Date of Performance/Collection: 4/11/2019
Primary Language: English
Background: This informant is a young-adult college student who grew up in Northern California. The informant discusses a scary ritual that calls forth a vengeful ghost. This is a transcription of our conversation (The informant is “C”, another friend is “Friend” and I am labeled as “me”).
Me: Did you ever do any like ghost ritual kind of things when you were a kid?
C: I mean at sleepovers we used to do Bloody Mary
Me: I feel like everyone has done Bloody Mary. How did you do it?
C: Go in a bathroom, turn lights off and say bloody mary three times.
Me: Where does she come from?
C: I think she comes out of the mirror.
Me: Did you ever try it?
C: No I was always too scared.
Context: This conversation occurred one evening while sitting in my dorm room with my two closest friends. We were discussing my folklore collection project and I told them that folklore included rituals and traditions and the like. When brainstorming rituals, the informant brought up Bloody Mary, a common supernatural legend mainly believed by young children.
Thoughts: Bloody Mary is such a common folk legend and I can honestly say that I have never heard of anyone actually conjuring Bloody Mary. When I “played” Bloody Mary growing up, a candle was required for the ritual and in the dark bathroom with only a small flame flickering, it felt incredibly eerie. I had always thought of Blood Mary to be the antithesis of the Virgin Mary, but upon researching it further I found that Bloody Mary is actually based on Queen Mary of England. Bloody Mary is associated with children and childbirth in particular as its based on Queen Mary’s mysterious phantom pregnancy- she appeared to be pregnant but never gave birth to a child.
For more information on Bloody Mary and her origins, see this 2016 article by Krissy Howard entitled “The True Story of Bloody Mary, The Woman Behind The Mirror” (All That’s Interesting):