Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Urban Legend Up Close: Bloody Mary

As urban legends go, Bloody Mary has always been particularly scary to me, which is why episode five of Supernatural really freaked me out! I remember first hearing about Mary at a slumber party in sixth grade. My girlfriends dared each other to go into the dark bathroom and summon her. When it came my turn I flat out refused, persuading them to play Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board instead.

Strangely, although no one knows Bloody Mary’s true origins, this terrifying test of courage among teens has gone on for generations. The rules may vary, but it generally goes like this. Step into a darkened bathroom, heart hammering, hands trembling, light one candle, look into the mirror and say Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, while you turn yourself around and when you stop, and look back at your reflection, pray like crazy she’s not there to claw your eyes out.

(Sheesh, I have the heebies just writing this!)

Of course, there are variations to the incantation and the consequences. On SPN the victims’ eyes explode and bleed out. Others think Mary will drive you insane, appear behind you and claw your face or leap from the mirror and yank you in with her.

Why a mirror? Well, many believe mirrors are portals to the spirit world. In fact, some cultures will cover the mirrors in a home where someone has died so the soul can't get confused and become trapped in the looking glass. Makes you wonder what, er, make that who, is on the other side, doesn’t it?

Speaking of who…who’s Mary? There again the folklore is fickle. Some believe she’s a vengeful witch, others think she’s a terribly scarred woman who died in a car crash and a few call out “Hell Mary” to summon the devil himself. However, the majority seem to think she’s either Mary Worth, a child murderess, who can be summoned by saying, “I believe in Mary Worth,” or she’s actually Queen Mary I who had two “phantom” pregnancies and earned her nickname, Bloody Mary, by persecuting Protestants and can be called by taunting her with, “I have your children” or “I killed your baby.”

Whatever you believe, the question is, will you summon Mary? Or have you already?

As for me, in the interest of this article I thought long and hard about facing my fear. I even went into my dark bathroom, stared at myself in the mirror and whispered “Bloody Mary” once in my head. That’s as far as I got….