Even if you’re not superstitious at all, you're likely aware that Friday the 13th has a rather sinister reputation. But if you are the type who tends to knock on wood and avoid walking under ladders I’m here to relieve you of this particular fear, because it turns out the only scary thing about Friday the 13th is the idea of women in power!
What in the friggatriskaidekaphobia?
That big long word there means “fear of Friday the 13th”. You can see the root of Friday in its first two syllables, where you may also recognize a whole goddess! Frigga, Freyja, or Frigg, is the matriarchal Germanic goddess of fertility and prophecy. Friday is Frigg’s day!
art by José-Patricio Aguirre
Frigg is the queen of all Norse deities, the all-seeing völva who wove the very clouds. A day named for her should celebrate beauty, battle, fertility, sexuality, divination, love, and divine feminine power! Instead there is a pattern of association with misfortune, perhaps most strongly influenced by the annual observance of Good Friday.
Evidence of the number thirteen's ominous connotations is more plentiful, with foreboding mentions dating back to 1760 BC. One enduring superstition with roots in both Christianity and Norse mythology warns against dinner parties of exactly thirteen people, and to this day, you may find buildings without a thirteenth floor, or neighborhoods with numbered blocks missing a 13th street. "Friday the 13th = bad" though, is a rather new and localized concept.
It's basically a pop culture meme
image by Justin Campbell
In 1907, a notorious stock market promoter penned a novel called "Friday, the 13th" in which a stockbroker schemes to deliberately crash the stock market on the titular date. The first known media mention of a tacitly unlucky Friday the 13th appeared the following year when the New York Times noted one Senator's bold introduction of 13 bills on the 13th of the month - a Friday.
Then, in 1980, a single horror movie that would spawn a truly massive franchise took hammer to nail and gave "Friday the 13th" its most pervasive cultural association, locking it into the zeitgeist right next to Halloween.
What was I saying about women in power, though?
Oh, yeah, feminism! The potential of this day for celebrating the divine feminine has been obscured by memetic superstition, but we can take it back!
The number thirteen has more connotations than just bad luck. It's also the number of lunar cycles in a year, which corresponds to menstruation and symbolizes the endless cycle of creation, death, and rebirth. For a great many cultures, association with the moon implies association with the divine feminine, making thirteen a divinely feminine number. Add in the thought of menstrual blood - let alone the idea that witches may use the substance in spellwork - and we’ve got a recipe for perturbing the patriarchy.
This take is offered along with a reminder from writer and intuitive Tanaaz Chubb of foreverconscious.com, that “we all have feminine energy in us, so Friday the 13th is not just for women. It is a day for all of us to honour our own abilities to create and receive energy from the world around us.”
How to celebrate Friday the 13th
- Piss Off the Patriarchy.
The inherent feminist symbolism of this date has been obscured for far too long. It's time to reclaim it! Let's make this a day that lifts up women and celebrates femininity in every human.
Anything you do that upsets the patriarchy brings honor to this day, from wearing bright red lipstick, to having opinions, to knowing you're beautiful , to being funny, to refusing to smile, to disregarding the male gaze when you choose your outfit for the day. Every little middle finger is a sweet smelling offering to Freyja.
- Indulge in Self-Love.
Freyja wants you to feel pleasure. On Friday the 13th, take a ritual bath in her honor, and spend time touching your body with love. Give it only good things that nourish and soothe, and finish by anointing yourself with fragrant oils. Splurge on yourself today. If nothing else, take yourself to nature and soak up the sunlight through the trees.
- Dabble in Divination.
Freyja was a völva, a practitioner of Norse magic called seidr. She was a seer, capable of observing and manipulating fate itself. Friday the 13th is a perfect day to honor her by breaking out your Tarot deck or picking up a set of Elder Futhark runes for some divination practice.
Get your space set up for focused intention with some rosemary-based incense to help sharpen the mind, or a naturally scented candle if you're not about smoke. Consider filling out your divination space with an altar cloth that fits your aesthetic to bring it all together.
- Bond with Family.
To honor the Norse matriarch and goddess of fertility (and war), spend intentional time strengthening familial bonds. Frigg is most especially present in romantic partnerships and mother-child relationships, but rejoices in all the bonds of family, both blood and chosen.
- Wear Gold or Red for the Goddess.
photo by Engin Akyurt
Whatever you do today or on any Friday the 13th in the future, remember the superstition is contrived and that the deeper meaning is WAY COOLER.
Now, go tear down the patriarchy, Sea Witches.