Today is Friday the 13th — a day when many people refuse to travel, invest in the stock market or gamble.
The number 13 is often associated with the macabre, like many skyscrapers not having a 13th floor. Another example is Alice Belin Flagg’s grave at cemetery at All Saints Church near historic Pawley’s Island, S.C. It is said that her spirit can be evoked by walking around the grave backward 13 times. And there are documented cases of paraskevidekatriaphobics, people who have an actual phobia of Friday the 13th.
But for many Southwest Floridians this foreboding day and all that goes with it is a harbinger of good fortune. Rather than fear the 13th they embrace and use its forces for the greater good.
Steve Sorbara, a fishing guide who often takes charters out on Friday the 13th, is oblivious to superstitions like Friday the 13th. But his fiancé Megan Buckalew embraces the date for a variety of reasons.
“I turned 13 on Friday the 13th, so I always felt I should embrace the date,” said Buckalew, of Naples. “It’s what you make of it, so if you anticipate bad things happening because of that date, you’re inviting it to happen — change your perception about it and make it into a good day.”
Buckalew was in Atlantic City on a Friday the 13th for her birthday once and won three jackpots on slot machines totalling close to $5,000.
One Naples psychic who owns Palm & Card Reading, Tiffany Johnson, says Friday the 13th is all about your state of mind. Johnson’s gift is a family affair. She and her mother have been practicing psychics in Naples for three decades. Both get calls from all over the world from clients who are looking for insight into their lives.
“I would tell people who fear Friday the 13th that I believe it is a lucky day but that depends if the person is a superstitious person,” said Johnson. “It’s basically an ordinary day but some people believe it is a day of bad luck and I’ve had clients who won’t fly or go outside on Friday the 13th.”
Several of Johnson’s clients have come to her place of business a day before or a few days before Friday the 13th questioning if they should continue with an event or change plans because the event falls on the Friday the 13th. That’s when Johnson asks if that individual is, or is not, superstitious.
“It has nothing to do with the day but whether or not they believe something might happen — if you think it’s a lucky day, and you’re positive it’s likely to turn out positively, whereas a negative outlook may result in a negative day,” she says. “Don’t be frightened by a day or let people put crazy notions that something negative is going to happen to you.”
Although Jeff and Jessi Dawson who own and operate Scuba Marco on Marco Island aren’t very superstitious, they say when they’re running dive trips, mention of going out on a Friday the 13th will definitely raise some eyebrows.
“We often entertain vacationers and show them what the underwater world has to offer around Marco, and the beautiful thing about vacation is that people will forget what day it is, let alone the date,” said Jeff Dawson. “I’ve had divers express serious concern when completing paperwork and realizing it’s that ominous day, but I’ve been able to relax them and no one has backed out of a trip because of it.”
Dawson says it’s similar to divers who have fears about sharks. People need reassurance. He does have a little fun on the boat with anyone he sees bringing a banana on the dive boat. (Bananas are supposedly bad luck on a boat). “Eat it immediately or throw it in the water,” Dawson often jokes.
Another legendary sign of bad luck is the black cat, derived from various accounts in ancient times. One common belief is that bad luck will befall you if a black cat crosses your intended path. Historically however, more often the black cat is associated with good luck. In Scotland, a stopover by a strange black cat on your porch was said to bring prosperity to the house.
An Old English charm reads: “Black cat, cross my path — good fortune bring to home and hearth. When I am away from home, bring me luck wherever I roam…” In Marco Island, Naples and beyond, black cats rule. People like Ericka Basile loves black cats and devote their money, time and energy to saving them.
“I love black cats and usually when I make a donation to the Humane Society Naples, I put that I want part of my donation to go towards helping black cats because they can be harder to adopt,” said Basile, who is the auction chair for Humane Society Naples upcoming gala this February and a product scout for pet reviews for Pet Connection, associated with Good Morning America and the Dr. Oz show’s vet Dr. Marty Becker.
“When my husband said it was time to adopt a kitten we adopted Georgia, a black cat from the Humane Society Naples,” said Basile. Currently there is an entire litter of black cats at the Society’s shelter.
What can be said to people who legitimately fear Friday the 13th, black cats and the like? Licensed clinical social worker Kimberly Rodgers, of Monarch Therapy in Naples, says it’s natural for us as human beings to put significance to dates such as Friday the 13th in an effort to make sense of the world.
“Unfortunately however when we focus on the challenges of anything including the generalization of ‘bad luck,’ we can easily forget to appreciate the positive that also come in small packages, such as a flower blooming, a phone call from a friend, or a dog’s unconditional love,” said Rogers. “Fear is often the underlying emotion that interferes with one’s ability to enjoy life.”
Rogers says people can change their reality with a different attitude and is continuously inspired by the perseverance of clients who walk through her doors.
“I remember someone who was excited her birthday fell on Friday the 13th one year because she was so proud of her success in therapy and almost dared anyone to tell her it would be anything other than a fabulous day,” said Rogers.
“For those who struggle with fears such as bad luck on Friday the 13th, (I) would recommend such individuals to reflect on the source of their fear.”
Rogers encourages parents to be more conscious of their expression of fears, including superstitions and false ideas because “kids are sponges that will soak it up and the fear based impact may materialize with behavioral or emotional issues,” she said.