Why does Friday the 13th always instil such fear in us? What really happens on this day? It is one of the most feared days of the year by many but could it be all just coincedence that bad luck takes place and that this one day must bear the responsibility of catastrophe?
Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, which superstition holds to be a day of bad luck. The one day of the week, Friday has been considered unlucky since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales as well as many professionals regarding the day as unlucky when undertaking new projects. The term, “Black Friday” has been used over the years when terrible catastrophes have struck such as the stock market crash, the Eyemouth disaster of 1881 where 181 fishermen had died, devastating bushfires in Australia in 1939, an allied air attack against German ships in Norway during World World II and the massacre of protesters in Iran during the late 70s. As for the number 13, some countries deem it as bad luck and have a specific recognized phobia for it, called “triskaidekaphobia” which was coined in 1911.
It could just be sheer coincidence that these terrible catastrophes happened on a Friday but some say it dates back to Christian scripture, where Jesus Christ’s last supper, counting him and the twelve apostles was 13, seeing reason to have 13 guests at a table was consider bad luck. As for the day, scripture suggests that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, leaving some to believe this to be such reason.
There is no evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century however, many choose to believe that the superstition had been passed down by stories and folklore from generation to generation. There are in fact several theories proposing the origin of Friday the 13th and one such theory is discussed by author Charles Panati:
“The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil — a gathering of thirteen — and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as “Witches’ Sabbath.”
Whatever the case and what you choose to believe, be careful today and be sure to watch out for yourself!
Ever feel so hot at times that you think you might explode? Well, police officers and firefighters are investigating the mysterious case of a man bursting into flames while viewing an adult film in a private booth in a San Francisco sex shop this past April. A shop employee had informed the authorities that a man was viewing a film at the rear of the shop before running out while on fire and screaming. The man received life-threatening injuries with 90% of burns covering his body. Investigators are puzzled as to why the man combusted in the first place and are seeking flammable materials though if none are found, spontaneous human combustion is a possibility.
Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a very unique paranormal phenomena that doesn’t really have logical answers and is described as the localized burning of a live human body without an external ignition source. It destroys most of the body but leaves objects in close proximity to the person, relatively unburned with a greasy residue on the furniture or walls. In very rare cases, the outside of the torso becomes charred while the internal organs are relatively untouched. Incidents of spontaneous human combustion from around the world have been reported over the past three hundred years with scientists believing that it is the only credible paranormal happening once the appropriate investigation has been conducted. Speculations on the causes of the human inferno include poltergeist activity, ball lightening, psychic disorders, magnetic storms, divine intervention and well, vampires.
Kirk’s Fire Investigation, a standard textbook used in fire forensic work, states that exterior sources such as furnishings, bedding and carpets are always involved in cases of alleged spontaneous human combustion. It argues that the fat of a burning body can act in similar manner to an oil lamp or candle. This “wick effect” is a theory endorsed by many SHC researchers. The earliest case of SHC comes from a Danish anatomist named Thomas Bartholin, in 1663 who described an occurrence in Paris where a woman was burnt completely to ashes in her sleep while the straw mattress upon which she slept remained unmarred by the flames that had consumed her. In the mid-19th century, a common belief was alcohol abuse but was later ruled out from further research, still puzzling scientists and investigators all around from a possible answer. The scientific side to this all, provides a bit of insight. Biologist and researcher, David Pescod believes that SHC may be caused by a build-up of gases in the body and doesn’t believe the fire starts internally. He theorizes that flammable gases ignite when they mix with air, upon their escape from the body. An article in The Scotsman quoted Pescod as stating, “Although very rare, the breakdown of phosphorous compounds in the body can generate gases in the gut which automatically ignite when they come into contact with air. When the gases escape from the body, they burst into flames.”
Above are the remains of John Bentley, a 92-year old retired doctor who died of spontaneous combustion in Coudersport, Pennsylvania 1966. Bentley walked with the aid of a walking frame, clearly visible in the spot where the body is reduced to ash. With SHC, a quick hot flame devours the body in seconds but the rest of the room including the toilet was not scorched but burned a hole in the floor.
Two other cases include Helen Conway (seen on the left), a heavy smoker who burned up while sitting in an upholstered chair in her bedroom in 1964. This is considered a case of SHC because the fire chief said it only took her 10-20 minutes to burn. If that is the case, the “wick effect” would not be considered since the estimated time for that to occur would be seven hours. Fireman, Joe Nickell speculates that the fire could have started at the base of her seated body and burned straight upward, fed by the fat in her torso and may have thus been a much more intense fire. In searching through the dense smoke for the victim, an assistant chief sank his hands “into something greasy” that proved to be the woman’s remains. The photograph on the right is of Mary Reeser from Florida, a 67-year old woman who was found in her apartment on the morning of July 2, 1951. She was reduced to a pile of ashes, a shrunken skull that size of a baseball and a completely undamaged left foot. All that remained of the 175-pound woman and her chair was a few blackened seat springs, a section of her backbone and one foot encased in a black stain slipper just beyond the four-foot circle. Plus about 10 pounds of ashes! The police department reported that Reeser went up in smoke when her highly flammable rayon-acetate nightgown caught fire, perhaps because of a dropped cigarette but one medical examiner stated that the 3,000-degree heat required to destroy her body should have destroyed the apartment as well. In fact, damage was minimal with the ceiling and upper walls covered only in soot. No chemical accelerants, incidentally were found.
Spontaneous human combustion has misconceptions since not all victims burst into raging flames. Some give off smoke from their bodies with no flames or fire present or begin to develop strange or odd burns on their skin with no clear, obvious source. These lucky few can generally put out any flames if they do pop up or deal with the smoking and burning after the fact. They will live after this incident of spontaneous human combustion with nothing more than an understandable fear of it happening again and a desire to figure out its cause to act as a means of prevention which brings us back to the case of the man at the adult film store.
Could this man have been a victim of SHC or simply someone who couldn’t hold in his burning desires?
Happy Paranormal Day!
Today, May 3rd is Paranormal Day, where those who believe in the paranormal get together and share their unique experiences with each other. Seminars, radio broadcasts, podcasts along with readings take place worldwide. It’s a great excuse to hang out with your friends and watch a film of the paranormal and supernatural genre. If you’re a new follower of ours, be sure to check out our paranormal podcasts over at our Podcast Feed page to hear or download an episode or check out our sidebar for more information.
Alright, now we’re going to try something fun here at My Paranormal! If you’ve encountered any paranormal experiences or gone on a ghost hunt or investigation, collected an EVP or received an accurate reading from a psychic, or any sort of experience that deals with the paranormal, share it with us! You can comment below in this post in the DISQUS, either anonymously, linking it back to your site or email us your story and we’ll post it here on our blog and link back to your Tumblr or any paranormal-related website.
Contact us over at our sidebar. We’ll be posting your stories all this month!