Overcoming Triskaidekaphobia: The Power of the Number Thirteen

Triskaidekaphobia

The Misunderstood Number

Childhood Superstition

When I was a child, one of my primary school teachers told our class how the number 13 was unlucky. She frightened me with this idea, and I strongly feared the number for years. As a result, it became a superstition that impacted me significantly, and I spent years actively avoiding it. I remember feeling anxious if I glanced at the clock, which showed it was 13 minutes past the hour. I even went to the extent of manipulating numbers to avoid reaching 13 or any of its multiples. It’s astonishing to realise that a simple superstition from a teacher had such a lasting impact on my young and impressionable mind. Especially when there was nothing inherently wrong with the number itself, so overcoming triskaidekaphobia took a long time for me.

Realisation and Transformation

As I grew older and became more involved in my spiritual journey and practices, I realised I had been irrational about the number 13. It’s a potent number and I explored the origins of the superstitions surrounding the number to shed light on the self-imposed prison of superstition. I learned that our reaction to something is often the problem, not the thing we are reacting to. Letting a superstition control you shackles and imprisons your mind.

What is Triskaidekaphobia?

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear or avoidance of anything associated with the number thirteen. Behaviours include avoiding the thirteenth floor in buildings and skipping the thirteenth step on a staircase. Avoiding any other instance of the number thirteen is typical. It becomes a habit, and so overcoming triskaidekaphobia can often be like trying to give up cigarettes. Why has the number received such negative attention? The numerology and history show that it is a powerful prime number which secret societies have favoured since ancient times. Various institutions and religions may encourage people to fear this number through superstition when, in reality, it holds great power.

The Origins of Number 13 Superstitions

Christian Traditions and the Last Supper

The superstition of the number 13 has roots in early Christian traditions. The Last Supper, where Jesus dined with his 12 apostles, is linked to the superstition. Judas, the betrayer, was the 13th person sitting at the table. On Good Friday, Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a pivotal event in the Christian faith and according to the Bible, Eve offers the forbidden fruit to Adam on a Friday, leading to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. It is also the day when Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother Abel.

Norse Mythology and Loki

In Norse mythology, the mischievous deity Loki was the 13th god. Loki brought significant disruption by gate-crashing a grand banquet in Valhalla, the heavenly hall where the valorous slain are received. The banquet was exclusive, with only 12 gods invited to attend, representing harmony and order within the divine assembly. Loki’s unexpected and uninvited presence brought disorder and tension among the gods.


He orchestrated events that led to the death of Baldur, the god of light and purity. Baldur’s death is by a mistletoe dart guided by the blind god Höðr under Loki’s influence. The gods went into mourning, and it was a harbinger of Ragnarok, the end of the world in Norse mythos. Loki’s act gave him a reputation as a trickster and a bringer of chaos in Norse mythology. His association with the number 13 became a symbol of misfortune and disruption, further perpetuating the superstition surrounding the number.

Ancient Civilisations and the Idealisation of 12

Some ancient civilisations revered the number 12 as the perfect number. To them, it represented harmony and order, just like the 12 Norse gods at the banquet in Valhalla. They based their timekeeping and calendar systems around it, such as 12 hours on the clock, 12 months in a year, and 12 phases in the zodiac. Idealising the number 12 led to the number 13 being imperfect—again, just as portrayed by Loki.

Modern Superstitions and Practices

Some people experience an intense fear of the number 13. This fear may stem from various origins, such as cultural beliefs or negative experiences associated with the number. Psychologists suggest that specific individuals may be more susceptible to developing phobias. This is due to brain chemistry, genetics, or environmental influences. Triskaidekaphobia leads to the deliberate avoidance of situations as well as obsessive thoughts and anxiety when exposed to the number.

Buildings, Planes, and Real Estate

While an extreme fear of the number 13 is uncommon, superstitions persist, and triskaidekaphobia is still rife. For example, some hotels and buildings omit the 13th floor. Estate agents report that properties with the number 13 in the address are often harder to sell. Additionally, planes usually do not have a 13th aisle, and some people take extra precautions or avoid activities on Friday the 13th due to superstitions.

Positive Aspects of the Number 13

Greek Mythology and Spiritual Completion

In certain cultures, particularly in the East, 13 is lucky. For instance, in Greek mythology, the mighty Zeus was the 13th and most powerful god. This linked the number 13 with the notion of incorruptible power and divinity. As the king of the gods, Zeus personified strength and authority, thereby giving the number 13 these potent qualities. The Greeks also view the number 13 as symbolising spiritual completion and perfection. Because 13 is a prime number, it can only be divided by itself and one. This indivisibility is a metaphor for totality, completion, and attainment. 

The Thai Calendar and New Year’s Day

Other Eastern traditions celebrate the number 13 for its deep connection to natural cycles and rhythms. In the Thai calendar, New Year’s Day, known as Songkran, is celebrated from the 13th to the 16th of April. This festival is one of the most significant events in Thailand, marking a time of renewal, cleansing, and new beginnings. The date aligns with the end of the dry season and the arrival of the monsoon rains, symbolising a fresh start and the rejuvenation of nature.

During Songkran, people engage in various purification rituals and wash away the old to welcome the new. Traditional activities include water splashing to cleanse individuals of bad luck and sins from the previous year. They visit temples to offer food to monks. Bathing Images of Buddha in fragrant water out of respect and for blessings in the coming year.

Hindu Traditions and Trayodash

In the Hindu calendar, the 13th day of every lunar fortnight is called Trayodashi. It is highly auspicious. The day is given to the worship of Lord Shiva. He is one of the principal deities in Hinduism, representing the cycles of creation, preservation, and destruction. Devotees pray, fast, and perform various religious ceremonies to seek blessings and spiritual growth. Trayodash is also the Sanskrit word for thirteen.

The number 13 here is associated with divine energy and transformation, reflecting the continuous cycles of life and the universe.
There are 13 menstrual cycles in a year and 13 annual cycles of the moon. Therefore, the number is closely linked to the natural rhythms of the earth and our circadian rhythms.

The 13th Zodiac Sign

The zodiac constellations in Western astrology comprise 12-star signs. Each corresponds to specific periods of the year with various astrological traits and influences. However, there is also a lesser-known zodiac system that includes 13 constellations. This alternative system introduces the constellation Ophiuchus, also known as Serpentarius, positioned between Sagittarius and Capricorn. Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, is a man holding a serpent, symbolising healing, wisdom, and rejuvenation. 

The Original 13 Colonies

The Founding Fathers established the United States based on the original 13 colonies. This significance is in various national symbols, most notably in the Great Seal of the United States. The Freemasons, who were influential in the formation of the United States, chose to represent these 13 colonies by arranging 13 stars in the shape of a hexagram on the Great Seal. This arrangement is not only decorative, but it holds a deep symbolic meaning.

The hexagram, or six-pointed star, is a symbol of unity and balance. In the context of the Great Seal, the 13 stars symbolise the original colonies’ unity and resolve to form a single nation. The centre star is the 13th star. This is particularly significant as it represents the unifying element among the colonies, symbolising the strength and solidarity required to build a new nation.

Overcoming Triskaidekaphobia

Many cultures celebrate the number 13 for its positive connection with natural rhythms, renewal, and spiritual significance. Triskaidekaphobia is more of a Western phobia. It’s therefore important to rethink our superstitions and their influence on our lives. From ancient myths and historical events to cultural beliefs, the number 13 has many interpretations which are the complete opposite of what we have been taught through dogma and superstition. When we look at something much more profoundly for ourselves, we can free ourselves from irrational fears and appreciate the deeper, more esoterical meanings overshadowed by superstition.

Please share your experiences with the number 13 and how you overcame any related fears in the comments section.

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