A woman in a red dress, holding tangerines in front of her, in her palms. Unlucky Thirteen.

Unlucky Thirteen

It’s just a number

My wife and I were invited to a wine and cheese evening to “meet and greet” a number of colleagues for a new venture. It was on my birthday. A present was being given out and we were assigned numbers for a draw, for a gift that had been sitting on a table as you walked into the room. My number was thirteen.

I’ve had a “thing” about the number thirteen for a while, bouncing between lucky and unlucky, especially after my last article on luck. The fact that I’ve been playing ping-pong with the idea was interesting to me – the fact that my mind would switch between one and the other completely without my control. My subconscious having a field-day at my expense!

A few days before this small event, I was going through this idea in my mind, thinking over the evidence from the article I wrote and what I wrote, in a way trying to find evidence to convince my subconscious that the number thirteen is just a number and not unlucky.

So I came to the conclusion that I would do the opposite – make it a lucky number. This was the day before the event.

The Evidence

If you want to prove that 13 is an unlucky number, you’ll find it – if that’s what you’re looking for.

If you search the internet you will find a lot related to this number. You’ll find information related to almost every number, but we are talking about the number 13.

The first story I heard of is related to the Knights Templar. It was on Friday the 13th of October 1307, when King Philip the fourth of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar. Those that had not escaped, including their Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, where tortured and killed.

The Mayan calendar was believed to end on the 13th Baktun, which was thought to be the end of the world, where as now it is understood to be the end of one era and the beginning of another.

Da Vinci’s “The last Supper” is a reminder of another reason for the belief in the unlucky thirteen. It was the evening before Jesus Christ was arrested and eventually tortured and crucified. With the twelve disciples, there were thirteen people at the table, including Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Judas has since the 1800’s been considered the thirteenth to sit at the table.

Consequently, it’s considered to be unlucky to have thirteen people at a table.

Incase you have never noticed, hotels do not have a thirteenth flour or a room with the number 13 (do a bit of due diligence next time you stay at a hotel).

Other religions, besides Christianity, also have days that assign the number 13 to certain days and ideals:

  • In Zoroastrianism, it’s considered unlucky (the 13th day of Farvardin, the new year, Sizdah Be-dar (Natures Day), when evil can cause people difficulties),
  • In Judaism it’s the age when a boy becomes a full member of his faith (Bar Mitzvah),
  • In Shi’ah Islam it’s the 13th day of the month of Rajab and the birth of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib, (in Sunni Islam 13 has no significance),
  • In Sikhism, 13 is called “Terah” in Hindi and Gurumukhi, which means “yours” (when Guru Nanak Dev Ji realised that meaning and remembered God, giving out free food).

And since we are on the lucky 13, here are some other ideas to look into:

  • It’s a “happy number” in math, because when you add up the square of each set of numbers the end value is 1 (amongst many others),
  • It’s one of the Fibonacci numbers, found throughout the universe (amongst many others),
  • It’s a lucky number in “number theory” (amongst many others),
  • In Italy it’s considered a lucky number, with the expression “fare tredici” (“do thirteen“) meaning “to hit the jackpot”.

The Idea

Let’s not forget television and films that have portrayed the number 13 as auspicious, supernatural and, at times, evil.

We are daily bombarded with ideas from newspapers, television, radio and social media. Everything that we see and hear will affect us unless we choose that it won’t.

Try this – look around the room you are seating in and see if you can spot anything with the colour green. Spend, say, ten seconds doing this. Actually do this. Stop reading and do this.

Now, how many things did you see that were grey. I bet you have to look again. Perspective.

Everything to do with being lucky or unlucky is exactly the same thing. Luck is an idea. If you think you are unlucky then you are giving your subconscious mind a goal – to prove to you that you are unlucky and so, what it believes to be true, you believe to be true, must come back to you, must be aimed for. It’s a goal.

So why not choose to be “lucky” and make that a goal? What have you got to loose?

As for the draw for the gift at the start of this article – I got the gift. It wasn’t a surprise; I asked for proof and I got it.

What is more amazing is that my wife later told me that when we entered the room and she saw the gift on the table, she knew it was for me. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences and never have – everything happens for a reason, whether we know that reason or not.

As for the number 13 – well, it’s just a number that depends on the importance you give it. Just a number, lucky or unlucky.

Take the picture for this article as example – have you tried to count the fruit? Did you find thirteen or did you decide there are thirteen? Maybe you decided that there can’t be thirteen otherwise they wouldn’t balance that way. Or it could be that saying that there are thirteen makes you feel uncomfortable (that’s what you truly believe and what you hold to be true in your subconscious).

Whether there are thirteen or not doesn’t matter.

It really is your choice.

What does not make a human being worse in himself cannot make his life worse either: it cannot harm him from outside or inside.
Marcus Aurelius

Photograph by: Brian Mann on Unsplash

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