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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Triskaidekaphobia: Fear of Thirteen

There are still lots of emotions and high drama being played out in this full moon phase it seems. Although it's not a Friday, it is the 13th day of the month and in the name of drama, I thought I'd reveal a new word I just learned- Triskaidekaphobia.  Apparently this means "the fear of the number thirteen".

Whether you share the superstitious thoughts about the number 13 or not, you're probably at least aware that some people avoid this number. Many high rises don't call the 13th floor by it's location and avoid it by calling it the penthouse, or skip right from 12 to 14 in the elevator and number sequence. In some racing barns, there is no number 13 stall- often it's replaced by the sequence 12, 12A, then on to 14. Airplanes often avoid the 13th row and I'm told there are no "Gate 13's" in Scottish airports.

Apparently the feelings around this number originate in paganism. The Druids and the Celts had thirteen lunar months. Twelve of these months were the traditional months with the zodiac symbols we are aware of today, but there was also a thirteenth that was considered "secret" and the center of cosmic life. The number 13 became prominent on the female side of occult work. It still seems to share that sense of black magic and the mystic today. In numerology, 12 is considered the complete number and 13 is a bit "irregular" in nature. Hmm...

In Hexes and Hemlines, Juliet Blackwell creates a mystery novel around the Serpentarian Society in New York.  Her novel is fiction, but the Serpentarian Society has non-fiction roots. In the 1800's prominent leaders of society, in an effort to dispute the "unlucky 13" superstition, organized dinner clubs of 13 select members. They did everything they could to "fly in the face" of superstitious rumors including walking under ladders and always meeting on the 13th of the month.  In Hexes and Hemlines, this doesn't work out so well for some of the characters, but I won't spoil the story- read it for yourself!  It seems to me, that all that effort to refute the superstition kind of points to Shakespeare's quote "methinks the lady doth protest too much". That kind of energy drawn to the subject seems to point to some kind of underlying fear in an effort to prove.

It seems that there are as many people that believe 13 is lucky, as there are those that believe it to be unlucky. Just not many that are ambivalent about it.  I guess that's the way with a lot of aspects of life, and most definitely with what we consider the "supernatural". People are drawn to it- either in fear or fascination, or a bit of both. Once again it comes down to finding a balance.

I don't know Dr. Bach's opinion on the number 13, but I know he created a number of essences that fit within the category of fear. Those included Aspen, Mimulus, Rock Rose, Red Chestnut and Cherry Plum.

Aspen might make the most sense if you fear the supernatural. It's indicated for people that have fears and worries they can't identify. It's for that "spooky sense" that might surround you, or that stays with you after waking from a dream . Aspen might help you balance that sense of foreboding with the realization that you can choose to see the world as fearful or secure and the choice is yours.

For triskaidekaphobia, Mimulus might be the Bach Flower of choice. It's indicated for known fears. If you know you are afraid of the number and identify that as the cause for your concern, Mimulus should help.  Mimulus helps you face fears with your emotions under control.  It still might not be a good idea to walk underneath a ladder, but you can realize this avoidance might be so that something doesn't fall on your head, not because supernatural forces may overtake you!

If triskaidekaphbia or any other fear is causing a real and definite sense of terror in you- Rock Rose might be the essence for you. And the supernatural really can evoke that kind of terror in some people. Some people believe that type of unexplained terror may have roots in past life experiences, or old trauma. Rock Rose can help balance that with a sense of courage and the presence of mind to be in the "hear and now" not a past thought or experience.

Red Chestnut is indicated if your fear is not directed internally as much as you fear something happening to those you love. I guess this one is for the "step on a crack, break your mother's back" superstition. What more can I say?

For those people that formed the Serpentarian dinner parties, this Bach's for you: Cherry Plum. Cherry Plum is for the fear of loosing control.  I rather think those prominent socialites (and rumor has it a past president or two were in those parties), might have feared loosing control over social order and financial status to a more powerful supernatural force. Hence the energy to disprove the power of the "occult". That's just my own opinion!  Cherry Plum can help balance that sense that you are on the verge of a breakdown and no longer in control. It's included in Rescue Remedy for this reason. But that fear of loss of control may also be that you fear control can be taken away from you, a slightly different perspective for which Cherry Plum may also help balance.

Then again, there's the idea of the "baker's dozen".  No matter how you look at it, I think if you've paid for 12 doughnuts and you actually get 13, it's a lucky day and a good number!

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