Welcome to one of the most recognized creepy legends on the planet. Bloody Mary.
Regardless of who you are, where you grew up or how old you are, you probably have a good idea of what’s involved:
There’s a lady, Bloody Mary, long dead and horribly wronged. If you stand in front of a mirror, in a dark room of course, and repeat the same phrase a certain amount of times, something will happen.
That’s the general idea.
As you’ll come to see, details vary. The who, the how and the what happens can change drastically depending on who, how and when you asked.
In more recent times it’s been thought that “the who” was none other than Queen Mary I of England, often historically referred to as Bloody Mary. Queen Mary had a bit of a temper. Historians say that it’s quite possible the Queen was responsible for nearly 300 religious murders, burning what she called “dissenters of the Catholic church” at the stake. That’s where the “Bloody” part comes from.
While certainly interesting it’s more likely that the only connection between the Queen and our Bloody Mary is in name only as they have little other connection.
Delve a little deeper and the Bloody Mary legend is more closely linked to names like Mary Worth or Mary Bloodsworth and it’s at this point the story fragments even more.
A popular legend has Mary living sometime in the 1700s. As a town healer she was, naturally, accused of being a Witch by the local townsfolk. As so often happens in these instances, Mary was burned at the stake and her child along with her.
In another tale, Mary is a young woman in more modern times driving along a road with her child when someone causes a car crash, killing her and her child in a terrible way.
The general idea here is you have a young woman, killed by an outside force and, importantly, her child is taken with her.
While Queen Mary, Mary Worth and Mary Bloodsworth may be the most popular characters in this legend, the main character has gone by other names such as Hell Mary, Mary Worthington (that’s for you Supernatural nuts out there), Mary Whales, Mary Johnston, Kathy and more.
Almost universally however is the fact that Mary is considered a Mirror Witch – a spirit that resides within mirrors, or what is sometimes called the “Mirror Realm”, and can be called forth through mirrors using a specific ritual.
The “ritual” to go about calling this particular Mirror Witch is just as convoluted as everything else about her story and there are many variations on both the wording and the process.
Some of the most common are:
“Bloody Mary I killed your children.”
“Bloody Mary I killed your son / daughter.”
“I don’t believe in Mary Worth.”
Or conversely, “I believe in Mary Worth.”
“Kathy get out here!”
Often simply repeating “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…” or “Mary Worth, Mary Worth, Mary Worth…” will do the trick. The number of repetitions is wildly up for debate, ranging from 3, 10 or 13 (for obvious reasons).
The room can be required to be completely dark or have a single point of light such as a candle and often the arrival of the Mirror Witch is signaled by the flame on the candle extinguishing.
So, you have the ritual and you’re set up in a nice dark place with your favorite scented candle providing that perfect “witchy” scent. What happens when Mary decides to show up?
Well, there’s quite a bit of contention there too.
Some say you’ll simply see Mary appear, sometimes holding a baby in her arms. In some instances the apparition can be benevolent, warning you of impending disasters. More oft than not the story turns violent with Mary causing death and destruction to those who called her.
Pretty ominous stuff.
But let’s be practical here. So many of us have been at kids parties when we were thrown in the bathroom to call on Bloody Mary, friends either with us or sitting by the door, trembling through the words. Creepy, sure, a fun kids game, definitely, but how many times has the Mirror Witch actually paid anyone a visit?
Turns out, there may be a practical reason why Blood Mary isn’t showing up when called. It’s in the mirrors. Or rather, what’s NOT in modern mirrors.
It’s thought that Mirror Witches are, or were, able to travel between realms through mirrors due to mirrors being made of Silver. Or, at least, they were. Modern mirrors are made with aluminum in a vacuum seal bonding to light glasses. The practice of “silvering” hasn’t been used for a long time. Silver has long been considered a “pure metal” in many supernatural theories and legends and is often used to call on or repel spirits.
This could possibly explain why in the age of Instagram and instant video we’ve yet to see Mary ask you to smash that like button and up upvote her magical appearance in the master bath.
There you have it creepers. A little about Bloody Mary, a legend no one is 100% certain on and has more origin stories than Vampires. Well, maybe not quite THAT many.