day of ill fortune goes back to the Knights Templar. These warrior monks, sent to protect the Holy Land and battle Islam, enjoyed admiration, veneration and enormous wealth for close to two hundred years. They had also become very powerful and posed a threat to political and church leaders. On Friday, October 13th, 1307, King Phillip rounded the Knights up, accused them of heresy, tortured and killed them.
It’s estimated that one in fifteen Americans call in sick from work, won’t travel and prefer to stay at home on Friday the 13th. Herbert Hoover would not attend a dinner with thirteen guests.
As for me, as much as I would like to stay home in my pajamas and write, I have errands to do. Maybe I’ll buy a lottery ticket. Wish me luck.
Happy Friday the 13th!!
© 2013 by Debbie Christiana