According to popular folklore, when you stand in front of a bathroom mirror, light a candle, and chant the name Bloody Mary three times, the apparition of a woman covered in blood will appear behind you.
This is the widely popular urban legend of Bloody Mary. Many people know it, but the story’s actual origins continue to be shrouded. One possible origin dates back to centuries ago, particularly from the notorious monarch Queen Mary I who was known for her brutal ways of punishing her subjects.
But is Queen Mary truly the phantom that wound up as the subject of popular campfire stories? Today, you’ll get to decide after learning more about the legend of Bloody Mary.
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The Legend of Bloody Mary
The legend of Bloody has a ton of variations worldwide. The apparition of the actual spirit may be interpreted as malevolent or benign, depending on which origin story you were told.
The most popular Bloody Mary story is that of Mary I, Queen of England, or Mary Tudor. She was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII. Mary was often shunned by the royal court, especially after King Henry left his wife to marry Anne Boleyn. She endured a lot of torment early in her life, often being called a bastard by her own family.
When she rose to become queen, Mary eventually earned the nickname “Bloody Mary” after she ordered the violent execution of numerous Protestants. She also had 280 people, including women and children, burned at the stake during her five-year reign.
Mary was known to have suffered from depression and irregular menstruation, which resulted in two phantom pregnancies. This has led people to include “I stole your baby” in another version of the “Bloody Mary” chant.
Another variation of the Bloody Mary story was that of Mary Worth. Worth was believed to be a witch who resided in Chicago during the Civil War. She was known to be bloody and ruthless toward slaves, often torturing them in her barn for the purpose of completing some black magic rituals.
When the townspeople heard of the monstrosities, they had Mary Worth burned at the stake. According to legend, her remains are buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Mary Worthington is probably the most recent Bloody Mary legend to come to light. During the 1960s, it was believed that a beautiful but vain girl named Mary Worthington disfigured her face after a terrible car accident. From then on, Worthington shunned her own reflection in the mirror and eventually committed suicide.
Elizabeth Bathory may not have a Mary in her name, but she is often associated with the legend thanks to her dark and gruesome past. The Hungarian countess lived from 1560 to 1614. She earned the nickname “Countess Dracula” and “Bloody Countess” after murdering countless young girls. Bathory then drained them of their blood and bathed with it to preserve her youthful beauty. Her reign of terror eventually came to an end when Bathory was walled alive in her own castle.
The Bloody Mary game: Play if you dare!
Strong disclaimer: this game is not for the faint-hearted!
Turn down the lights, place your candle in front of the mirror, and light it. As you compose yourself, slowly look in the mirror and chant the words “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.”
If a terrifying face appears, then one of these three consequences is believed to happen:
- Mary gauges your eyes out and rips your face open.
- You’ll be found dead with claw marks all over your face and body.
- You may find yourself in the Otherworld . . . and have to stay there forever!