satanism today and tomorrow

The Symbolism of Number 13



Since ancient times people have been treating number 13 as unlucky. It follows the 12, which was viewed as divine because the year is divided into 12 months and 12 Zodiac signs, as well as because day and night last 12 hours each. Therefore, the 13, which starts a new cycle, breaks the harmony of the complete previous one. This is also why number 13 is also interpreted as a symbol of death; for example, in Kabbalah number 13 and death are both denoted with Hebrew letter Mem. Already Hesiod warned farmers not to start any field works on 13th day of any month. The Babylonian lunisolar calendar added a 13th month every leap year; this month was also treated as an unlucky period of the year.

However, in the Pagan times people were not so scared of death than now. Some people believed in reincarnation or other forms of afterlife. Therefore, number 13 meant not just death for them, but the start of a new life as well.

Since the spread of the monotheistic religions with their idea of hell as a punishment for sins, which almost everybody commits, people became afraid of death, as well as of number 13, to a much greater extent. The Middle ages were the time when people began to avoid number 13 at any cost, even contrary to mathematics and logic.

Triskaidekaphobia (the fear of number 13) is known almost everywhere in the world. In USA many buildings lack the 13th floor: they have the 14th just after 12th. Though in fact people live or work on the 13th floor, they don't care about this because it's numbered as 14th. In some cities of France streets lack #13 house. Many airline companies don't have #13 place in their planes.

It's considered a bad omen if 13 persons sit at one table at a party; people believe that the one who has left the table first will die soon. Some especially superstitious people try to stay home for the whole Friday 13th day or even on 13th of every month regardless of the weekday.

However, some cultures demonstrate exactly the opposite attitude to number 13. Most of such examples can be found in the Americas.

The Maya and the Aztecs treated 13 as a sacred number and never associated it with death. In their mythology the Heavens were divided into 13 levels, each of which was the home of one of the gods. Their calendars used 13-days periods.

The founders of USA also felt some liking to number 13. Perhaps it was due to the fact that in the beginning there were 13 states. However, they could probably have intentionally chosen the number that symbolized the start of a new time cycle, the death of the old and the birth of the new; this could mean for them a radical break with the old European traditions and establishing a principally new society. Anyway, number 13 is present in all elements of the US Great Seal:

We can see a star consisting of 13 smaller stars above the head of the eagle. In the left talon, the eagle holds 13 arrows, while the right one holds an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives. Even the motto "E pluribus unum" consists of 13 letters. Also the flag of USA contains 13 stripes.

In the 19th century in New York, 13 men organized the "Club 13", which was intended to mock people's superstitions around number 13. The foundation ceremony took place on Friday, January 13th, 1882, in room 13 of "Knickerbocker" hotel. The club members decided to meet on the 13th every month. The lifetime membership in the club cost $13, the entrance fee was $1.3 and the monthly membership fee was $0.13. At their meetings, the members of "Club 13" mocked also other superstitions; for example, they were intentionally dropping salt onto the floor and breaking mirrors. The club became so well-known that a similar club was founded in London some years later.

In numerology, number 13 symbolizes not only the start of a new cycle, but also destruction of illusions and facing the truth. It's not accidental that the people who wanted to mock the superstitions in their "Club 13" were inspired by this number. The 13 is also associated with the material world as an opposition to spiritual or astral phenomena.

The 13th Arcanum of Tarot, the Death, is interpreted similarly to the number 13 itself. This card symbolizes a complete break with the past, the end of your life as you lived it before. This can mean a radical break with former ideals and plans and a transition to a new way of life.

The scythe of Death symbolizes harvesting: now you get what you wanted, this cycle of your life has been finished and you are starting a new one.

It's not surprising that number 13 used to be associated with the Devil. Having recalled the elements of 13's symbolism: renewal, destruction of the old order, rebirth and start of a new life, destruction of illusions, emphasizing the material side of the being, — we can see much correspondence with the image of the Dark Lord. People are afraid of number 13 for to the same reason why they are scared of the Devil — because of their unwillingness to change the usual order of things and their belief in illusions instead of facing the reality.

As a conclusion, it can be stated that number 13 is neither lucky nor unlucky by itself. It means only transformation from the old to the new, connection between the past and the future.

Translated from Russian by Milchar