Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Urban Legend Up Close: Bloody Mary

As urban legends go, Bloody Mary has always been particularly scary to me, which is why episode five of Supernatural really freaked me out! I remember first hearing about Mary at a slumber party in sixth grade. My girlfriends dared each other to go into the dark bathroom and summon her. When it came my turn I flat out refused, persuading them to play Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board instead.

Strangely, although no one knows Bloody Mary’s true origins, this terrifying test of courage among teens has gone on for generations. The rules may vary, but it generally goes like this. Step into a darkened bathroom, heart hammering, hands trembling, light one candle, look into the mirror and say Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, while you turn yourself around and when you stop, and look back at your reflection, pray like crazy she’s not there to claw your eyes out.

(Sheesh, I have the heebies just writing this!)

Of course, there are variations to the incantation and the consequences. On SPN the victims’ eyes explode and bleed out. Others think Mary will drive you insane, appear behind you and claw your face or leap from the mirror and yank you in with her.

Why a mirror? Well, many believe mirrors are portals to the spirit world. In fact, some cultures will cover the mirrors in a home where someone has died so the soul can't get confused and become trapped in the looking glass. Makes you wonder what, er, make that who, is on the other side, doesn’t it?

Speaking of who…who’s Mary? There again the folklore is fickle. Some believe she’s a vengeful witch, others think she’s a terribly scarred woman who died in a car crash and a few call out “Hell Mary” to summon the devil himself. However, the majority seem to think she’s either Mary Worth, a child murderess, who can be summoned by saying, “I believe in Mary Worth,” or she’s actually Queen Mary I who had two “phantom” pregnancies and earned her nickname, Bloody Mary, by persecuting Protestants and can be called by taunting her with, “I have your children” or “I killed your baby.”

Whatever you believe, the question is, will you summon Mary? Or have you already?

As for me, in the interest of this article I thought long and hard about facing my fear. I even went into my dark bathroom, stared at myself in the mirror and whispered “Bloody Mary” once in my head. That’s as far as I got….


Anonymous said...

Terri, aiyee! This one scared me as a kid and to this day mirrors give me the heebie-jeebies. I've even been known to accidentally wake up the husband turning on a light because I am almost physically capable of walking past a mirror in the dark (and we moved into a house where the closets have mirrored doors. It's given me plenty of nightmares and even moments of waking horror.) Bloody Mary was definitely one of the hardest episodes for me to sit through!


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

VERY creepy, and I have to admit, it wasn't one I'd ever heard before, or if I did, I didn't remember it.

My writer's group goes on retreat every May. Two years ago, we were walking around this centuries-old cemetery across the street, then peering through the windows of an old schoolhouse. Vicki and I looked through catty-corner windows at each other, and she'd pulled her long, straight hair over her face--looked JUST like Bloody Mary!

So I looked in the window's reflection and said it three times, we laughed and shrieked, turned to cross the road, and suddenly this huge wind picked up, howling through the trees. It was FREAKY!

Anonymous said...

Tanya, I used to hvae mirrored doors and they always creeped me out!

Anonymous said...

LOL! Great story, Natalie.

Maureen Child said...

Oh, no no no......not even as a kid. I too refused to do the slumber party Bloody Mary thing. Uh-uh......I'm STILL creeped out!

And that episode was watched through my fingers!!

Natalie, that story of yours creeped me out, too! LOL

Angela Ackerman said...

I love these old urban legends too. I remember when Blair Witch came out, it seriously freaked me out. Paranormal State did a few episodes on these, which were good too. Creep-a-rific!

Anonymous said...

Maureen - I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who refused to call on Mary.

Anonymous said...

Angela - I think urban legends are fascinating. I always wonder if there isn't some kind of germ of truth at their core to have started them in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Tanya, whatever you do don't watch Kiefer Sutherlands MIRRORS. OMG!