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We’ve all heard of the legend growing up. Say her name three times, or five, in front of the mirror and she will appear. Kind of sounds like Candyman. What she does to you varies. I guess it depends on her mood at that particular time. Some say that she will kill you, others say that she may just scratch at you until your face is disfigured as hers was on her fateful wedding night. But, that is just one version of the story.  It is unclear as to who exactly is Bloody Mary, sometimes referred to as Mary Worth. It is said that Bloody Mary’s, or Mary Worth’s, child was stolen from her which resulted in her committing suicide. In this case, Mary is then the typical, sad and angry spirit who will cast her revenge on just about anyone when called upon.

As much as there are different variations of the stories, there is as much variations on how to summon her. The “ritual” of summoning Mary is often viewed of as a game, usually in sleepovers or slumber parties. The main “ingredients” usually consist of the same: a dark bathroom and a mirror. Any dark room would work, but a bathroom is usually a popular spot. You would go in front of a dark mirror, chant her name three times, five times and maybe one hundred times!

“Bloody Mary.”

“Bloody Mary.”

“Bloody Mary.”

I really hope you didn’t read that out aloud. You can stare into the dark mirror while chanting her name, you can spin after each count, or you can knock on the mirror after each count. In the case of the Mary Worth’s baby has gone missing angle, you would instead say, “Mary Worth, I killed your baby!” If that wouldn’t arise anger into a long-dead spirit, I don’t know what would. Other versions tell that if one chants her name thirteen times at midnight into a mirror she will appear and the summoner can talk to a deceased person until 12:01, when Bloody Mary and the dead person asked to speak to will vanish. Still, other variations say that the “summoner” must not look directly at Bloody Mary (hard to do when she’s standing right behind you), but at her image in the mirror; she will then reveal the summoner’s future, particularly concerning marriage and children.

As mentioned before, she could do one of the following things: kill you, scratch your face until it is disfigured, gouge out your eyes, torment your life forever by haunting you, bring you back into the mirror with her, cut your head off, scratch your neck causing serious injury or death, etc, etc. Either way, the end result won’t be good for you.

Queen Mary I was also referred to as Bloody Mary. Could she be the real Bloody Mary? The taunting and calling of her name in front of a mirror could be a reference to the many miscarriages and false pregnancies that the queen endured during the course of her life. Could these unfortunate incidents been cause for the queen to have gone mad?

In related news, there is a Brazilian legend  known as “a loira do banheiro”… the blond in the toilet! The way to summon her is exactly like summoning Bloody Mary, except you flush the toilet three times while cursing. She would then manifest herself by rising up from the toilet and kill the invoker. Sanitary!

So does Mary actually exist or is her story told as a testament of bravery? Who will dare do Bloody Mary alone in a dark bathroom? Who will be brave enough to test the legend and her existence? This is the test! The test of bravery and courage. Do you want to know if she exists or will you take the word of others? There’s really only one way to find out. The answer could lie only a few feet away from where you are currently sitting or laying down, in the dark bathroom. So, if you have to use that bathroom in the middle of the night, be sure to glance at the mirror and give her a wink, or don’t. Either way, she may be watching you, waiting for you to call her.

Mary Mary Quite Contrary: origin

Nursery Rhyme Origins & History

The origins are steeped in history… Bloody Mary!
The Mary alluded to in this traditional English nursery rhyme is reputed to be Mary Tudor, or Bloody Mary, who was the daughter of King Henry VIII. Queen Mary was a staunch Catholic and the garden referred to is an allusion to graveyards which were increasing in size with those who dared to continue to adhere to the Protestant faith – Protestant martyrs.

Instruments of Torture!
The silver bells and cockle shells referred to in the Nursery Rhyme were colloquialisms for instruments of torture. The ‘silver bells’ were thumbscrews which crushed the thumb between two hard surfaces by the tightening of a screw. The ‘cockleshells’ were believed to be instruments of torture which were attached to the genitals!

The ” Maids” or Maiden was the original guillotine!
The ‘maids’ were a device to behead people called the Maiden. Beheading a victim was fraught with problems. It could take up to 11 blows to actually sever the head, the victim often resisted and had to be chased around the scaffold. Margaret Pole (1473 – 1541), Countess of Salisbury did not go willingly to her death and had to be chased and hacked at by the Executioner. These problems led to the invention of a mechanical instrument (now known as the guillotine) called the Maiden – shortened to Maids in the Mary Mary Nursery Rhyme. The Maiden had long been in use in England before Lord Morton, regent of Scotland during the minority of James VI, had a copy constructed from the Maiden which had been used in Halifax in Yorkshire. Ironically, Lord Morton fell from favour and was the first to experience the Maiden in Scotland!

Another form of execution during Mary’s reign was being burnt at the stake – a terrible punishment much used during the Spanish Inquisition. The English hated the Spanish and dreaded the idea of an English Inquisition. The executions during the reign of Bloody Mary were therefore viewed with a greater fear of the Spanish than the executions themselves – it is interesting to note that executions during her reign totalled less than 300 an insignificant amount compared to the executions ordered by her father King Henry VIII  which are believed to have numbered tens of thousands!

Source for Bloody Mary Rhyme: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Thanks to Neil Slorance for pointing me to this link!