There’s a popular challenge which made rounds on social media platforms(tik tok mainly)recently. It involves standing in front of a mirror under dim lighting at night and chanting ‘Bloody Mary’ thirteen times in hopes of summoning a supernatural apparition. The question is, who was Bloody Mary?
She was actually the first regnant queen of England, Queen Mary 1. Born on February 18th, 1516 to king Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon she was the heiress to the English throne due to the inability of her mother to conceive a male heir. Her father, frustrated, decided to divorce her mother and forbade Mary from seeing her ever again. Mary was 17 at the time. King Henry later went on to marry Catherine’s maid of honor, Anne Boleyn but was still met with the same disappointment. Boleyn bore him a female child whom they named Elizabeth. Wanting her daughter to succeed the throne, she pressed the parliament to declare Mary illegitimate and succeeded. This infuriated the king so much that he had her arrested and locked up. She was later tried and found guilty of treason. After her trial, she was beheaded but she had already reduced Mary’s chances of ascending the throne to the barest minimum.
Mary’s teenage years were characterized by irregularities in her menstrual cycle and terrible menstrual pains leading up to her adulthood. She also grew up having frequent spells of depression which would haunt her throughout her lifetime. In 1553, at the age of 37, Mary ascended the throne and married Philip of Spain. She had grown obsessed with trying to avoid ending up like her mother and fervently nursed the hope of bearing a heir as soon as possible. Two months into the marriage, Mary felt like the happiest woman in the world. She had become pregnant. Her pregnancy raised a few eyebrows and most of the populace felt skeptical about it. Soon enough, rumors of a falsified pregnancy began to spread but without any definite proof of it, the people of England and Spain(the couple’s countries of origin) kept their fingers crossed until the 9th month of pregnancy to see the outcome. As she was expected to be due on May 9, six weeks before the date, Mary was confined in a private chamber customarily.
The D-day arrived, but no baby. Thinking it was the fault of a miscalculation of the dates, it was then shifted to June. The rumors too began to intensify, some claimed Mary had died during child birth, while others believed that she had already bore a son. However, a few days to the end of May the unbelievable happened! Mary’s abdomen begun to shrink and by August it became as flat as before. Mary left her confinement chamber childless and more depressed than ever.
Mary attributed her failed pregnancy to a punishment from God for failing in a mission she set out to achieve a few months earlier. At that time, England was divided into two Christian sects, the catholics and protestants. Mary was determined to convert all of England to the true religion of the land(Catholic). This she planned to achieve before Christmas in 1554, resulting in the burning of 240 men and 60 women on a stake during a period known as the Marian trials. This earned her the eternal name Blood Mary.
Years later, she was declared pregnant but everyone including her husband was skeptical about it. Once again, she failed to deliver a baby and was confirmed to have entered menopause. The next year, Mary passed away at the age of 42. Her failed ‘pregnancies’ have been attributed by experts to be a result of ovarian or uterine cancer. Proof of this is gotten from records of her low appetite and history of menstrual irregularities and pains. Other experts believe that hers was a case of phantom pregnancy, a condition whereby a person obsessed with giving birth actually trick her body into thinking that she is pregnant thus prompting the surfacing of pregnancy symptoms. After all, the human brain is limitless in its ability to trick itself.
Talking of the brain’s ability to trick itself, the shady images seen by those participating in the Bloody Mary game is most often explained to be an optical illusion caused by staring into a reflective object under dim light, it is also believed to be hallucinations caused by self hypnosis or apopheni.

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