The legend of Bloody Mary AKA the Mirror Witch has been around for what seems like forever, but who is the legend based off?

Is it the Queen who was nicknamed Bloody Mary? The other Queen who murdered her husband? The alleged Civil War era-witch that is said to have captured young girls to bathe in their blood? Or is it the world’s supposedly noted most notorious female serial killer?

The #DickSquad have four suspects, you decide who the real Bloody Mary is.

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How to do the Bloody Mary ritual

Bloody Mary is not a new story by any means, she’s been around since the beginning of sleepover time and she’ll be there long into the future. Much like any legend, she goes by a few names, while Bloody Mary is the most popular, she is also known as the Mirror Witch.

Many cultures and belief systems have theories about mirrors — you know those things in your bathroom that you do your hair in — some believe that mirrors act as portals between this world and the next.

In fact, back in the days before funeral homes were things corpses were washed by the dearly departed’s relatives, dressed for their funeral and lain out in the front parlour for days before they were buried. Creepy AF as it may be, this was common practice.

It was believed that if the dead saw themselves in a mirror the ghost would remain in the house after the body was buried because the mirror would trap its spirit, so all the mirrors in the houses were covered up.

In case you’re feeling brave tonight, here is the quick guide to summoning Bloody Mary:

  1. Find yourself a good old-fashioned candle.
  2. Situate yourself in a bathroom with a mirror.
  3. Turn the lights out.
  4. Light said old-fashioned candle.
  5. Say “Bloody Mary” three times… or thirteen, the jury’s still out on this and none of us decided to try it. Also, you may or may not have to spin yourself around in circles, in the dark bathroom while doing this.
  6. Bloody Mary should appear.

What happens when you call the Mirror Witch?

Now, before you head to the bathroom to try this fancy-ass little trick we should warn you of the possible consequences (spoiler alert: none of them are good).

The least harmful to your personal being is going to be that Mary appears in the mirror, or the mirror itself might just spontaneously start to bleed.

If you’re one of the unlucky performers of this ritual, you might end up with scratch and claw marks over your face and/or body. And if you’re really unlucky, the Mirror witch herself might pop out and scratch your eyes, drive you insane or kill you…

So, you’ve been warned.

Who is Bloody Mary?

The legend of Bloody Mary goes back hundreds of years and is probably one of the most well-known, but strangely enough, nobody seems to know where exactly the legend started… or who it’s based on. But the #DickSquad has compiled a list of potential Bloody Mary suspects…

Is Mary I of England Bloody Mary?

Suspect One: Mary I of England (1516 – 1558)

Our first suspect is Mary I of England.

Born in 1516, to Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII of England, Mary was the half-sister of Elizabeth I, whose mother was Henry’s side piece, Anne Boleyn. 

Catherine of Aragon married Henry VIII in 1509, their daughter Mary was born a few years later in 1516. However, in 1522, the beautiful Anne Boleyn was appointed to be one of Catherine’s ladies in waiting and Henry fell hard—granted, that was after he fell hard into her sister Mary (if you know what we mean).

Henry, being the utmost gentlemanly figure he was, kicked Catherine to the curb, pissing off the Catholic church in the process who said he couldn’t divorce Catherine and marry Anne. Of course, the Catholic church couldn’t stop him and he proceeded to divorce Catherine and marry Anne, who he promptly beheaded after 3 blissful years of marriage because she slept with another dude (talk about the pot calling the kettle black).

He then married Jane Seymore and knocked her up, Jane died two weeks after giving birth to her only son from postnatal complications. Doing the right thing, Henry waited a whole 3 years before marrying Anne of Cleves who apparently wouldn’t get jiggy with him because a mere 6 months later their marriage was ruled unconsummated.

So, he married Catherine Howard less than a month after dumping Anne number two, but he beheaded her 16 months later because she too found him unsatisfactory in the bedroom and finally, finally he married Catherine Parr—and I’m pretty sure the only reason the third Catherine was not beheaded was that Henry the VIII died in 1547.

You’ll be happy to know that Mr. dick out of his pants died fat, ugly and covered in boils—there’s actually a rumour that he died of syphilis, unfortunately, that has been deemed untrue the theories surrounding his death include: scurvy, McLeod’s syndrome or a brain tumour possibly caused by jousting. 

If you want to learn more about the murderous spree of Henry the VIII and the beheading of Anne Bolyn, check out our episode on the Tower of London.

After Henry’s death, Edward VI, Henry and Jane Seymore’s 9-year-old son and Mary’s younger brother took the throne. He died at 15, due to a terminal illness naming his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, as his successor pissing off both of his older sister’s Mary and Elizabeth. Nine days after becoming Queen Lady Jane Grey was dumped by the people of England making way for Mary.

Mary I, also sometimes referred to as Mary Tudor (her family name) became the first reigning Queen of England and Ireland in 1553, and boy was she a doozie of a Queen. Her nickname was actually Bloody Mary due to the hundreds of Protestant subjects she executed during her reign — estimated to be over 300. 

Mary was the only child of Catherine and Henry’s to survive to adulthood. She was named Princess of Wales in 1525, by her father and was sent to live on the Welsh border while her father attempted to marry her off…

In 1533, as we mentioned earlier Henry declared his marriage to Catherine null — he was frustrated by the lack of male heir she gave him and said that because he married his deceased brother’s wife the marriage was incestuous (sure).

But clearly, the Catholic church was not cool with this annulment so he broke ties to the Catholic Church and established the Church of England. He then married Anne Boleyn who gave birth to Elizabeth, Anne feared Mary would pose a challenge to Elizabeth’s succession to the throne and successfully got Mary deemed to be illegitimate, forcing her to be a lady in waiting for Elizabeth.

When it came to Henry’s third wife, Jane, she insisted that he repair his relationship with his daughter’s (he was on the rocks with Elizabeth too, due to the fact that he’d beheaded her mother) he did so but only if Mary acknowledged him as head of the Church of England and admit the illegality of his marriage to her mother—she agreed and re-entered the royal court but her strong Catholic beliefs caused tension.

After King Edward’s death at 15, Mary successfully challenged and deposed his heir, Lady Jane Grey. She became Queen Mary I on July 9, 1553, she was 37 years old at the time.

Mary was the first queen regnant and she immediately reinstated her parent’s marriage. At first, she recognized the religious duality of her country but she was deeply religious and wanted to save her people from eternal damnation wanted to convert England back to Catholicism.

To do this she needed a Catholic heir, otherwise, the throne would pass to her Protestant half-sister, Elizabeth. So she made the unpopular move of married Philip II of Spain which produced no children, but she continued to repeal many of the religious edicts made by her father and replaced them with her own. This included the introduction of a strict heresy law, the enforcement of which resulted in the burning of over 300 Protestants as heretics.

Over her lifetime, Mary had endured a number of false pregnancy and ultimately ended up dying of uterine or ovarian cancer on November 17, 1558, at St. James Palance in London and was interred at Westminster Abbey. Upon her death Elizabeth I took the throne from 1559 to her death in 1603, and was buried alongside her sister.

Is Mary Queen of Scots the mirror witch?

Suspect Two: Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart lived a life of tragedy. She was Queen of Scotland from the cradle, being born a mere week before her father King James V of Scotland in 1542.

At 6, in 1548, Mary was sent to be the bride of the Dauphine — the young French prince — to secure a Catholic alliance against England but in 1561, the Dauphin still a teenage boy died from an ear infection and Mary returned to Scotland a widow (she was 19).

Side Note: Apparently all of Mary’s ladies in waiting were also called Mary. And the name “marie” is the Scots word for maid, derived from the Icelandic ‘maer.’

When she returned Scotland was in the “throes of the Reformation” and marrying a Protestant man seemed the best fit for a marriage. She fell madly in love with Henry Stuart, Duke of Albany, more commonly known as Lord Darnley… who was also her cousin.

Unfortunately shortly after their marriage, Lord Darnley now the King Consort, became a drunk as Mary ruled alone and gave him no real authority. With Lord Darnley’s withdrawal, Mary became close to her advisor Lord Bothwell.

Meanwhile, a young Italian courier David Rizzio rose the ranks of court to become the private secretary of Mary, Lord Darnley was not particularly pleased with this suspecting that she was not being faithful. Together with companions, the jealous Lord Darnley burst in on a heavily pregnant Mary who was having dinner with Rizzo and 5 close friends, dragged Rizzio from the table and stabbed him 58 times in Holyrood House—the castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.

At the time of Riccio’s murder Mary was pregnant with her son who would become the future King James VI of Scotland and I of England. Lord Darnley later died in mysterious circumstances in 1567, when the house he was lodging in in Edinburgh blew up one night that February. His body was found in the garden of the house after the explosion… but he had been strangled…

Mary waited a whopping 3 months before marrying the Earl of Bothwell, who was also the chief suspect in Darnley’s murder. Marrying a suspected murderer turned the Scottish nobility against her so Bothwell was exiled and Mary was forced to abdicate in July 1567. Shortly after he abdication she was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle and her infant son was made king. 

Mary escaped from Lochleven in 1568, and fled to England to seek refuge from her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. Mary hoped that Elizabeth would support her cause but when Mary arrived it put Elizabeth in a difficult position, Mary technically had a claim to the English throne so Elizabeth had her imprisoned. 

Mary became the focus of numerous Catholic plots to assassinate Elizabeth and seat Mary on the throne, but she was never directly involved in any of these plots so Elizabeth never acted against her. But in 1586, Mary made the mistake of corresponding with Anthony Babington who was plotting to dispose Elizabeth. Mary was tried for treason and condemned to death in October 1586, she was executed at Fotheringhay Castle on February 8, 1587, at the age of 44.

Mary’s son James succeeded Elizabeth on the throne in 1603, and in 1612 he had Mary’s body exhumed “from Peterborough Cathedral and placed in the vault of King Henry VII’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey.”

Suspect Three: Mary Worth

Mary Worth was an alleged witch who dabbled in the dark arts. Rumour has it that this lovely lady captured runaway slaves around the time of the Civil War and chained them up for “ritualistic sacrifices” in a barn on her land. 

The locals were wary of Mary from the get-go. She was a creepy woman who lived in a very small cabin in the forest on remote land and was known around the village for selling tinctures and herbal remedies. People in the area stayed away from her, worrying that she would curse them or their animals. And those who chose to interact with Mary and use her remedies were shunned due to their “partaking” in the religious practices of wicca.

Sometime in the village, young girls started to go missing. The villagers immediately assumed Mary Worth was behind it, and some brave folk approached her inquiring as to the missing girl’s whereabouts but Mary denied any knowledge. However, her old and haggard appearance started to change, and Mary became more youthful and pleasant looking. Allegedly this change in appearance was due to the fact that she had been bathing in the blood of the young missing girls.

One night the local Miller’s daughter shot up in bed due to a “mysterious noise.” Her mother was in bed sick (mysteriously enough treating her toothache with a remedy from Mary) and was frightened by the girl’s sudden unexplained departure from the house.

She called to her husband to follow the daughter. With the help of some fellow town folk, the farmer ventured out to retrieve his daughter, the band of merry townspeople noticed a light at the edge of the woods and when they got closer they saw Mary Worth standing next to a large tree with a wand pointed towards the millers home. The miller’s daughter was headed straight towards her…

Now we’re not entirely sure how the story ends for the miller’s daughter but it didn’t end well for Mary. It is said that she ended up being dragged from her house and burned at the stake. Many believe that she was buried on her farmland and that land is now cursed.

Apparently, decades later a farmer and his wife bought the land and while clearing it out the farmer accidentally removed Mary’s grave marker. With the marker removed a flourish of paranormal activity began to ensue and when the farmer heard the story of Mary Worth he attempted to put the gravestone back but couldn’t remember where it went.

The couple was plagued by Mary’s ghost for the next few years until their house burned down in 1986. Apparently, several attempts to rebuild on the land have been made since then, all of which have ended up being burned to the ground.

Bloody Mary Pro-tip: The Mary Worth version of the story apparently calls for you to say “I believe in Mary Worth” three times into the mirror for her to appear. Not sure if I’d recommend this.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory

Suspect Four: Countess Elizabeth Bathory

Speaking of bathing in the blood of innocent children, we now bring you to our fourth and final suspect for Bloody Mary: the Blood Countess, also known as Countess Elizabeth Bathory.

Erzsébet Báthory, more commonly known as Elizabeth, was born on August 7, 1560 in Nyírbátor, Hungary to George Báthory and Anna Báthory . The Báthory family was a prominent Hungarian family. Elizabeth’s uncle was the Hungarian noble the king of Poland and the grand duke of Lithuania of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the prince of Transylvania. Her older brother Stephen became a judge royal of Hungary.

By 15, Elizabeth was married to Count Ferenc Nádasdy, a soldier who eventually went on to lead the Hungarian armies against Ottoman forces threatening Central Europe. Because she had the higher social status, Elizabeth refused to take her husband’s name so he took her family name instead.

She became the mistress of the Nádasdy estate, which she received as a wedding gift from her husband, where the newly weds became known as being cruel masters. After 10 years of marriage, Elizabeth gave birth to 3 daughters and a son.

In 1578, Nádasdy became chief commander of the Hungarian army, and left Elizabeth in charge of the estate and governing the local population. Since then, rumours swirled that Elizabeth tortured and murdered her servants, the rumors got more dramatic in 1604, when her husband died, Elizabeth was 43.

Word spread that Elizabeth was torturing and killing young girls — first servants, then daughters of local peasants and finally girls sent to her by “local gentry families to learn good manners.”

It was alleged that she was drinking their blood to preserve her youthfulness and looks. Witnesses said that she was “stabbing victims or biting their breasts, hands, faces and arms, cutting them with scissors, sticking needles into their lips or burning them with red-hot irons, coins or keys.” Some were said to be beaten to death and others starved. There are also rumours that Elizabeth bathed in their blood, but truthfully they seemed to have been added afterwards.

In December 1610, Elizabeth was arrested alongside four of her “favourite servants and intimates” accused of being accomplices. An investigation ensued and the accomplices were all tried and found guilty, 3 were executed and the fourth was sentenced to life in prison.

Due to her family’s prominent standing, she was never put on trial. Instead she was locked in Csetje Castle alone in a room where the windows were walled up. She died four years later on August 2, 1614 when she was 54 years old.

Did you love this episode? Check these other historic gems out:

The Lady Dicks did not just magically come up with the information for Will the Real Bloody Mary Please Stand Up? themselves, they, in fact, did research beyond Wikipedia (thanks jerky iTunes reviewer for your one-star comment), and here are those sources:

The Lady Dicks Podcast was created by Tae Haahr. The Lady Dicks are Andrea Campion, Nikki Kipping and Tae Haahr. “Will the Real Bloody Mary Please Stand Up?” was research, written, edited and produced by Tae Haahr. The Lady Dicks theme music, A Pink Panther, is licenced through AudioJungle.

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The legend of Bloody Mary AKA the Mirror Witch has been around for what seems like forever, but who is the legend based off? Is it the Queen who was nicknamed Bloody Mary? The other Queen who murdered her husband? The alleged Civil War era-witch that is said to have captured young girls to bathe in their blood? Or is it the world’s supposedly noted most notorious female serial killer? The #DickSquad have four suspects, you decide who the real Bloody Mary is.

Who do you think the Bloody Mary ghost was? Share your thoughts in the comments below!