Bloody Mary and the Psychomanteum

 “If you look into a mirror and say the name Bloody Mary thirteen times with the lights out, the ghost of a little girl will fly out and slit your throat,” or so goes one permutation of a tale told again and again throughout history of the legendary folk monster, Bloody Mary, the horror that will come from the other side of the mirror and kill you or maim you if you dare speak her name.  Some versions of the story place Bloody Mary as the vengeful ghost of a woman whose children were kidnapped and murdered while others say it was a jilted lover who angrily killed her love interest and then herself in a bloodbath.  But staring into mirrors to contact the other side was a method employed long before Bloody Mary.

“On Halloween in the looking glass your future husband’s face will pass,” was a rhyme that commonly was said by youths in the early 20th century.  The mirror was often used to observe spirits and commune with the dead as well.  It’s no coincidence that in folk tale legend witches often would look through mirrors or the reflective waters of a bubbling cauldron.

Although the legend leaves us with an uneasy feeling that the other side of the mirror may actually be host to a whole new and disturbing world, it may be more the psychological point of view of the viewer that manifests a sort of mental spiritual channel.  The mirror itself of course would be no more inherently magical than a Ouija board or a deck of standard playing cards, though both are actually used in communication with the dead.  Clearly it’s a psychological mindset that opens up a pathway between worlds.  In other words, while the Bloody Mary ritual has never been known to actually summon a ghastly ghostly murderer, there have been plenty of tales circulated that those who have gazed upon their own shadowed visage while performing the ritual, have seen the dim shadowy outline of a grinning woman in white reaching her hand over their shoulder, and in that hand an ivory knife pale as her own skin.

So if the artifact of haunting is not the object itself, as so many would believe, it must be intention that is capable of summoning spirits from the other world.  So if we built robots, or to be more specific, facsimile humans, and had them conduct a ritual, would the same sort of spiritual phenomena manifest?  Of course not, as the only evidence is often the observer and this is no coincidence.  What if the manifestation of ghosts specifically required an observer?  Could this be the answer to eventually decoding the mystery of ghosts be locked within our very consciousness?

The Greeks, earliest known users of a device known as the Psychomanteum, also believed in a reality based upon observation.  It was after all, Plato who first proposed his allegory of reality in “The Cave.”  In his view, true reality was similar to a group of people, chained to a wall who could only observe their own shadows.  Is all that we see merely a shadow of who we really are?