Bloody Mary

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.

Name

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.

Physical Description

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.

Origin

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

Movies

Television Series



Is there anything we missed about Bloody Mary? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Horror Mystery and Lore Scary Movies and Series

Mirrors, the Ghostly Portals to the Other Side

Don't stare into the mirror, or your soul will be taken
Photography by Autoestima Cidada

Mirrors are thought to be portals to another world—some believe this is another dimension, but those who believe in ghosts believe it is a portal to the other side. Many cultures still hold on to their superstitions that exist concerning mirrors, ghosts, souls, and death. In cultures that are still considered primitive by some, there is the belief that mirrors reflect the soul and that they must be avoided in order to prevent the soul from being lost—not unlike the belief that taking photographs of a person will also capture their soul. Russian folklore dictates that mirrors are an invention of the Devil due to their ability to draw the soul out of the body. This also makes sense that there are superstitions that are still held within some places of the world that all shiny and reflective surfaces, mirror or otherwise, must be covered in a house after a death. Their belief requires covering mirrors after death to prevent souls from the living being taken by those who have recently departed the mortal plane. Depending on the lore of the culture, the mirrors may actually be covered for a variety of reasons—it could be a corpse looking back at you over your shoulder, at which time the soul of the dead will have no rest.

It is incredibly unlucky for those who are ill to see their reflections, it puts them at risk of dying, so cultures that believe the soul is vulnerable during times of illness often remove the mirror entirely from where the sick person is residing. More bad luck comes when looking into a mirror in a dark room by candlelight, during which event the observer will see ghosts, the Devil or other paranormal phenomena, such as Bloody Mary. Aside from the bad luck associated with staring into mirrors that seem to be widespread within many cultures, there is also the ancient cultural relevance that should be mentioned. In Greek myth, the tale of Narcissus warns against becoming so entranced with his own reflected image in a pond that he fell into the water and drowned—then again, the Greeks believed that even dreaming of your own reflection was an omen that foretold death. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of nasty lore when it comes to mirrors and this article can only explore a few of them.

The Myrtles Plantation: The Most Haunted House in the World

The folklore of mirrors isn’t just some abstract idea that appears in stories, there are actually ghost stories about places where it is reported that haunted mirrors are still on view to the public. In St. Francisville, Louisiana, the Myrtles Plantation plays host to several apparitions, most notably the spirits of Sara Woodruff and her two children, which were allegedly poisoned by a slave named Chloe—she apparently had an affair with Sara’s husband and committed this crime of passion against his family. These spirits appear in a mirror that hangs in the location of the original mirror, which over the years has had to be replaced several times, it’s said that Sara’s face, children’s fingerprints, and claw marks appear within the reflection of the mirror. The mirror was not covered during the wake that followed their deaths, a practice during the 19th century in the Southern United States, not following the tradition therefore trapped their souls within the home, where they can only appear as reflections.

The Truth Behind the Bloody Mary Legend

Bloody Mary, the haunting presence that inspired the movie Candyman (1992)–set to be remade and released in 2020–is based on the legend of a woman who appears in a mirror after being summoned. The origin of Bloody Mary varies widely, the most popular of versions is that of Mary Worth, a witch executed during the Salem Witch Trials. Other versions claim she was a hitchhiker who was badly mutilated and then died following a dreadful car crash, while still others suggest she was a child murderer—this particular version can’t be sure whether she just murdered children in general or if it was her own child. Finally, another famous variation suggests that Bloody Mary was actually royalty, but there tends to be another disagreement on which royal Mary she happened to be. Was she Mary Tudor, Queen of France, or Mary I, the first Queen Regnant of England? Regardless of the origin of the story, it remains a popular game among teens and preteens during slumber parties, which shows how ingrained paranormal superstition is within western societies.

These games also have variations, as is the case when the tradition is passed on orally, but whether her name is chanted three times or thirteen times, the room must be darkened, with backlighting by candles or flashlights. Will Bloody Mary tell you who your future spouse is, how many children you’ll have, or if you’ll die before marriage? If you’re brave enough to find out, you’ll face the possibility of being killed, driven insane, or being taken by the mirror.

The haunted mirror of Oculus and the victims it claims
Oculus (2013)

Films that are based on Bloody Mary

Haunted Mirrors in the Movies

The Lasser Glass and Oculus (2013)