Date of Discovery
In 1553, Mary Tudor came into power as Mary I, Queen of England and within five short years became known as Bloody Mary due to all of the Protestant Christians that were executed during her time in power, before she died.
Many researchers claim that Mary I, Queen of England is not the same Bloody Mary represented in the Urban Legend–a more interesting link to the Bloody Mary legend is when it was first officially studied and documented in the 1970s, where it was impossible to conclude exactly when and where this legend originated but suggested the actual Bloody Mary was a witch that died in the 1800s after being found practicing black magic.
Bloody Mary is a fairly vague figure in historical context–originating from various tales about Mary Whales, Mary Worth, Mary Worthington, and Mary Tudor. Due to the widespread nature of the urban legend bearing her likeness, she also has many other nicknames aside from Bloody Mary, which include Bloody Bones, Hell Mary, Mary Johnson, Mary Lou, Mary Jane, Sally, Kathy, Agnes, Black Agnes, Aggie, and Svarte Madame.
Vaguely related to the modern Japanese lore of Hanako-san.
Bloody Mary’s visage is not consistent among the different resources that are available, wherein some cases she is a young woman with blood streaming down her face from an open wound on her forehead, to a demonic-looking witch who reaches out from the mirror to slash the individual chanting her name, the only real consistency is that Bloody Mary is always a female specter.
In 1978 the first documented case-study was done of Bloody Mary, by Janet Langlois a folklorist–the consensus was that the legend was based on a witch who had been caught practicing black magic.
Mythology and Lore
Summoning Mary requires the individual to stand in front of a mirror and chant “Bloody Mary,” between three and thirteen times—the number has never quite been decided upon—in a darkened bathroom while staring into a mirror. This urban legend is associated mostly with adolescent slumber parties, which has caused the legend to come under scrutiny, but it hasn’t caused the legend to cease, nor for any that have experienced her to be any less sure of what they have seen.
Variations upon the legend, include that the ritual must take place at exactly midnight, that the participant must twirl while chanting her name, that water must be splashed with water (some cases, specifically ocean water), or red candles must be lit during the ritual. Descriptions of the event also vary from case to case, including that Mary’s face will appear in place of the participant, that she appears with bloody tears streaming from gouged-out eyes, that your own reflection will be covered in blood, that Mary will reach out of the mirror and scratch you, she blinds you, drives you insane, or leaves you comatose, or comes out of the mirror entirely and kills the participant. Considering there have never been any cases of people being killed in this circumstance, it cannot be confirmed that she will kill the participant. In less creepy or horrifying accounts of encounters with Bloody Mary is that she appears after three chants of her name, appears in the room with the participant, not through a mirror, just as a manifestation of her spirit to truthfully answer questions asked about the participant’s future.
Bloody Mary is popular in the realm of scary entertainment and she is often the source of inspiration for popular movies, television series, and scary stories. While the story may seem extravagant and overtly scary, it is said that horrific details could have been added to discourage people from taking part in what may seem to be, “satanic rituals,” while many that may have performed this ritual as a child can report that it’s likely nothing will happen.
Modern Pop-Culture References
Books & Literature
- Bloody Mary in the Mirror: Essays in Psychoanalytic Folkloristics
- Bloody Mary: Spooky Pennsylvania
- Bloody Mary Returns: A Montana Ghost Story
- Bloody Mary Whales: Spooky Indiana
- Mary, Bloody Mary (2001)
- Bloody Mary (2007)
- Agent 077: Mission Bloody Mary (1965)
- Candyman (1992)
- Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005)
- Bloody Mary (2006)
- Dead Mary (2007)
- The Legend of Bloody Mary (2008)
- Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
- Charmed (1998 – 2006)
- Supernatural (2005 – )
- Ghost Whisperer (2005 – 2010)
- R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: Scary Mary (2011)
Is there anything we missed about Bloody Mary? Let us know in the comments section below!
Georgia-based author and artist, Mary has been a horror aficionado since the mid-2000s. Originally a hobby artist and writer, she found her niche in the horror industry in late 2019 and hasn’t looked back since. Mary’s evolution into a horror expert allowed her to express herself truly for the first time in her life. Now, she prides herself on indulging in the stuff of nightmares.
Mary also moonlights as a content creator across multiple social media platforms—breaking down horror tropes on YouTube, as well as playing horror games and broadcasting live digital art sessions on Twitch.