It's 2013, And That May Actually Be A Lucky Thing

The Number 13 has a long history of being blamed for bad luck. But some spiritual and superstitious folk in South America have a good feeling about the coming year.

Twelve months at 13...
Twelve months at 13...
Marisa Cortéz

BUENOS AIRES - As the ghost of the Mayan apocalypse fades into the past, the spectre of a number famous for bad luck has arrived on our calendars. But some traditions actually consider 13 a lucky number.

As 2013 begins, precautions against the feared bad luck have already started. Where does this bad reputation come from? Did we survive the end of the world only to enter a year fit only for the brave?

The campaign against the number 13 has a long history. Neither Hamurabbi’s Code nor the Babylonia Civilization’s set of laws had a number 13. In Nordic mythology, the evil god Loki who betrays his father Odin, is the god number 13.

Thirteen is also related to the months of the year. The Romano-Christian Gregorian calendar has twelve months, while the lunar calendars present in many other cultures, such as the Chinese, Mayan and Celtic traditions, had 13 months with 28 days each. In the early days of the Christianity, it was common to demonize everything that was not Christian by saying that it was bad luck as a way to lure people away from paganism.

“The number 13 has a bad reputation because there were 13 apostles at the Last Supper, and one of the 13 was killed,” explains Victoria Arderius, a tarot instructor. “But if we look at it from a spiritual perspective, 13 is the number of Jesus, the brightest of men, the son of God.”

Vital Energy

To further expand on that idea, Victoria said that people who are born on the 13th day of the month are not plagued by bad luck any more than everyone else. Instead, they are “cosmic radiators,” whose emotions are contagious and can make those around them feel sad or happy. She says that this vital energy can make them beacons of hope and light for those around them.

From this esoteric perspective, people born on the 13th of the month are old souls who have had many important experiences and have developed many skills, and are able to transform the present moment. That’s what Tarot says about the number 13: the death of the old and transformation.

Victoria explained that in Tarot, the famous Nameless Arcana, which represents death, is the great equalizer, because he can come to the prince and the beggar.

"It’s a card that indicates major changes, with tears. But at the base of the card we can see that once you have crossed through pain and loss, there will be a new sunrise. It’s like we see in nature: nothing is lost, everything is transformed,” she said. “It’s likely that a year that ends with the number 13 will bring major changes that will have consequences for years to come.”

Deep meaning

At the same time, Javier Wolcoff, the president of Applied Kabbalah, goes even further from human perspectives and into the mystic. Kabbalah is the mystical tradition of Judaism that studies metaphysical causes and their consequences on the physical world.

“The first thing we have to examine is the idea of good or bad luck,” says Wolcoff. “According to Kabbalah, there is no such thing as luck. But there is an ability of humans to create his or her own reality through thoughts, and that is the danger of thinking something is bad luck. People who are saying that 2013 will be a hard year because of the number are decreeing the year to be bad, and it surely will be for them.”

In Kabbalah, the number 13 actually has many positive connotations. First of all, it is considered the number of spiritual people, because there are only 12 Zodiac signs and spiritual people are above astral influence, thus they have the 13th sign. In addition, the number 13 symbolizes creation itself, and the restoration of unity between man and God.

In short, 2013 could be a fantastic year, where we resolve old conflicts and transform for the better, as long as we are conscientious of the power our thoughts have, and don’t get too hung up on ancient ideas of bad luck.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!