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Monday, May 18, 2020

Mystery: Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary!

The world of urban legends is one that’s definitely interesting. While you can make a case that they’re nothing but the creation of campfire stories, there’s a lot that can be said for their basis in something from the real world. Whether that basis is the natural fear of a killer who lurks at lover’s lanes in the case of “The Hook” or a maniac in the backseat in the case of “High Beams”. However, a full blown basis in reality isn’t something that one could apply to any of them.

Or could they?

Today’s mystery is a lot different than most of them, but it has a lot of the elements that were essential when we discussed Slender Man back in January. Our focus today is on an entity known as Bloody Mary. Most of you are likely familiar with her; she’s the spectre who is said to appear if you say her name a certain number of times while in front of a mirror with the lights turned off. She’s a classic in the way of sleepover stories you’d hear if you’re a pre-teen or a young teen. Though that’s all she is: a story. Right? Well, let’s find out. Today, we’re kickin’ it old school. This is the story of Bloody Mary.



The Story

First of all: let’s get something out of the way. Bloody Mary was a real person. She was Mary I of England; the daughter of the infamous King Henry VIII. If you don’t know about him, you likely know him as the ruthless king who had six of his wives beheaded when they didn’t bear unto him a son. Mary was the only daughter of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive into adulthood. As for how she got the nickname of “Bloody Mary”, she was a lot like her dad. She had somewhere north of 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in what’s known as the Marian Persecutions. All of this information as a side note, comes from her Wikipedia page. It’s quite a fascinating read and I recommend you go over it if you’re into history.

Anyways, that’s the real Bloody Mary. Interesting as her story may be, we aren’t here to cover her (though perhaps down the road, we’ll go over her). Nay, we’re here for the spectral fiend who haunts the minds of younger folks—and even some adults. So exactly how can such a timeless story that has been repeatedly established as an urban legend become something that people claim to have seen and bear witness to? Well, let’s see if we can get to the bottom of that.

If you’re to look up “real” encounters with Bloody Mary, odds are you’ll be met with stories of Mary I of England or find the Snopes article. If you don’t know what Snopes is, it’s a fact-checking website that became well-known for shedding lights on urban legends and other stories like that. Nowadays, it does fact-checking on political claims and other things like that. Naturally, it says that Mary is nothing but an urban legend, but we needn’t worry about such tomfoolery like facts. No, we want to dive head first into the waters that house the real encounters with Mary.

Lucky for us, there are websites that have such claims. For this, we’re headed to a website called “The Line Up”. It’s here that there is an article that lists off eight supposedly real encounters with Mary. While I would love to just list them all off, I don’t want to get in trouble for plagiarism, so we’ll instead take a gander at two that stand out in my eyes before moving on as the article has other websites linked that center on Mary.

The first one I want to go over is the first one listed in that article. It centers on a girl named Marisa and her friend—who lacks a name. The two had just finished watching an episode of a show called “Ghost Whisperer” and Marisa had the desire to scare her friend. This was something she loved to do and in order to scare her this time, she decided to go into her living room and went up to the mirror. She spun around three times as she repeated the phrase “Bloody Mary”.

To pause for a brief second, it bears mentioning that the way you “summon” Mary has varied over the years; there are so many that I’m not sure what the “official” way is nowadays. Though here the ones that I know of:

#1: You stand in front of a mirror and repeat her name 13 times.

#2: You stand in front of a mirror and say her name 99 times.

#3: You stand in front of a mirror and spin around 3 times as you repeat her name. The usage of the number 3 is usually said to be a mockery of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son—or Jesus for those unfamiliar with Christianity—and God the Holy Spirit).

#4: You shut all of the lights and say her name in front of a mirror 13 times. Yet again, some say the number of times is 99 times.

#5: You stand in front of a mirror, spin around, and say her name 13 times or 99 times.

#6: You stand in front of a mirror, shut all of the lights, light a candle, and say her name 13 times or 99 times.

#7: You offer a blood sacrifice and say her name. Yes, I’m serious.

#8: You shut all of the lights off, shut your eyes, and say her name 13 times or 99 times.

#9: You offer your soul to Bloody Mary and say her name until she appears like a pissed off mom when her child wants a toy from the toy store.

#10: You use a Ouija Board. Oh spirit, tell me: are you familiar with the Luigi Board?

There are other ways, I’m sure of it, but those are the ten that I know off of the top of my head. Anyways, let’s get back to the story.

Ultimately, Marisa’s attempt to summon Bloody Mary failed. As such, she decided to try it in her bathroom—which is typically where you perform the ritual to get Mary’s attention. Why the bathroom, I don’t know for certain. Though it could be because it’s the most “private” location in one’s house. Whatever the truth is, Marisa’s friend advised her not to try it, but Marisa cared not for her concern and shut off all of the bathroom lights, closed the door, and got to work chanting.

After saying “Bloody Mary” an unknown number of times, Marisa flicked the lights back on. To her dismay, there was nothing there. However, as she was about to shut the lights off once again, she saw something: a black-and-white woman with her mouth wide open, though she never screamed. Instead, there was deafening silence in the bathroom. This silence persisted even as the figure raised her arms; it was at this point that Marisa noticed that the woman’s fingernails had been torn off. The spectre reached out and grabbed Marisa’s shoulders, but she broke the silence when she screamed. She turned the lights back on and bolted from the bathroom.

It’s here that the story concludes. It’s certainly spooky in its own right (in my opinion at least), but it’s also nothing that revolutionizes the tired and trite ghost story. This isn’t exclusive to Bloody Mary either, there are other variants where the name is related to that of an evil person who died in a house. So what’s to prevent this ghost—if the story is real at least—from having been a woman named Mary who was murdered in the house or at least on the property named Mary? If I had to hazard a guess, nothing.

The second story I’d like to go over is the fifth story that’s listed on The Line Up’s article. It centers on a girl named Kelsie. She was holding a slumber party and they dared one of their friends to try and summon Bloody Mary in the bathroom. The friend accepted and went in, firmly believing that no ghost was going to appear and do anything.

After fifteen minutes though, nothing had happened. No Bloody Mary, no bloody scream, no bloody blood that was hyperrealistic. Then, out of nowhere, the second of those things occurred: their friend screamed. They all ran to the bathroom and attempted to open the door, but it was stuck (in spite of it not having a lock). Finally, after an unknown period of time, the door opened and Kelsie’s friend was freed from her bathroom prison. She was crying, whimpering, and her arms were covered in numerous scars that hadn’t been there before. To this day, Kelsie’s friend refuses to speak about what happened in the bathroom.

Okay, so that’s unique. Mary actually harmed the girl. Though so what? There have been numerous instances where poltergeists and demonic spirits have allegedly scratched, cut, and some say even killed people. So we’re dealing with something like that; big deal.

Well, that’s honestly what I thought, but both stories—along with the other six—link to other websites where there are numerous other stories of people who played the “Bloody Mary Game”. It’s here where we can find more context to the stories told by both Marisa and Kelsie.

In the case of Marisa’s story, it’s a blogspot called “rubloodymary”. The post that Marisa left a comment on is pretty old—it was made September 6, 2007. There are several comments where people tell of their own Bloody Mary encounters, though some of them are people saying that the stories are all fake.

Now as for Kelsie’s story, it’s on a website called “Halloween Website” and is a part of a compilation of what I can only guess to be user-submitted stories. There are two pages to it and relate to people who summoned Bloody Mary.

So what we have here are people who say they summoned the legend herself; that there truly is more to this story than one could ever fathom. She’s as malevolent as any spectre on, say, Ghost Adventures, let’s all cover our mirrors and forbid anyone from uttering those two accursed words.

Well, that’s what we could assume if we were to jump to conclusions. As is the case with anything like user-submitted stories, there’s nothing stopping anyone from making them up. I could sit for 30 minutes and think of a story about a Fleshgait outside of my house, disguised as a neighbor, wanting to come inside for some sugar. Of course, I won’t, because I value some semblance of integrity in my life.

My rambling aside, that’s more or less where the story of Bloody Mary ends. All of this relies on the alleged sightings of her and nothing more. If you want to read more, go ahead and look at the three linked sites above to get a better idea of who—or what—Bloody Mary really is; for now, let’s move onto the theories.

Theories

1. It’s merely a legend

There are two theories today and the first of them is the one that embodies the Bloody Mary story itself: that both she and the urban legend are just that: a legend. There’s no such thing as Bloody Mary and there never has—excluding Mary I of England of course.

This theory is popular among skeptics and even believers; the former saying that such a story is ludicrous and nonsense and the latter saying that a story like Blood Mary isn’t anything special—there are many stories about poltergeists, demons, and other malevolent entities that pull off tricks and devious acts like Bloody Mary. As such, what’s to prevent “Bloody Mary” from being Satanic Minion #284 of the Brimstone Division from appearing in your mirror and giving you a hellish fright? Nothing.

Though this isn’t about the story being real in another manner. No, we’re focusing on Bloody Mary herself. There’s no concrete evidence to back up the claim that Mary is a real entity that will appear if you repeat her name any number of times. While the stories we looked over may say otherwise, there’s nothing to support them beyond the word of someone on the Internet. Given how easy it is to fake a story like this, there’s nothing to eliminate that skepticism form the minds of anyone.

2. She’s a real ghost

The second and final theory goes against that concluding statement though and instead posits that Mary is in fact a real entity whose legend is far more than meets the eye. What we’re presented with here is exactly what it says on the tin: she’s real and her story is too. Whether or not she’ll kill you is up for debate, but given that people have claimed to have seen her, one can hazard a guess and say that it’s probable someone out there believes this theory. So what is there to back this all up? Well, nothing. Much like ghosts themselves, it all stems from one’s belief in the paranormal. Though there’s also the idea of believing in an urban legend, which is something that you’ll be hard pressed to find a believer in who isn’t young. As such, belief in this theory is minimal at best.

My Take

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: I’m an ardent believer in the paranormal. I think that ghosts are real and that there is life after death. With that said, I am first and foremost a skeptic whenever I read or hear about any ghostly encounter. I think that blindly believing everything that a person says is foolish and sets a terrible example and precedent for anyone’s credibility. Anyone can create a ghost story and as such, anyone can fake paranormal activity. A simple string around a chair can be used to fake the movement of something, thereby allowing that person to blame a ghost.

With Bloody Mary though, you can’t exactly “fake” it with anything. She must appear in the mirror, which would require some sort of digital manipulation if you wanted a good fake. As for the stories, you have to rely on the word of an eyewitness and given the reputation Bloody Mary has as an urban legend, you’re really going to need some convincing evidence to sway the mind of anyone who isn’t gullible.

Because of this, I’m forced to concede a lot of ground in the way of having any sort of belief in Bloody Mary. The stories from supposed eyewitnesses, while entertaining to read, aren’t exactly convincing. There’s nothing about them that stands out from any ghost story I’ve read where someone used a Ouija Board and reportedly brought in an evil spirit. While we’re at it, there’s nothing that dictates that what these people saw wasn’t simply a poltergeist or demon that simply took on the form of “Bloody Mary”. To briefly go off on a tangent: it’s said that demons typically take on the form of an innocent looking person (usually a child) or something familiar to the person they’re tormenting. Hypothetically speaking, it’s logical that they took on the form of Bloody Mary to torment the person that “summoned” her. At the same time, the activity wouldn’t begin and end with that “summoning”, though I still wanted to raise this point.

So why exactly did I bother to cover this story? Well, aside from wanting something brisk and easy, I think it’s interesting how, in spite of Bloody Mary being nothing more than an urban myth, people still insist that she’s real. To me, that showcases how those stories are still alive and well in the hearts and minds of the youth and teens these days. Although our world is very digital, the legends of old still thrive. Modern twists may be applied to some of them, but their basis is all the same and as such, they’re real in the minds of those who’re unfamiliar with them. It’s fascinating to see if you ask me.

Conclusion

Bloody Mary is a story that is likely to persist as long as humanity tells stories around campfires or at sleepovers. We’re a species defined by our ability to tell stories and if you ask me, Bloody Mary is one of the most widely recognized horror stories in the world. For that, I don’t think it’s that crazy that people claim to have seen her or summoned her. While sure, that tag of “urban legend” may make it silly to believe it, let’s face it: many of us likely thought that monsters live in our closets or under our beds. So what’s really crazy about seeing a spectre in a mirror?

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