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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.

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In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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