The Story: The very definition of classic slumber party games, this one seems made for young girls to play, and it has been around for a very long time. One part urban legend and one part ghost story adds up to a nearly irresistible combination for most who play, though the rules and stories have changed a great deal over the years.
There are those who say that Bloody Mary is a reference to Mary Tudor, known in her life as Bloody Mary due to her execution of protestants in England during her short, but violent reign. Mary, unfortunately, suffered many miscarriages in her lifetime and her inability to bear children plays heavily into one version of the game.
Others point to various witches, both historical and fictional, as the titualar Mary. One such version suggests that Mary Worth, a witch who supposedly lived in Chicago, during the Civil War, where she would capture freed slaves and use them for her evil black magic rituals.
And still others tell the story of a lovelorn girl named Mary, disfigured in a horrific accident, and unable to find someone to love her because her face was so hideous. She eventually committed suicide.
Interestingly enough, there are several international versions of this particular game that do no involve a woman named Mary at all. In Sweden, they have Swarte Madam, Veronica in some Spanish speaking countries, and in Japan there is a Kuchisake-onna, a story so terrifying, I’ve decided to include it in the rules section below.
The Rules: The rules for Bloody Mary differ, depending on which version of the story is used to set up the game, but almost every version involves a bathroom, a mirror, and a candle. The best time to play is late at night for optimal darkness. Light your candle, enter the bathroom, and stare into the mirror. The next step depends entirely on the story you’ve heard.
It’s said that in order to make Bloody Mary Tudor appear, one should call out, “Blood Mary, Bloody Mary, I stole your baby, Bloody Mary!”. Bloody Mary’s face will appear in the mirror and she may attack you to retrieve the child you’ve stolen.
In other versions of the ritual, one need only repeat “Bloody Mary” three, seven, or nine times in order for Mary to appear, and she may do anything from scaring you to attacking. There have been reports, in wonderful urban legend fashion, of everything from scratches to stab wounds appearing on the bodies of those who called out to her.
Oh, and remember my mention of Kuchisake-onna? Well, in this particular version of the tale, Kuchisake-onna was disfigured by a jealous husband/lover who slashed open her mouth from ear to ear. She has become a violent, vengeful spirit who offers little chance of escape to those who call her.
Reportedly, Kuchisake-onna will appear in the mirror wearing a surgical mask or hiding her face behind a fan. She asks, “Do you think I’m pretty?” Now here’s the thing, there is no right answer to this question. If you answer “no”, she will kill you with scissors. If you answer “yes”, she will uncover her face and ask, “How about now?”. If you answer “no”, she will cut you in half, and if you answer “yes”, she will slash your mouth to resemble her own. This is one spirit that does not play around.
The Dangers: Now overall, I would say this is a low risk game that mostly serves as fodder for young girls to scare each other and have a good time. There is very little harm here. HOWEVER, there are a couple of things to consider here:
First, group mind is a powerful thing. Not everyone in a group is equally capable of handling terror, and it can be a very short leap from one hysterical reaction to a group hysterical reaction. What I’m saying is that, even without the spiritual aspect, there is room here for a dangerous level of group terror. Young minds, especially, are prone to perilous leaps and bounds, and there is a possibility of accidental self harm in the process of dealing with being scared.
Second, the basis of this game is found in a host of old ritual elements. Invocation of spirits in some ancient practices included the calling out of a spirit’s name a certain number of times, and could even include taunting a spirit to provoke them into appearing. A group of people united in the singular purpose of calling out to an entity such as Bloody Mary could very well end up invoking a vengeful spirit all too ready to conform to Mary’s story and carry out some punishment.
Finally, there is a great deal of power in mirrors. They have been recognized as objects easily used as portals to other dimensions for as long as we have had them. Think of the time people spend in front of mirrors examining their appearance, listing their faults, giving themselves pep talks, and preparing for important occasions. In other words, they are imbued with potential energy and that energy can take on a life of its own.
Final Analysis: Play the game. Why not? But remember what you’re doing and understand the risks. Most likely, nothing will happen at all. But, and that’s a big but, if something does happen, make sure to separate yourself from it. Get out of the room with the mirror and don’t return until daylight. At this point you can salt, smudge, and in general cleanse the mirror to close off any dangerous energy that might have been invoked there.
Next up, it’s all about Charlie–>