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You’re walking into your bathroom with only a candlelight to guide you through the darkness. Then you come to the bathroom mirror. You stand before the sink, take out a pin, prick your finger and allow a drop of blood to fall into the basin. You stare at your reflection and repeat the words, “Bloody Mary” three times. It is at this stage when the shivers can start to go down your spine! Do you see her? The legend of Bloody Mary has become a famous “test of courage” game all across America and around the world. It has been passed on from one generation to the next, and continues to influence and disturb girls at slumber parties or on sleepovers. The process involves these young victims daring one another in groups to play the ritual game where an individual or the whole group steps into the bathroom, switches off the main light, pricks their index fingers to draw a drop of blood, and then repeat “Bloody Mary” three or more times. If she does appear, she is a ghastly female figure with a horrifying scarred face staring right back at your reflection from the mirror. She doesn’t speak a word, however, her actions following her appearance are frightening.

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So firstly, you are probably willing to find out what sort of vicious things Bloody Mary does to her summoner and what happens to them? One victim describes the ghostly figure as a woman dressed in a white gown, holding a knife. She would use this weapon to attack the summoner by scarring your face. Another incident describes how Mary did not actually appear, but how the victim’s own reflection became her image. After the innocent victim had repeated the words, blood suddenly appeared on and began dribbling down her bathroom mirror glass. This transformed her reflection from innocent girl’s face to a bloodied version. In a third situation, the victim how one can head to the toilet basin. After the two words were repeated, the toilet would suddenly turn red, symbolic of Mary’s nature. Flushing the toilet would erase the redness and also end the ritual.

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At this stage, you probably want to know who is Bloody Mary? How did she come about appearing as an evil, dark-natured figure? The truth is, no one knows who this figure is meant to represent, and, in fact, what started this legend. It is known that the term was coined for Queen Mary I, monarch of England from 1553 to 1558, during her attempt to restore Catholicism to England. At the time, she sentenced to death many Protestants through the horrendous means of burning. No research, however, has established a link between her and the ghost depicted in the children’s game. There is another source to the woman’s history, as explained in a written piece, Mary Worth and the Origin of Bloody Mary (2012), posted on blogspot. com.au, This blogger expresses their version of Mary’s backstory, and how she was once an actual human-being, Mary Worth. She lived in the United States during the Civil War. Unbeknown to villagers living nearby, she was a witch and a kidnapper, locking slaves up inside her property and conducting dark performances on them, until she was discovered and later executed.

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This backstory also goes on to explain what happened in the aftermath of Worth’s death, when her ghost rose from the grave and began terrorising the new residents of her former homeplace. After a farmer decided to build his homestead upon the area Worth’s barn had originally stood, he searched for a stepping-stone. Unfortunately, he stumbled upon the very one, placed above Worth’s gravesite. Since then, the couple endured a chain of days from horror and shock with crockery falling off the edges of tables and the wife finding herself trapped inside the house, since the doors and windows began closing and locking by themselves. According to this piece, both the farmer and his wife did know about the facts behind Worth’s life, however, neither showed hesitation in building their home at this location. Perhaps this is the evil spirit that every little girl sees in her summoning? Perhaps this explains why she terrorises and harms these innocent young victims, since the ghost feels it is being further provoked? After all, had the farmer decided to act more wisely, Worth’s ghost might not have risen and continued to strike nowadays? Who knows if this one mistake was what started it all?

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Some more questions hanging over your head by now are if Mary is such a horrifying figure, why do young girls even dare to summon her? How did this even come about? How come it is girls who mostly summon her? The origins of such a phenomenon can be traced back to historic rituals carried out by unmarried girls staring into the mirror to determine whether they will be able to see a future husband for themselves. This was merely due to peer pressure, as researcher Alan Dundes has highlighted from his psychological research into the Bloody Mary ritual. He notes that it is girls aged seven to twelve years, unlikely to have had their first menstruation and who have not been well informed of the changes to their bodies approaching puberty. This therefore leaves them feeling nervous. Since blood is heavily involved in this legend, this is merely a coincidence to a girl’s natural first menstruation, making them feel it is a shameful prospect.

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Bloody Mary’s malevolent nature will live on in the future as a frightful experience. The legend itself will also remain haunting, especially for any daring future summoners out there. The truth remains that there is is no one source that can explain how the idea of a ghost in Bloody Mary started and what her origin is. Perhaps Mary just came about simply as a result of a hallucination? The originator or first author of this legend remains unknown, and it continues to be told in a number of ways. As for the kids’ games, they too will continue to spark interests in generations to come and be conducted in a number of different ways. At the end of the day, only the summoner can really determine whether a female ghost really does appear. Are you daring enough to find out for yourself?

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REFERENCES Some of the World’s Most Famous Legends. (2016). Retrieved from https://exemplore.com/misc/Famous-Legends Mary Worth and the Origin of Bloody Mary. (2012). Retrieved from http://mythical-and-paranormal-blog.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/mary-worthand-origin-of-bloody-mary.html Bloody Mary Legend. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.scaryforkids.com/bloody-mary-legend/ The Legend of Bloody Mary. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.castleofspirits.com/bloodymary.html Teachers’ Resources - What are myths, legends and folktales?. (2006). Retrieved from http://myths.e2bn.org/teachers/info311-what-are-myths-legends-andfolktales.html Barber, M. (2014). Urban Legends Uncovered - Reloaded!. Amazon Digital Services LLC Dundes, A. (2002). Bloody Mary In The Mirror: Essays in Psychoanalytic Folkloristics. University Press of Mississippi.

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Mary In The Mirror  

As part of a Swinburne University project, I have researched and created artworks for the famous legend, Bloody Mary. The article provides i...

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