Full Moon Omens

All week – perhaps a little longer – my news feed at Facebook and commentary at a few other places have been filled with folks’ anxieties about the confluence today of a full moon and Friday the 13th.

It’s an accepted part of modern folklore – and perhaps there are some studies out there validating that folklore, but I’m not going to go hunting for them this morning – that things get weird out there on the nights of full moons. Some folks swear that even if they didn’t know there was a full moon by the calendar, they’d recognize its existence by either the behavior of others or the workings of their own bodies.

I won’t gainsay those folks, as I don’t know. In my working life – as a reporter/editor and as an educator – I came across plenty of weirdness, but I never cross-checked its timing against the phases of the moon. I guess I just assumed that there was weirdness in the world.

And Friday the 13th has never meant much to me. Its notoriety as a day of bad luck is simply folklore. Here’s the history of it as presented by Wikipedia:

The irrational fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia”; and on [sic] analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”).

The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:
“He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.”

It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. A suggested origin of the superstition – Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar – may not have been formulated until the 20th century. It is mentioned in the 1955 Maurice Druon historical novel The Iron King (Le Roi de fer), John J. Robinson’s 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and Steve Berry’s The Templar Legacy (2006).

Interesting stuff, I guess. We need some music to match it, but as I wander through the digital stacks, I come up empty on both sides. A number of tracks have the word “moon” in their titles, but none of them seem to hit the mark today. And a fair number of tracks have the word “Friday” in their titles, but none hit the date or the mood.

So let’s go with the word “superstition.” Here’s Jeff Beck, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, recording as Beck, Bogert & Appice, taking on Stevie Wonder’s tune for their self-titled 1973 album.

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