Hello again, Grimericans! Can you feel that crispness in the air, or in the case of our Canadian Brethren, the freezing cold in the studio. Halloween is getting closer and closer and the night of frights that most of us look forward to every year is almost on our doorstep, and probably begging for candy… I’ve decided to look a little bit more into the history of the origin of a famous ritualistic teenager pastime, that which involves summoning an evil entity to one’s mirror. Damn, teenagers are stupid. I must admit being this stupid at one time, which doesn’t say much for my generation. In all fairness, a lot of generations before me have engaged in this rite of passage, and in all likelihood, many generations after yours and mine will continue to do so, although with some futuristic variation. I of course am talking about the varied story of Bloody Mary.
I would summon this daily if I could.
The Mirror Witch has many names. Agnes, Black Agnes, Aggie, Bloody Mary, Hell Mary, Bloody Bones, Mary Worth, Mary Worthington, Mary Whales, Mary White, Mary Jane, Mary Lou, Svarte Madame, and of course, probably the most famous two out of all of the variations, Sally and Kathy. Okay, the latter two might not be as well-known as mainstream as the rest but they’re still included. The stories involved with the origin of the Mirror Witch are as varied as what to call her. In some versions, usually the ones associated with Mary Worth or Worthington, she is an actual witch while others indicate she was merely accused of practicing the dark arts. In either case, here fate usually ends with here tied to a stake shrieking a curse to the townsfolk who sentenced her to this horrific end. The curse being if her name is mentioned in front of a mirror in a darkened room, that she would send her soul for the foolish mortal. Another version of the Mary Worth story that involves the same ending has her as a 19th century woman who lived north of Chicago in Lake County where she would capture and subsequently torture runaway slaves. When the locals discovered her demented ways, well, ya know, the whole ‘burning at the stake’ thing. I’m not saying that this version of Mary Worth isn’t real or that her hobby of torture never happened, I’m just saying that I couldn’t find anything to suggest that she ever existed or that these events took place in Lake County, Illinois. Other versions tell of a woman who was in a terrible accident and for some reason can be summoned through a mirror. The story I heard growing up was similar to that of the Lady in White stories in that she was a woman who killed her infant, intentional or not, and was forever seeking it or a replacement. The Bloody Mary of American Folklore often gets confused with the very real Mary I of England. She was the daughter of the infamous Henry VIII and after deposing her wrongfully appointed cousin, Lady Jane Grey, of the throne, she was, despite the brief reigns of her cousin and Empress Matilda, the first queen regnant of England. She earned her unfortunate nickname, “Bloody Mary”, from the vast amount of Protestants that she had executed while she was reestablishing Catholicism to England. She WAS NOT given the nickname because she had the habit of killing young, virgin girls whose blood she would drain and then bathe in in order to retain her youth and beauty. That was Countess Erzsébet Báthory of Hungary. Indeed, the names and historical figures, fictional or real, are as diverse as the rituals used to summon her.
“Okay, after 3 months of training, I finally got hit to do it. What’s this ritual for again? Summoning WHAT?!?!”
So the version that I heard growing up in the Pacific Northwest was pretty strait forward. First you gather your cojones and then proceed into a room with a mirror, usually the bathroom. Next step was to do a second count on your cojones present, then turn off the lights so that the room is pitch black. Then, assuming all of your cojones were in order, you would then proceed to say, “Bloody Mary” three times in the mirror. Then the magic starts to happen because before your eyes, a very bloody and very horrific looking woman appears in the mirror holding what looks like an infant child wrapped so that you can’t make out any distinguishing features. The mirror witch then tosses here child at you and you have one of two options. #1: You can nope right the fuck out of anything doing with touching the baby being hurled in your general direction, the result of which is you dying a gruesome and terrible death by having your face scratched off or #2: Catch the mystery child only to find it is as gruesome as its mother, its mother who now wants to pulls you into the mirror with her as a cheap caregiver for her forsaken offspring and ultimately driving you insane. Why the hell did we do this as kids again? Anyways, like I said, the ritual varies greatly. The amount of chants needed can be from one to one hundred. The chant itself can be any variation of Bloody Mary’s name. Some include the need to assert your belief in the entity, “I believe in Mary Worth.” Etc. Some of these ritual include the use of a single candle, others involve a candle on either side of the mirror. A few allow a companion or two. There are some where you start the chant off in a whisper and slowly build momentum in a near scream. There is one where the person performing the summoning is required to spin around in circle whilst chanting, glancing at the mirror with each pass. Usually around the thirteenth repetition, a face become visible in the mirror. You then would presumably be too dizzy to fight back. Touché Mirror Witch, touché.
Another tool in the Mirror Witch’s Dizzy Arsenal.
Mirror have always been thought of as gateways or portals to other worlds or dimensions. An old custom use to be to cover the mirrors in a house when someone passed away. The though being that if the recently departed caught a glimpse of him or her self, they would get trapped in the mirror. This is when the deceased used to spend days in the house of family being prepared for burial. As far as the story at hand, the most commonly accepted version of the origin of this practice was a ritual to for young maids to see the future and find out what their future husband would look like. It usually involved holding a candle in one hand and a hand mirror in the other to help guide your way walking backward in a dark house. The young maid would have to walk backwards up a flight of stairs into a room with a mirror. She then would spin around to face the mirror and the image of her future husband would be there. Then again, sometimes she wouldn’t see her future husband. Sometimes she would see a skull, or a skeleton or even the Grim Reaper himself. This would indicate that the young lass would die before being wed. It was probably this part of the tale that eventually morphed into the Mirror Witch lore we have today. We’ve come a long way, huh? This practice was also supposed to be performed on Halloween which is another suggestion as to why it moved into the direction it has taken. Either way, as long as you keep the lights on and your mouth shut, you should be fine right? Actually, there are tales that the entity can get to you through any mirror in a dark room without the use of the incantation. So I guess my power bill is going to sky rocket from the lights being on 24/7 or I’ll have to start shaving at work because of the lack of mirrors in my house. Decisions, decisions. Well that’s it for me Grimerica. Stay Classy.