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Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday 13th and shoes

Divination is the ability to predict events in the future and the ability by whatever means to prevent misfortune by taking evasive action. Pedal extremities and by extension shoes have a significance to the human psyche suffice they appear in many superstitions, yet there has never been any plausible explanation for this phenomena. For Christians Friday the 13th is probably the most taboo ridden date and many people are afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th . Paraskevidekatriaphobics will not venture out of the house on that day, drive or travel or plan weddings or social get togethers such is their fear. No one can be sure where this reserve for Friday the 13th came from but it is likely to have been upheld since 19th century and corresponds to the emerging new phase of Christianity which came with the expanding British Empire and rise of Capitalism. In the same way as early Christians tried to suppress pagan beliefs by fair means or foul, Friday 13th became a focus to all on what might befall them if tempted to ignore good providence. It was of course an amalgam of many beliefs which is conveniently compressed into two numbers, six and thirteen. For centuries these have had a foreboding reputation and when conjoined as in Friday the 13th (one to three times a year) present a timely reminder to all to have faith, otherwise misfortune may present. Western paranoia about thirteen was started by early Christians keen to destroy pagan beliefs. In pre Christian culture women priests prevailed and the number 13 was revered because it was thought to corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). In Turkey the number 13 is practically expunged from the vocabulary. Trades people in the past would short change their customers and when caught in Turkey had the indignity of having their feet beaten (falanga), Fear of this corporal punishment spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages and bakers in England started to give their customers 13 rolls (a bakers dozen). This had nothing to do with Jesus and the Twelve Disciples albeit it was conveniently linked to assure all the genuine Christianity (charity) of the baker. Across the world many cities will not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue and hotel will not register a room 13. There are 13 witches in a coven (Devil's Dozen). Hindus and Vikings believed it was unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place and this is probably the origin of the custom of setting a table for an even number of guests. In other cultures such as ancient China and Egypt the number 13 was considered lucky (hence lucky for some, 13). Ancient Egyptians believed life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in 12 stages and the 13th lay beyond in the form of an eternal afterlife. The number 13 came to symbolize glorious death but as the civilisation passed its priesthood survived, only to be corrupted by subsequent cultures who came to associate 13 with a fear of death. Friday" was derived from a Norse deity worshipped on the sixth day, known either as Frigg (goddess of marriage and fertility), or Freya (goddess of sex and fertility), or both. Frigg/Freya correspond to Venus, the Roman goddess of love and the Romans named the sixth day of the week in her honour "dies Veneris." Naturally Friday was not a day Christian upheld and it became a day of penance because supposedly on a Friday Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit; the Great Flood began on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday. In pagan. Rome, Friday was execution day (later Hangman's Day in Britain), and it was a Friday that Jesus was crucified. By the Middle Ages In the Middle Ages, Friday became known as the "Witches' Sabbath, " and not surprisingly there is a plethora of superstitions surrounding what Christians you can do or not on a Friday. Such as don’t change your bed or it will bring bad dreams. Don't start a trip on Friday or you will have misfortune. If you cut your nails on Friday, you cut them for sorrow. Ships that set sail on a Friday will have bad luck. Footprints since prehistory have always had magical associations and were protected as if to protect the owner and destroyed to bring bad luck. From antiquity the importance of the right foot was paramount and the conscious use of the right foot to make first contact with the ground when rising and be placed in a shoe before the left became a ritual thought to pay reverence to their Gods. Ignoring these customs would knowingly result in disaster and so they were closely followed. The left side was considered unlucky form Biblical times and for soldiers marching with their left foot forward was a clear intimation to all no mercy would be spared to the enemy. Setting out on an journey or venture especially on a Friday was fraught with danger and there fore certain precautions were required such as throwing the shoe. Where ever the toe pointed the days journey would start from that direction. If the shoe landed upper most this was a good luck omen.

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