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The Legend Of Bloody Mary

Updated on October 2, 2013
Bloody Mary.  She looks pleasant. I'd hang with her.
Bloody Mary. She looks pleasant. I'd hang with her.

Unless you've never been on a camping trip or had a sleepover with a bunch of friends, you have probably heard an urban legend, and probably several of them. An urban legend (also known as an urban myth) is a story told in modern times, the origins of which are mysterious or unknown to most. A characteristic trait of an urban legend is that actual evidence to support the tale is often scarce or nonexistent. These tales become urban legends via the way they are spread from person to person, generation to generation. Often, an urban myth will start with "a friend of a friend told me," and as the tales spread, they often become embellished or develop slight variations in the details, while the overall story remains the same.

Like all stories, urban legends can have a myriad of topics, some humorous and lighthearted, some that are simply hoaxes that many initially believe to be true (such as fake reports of celebrity deaths,) and some that are downright creepy or frightening. And with Halloween just around the corner, why not focus on one of my spooky favorites: The Legend Of Bloody Mary (cue really scary orchestral music.)

This is a tale that involves a ritual that is so creepy, that to complete it now would still give me a case of the chills. Okay I'll admit, I may never have fully completed the ritual. I'm talking about Bloody Mary, who, legend has it, will appear if you speak her name a number of times in front of a mirror in a darkened room. Once she appears (as if someone named Bloody Mary suddenly appearing where she previously wasn't isn't enough to scare the crap out of you,) some variations have her screaming curses at you, strangling you, pulling you into the mirror, clawing your eyes out, or even stealing your soul or driving you insane. Her appearance has varied from that of a corpse or ghost, or as a witch covered in blood. Spooky!

The actual ritual of saying "Bloody Mary" into a mirror was quite different historically. Origins of the legend involved having young women walk backwards up a flight of stairs in a darkened house, holding only a candle and a hand-mirror. While looking into the mirror, they hoped to get a glimpse of their future husband's face. But there was also the possibility that they may see a skull or the Grim Reaper. If that happened, bad news - they were destined to die before getting married (oh, the horror!)

The present-day ritual of speaking into a mirror has several minor variations as well, including how many times to say "Bloody Mary," (thirteen is very popular - for obvious reasons,) spinning after each time the name is said, and adding the words "I've got your baby." The latter twist is because some believe that Bloody Mary refers to Queen Mary I, whose life was marred by several miscarriages, and who was also called "Bloody Mary" in her time.

In modern times, the bathroom has become a common place to perform the ritual, probably because it's a room in the house that has both a large mirror to gaze into, and is also easily darkened completely. I think the fact that legend has come to take place in the bathroom adds a certain level of creepiness to the mix, in that bathrooms are generally smaller and more confined (and hence, claustrophobic if you're already scared out of your wits) than other rooms. Also, I think the bathroom locale adds to the creepiness on a psychological level as well. This is because I think the bathroom can be associated with a sense of vulnerability (and we can certainly thank Alfred Hitchcock for that.) Lastly the bathroom is often seen as a place of privacy and refuge, and I think having a blood-spattered witch barge in on me, while I'm staring into the mirror in the dark, would definitely be an invasion of privacy of the worst kind.


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    • SoundNFury profile image

      Michael Valencia 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      It's still pretty creepy to me as well :) Pretty much whenever I walk into the bathroom at night I'll have a quick moment when I think about it! lol thanks for stopping by and commenting Gcrhoads64.

    • Gcrhoads64 profile image

      Gable Rhoads 4 years ago from North Dakota

      I am a rational full-grown woman, but "Bloody Mary" still freaks me out!

    • SoundNFury profile image

      Michael Valencia 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thanks for reading! I feel the same way about being around dark mirrors, not quite a phobia but if I start thinking spooky thoughts I can really scare myself lol.

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

      This is interesting because it underlies my only phobia: looking in a mirror in the dark. I have not looked in a mirror in the dark since the elementary school slumber party when I first heard that legend. At the time it the was the simple version, hold up a candle and repeat three times. I think this is the first time I've heard anyone mention it since then, and I prefer not to say just how long ago that was! Even now as I write this in broad daylight, it sends goosebumps up my spine.

    • SoundNFury profile image

      Michael Valencia 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      thanks for reading! yeah, i would probably need to be bribed at this point to do it haha!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Holding the flashlight under your chin, while you are in the darkened bathroom staring into the mirror makes it even creepier! That makes for a great slumber party activity... Fun hub!