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Updated: Jun 14, 2023

The legend of Bloody Mary is very well known to the English speak countries. According to the “typical” legend, a group of teenagers (preferably a girl on her own) should stand in front of a dimly lit mirror, holding a few candles, and summon the spirit by shouting three times (in variations of the story the number changes to 5 or 10) her name. The way of invoking differs from region to region as does the name of the spirit: Bloody Mary, Bloody Bones, Hell Mary, Mary Worth, Mary Worthington, Mary Whales, Mary Johnson, Mary Loy, Mary Jane, Sally, Kathy, Agnes, Black Agnes, Aggie, Svarte Madamme and many more variations. So, standing in front of the mirror, the teenager should say: “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary”, “I believe in you Mary Worth”, “Bloody Mary, I killed your child” or “Kathy, come out!” In some variations of the story, the ritual requires some movements like the rotation of the individual around themselves when inviting Bloody Mary. Finally, some believe that the ritual should take place at the witching hour, ie. at 03:00 am. The ritual needs to take place in front of the bathroom mirror! This detail is important for reasons that will be explained below…

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Who was Bloody Mary?

There are many different theories behind the identity of Bloody Mary. The most known woman who had this nickname was Mary I (1516-1558), Queen of England and Ireland. During her five-year reign, she burned hundreds of Protestants in an attempt to reunite the Anglicans with the Catholic church, which had seceded during her father’s reign. Some, completely existent rumors, believe that the Queen killed virgins and bath in their blood to maintain her beauty. Although, It is well known that this Mary was not interested in her appearance. Another theory supports that the spirit of the mirror is not that of a queen but a common woman. In other words, it is said that this Mary was once a beautiful girl who gave birth outside without being married. She was chased and accused of being a witch. The mob killer her child and deformed her face before finding tragic death. She had already lost her sanity…

Bloody = The menstruation blood

According to the folklorist Alan Dundes (1998), the symbolism of a ritual as well as the bloody characterization of the spirit evolves around the menstruation cycle! For that reason, the calling should take place at the bathroom – it has to do with a bloody spirit and a young girl who invokes it. In other words, it is a modern urban “typical initiation” for the tradition to adulthood, for the transformation of the girl’s body into that of a woman who is ready to have children! It is worth noting that in the 1920s a similar ritual was circulating in America, where the girl could see her future husband in the mirror of her bathroom. But as interesting as the sexual interpretations of the legend may seem, some believe that something truly magical is happening in front of the mirror…

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