The Significance of 13

Hello readers! I hope you all had wonderful weekends! Today’s Soulful Sunday post was inspired by Friday’s post on Friday the 13th. To my surprise, the number 13 has a lot of significance when it comes to religion (especially Christianity). I thought it was interesting so I’m sharing what I found out with you guys! Enjoy. 

Unlucky 13

There are several mythological and theological explanations as to why 13 is considered unlucky or evil. According to Norse mythology, 12 gods were having a dinner party when an uninvited 13th guest arrived.  Once there, the guest convinced the god of darkness to shoot the god of joy and gladness with an arrow. The god of joy and gladness was fatally wounded and the Earth grew dark and mourned.This tale is paralleled to Christianity during the Last Supper. At the Last Supper, it was Jesus and 12 apostles. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th member to arrive. Judas’s betrayal resulted in the Jesus’s crucifixion causing great sadness among his disciples and the world.

The Last Supper

In addition to the Last Supper, there are several other instances in which 13 had a negative context in Christianity. For instance, the Jews murmured against God 13 times during the exodus of Egypt. The 13 psalm addresses evil and corruption and the circumcision of Israel occurred during the 13th year.

Christians and those who were into Norse mythology weren’t the only ones who were fearful of the number 13.  The romans also feared it because it was believed that witches gathered in groups of 12. The 13th member to join the group was thought to be the devil.

The number 13 may also have been stigmatized as a way for Christians to destroy and discredit pagan religions. The number 13 was also revered by prehistoric cultures that worshiped Goddesses which posed a threat to male dominated Christianity. Many pagan religions worshiped the moon and the earth, often relying on lunar cycles. The moon is considered a symbol of femininity. The number 13 corresponded with the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year.

Lucky 13

Not all cultures and religions consider 13 to be evil or unlucky. In fact, the Norse and Christian assertions that 13 is unlucky may be false. If you count Jesus and the Norse God who the dinner party was for, they were the 13th entities of both parties. They were the enlightened and divine ones. If you look at this way, the number 13 could represent ascension, enlightenment and resurrection.

Image of Osiris

The number 13 has a positive context in Egyptian religion. When Osiris, god of life and death, was murdered by  his brother, Typhon, his wife and sister, Isis, collected his body with the intention to bring him back to life. Before she could, Typhon stole Osiris’s body and chopped it into 14 pieces. He then scattered the pieces about the earth. Isis continued her quest to bring her husband back to life but could only find 13 out of the 14 pieces. In this sense, the number 13 is implied to be the predecessor of completion. In addition to this, there are 13 steps on the ladder that leads to eternity, implying that at the 13th step the soul reaches its source and obtains spiritual completion.

The Egyptians weren’t the only ones who saw the number 13 in a positive light. In Mesoamerican religions, 13 symbolizes the cycle of fortune and misfortune.  According to Greek mythology, Zeus was the 13th and most powerful of all the gods. In this sense, 13 represents totality, completion, power and attainment and realization. April 13 is Sikh New Year. It is also considered to be a lucky and holy number in Sikhism. In Judaism, there are 13 principles of Jewish faith and God has 13 attributes of mercy, and 13 nodes that make up Metatron’s cube in Kabbalistic teachings. In addition to this, a religion in a small Brazilian community believe that 13 is a godlike number and can save humanity.

What do you think? Is 13 good or evil? Is it unlucky or lucky. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “The Significance of 13

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