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Behind the Bloody Mary Legend: Folklore and History

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Bloody Mary legend

The folklore of the Bloody Mary legend warns of a spirit or witch that manifests in a mirror when you repeat her several times. The Bloody Mary apparition is an evil centerpiece in what is often described as an urban legend.

History of Bloody Mary Legend in Folklore

There are three historical women who are credited for the inspiration of the Bloody Mary folklore legend. Each story is gruesome enough to qualify as the origin of Bloody Mary legend.

Queen Mary's Bloody Reign

The Bloody Mary legend folklore tale is often attributed to a historical character, Mary Tudor, queen of England (1553-1558). Mary was determined to undo the English Reformation and revert her country back to the religious dominance of the Catholic Church. In her attempt to restore her country back to the Catholic religion, Queen Mary ordered more than 280 religious protestants who opposed her agenda burned alive at the stake in what became known as The Marian Persecutions. Subsequently, Queen Mary was dubbed Bloody Mary for her atrocities.

Elizabeth Bathory, Queen of Blood

Another legendary evil noble was Hungarian Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614), dubbed Queen of Blood for murdering nearly 300 young girls. In fact, she was named "the most prolific female murderer and the most prolific murderer of the western world" by Guinness World Records.

  • According to the testimony of over 300 witnesses, Bathory killed the girls and used their blood for her ritualistic blood baths in her pursuit of eternal youth and beauty.
  • In 1610, she was convicted and sealed inside her castle. She died in 1614.
  • The folk legends of vampires, especially in Hungary, were fueled by Elizabeth Bathory's sadistic murder spree.

By today's standards, she was a serial killer. She imprisoned young girls because they were virgins. The authorities found hundreds of girls' mutilated bodies, as well as girls chained and imprisoned.

Bloody Mary Story of a Salem Witch

One Bloody Mary story claims a woman named Mary Worth was a witch convicted in the Salem Witch Trials. However, the History of Massachusetts Organization's blog showcases an official list of all the accused witches and Mary Worth isn't listed. However, there are 20 women named Mary on the list. While it is unlikely, it is a possible origin of the Bloody Mary legend.

Historical Ritual of Summoning Bloody Mary

The historical version of Bloody Mary wasn't in the hope of summoning an evil spirit. Instead, the purpose was to reveal the girl's future husband.

  1. The girls would darken the house.
  2. Each girl would hold a lit candle in one hand.
  3. In the other hand, she'd hold a hand mirror.
  4. The girls would ascend a staircase by walking backwards while looking into the mirror and chanting, "Bloody Mary."
  5. Each girl was supposed to see her future husband appear in the mirror.
  6. However, not every girl saw her future husband.
  7. For some girls, this game evolved into terror when they didn't see a man in the mirror. Instead, some claimed to see death in the form of the Grim Reaper, skeleton or skull. This meant the girl would die before she could marry.

Today's Bloody Mary Ritual

There are a few modern versions of summoning Bloody Mary forth. This is done as a party game or game of dare. In this modern version of Bloody Mary, young teenage girls summon the evil spirit by repeating her name in unison either three times or thirteen times. The urban legend depicts Bloody Mary appearing in the mirror and terrorizing the young girls.

Tracking Down the Folklore Behind Bloody Mary's Legend

There are many stories about the origin of the Bloody Mary legend. All of them depict an evil, sinister murderer who victimizes young women.

Behind the Bloody Mary Legend: Folklore and History