The following is an excerpt from an essay for readers of The Witch and discusses the relevance of number 13 to the book and some key influences on our culture. Follow the research and links.

“Thirteen chapters for thirteen characters and thirteen letters begin them…” – The Witch

A bad location: if you have triskaidekaphobia

Number 13

Fair warning if you suffer from triskaidekaphobia – the fear of the number 13. Thomas Middleton, who wrote his work The Witch in 1613 may have intended similar synchronicities as the The Witch of 2007 but the number 13 has charmed the book, including a puzzle and theme.

“Thirteen characters cross the path of a witch.
Some carry on, some meet their demise.
Each brings their own attributes and failings.
This is the tale of those occurrences.” – The Witch

Incidents of the number thirteen in The Witch:

13 characters
13 chapters
13 letters – one to begin each chapter
13 letter theme word
Start of chapter one: page 13 (in the first edition)
ISBN bar code of 13 digits: 978-0-9809201-0-9
Dewey decimal number assigned: 813,6
The original first edition books were wrapped in paper and sealed with a wax “W”, upside down it is “M” the 13th letter of the alphabet
Author pen name on the cover: 13 letters

Some other interesting number combinations:

The copyright of the story was designated 12/21/07: 1+2+2+1+0+7=13
The copyright date is exactly 5 years from the end of the Mayan calendar: 12/21/12
There are five limbs on the cimaruta, 5 letters in witch
13 symbols on a sprig of evergreen or cimaruta (rue)
Last page of story: 69, astrological sign for cancer – the author’s birth sign, thus ending the chapter: Myself
A convenient coincidence? This wordpress website designed by Beccary is called “Thirteen”.

13 Symbols of the Cimaruta: Neville Rolfe Collection

The following is a comment from the author:
“One evening, I met my wife at a small pub to talk about the book. We sat at a quiet table beneath a large sun and moon wall mural of a solar eclipse. When the bill came the waitress commented, “Funny, thats exactly thirteen dollars.” I explained the purpose of our meeting and the little mysteries that seemed to follow the book. She said she would like to read it, so I asked her name. She answered,
“Diana.” Who knew? We had been served by the namesake of the goddess of ancient witchcraft herself!”

13 steps to the all-seeing eye

13 steps to the all-seeing eye

Some excerpts from Wikipedia:


Thirteen is regarded as an unlucky number in many cultures. Fear of the number 13 is termed triskaidekaphobia. The thirteenth of a month is likewise ominous, particularly when it falls on a Friday in some English-speaking cultures, Sweden, Russia and Germany (see Friday the 13th) or a Tuesday in the Greek and Spanish-speaking world.

"The Last Supper", Leonardo Da Vinci, had 13 participants.

In Christianity:
The number of participants at the Last Supper.
Thirteen was once associated with the Epiphany by Christians, the child Jesus having received the Magi on his thirteenth day of life.

In Judaism:
13 signifies the age at which a boy matures and becomes a Bar Mitzvah (Age of 12 for Girls, or Bat Mitzvah).
The number of principles of Jewish faith according to Maimonides.
According to the Torah, God has 13 Attributes of Mercy.
In Mesoamerican Divination, 13 is the number of important cycles of fortune/misfortune.

In Sikhism:
The number 13 is considered a special number since 13 is tera in Punjabi, which also means “yours” (as in, “I am yours, O Lord”). The legend goes that when Guru Nanak Dev was taking stock of items as part of his employment with a village merchant, he counted from 1 to 13 (in Punjabi) as one does normally; and thereafter he would just repeat “tera”, since all items were God’s creation. The merchant confronted Guru Nanak about this, but found everything to be in order after the inventory was checked. April 13 also usually turns out to be Vaisakhi every year, which is the Sikh New Year and the major Sikh Holiday.

In Persia:
On the 13th day of the new year (Norouz), people consider staying at home unlucky, and go outside for a picnic in order to ward off the bad luck.

In Lore:

Early nursery rhymes stated there were thirteen months in a year because of the natural moon cycle that was used to count the lunar year. In England, a calendar of thirteen months of 28 days each, plus one extra day, known as “a year and a day” was still in use up to Tudor times.

In Tarot decks, the 13th card of the Major Arcana is Death. While Death is rarely interpreted literally, it is possible that this furthered the perception of 13 as an unlucky number.

Another hypothesis about the origin of Friday the 13th as an unlucky day is attributed to this being the day that the Knights Templar were slaughtered in a collaboration between King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V finishing with the burning at the stake of Jacques De Molay.
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13: A Secret Number of Sacred Power: An excerpt from The Vessel of God


We are told that 13 is an unlucky number. The date Friday the 13th is taboo because the Knights Templar were arrested and condemned by the seneschals of Philippe IV, King of France, in a “pre-dawn raid” on Friday, October 13th, 1307. The number 13 has been shunned for centuries. Some architects omit the 13th floor from office buildings to this very day. Is it possible that the folklore associated with the number 13 is absolutely apocryphal? Or that it has become a demonized numeral precisely because it was sacred in pre-Christian times? Think about it. It is an oddly recurring sum. 12 apostles and a messiah. 12 Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur. The number 13 recurs too consistently in such significant contexts to be purely arbitrary. And of course, it’s not.

Infamous Friday 13th, in October 1307 when The Knights of Templar were attacked.

13 was a number central to certain traditions of sacred geometry, because it reflected a pattern which could be seen to exist in man, nature, and the heavens. For instance, there are 13 major joints in your body. There are 13 lunar cycles in a solar year, and the moon travels 13 degrees across the sky every day. A commentator writing about the Aztec calendar once said that, “Thirteen is a basic structural unit in nature. It means the attracting center around which elements focus and collect.” Is this, then, the reason for Christ’s 12 disciples, King Arthur’s 12 knights, or the 12 major constellations in relation to our sun?

13 is of particular interest to us because of Tracy Twyman’s work on the “Golden Calendar”, which is based on multiples of 13, such as 26 and 52. Interestingly, our modern calendar retains the concept of 52 weeks in a calendar year. According to the website, the Aztec century was based on a unit of 52 years, and native people in South America, who believed in an impending apocalypse that would occur on a certain date, would, “ritually demolish and destroy their civilization every 52 years”, as a sort of “dress rehearsal.” The glyph which represents both the start and end of the Aztec calendar is known as “13 Cane”, and symbolizes the death of one cycles, followed by the birth of another – the Alpha and Omega.

Aztec calendar with 13 divisions

Strangely, this is very much what the 13th rune – called “Eiwaz” – means in the Northern European mythos. It represents the balance point between light and dark, the creative force and the destructive force, or the heavens and the Underworld. It too is the Alpha and Omega at the same time. It signifies death, but it also signifies eternal life.

The Eiwaz Rune for 13

In the traditional tarot deck, the 13th card is the Death card. It also represents not merely death, but rebirth and renewal. These were obviously pivotal concepts to ancient cultures, the understanding of which has faded down the centuries. But isn’t it remarkable that this specific notion always seems to be associated with the number 13, even in cultures as seemingly dissimilar as those of Northern Europe and South America?
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The 13th Arcana

Excerpts from the


The Mayan calendar was very advanced, and consisted of a solar year of 365 days. It was divided into 18 months of 20 days each, followed by a five-day period that was highly unlucky. There was also a 260-day sacred year (tzolkin), divided into days named by the combination of 13 numbers and 20 names.

For longer periods, the Maya identified an elaborate system of periods and cycles of various lengths. In ascending order, these were: kin (day); uinal (20 days); tun (18 uinals/360 days); katun (20 tuns/7,200 days); baktunbaktun (20 katuns/144,000 days), and so on, with the highest cycle being the alautun (23,040,000,000 days).

The Mayan Calendar

These units were used in the Maya Long Count, which calculated the time elapsed from a zero date set at 3114 BC. In the Postclassical Period, the method of notation was somewhat simplified, and the Long Count katuns end with the name Ahau (Lord), combined with one of 13 numerals; and their names form a Katun Round of 13 katuns.

This change makes it difficult to correlate the Mayan count with the Christian calendar, but scholars are fairly confident that the katun 13 Ahau, which seems to have had great significance for the Mayan, ended on November 14, 1539. It has been calculated that the next katun, which the Popul Vuh describes as the catastrophic end of the world, will end on December 21, 2012. Naturally, this has inspired quite a bit of speculation as to what might happen on this date.
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Mayan glyphs depict the 13th Baktun on 12/21/12

Mayan glyphs depict the 13th Baktun on 12/21/12. Click image for an interesting perspective on Mayan prophecy.

Excerpts from the
Thirteen Moons of the Witch


13 Moons Calendar

Moon Name / Polarity / Nicknames

Birch Moon – Wolf / Feminine / Moon of Inception – Beginning

Rowan Moon – Chaste / Masculine / Moon of Vision – Spirit Moon

Ash Moon – Seed / Feminine / Moon of Waters

Alder Moon – Hare / Masculine / Moon of Utility – Self-Guidance

Willow Moon – Dyad / Feminine / The Witche’s Moon – Balance

Hawthorn Moon – Mead / Feminine / Moon of Restraint – Summer

Oak Moon – Wort / Masculine / Moon of Strength – Bear

Holly Moon – Barley / Feminine / Moon of Encirclement – Polarity

Hazel Moon – Wine / Feminine / Moon of the Wise – Crone

Vine Moon – Blood / Androgynous / Moon of Celebration

Ivy Moon – Snow / Masculine / Moon of Buoyancy – Resilience

Reed Moon – Oak / Feminine / Moon of Home – Winter

13th Moon
Elder Moon – Ice / Masculine / Moon of Completeness

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Celtic Wheel: 13 moons

Excerpts from the

The sacred cord of Druids has thirteen segments.

There are thirteen lunations in the year.

The Sumerians used a zodiac including 13 constellations and 26 main stars.

The thirteen gates of the Human body of the woman: 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, the mouth, 2 breasts, the navel, the anus, the urethra and the vagina.

The card deck includes 13 hearts, 13 spades, 13 squares, 13 clubs.

The Jewish sage Moses Maimonides established 13 principles of the Jewish faith.

The Chinese abacus consists of 13 columns of beads.

The 13 Runes: Witches Magick Moonstones

The 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin:

Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
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“13 Trees”
Charles Capps, 1898-1981


All images are copyright of their respective owners and are used here under Fair Use for research and informational purposes and represent the subject of this article in critical commentary.


1 Comment

  1. garden of the witch said,

    July 15, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    If this page doesn’t work, then you’ll know why.

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