Religion, Superstition and the Number 13

Mayflower bud

We went to a contemporary Catholic church.  It had traditional stained glass windows, with scenes from the bible, but was bright with natural sunlight and pale green walls.  The Folk Mass was my mother’s favorite, she liked the music.  They played acoustic guitars and sang If I Had A Hammer and Blowin’ In The Wind.

My father never went to church, and my only mother went reluctantly.  Once we were old enough to go by ourselves she stopped taking us.

When she did take us to church, my mother would give us each a quarter to put in the basket.  Men in suits would walk up the aisle on either side of the pews with a basket on a long handle.  They’d pass the basket in front of us and we’d toss the money in before they pulled the basket back and moved on to the next pew.

When I learned that the money went to the church and not poor people I was shocked.

Then, one day I saw a very old woman, whose face was folded with wrinkles.  She was stooped and held onto the arm of a younger woman when she walked. I saw her put money into a metal box on the wall, with the words For The Poor on it.

After that, I put my change in that box instead of the basket.

I was searching back then. Looking for something to believe in, for a way to do good, and I wasn’t finding it in the church.

So when my grandmother gave me a chain with the Virgin Mary and a pendant with the number 13 on it, I wore them religiously, never taking them off.  She told me the “13” was good luck and I didn’t think more about it.

I know now that was more superstition than religion.

I hadn’t thought of that medal in years until someone sent me a message on Facebook about how the number 13 was a holy number in the ancient goddess culture.  I don’t remember the specifics, but it got my attention.

In many ancient cultures, a full year had thirteen moons.  These moons correlated with women’s 28-day menstrual cycles and their fertility.

I’ve read that in Italy, where my grandmother was from,  the number 13 is still seen as a lucky number.  And even though there are more recent connections to the Virgin Mary and the Last Supper, I have no doubt that the meaning found in the number 13 goes back to the days when women (not male gods) were still seen as creators of life.

I have a feeling, from what I remember about my grandmother, that she was more superstitious than religious.  I never talked to her about it but looking back it seems to me that what she did was mostly about Goddess worship ( the Virgin Mary being the Goddess), and about bringing good fortune.

I stopped going to church soon after my mother stopped bringing us.  It just didn’t give me what I was looking for.  And when I was a teenager, I took off the gold medals my grandmother had given me and put them in a box in my dresser drawer.

I don’t know what happened to them but now I like that I had that connection to the number 13 early in my life.  I still gravitate toward the number, it’s always felt witchy, in a good way, to me.

My grandmother was a difficult person and I did not like spending time with her, but she’s been dead for many years.  The distance makes it easier for me to find a gift in the relationship.  The first was when I made my Mother Mary fabric painting.   The conch shells in the image I created came from the Madonna my grandmother had in her garden.  She was surrounded by conch shells.

Now I have another in the number 13.

But this connection is with women in general and spans thousands of years instead of just two people’s lifetimes.   It also speaks to all the work I’ve created around Goddesses in the past years. To my “Flying Vulva” and the power that women continue to fight to reclaim.

2 thoughts on “Religion, Superstition and the Number 13

  1. My dad was a very unique human and was born in 1913. He died when I was young and I’ve learned that 13 and 23 (birth and death dates) are how I “get” he’s around.

    The older I get, the more that sacred geometry and the organization of everything numerologically gets through.

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