Bloody Mary


Photo from Mama Lisa

What is Bloody Mary?

According to Wikipedia, Bloody Mary “is a folklore legend consisting of a ghost, phantom, or spirit conjured to reveal the future. She is said to appear in a mirror when her name is called three times.” (Wikipedia)

The first Bloody Mary ritual was actually quite a bit different than today’s modern version. One of the first ‘Bloody Mary Rituals’ encouraged women to walk up a flight of stairs backwards. They were to do this in the dark, holding a candle and hand mirror. While they did this they were supposed to be able to see their future husband’s face. If no actual face appeared than supposedly a skull would, which meant they would die before ever getting married.

Today’s ritual is quite a bit different. You are supposed to stand in a bathroom with the lights off and chant Bloody Mary’s name three times. After you do this, supposedly you will see Bloody Mary in the mirror’s reflection. There have been versions where she is a corpse, a ghost, or a witch. Sometimes she is supposedly covered in blood. In the different versions, Bloody Mary may curse the participants, steal their soul, scratch their eyes out, etc. There are many different supposed ‘punishments’ for taking part in the ritual.

The reports of people actually seeing Bloody Mary after taking part in the ritual can be pretty easily explained. After staring into something like a mirror for a long amount of time, especially in the dark, it can lead someone to  hallucinate. Their facial features can look distorted, or the room might appear to spin. A number of things could change in the vision. Giovanni Caputo from University of Urbino calls this “strange-face illusion.” He believed this happened from the “dissociative identity effect,” which causes the brain’s facial-recognition system to malfunction. (Wikipedia)


There are many theories as to where the folktale of Bloody Mary came from but they are all surrounding similar women. One of these women is Queen Mary I. Her actual nickname was ‘Bloody Mary.’ She received this nickname after she became responsible for burning almost 300 protestants at the stake. She wanted to make England more Catholic so this was one of her solutions. Queen Mary I was also said to have had many problems during pregnancy. She thought she was pregnant two seperate times but it turned out that she never actually was. The people who believe she inspired the Bloody Mary tale, say she is still searching for her lost children that were never born. Also that she would steal a child if she could, so if one does the ritual she might snag them.

Another one of these women is Elizabeth Bathory. Her name isn’t Mary but her story is one of the most horrific. It’s a possibility that over time names could have been forgotten and mixed-up stories could have been told so I think that there is a decent possibility that the Bloody Mary tale could have also been modeled after her.

Elizabeth Bathory was a Hungarian royal in the 1500’s. She is one of the most horrific female serial killers in history. Some even think she could have been the inspiration for Dracula. There were tons of girls who disappeared in her castle. (OMG Facts)

“There were reports of cannibalism, beatings, stranglings, stabbings (with needles) and even lacerations from Elizabeth’s own teeth.” – OMG Facts

They don’t even know how many girls died because of Elizabeth Bathory. They have estimated that it is around 600. (OMG Facts) This is a pretty terrifying woman. Most of the women thought to be the inspiration behind Bloody Mary are.


Photo from OMG Facts

When I was a kid I played Bloody Mary. My friend and I got dared to. We went in the bathroom, faced the mirror, and shut off the light. We said the dreadful name Bloody Mary, three times. I got so scared that I went to turn on the light and my friend didn’t realize it. When I turned it on, she saw her own face in the mirror and screamed as loud as she could. For a brief second, she didn’t realize she was looking at her own face. This is one of the reasons why I believe that the kids who think they saw something are telling the truth. It is what they actually believe happened. When we are afraid, all kinds of things happen in our systems. I think that is one of the reasons why this particular tale has lived on and why I think it will continue to do so. After doing some research, I think it made the story a little more creepy. I hope I didn’t scare you too much. I know for a fact I won’t be chanting Bloody Mary’s name in the dark. I think my 9 year old self was braver than 21 year old me.



OMG Facts

Claire Linic

April, 2018



April, 2018






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