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The (Urban) Legend of Bloody Mary

August 23, 20222 min read

The legend as we heard it…

Okay, I promise this one is true! It happened to a friend. Really! You hold a candle in one hand and a mirror in the other. Then you walk backwards up a flight of stairs. At the top, you look into the mirror.

Hopefully you will see the man you’re going to marry. But if you see the grim reaper, it means you’ll die before you get married.

This prediction comes to you courtesy of a ghost named Bloody Mary. You can also have Bloody Mary come to you anytime. Just call her name thirteen times while looking in a mirror. Her ghost will scare you or maybe even kill you. Won’t that be fun?

The Real Facts

Long ago it was normal to carry around candles. It was also normal to wear long skirts. Imagine trying to get upstairs backward in a long dress. Now do it with both your hands full of a mirror and a candle. You might fall and set the house on fire! This was definitely not a “thing” back in the day.

The Bloody Mary ghost is made up. But where did the story come from?

Some people think the ghost is supposed to be the original Bloody Mary. That was Queen Mary I of England. She had a reputation for killing people so they started to call her Bloody Mary.

Mary made a law that everyone had to be Catholic like her. If anyone was a heretic (that’s someone who is a different religion), she would order their deaths. Mary was only queen for five years. In that time she is responsible for about 300 deaths.

Urban legend

Someone tells you “A friend of a friend said it really happened.” But you never know the original storyteller.

Art by James Wright at

Bloody MaryUrban Legend
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J.J. Caroll

Bookstore Curator

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