Triskaidekaphobia quite literally means the fear of the number thirteen. From the original Greek words, “tris” means three, “kai” means and/plus and “deka” means ten so fear of three plus ten. Don’t you just love it when scientists use complex words to mask a simple subject that they don’t fully understand themselves? It’s a sign that they’re trying to sound smart when talking about it even when they’re not sure what’s going on. And why should they be any different from the rest of us? Why should scientists know why a simple number can invoke such mind numbing fear in the human mind? There are many theories about the number thirteen that purport to explain it’s power, but most of them are hokum. One says that Judas was the thirteenth member at the table during Jesus’ last supper and that his actions following that cursed the number for eternity. Can anyone guess which Pope led religion spread that one as scientific fact? An ancient Norse tradition holds that if thirteen people gather then one of them will die within the year, perhaps referencing Loki’s (who was the thirteenth god of the Norse pantheon, by the way) murder of Baldur. Maybe if Jesus had been a viking he wouldn’t have been betrayed and the Bible would have been adored by children all round the world as they learned about the time Jesus pillaged a village with only five loaves of bread and two fish… Anyway, time to move on. For this little piece I thought it might be interesting to have a look at someone who suffered from Triskaidekaphobia and see how it affected his life.

Arnold Schoenberg was born on the 13th of September in the year 1874 and went on to become a visionary force in composing music, developing a highly influential version of the twelve tone compositional method. In 1908 his wife left him to carry on an affair with a German artist of the day. She returned several months later but during that time Schoenberg composed a piece of utter chaotic despair. The atonal Moses und Aaron was the thirteenth song of the cycle Das Buch der Hangenden Garten. When Schoenberg noted that Moses und Aaron contained thirteen letters in the title as well he immediately changed the name to Moses und Aron to remove a letter. At the Vienna premiere of the Gurre Lieder on the 13th of February 1913, he received a standing ovation that lasted for thirteen minutes and ended with Schoenberg being presented with a laurel crown. Schoenberg spent his life convinced that he would die on a year whose digits added up to thirteen and was terrified of his sixty-fifth birthday as a result (The birthday was in 1939 and the working is as follows: 1+9=10, 1+0=1, 3+9=12, 1+2=3. From that 1 and 3 we make 13.) However a friend prepared a horoscope which put his mind at rest and allowed him to pass the year peacefully. However on his seventy-sixth birthday (7+6=13) the same astrologer sent him a warning that the year may be dangerous for him, which sent him into a depression. On Friday the 13th of July 1951 he stayed in bed as was his tradition on every Friday the 13th and fretted about the day. His worried wife called the doctor who stayed with him until the end because at 11:47pm (1+1+4+7=13, plus it was thirteen minutes to midnight.) he died.


29 thoughts on “Triskaidekaphobia

  1. Did the disciples wear numbers, perhaps tatooed on the back of their necks, since it's for certain that Judas was the thirteenth? Might as well have been Peter, John or Jesus himself that was the thirteenth.Anyways, it is always a bugger to have thirteen at the table, because most tablewear only comes in twelve-pieces. You actually have to buy two sets of twelve pieces to set the table for thirteen.

  2. I remember a theory that ties the 13th as a bad day to the extinction of the Templars that started on a friday, 13th. Judas was one of the 12 original, certified disciples. The 13th, replacement for him after his suicide, was Matthew who was elected by his 11 remaining co-workers by throwing the dices.

  3. In 'Sleeping Beauty' only 12 fairies are invited to the party. The thirteenth fairy curses Sleeping Beauty so she sleeps for a hundred years. Just thought I'd add this to your list of why 13 is an unlucky number. πŸ™‚

  4. Except that particular version of Sleeping Beauty probably got the idea from popular superstition as the 'unlucky thirteen' was already well established by then. :up:.

  5. In the original Sleeping Beauty story, the king bans his young teenaged daughter from the loom when he is warned that a poisoned splinter is waiting for her. He's taken aback when she manages to get hold of one anyway and fall into a comatose state when the splinter enters her finger. Then, like all good parents, he leaves her unconscious body in the forest and buggers off from his kingdom (to be fair the story states that he thinks she's dead).Years later, along comes a lord riding through the forest. He sees this beautiful girl asleep in the grass and decides that he needs a little rest and relaxation. After he's done having sex with her still comatose form he leaves. Nine months later the still unconscious girl gives birth to twins and the children try to suckle from her. One of the children, who are about as bright as you'd expect from kids born in such an unusual way, mistakes it's mother's finger for a nipple and manages to pull out the thorn while suckling. The princess then awakens to find that she's older, no longer a virgin and a mother of two children. It may have come as a bit of a shock.At this point the lord, feeling a little horny, goes back into the forest where he hopes his rape victim is still unconscious, and goes looking for the princess. give him his due, when he finds a new family waiting for him he does the honourable thing and says they can come to live with him. The princess, possibly suffering from lack of oxygen to the brain, happily agrees to move in with the guy who raped her. The lord's wife is not amused… When he shows up with a new "friend" she decides that she'll teach him a lesson and cooks the princess' children to serve them to him and his new lover. As they finish their meal the lord's wife announces that what he's eating is his own bloodline, so the lord has her burned alive and he and his rape victim live happily ever after.I'd say the number 13 is the least of their problems. πŸ˜‰

  6. I find the math a bit iffy. You could probably get all kinds of numbers from a certain date – as long as you're looking for them.Also – how on earth did the princess manage to find the father of her children? :right:

  7. Yes Gavin, you should. If you practised all the rituals your parents told you then you'll be safe. Remember, "eat your crusts for curly hair or you'll die too young to grow it there." Some families shortened it so they wouldn't frighten the children but that's how it began. πŸ˜‰

  8. The 13th of September 1994, I had a really bad accident that left me dead for six minutes and comatized for three days. However, since this is the only personal experience I have with the number 13 in a way that could support the superstition, I still feel reasonably comfortable with that particular number.

  9. Originally posted by Aqualion:

    However, since this is the only personal experience I have with the number 13 in a way that could support the superstition

    Statistically, that doesn't even come close! :lol:.

  10. Originally posted by qlue:

    That's standard numerology maths!

    I'm aware of that, but I still think you can find pretty much whatever you're looking for as long as you want to.

  11. In standard numerology a number or set of numbers is broken down until it becomes a single digit, 1-9. This isn't set numerology at work here, but the workings going on in the mind of someone deathly afraid who is actually breaking the rules he's following in order to come to the conclusion he already has in his head.The aim of this post was never to show the arcane power of the number 13, but to show how powerful the mind is when it turns against us, presenting the "evidence" this poor man saw every day of his life. It obviously needed more work.

  12. Originally posted by Mik:

    the arcane power of the number 13

    …and there you have it. You are not in control, even of your own posts. This wasn't the 13th post in the last month or something, was it? If it wasn't, I'll bet that with the judicious use of a few numbers, it could be proven that this post has 13 written all over it :).Ummm…wait….. :left:

  13. Originally posted by Furie:

    show how powerful the mind is when it turns against us

    Yes. That's sort of the gist I was aiming at, only much more incomprehensible :awww:.

Have Your Say:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s