Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody…Mary?

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Spanish, Mexican, Polish, and Russian
Age: 18
Occupation: Student at Delaware Valley High School
Residence: Milford, PA
Date of Performance/Collection: 02.10.2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Original Script: “Okay so I was around thirteen when this happened. I never really believed in this Bloody Mary legend but I was like, ‘what the hell?’ I was at a sleep over and everyone wanted to do it and I was like whatever about it. I have heard so many things on what you are suppose to do but I just let my friends take the lead. Basically, we went into my friend’s, Becca, basement bathroom. It was me, Becca, and Kaylin doing this. Anyways, we lit a candle, apparently the person holding the candle had to say the chant and the other two were suppose to touch the person’s shoulders. Then, whoever was closest to the light switch had to flicker the lights off and every time Bloody Mary was said—which you had to say three times, then blow our the candle. Anyways, I was volunteered to hold the candle, we walked into the bathroom and Kaylin was the one designated to flicker on and off the lights. So we went, ‘Bloody Mary’ lights off, lights on ‘Bloody Mary’ lights off, lights on, and for the last one I started to get a little freaked out for the last one. I had no idea what was going to happen, I have never done this before! So I held my breath and was like, ‘Bloody Mary,’ and blew out the candle. And the lights shut off. I waited a couple of seconds for Kaylin to turn the lights back on, finally Becca was like, ‘Okay Kaylin, turn on the lights,’ and Kaylin was like, ‘I never turned off the light!’ At that point we all started freaking out and fumbling for the light switch, which was not working. Then I heard a, ‘what the hell, oh you have got to be kidding me, girls get up here!’ Which was Becca’s mom, so we opened the bathroom door and it was still pitch black. Like none of the light switches were working, so we fumbled all the way from the bathroom, to the stairs then up the stairs, and, because of the windows, you could see the moonlight outside and Becca’s mom pacing. Apparently, there was a whole blackout on the street! We were worried for nothing! But safe enough to say, I will not be doing that again, still haven’t till this day! That was crazy scary!”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Jenna grew up in Chandler, Arizona with her family. About two years ago, she moved across country with her mother and now lives in Milford, Pennsylvania. When she did this Bloody Mary ritual, albeit the legend, she was in junior high school, in eighth grade to be exact. She is now a senior in high school and eighteen years old and plans to go to California in the fall.

Context of the Performance: Bloody Mary Ritual

Thoughts about the piece: The Bloody Mary ritual/ legend quest, is a very fascinating item, foremost, because it falls under the category of both a ritual and legend quest. Bloody Mary is a common legend among, typically, young adolescents, and does fit the category of a legend quest. However, it also fits the category of a ritual, for example, the lights flickering on and off, saying Bloody Mary three times, holding a candle—however, the ritual does vary and it would be interesting to see if it varies by regions. It is noteworthy to also mention, in my folklore class, we had discussed that Bloody Mary was almost a coming to woman hood, type legend quest. Which aligns perfectly with the age Jenna was at, at the time she did the ritual.

Furthermore, it is also important to note the candle in the ritual. The candle almost represents a form of enlightenment, as well as the lights turning on and off. Thus, blowing out the candle could represents the finishing of coming to womanhood, that you know all you need to know, and hence blowing out the candle.

Additionally, though Jenna did not believe in the legend of Bloody Mary, she still got scared toward the end of the ritual—scared of the unknown. This theme—being afraid of the unknown—seems to be precedent in today’s society: people afraid of ghosts, people afraid of things they cannot control. It also seems as if groups add to this inherent anxiety, it seems as if because there was a group all participating in the ritual, they all mimicked the anxiety/ fear of the unknown. (This is also precedent in another interview I conducted with Jenna about a Ghost in her high school, please see the interview for reference).