The legend of Bloody Mary

23rd April 2018. Reading Time: 5 minutes General, Famous Paranormal Cases. 4940 page views. 2 comments.

Bloody Mary is a popular urban legend/party game. Where did it originate from and was there a real life Bloody Mary?

As a teenage girl, it was almost a rite of passage at midnight to lock one of your friends in a bathroom and ask them to call out Bloody Mary. Some would be too scared. There was always that one person who would bang on the door at a crucial moment and scare us all and we would all run back to our room screaming and laughing. So what is the story behind Bloody Mary? Was there a real Bloody Mary?

What is the Bloody Mary game?

In order to play, you would put yourself in a dark bathroom with a candle. Stare into the mirror and slowly chant ‘Bloody Mary’ three times and spin around at the same time. If you don’t see anything appear in the mirror, blow out the candle and leave the bathroom. The things that supposedly can happen if you are successful in contacting ‘Bloody Mary’ are, her scratching your eyes out, scratches over your body, dropping dead on the spot or just seeing her horrifying image in the mirror.

It seems that the legend of Bloody Mary started back in the early 1960’s as a party game. Some folklore experts have even gone as far as to suggest that it is a metaphor of a girl going through changes in puberty as the game itself was popular amongst teenage girls. The rituals of spinning and chanting and using mirrors as a form of divination is nothing new. It can be considered no different to young girl looking into a mirror to see the face of her future husband which was also a popular game. By the time the 1990’s came, chain letters were huge. You know those annoying things you used to get where if you didn’t pass it on to 5 people all sorts of things would happen to you? There was a Bloody Mary version of this well. While it all seems to be variations of games, the story had to come from somewhere. While there were a lot of famous ‘Mary’s throughout history that are candidates, the common belief is that Bloody Mary is Mary Worth.

Was Mary Worth Bloody Mary?

Mary Worth was thought to be a witch that lived over 100 years ago and liked to dabble in the black arts.. There are a few different versions of the story:

One version is that she would kidnap runaway slaves and chain them up to perform rituals and use them as a sacrifice in her barn. This was during the time of the Civil war. Locals found out what she was doing and she was captured and burnt at the stake. Her body was buried on her land and the land became cursed. A few decades later, a farmer and his wife bought the land. When they were clearing the land to plant oats, they found a stone which was believed to be Mary’s grave marker. They moved it up to the house. Soon all sorts of weird things started happening – paranormal things. Soon the farmer realised the connection and tried to put the stone back, but he couldn’t remember where it came from. They were tormented by this ghost for a few more years before the house burnt down.

Another version of Mary Worth’s tale seems like it was written specifically for the Bloody Mary game. They say Mary lived in a small cabin in the woods and would sell herbal remedies in the local village. Young girls started to go missing. Some of the villages considered themselves brave enough to wander up to the woods to see if the girls were at the cabin. Mary denied all knowledge, but this wasn’t a good enough explanation for the villagers. She was usually a elderly and haggard looking woman yet she seemed to be looking more feminine and youthful so they were extremely suspicious. One night a miller’s daughter was intrigued by a mysterious noise that only she could hear. Her mother was in bed nursing a tooth ache using one of Mary’s herbal remedies. The daughter wandered off into the night. They shouted at her to return, but it was like she could hear nothing but this noise. The father called upon some of the local townsfolk and noticed that there was a light coming from the edge of the woods. Mary was standing next to a large oak tree holding a wand and pointing it towards the Miller’s home. The wand was glowing with light, that the daughter was walking toward. The townsfolk proceeded to raid the area with pitchforks and guns. Mary broke the spell and ran back into the forest. The farmer shot a silver bullet at Mary and it caught her hip. They captured her and burnt her at the stake. As was burning, she set a curse that if anyone said her name in a mirror that she would be back. The townsfolk then came upon unmarked graves of the missing children and it was believed she used their blood to make herself youthful.

Another variation changes the name from Mary Worth to Mary Worthing or Mary Worthington. She was said to be a beautiful woman who was also very vain and spent a lot of her time looking into a mirror. After a horrible car accident, she became disfigured. She could stand to look at herself and killed herself forever tying her to her favourite item – a mirror.

Who was the real life Bloody Mary?

History tells us Mary I the Queen of England was the ultimate Bloody Mary and is referred to as such in history books. She was the ruler during the Tudor period and called appropriately Mary Tudor. She gained the Bloody Mary nickname because she was a ruthless executioner. She was very quick to order the execution of people during her 5 year reign. She was a very strict Catholic and her orders were usual against protestants. Nearly 300 of them were burnt at the stake via her order. Even her Father and Brother could not escape and were executed for promoting Protestantism (the second largest form of Christianity). Ultimately her goal of a Catholic England failed.

Regardless of where Bloody Mary came from, I can tell you from the countless time I played this as a teen, and even trying as an adult, that she has never appeared because it is a game. It is an urban legend designed to scare young girls at party. Of course there are always stories, but they are just stories. As for those who claim they have seen her or something else in a mirror while performing the game, you also need to think about what spinning around and staring into a mirror does to the mind. It would be quite easy for you to see something that wasn't really there. Especially when you are expecting it or fearing it will happen. Bloody Mary is not someone that you need to worry about. Candyman ..... well he is a different story LOL

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  • Angie Moore 3 years ago

    I learned it as Mary Bathory (sp?) A ruler who bathed in a maiden virgins blood to stay young.

    • Living life in full spectrum 3 years ago

      Yes another theory is that it is Elizabeth Bathory who was nicknamed the Blood Countess

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