It's a date that happens once, twice, maybe three times per year. It's inspired a horror film franchise, several novels and two extremely long words (paraskevidekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia, both meaning the fear of Friday the 13th).
But for some in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Friday the 13th is not something to fear. In fact, the date represents two things — and neither of them are scary.
Omni Rogers-Mueller, a pagan and Covenant of the Moon High Priestess in Fargo, says while other pagans may not view things in the same way, Friday the 13th is generally seen as a pretty great day.
"For many of us, we view these as two separate things," Rogers-Mueller says. "Keep in mind that this is general, as not all pagans view it all the same. With that in mind, Wicca and other pagan types are female or goddess-oriented. The number 13 is a sacred number, as it is closely tied to the full moon each month."
She also says that 13 is tied to a woman's menstrual cycle, as women typically menstruate 12 times per year — once each month — but will sometimes menstruate 13 times, creating a "once-in-a-blue-moon" concept.
"The 13 is a powerful number that corresponds to the fertility of the Earth, as well as us living beings," she says.
Friday is also an important day of the week for some pagans.
"Friday is a separate idea in and of itself," Rogers-Mueller says. "Friday most commonly comes from Norse mythology, named for either Freya or Frigga. This depends on your personal perspective. No matter which one it is, Friday is a day for wisdom, the arts and fertility, among other things. When (Friday the 13th) happens on our calendar during the year, it is treated as extra special."Not superstitious...
But why would people fear this date?
"There are a lot of individuals who no longer carry such superstition in their daily lives," she says. "They are therefore free from such fears. However, to those that are superstitious about this date, really need to understand just why the cultural phenomenon happens."
References to Friday the 13th date as far back as the Middle Ages, but its inspiration came from the Bible.
"A lot of these fears come from the biblical perspective," Rogers-Mueller says.
According to biblical tradition, 13 guests attended the last supper on Maundy Thursday, which was followed by Jesus' crucifixion on Good Friday.
"The seating arrangement at the last supper is believed to have given rise to a longstanding Christian superstition that having 13 guests at a table was a bad omen," Rogers-Mueller says. "Specifically, that it was courting death."
Not only was Jesus crucified on a Friday, but it has been said that Cain killed Abel on a Friday and Eve gave Adam the apple from the tree of knowledge on a Friday.
"Most superstitions stem from the Catholic Church during the phases of converting pagans they visited to Christianity," Rogers-Mueller says. "Some ideas people had were seen as heresy or blasphemous and, in turn, (the proselytizers) would spin things to a negative light. This was especially true when conquering lands and nations."But a little 'stitious
A superstition is a widely-held belief in a supernatural cause leading to certain consequences. These beliefs are usually not able to be justified, but they're accepted nonetheless.
Not everyone believes the same thing, though. Just like Rogers-Mueller said, a lot of people don't worry about these superstitions. They are free to live their lives without fear or avoidance of certain things.
Some of the more common superstitions can be linked to pagans, while others can't.
Black cats, for example, are a very common superstition.
"Black cats were thought to be familiars of witches," Rogers-Mueller says. "Totally silly, of course, but cats in Egyptian culture were seen as special and important guardians in the underworld. And yes, I have a black cat too, but nobody wanted him while he was in the animal shelter. I watched as people made faces of disgust, all because of fur color. He's been with us for 15 years."
Spilled some salt? According to pagan tradition, you just warded off some evil spirits.
"Spilling salt actually does come from not just a pagan perspective, but also a cultural one," she says. "Pagans view salt as a cleansing element. It rids of negativity, banishes bad spirits. etc. Culturally there are some instances where people would use salt as a line of defense outside their threshold to keep evil at bay. However, salt also was pricey at the time, cheaper than sugar, but mostly the well to do could afford it in the quantity needed to protect the home. Country folk just simply didn't have that option, so just a sprinkle a day keeps the evil away!"
Whether you're superstitious or just a little bit 'stitious (thank you, Michael Scott), your paraskevidekatriaphobia is nothing to be concerned about.
"Don't fear it, embrace it!" says Rogers-Mueller. "As a culture, we all hold the key to either making a day more than what it is, or breaking the constant cycle of fear and wariness."