Tag Archives: superstition

Monday the umpteenth

My friend Murphala over at FWY&S is having a bad day, and she suspects it may be because today is Monday the 13th. I say she’s half-right: she’s having a bad day because it’s a Monday.

For decades (if not centuries), Monday has been viewed with trepidation and despair. After all, it’s the day we return to work (or school) after our weekly respite (the weekend). It’s often the day we go back to the grind after vacation, though I’ve noticed in recent years that school corporations (in the U.S., at least) seem to take great pains not to begin the new school year on a Monday. Could it be that they’ve observed some truth in the old Russian adage that one should never begin anything important on a Monday?

You may be tempted to dismiss this as random coincidence or blind superstition, but consider the following:

  • Have you noticed how much better the week is after a three-day weekend that includes a Monday holiday? This can’t simply be due to the shorter (four-day) week, because weeks preceding a three-day weekend that begins with a Friday holiday are downright hellish.
  • In everyone’s mind, summer really begins the day after Memorial Day, school calendars and summer solstice notwithstanding. (The same can be said for Labor Day and fall.)
  • In sensible places like Canada and Great Britain, the day after Easter (a Monday) is a national holiday.
  • Songwriters have little good to say about Monday: “Monday, Monday” by The Mamas & the Papas, “Rainy Days and Mondays” by The Carpenters, “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats, and “Manic Monday” by The Bangles, for example.
  • According to the Urban Dictionary, that hip barometer of society, Monday is bad news all around — the word can even be used as a very nasty (though somewhat cryptic) insult.

So here’s to the end of another Monday and hoping that the rest of the week is better. After all, there’s nowhere to go from here but up!

Day of blessing

Today is a very special day: it is Friday, and it is the 13th day of the month. Three Fridays fall on the 13th this year, 13 weeks apart from each other. Today is the third and final Friday the 13th of 2012. You have to admit that’s pretty cool, from a mathematical perspective if nothing else.

The origins of various superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th are not clear, nor are those superstitions universal. Folklorists have recorded several theories explaining the supposed unluckiness of the date, all of which fall apart when correlated with other historical information. Superstitions, both good and bad, surrounding the number 13 and the sixth day of the week are well documented throughout history, but the two don’t seem to be linked until the beginning of the 20th century. Ironically, it would seem that the phenomenon of Friday the 13th, as we know it today, is a product of modern thinking.

I’ve never thought of it as unlucky myself, and once I learned about various pre-20th century associations with the number and the day, I started to view it as a day of special significance to me as a woman.

Friday is named for the chief goddess in the Norse pantheon, and is the only day of the week that bears a goddess’ name. I suppose this could be the reason why Friday seems like such a grrrrl power day to me.

There are 13 lunar months in a solar year, so the number 13 is often associated with the moon. Women and the moon are frequently connected in folklore and tradition for a variety of reasons, and many cultures in the West personify the moon as female. (I have felt an affinity with the moon since I was a small child, long before I knew any of that stuff.)

So the coincidence of these two calendrical facts has led me to view Friday the 13th as a special day for most of my life. (No doubt my tendency to flout tradition plays into it a bit, too.)

And if you need more proof that Friday the 13th is anything but unlucky, I offer this: it has been raining here – softly, gently, steadily – since before 6:00 a.m. In this year of record-breaking heat and drought, that is a blessing.

Thinking about tarot

I haven’t always liked tarot. For a time, I viewed it as a terrifying incarnation of evil. My understanding of many things changed as I aged, and I eventually reached a point where I stopped avoiding tarot with superstitious fervor. I was no longer philosophically opposed to it, but I wasn’t much interested in it either.

From the Halloween Tarot by Kipling West

I’ve long been a fan of classic monster movies, so when I came across Kipling West’s Halloween Tarot, with its cartoon clarity, bright colors, and iconic monsters, I was smitten. Anything that so lovingly featured my old friends Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, the Bride, and the Mummy was worth a second look. The images are populated with costumed trick-or-treaters, jack-o-lanterns, friendly ghosts, and black cats. I couldn’t resist! The Halloween Tarot became my first deck and remains one of my favorites.

Now that I realized tarot didn’t have to be mystical or sinister or take itself so seriously, I was intrigued. I found all sorts of fun and fanciful decks, from baseball to Harry Potter to Alice in Wonderland. I found decks whose images could be hanging in a museum and decks whose art could be featured on Saturday morning cartoons. Who knew there was so much beauty and variety in a bunch of cards?

I have come to enjoy tarot like I do art, film, literature, music, dreams. I appreciate the layers of meaning such things have, the way they reflect life back to me, the way my soul sometimes resonates with them. I don’t believe tarot has mystical powers, but I know it sometimes makes me smile or gives me pause. And that, to me, is reason enough to like it.