Legend of Bloody Mary

by on May.11, 2011, under Syndicated from the Web

Stories from around the world coming to you from the desk of the Cryptic Keeper

When I was about 9 years old, I went to a friend’s for a birthday/slumber party. There were about 10 other girls there. About midnight, we decided to play Bloody Mary. Some of us had never heard of this so one of the girls told the story.

Mary Worth lived a long time ago. She was a very beautiful young girl. One day she had a terrible accident that left her face so disfigured that nobody would look at her. She had not been allowed to see her own reflection after this accident for fear that she would lose her mind. Before this, she had spent long hours admiring her beauty in her bedroom mirror.

One night, after everyone had gone to bed, unable to fight the curiosity any longer, she crept to a room that had a mirror. As soon as she saw her face, she broke down into terrible screams and sobs. It was at this moment that she was so heartbroken and wanted her old reflection back that she walked into the mirror to find it, vowing to disfigure anybody that came looking for her in the mirror.

After hearing this story, which was told very scarily, we decided to turn out all of the lights and try it. We all huddled around the mirror and starting repeating “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.” About the fifth time we said it one of the girls that was in front of the mirror started screaming and trying to push her way back away from the mirror. She was screaming so loud that my friend’s mom came running into the room. She quickly turned on the lights and found this girl huddled in the corner screaming. She turned her around to see what the problem and saw these long fingernail scratches down her right cheek. I will never forget her face as long as I live!!!

Well…what do ya think? Believe me?  Here in Texas, this is what we call a tall tale but most people simply refer to them as urban legends.

Urban Legends are bizarre untrue stories that circulate in society through being presented as something that actually happened, usually to a friend or relative of somebody. The really, really, really great thing about these legends are that they are bizarre and extremely creepy; great for telling during the witching month.

The Bloody Mary legend and several variants date from the 1960s, but it is impossible to pin down its origin.

There is a body of myths and superstitions attributing magical and/or divinatory properties to mirrors dating back to ancient times, and these beliefs typically contain elements of danger and foreboding.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who in this land is fairest of all?

To this the mirror answers:

You, my queen, are fairest of all.

As everyone who grew up reading Snow White or watching the movies, knows, the mirror-obsessed queen was eventually by her own vanity, and believe it or not, is where some basic elements of the Legend of Bloody Mary begin to take shape.

There’s another belief that if you look in a mirror too long, you’re sure to see the devil. This belief dates back to the nineteenth century English. And one superstition from the eighteenth century warms that mirrors must be covered or turned to face the wall in the presence of a dead person. Some say this was to signify an end to all vanity, or a demonstration of respect for the dead, or the belief that an uncovered mirror was an open invitation for ghostly apparitions to appear. What connects these quaint superstitions to the Bloody Mary Legend is the motif of the apparition in the mirror.

Make no mistake, when a group of adolescents stand in front of a mirror chanting Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, they are uttering what they believe to be – or hope to be or fear to be – a magic spell to conjure up the presence of a ghost. While in many ways Bloody Mary can be interpreted as a cautionary tale demonstrating the perils of playing with magic.

But….

It’s also a ghost story.

The malevolent spirit called up by the Bloody Mary ritual is always said to be female – in particular, a female whose face was disfigured as the result of a violent death, usually in an automobile accident.

Like so many horror legends and traditional ghost stories, Bloody Mary, has proven a natural adaptation into popular novels, stories, comic books and movies.

Clive Barker essentially constructed a pseudo-urban legend by appropriating the chanting ritual for a 1992 film call Candyman. Various characters in the film summon the ghost of a black slave brutally lynched  in the 1800s by repeating the name Candyman five times in front of a mirror.

Sot, Deadites, I know I was a little long-winded talking about Bloody Mary, but I dare you all to hearken to your darkened bathroom and while staring into the mirror, call upon Bloody Mary. If you do happen to catch a glimpse of her, tell her that her old pal, the Cryptic Keeper says hi.


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