Friday, April 13, 2012

Scared to Sacred: Falling in Love with 13

In high school English I learned a 64-carat word for a common ailment: triskaidekaphobia, "fear of the number thirteen." The elevator in my grandparents' apartment building omitted the thirteenth floor. Apparently the assumption was, nobody would have wanted to live on it. It was a fashionable New York City address; fear and loathing cross all perceived boundaries. I also recall a series of horror movies with "Friday the 13th" in the title.

A society steeped in superstition and a materialistic value system will find it easy to assign anxiety to anything that threatens the status quo. Thirteen is the number of movement, of change — a wild card — and that can be very scary. But it's our lost connection with the Divine in everyday life that gives rise to such distress. Divorced from our origins, terrified of our own power, we profane the sacred: thirteen becomes unlucky, evil, a curse; symbolic scapegoat of all we're afraid to embrace.

When we can take the thirteenth step, however, we're on the first step of the Stairway to Heaven. With the courage to look, we find thirteen stitched into the very fabric of our culture. Thirteen colonies gave birth to a nation. The first American flag bore thirteen stars and stripes. We were on the right track back then, grounded into the roots of our heritage.

Think about it: thirteen has traditionally been cause for celebration. The thirteenth year signifies a coming-of-age, also across all perceived boundaries. In the Jewish religion, boys make their Bar Mitzvah at thirteen. This ceremony, which involves reading from the holy Torah, marks a boy's entrance into manhood.

Girls generally begin to menstruate at thirteen. Cross-culturally, it's common to commemorate the first blood with an initiation rite; here in the West, this significant threshold is at last beginning to be recognized as a powerful, sacred passage. (My e-course, Loving Our Lunacy, is an embodied initiation for all women.)

In fact, there are even thirteen sun signs in the Real Solar Zodiac — which is not the one used in conventional astrology. Ophiucus, the serpent bearer, has been omitted from the oversimplified Tropical Zodiac used in the West. Yet the serpent denotes transformation — and on the Winter Solstice of 2012, Earth will be directly aligned with both Ophiucus and the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Thirteen, then, is a fundamental Earth rhythm, manifested in our physical bodies as well as the heavenly ones. To reject thirteen is, perhaps, to reject or deny some core aspect of ourselves as human beings.

How can we reawaken to our true purpose and potential, beyond the fear and perception of separateness? By reclaiming our native knowing.

One way that resonates for me is following a 13 Moon Calendar. The 13 Moon Calendar shows us a path to walk to restore right relationship in our lives, to re-member (make membership again) our journey as one Earth family. Based on an annual solar cycle of 13 moons (months) of 28 days each (the female menstrual cycle), plus one "day out of time" in which to reflect and regenerate, the 13 Moon Calendar is synchronized with Earth rhythms and human biology. It's expansive, intuitive, juicy, flowing: life, in all its harmonious chaos.

The beauty of this apparent paradox lies in learning to honor the both/and: life is orderly and messy, pragmatic and unpredictable, spiritual and material. Living in tune with these innate contradictions, we breathe in our own magnificence, and feel nourished and held in the body of the Great Mother.

Our Gregorian calendar, by contrast, models scarcity, so we always subtly feel we're starving: if you get what you need, there might not be enough for me. Living a compressed, alienating, sterile existence, our spiritual lungs squeezed for air, we evince these invisible shackles in the way we treat each other and Gaia. Time-is-money, me-first, bigger-better-best, I want it yesterday, are the credos of mechanistic time. Pursued by the clock, separated from our humanity, we've forgotten that time is creativity, that women carry time in their bodies, and have come to accept the clock as king.

Another Earth-based analogy may also help: I've observed a fairly rampant homeowner disgust with the "lowly dandelion", scourge of suburbia's well-manicured lawns — when in fact, dandelion is one of the most healing herbs available to humanity, offering itself in abundance wherever we dwell. It's a supreme liver tonic, known to help detoxify the body's "processing plant." If you want to release that pent-up rage in a healthy way, the remedy is probably available, free and easy, right in your own backyard.

Dandelion is so plentiful that I find it also acts as de facto compost within me: surrounding and helping to decompose back into rich loam that which no longer serves. Yet we curse the weed and uproot it, spray poison to keep the green carpet unsullied. When we can stop "livin' for the lawn," focusing predominantly on the external, and make the subtle shift from ego mind to Universal Mind, we see with such great clarity the incredible gifts all around us.

In the 13 Moon Calendar, the number thirteen, like dandelion, grows everywhere; it's the key thread on which the harmony of the calendar is woven. And on a 13 Moon Calendar, there's always a Friday the 13th — in a 28-day month, every second Friday is Friday the thirteenth!

Astrologer Judith Goldberg offers an additional planet-positive note for this Friday the 13th: Mars, which has been retrograde since January 23rd, goes direct. Judy writes:

"Demonstrating an auspicious sense of timing, Mars entered the sign of Virgo, the healer, on 11/11/11. It began its bi-annual retrograde motion on January 23rd, 2012, the day of the Chinese New Year. Usually transiting in a sign for a few weeks, because of the lengthy retrograde, Mars residence in Virgo lasted 5 months until it turns direct on Friday, April 13th. Each of these movements of the red planet takes on an added significance because of these cultural, spiritual or energetic synchronicities. Now, as Mars turns direct, we are in a 5-day period between April 12th and 17th, that is a powerful energetic nexus, or core, which greatly enhances spiritual practices.

"This is the perfect time for daily meditation to open yourself to the highest possibilities that will take you into your best new direction. With Mars direct it is time to begin taking action again, to turn those possibilities into new realities. In fact, the remainder of the year between now and the Solstice is a fulcrum point, a time when we can gain the necessary leverage to do the heavy lifting that will facilitate new changes in our personal lives, in our collective reality and propel mankind and Planet Earth into the Age of Aquarius."

As our evolutionary readiness dissolves old superstition around the number thirteen — and all it represents — our collective mindfield makes a quantum leap from mindless fear to aware acceptance of thirteen as the sacred number of the spiral, the energy of kundalini awakening, the step to transformation and growth. Unified in time, living on purpose, a metamorphosis occurs as we attune to a higher frequency.

Metamorphosis means going above, beyond what existed before. The Sufi mystic Rumi said, "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there's a field; I'll meet you there." In this quantum field, we midwife moth into butterfly. Scared into sacred. Each of us into our true purpose and potential.

What is this time of profound transmutation helping you bring to birth? Whatever it is, may it be in beauty, for the greatest good of all.

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