The Thirteen Club

‘Nos Morituri te Salutamus’

One hundred and thirty-nine years ago, 13 guests entered a restaurant (by walking beneath a ladder), took seats around a table adorned with 13 candles and coffin-shaped menus offering a choice of 13 dinners, and proposed 13 individual toasts.

It was the inaugural meeting of The Thirteen Club, a group formed in 1881 with an aim to defy superstition, eradicate triskaidekaphobia, and take back Friday – the traditionally unlucky Hangman’s Day – so the day could be used for more enjoyable social purposes than the delivery of capital punishment.

Despite long-standing religious fears of the number 13 (Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper before Jesus’ crucifixion and Loki was the 13th guest at a Norse dinner party in Valhalla that ended with Balder’s death), there was nothing inherently evil or occult about the number 13, the Club maintained. Yet, buildings were routinely constructed without a 13th floor, weddings and events were scheduled around the day, and people ventured out of their homes with a wary eye on Friday the 13th.

That initial meeting went exceptionally well, none of the original 13 attendees died that year, and membership swelled, but on January 13, 1892, at the tenth annual dinner of The Thirteen Club, Chief Ruler Hon. M.J.B. Messemer, reminisced on the group’s founder Capt. William Fowler and his uncertainty about that first meeting:

“Would there be in the whole city of New York twelve men in addition to himself brave enough, sensible enough, untrammeled by silly superstition, to meet on a Friday evening, on the 13th of the month, at thirteen minutes past the hour and partake of a feast sitting thirteen at a table without quaking in their boots with fear lest some one of them should die ere twelve months had elapsed?”

There were. And there still are.

There remain some of us who continue to defy superstition; who take away the fear of ill omens and wield that power as our own. Where others flee from the darkness and unknown, we welcome it.

We picnic in cemeteries and howl under full moons.
We dance in circles with our black cats.
We wear bones in our hair and frolic in mourning wear.
We befriend monsters and invite ghosts into our homes.
We are comforted by things that go bump in the night.
We line up our purchases to end in a trio of 6s.
We plan our celebrations to fall on All Hallows’ Eve and Friday the 13th.

We are The Thirteen Club and…“We Who Are About to Die Salute You”

The Thirteen Club Zine

Issue No. 1

The Thirteen Club Zine

Double Issue No. 2/3 - Life & Death

The Thirteen Club Zine

Issue No. 4 - Occult & Paranormal