November 04, 2006

God is among the missing. Mary, with the help of demons, cast him out of heaven. "If you wake at night and see her," a ten-year-old says softly, "her clothes be blowing back, even in a room where there is no wind. And you know she's marked you for killing."

The secret stories of homeless children in Miami.

  • (Swiped from here.)
  • That was amazing. I've got a bit of a folklore fetish, and that was something simply off the hook. It's really interesting that they don't know where the current Bloody Mary myths come from. Thanks, PatB! Biggie Smalls, Biggie Smalls, Biggie...
  • Just missed Halloween with this one, but it sounds like it'd fit right in.
  • Yeah, bees, but I didn't find it till yesterday...
  • That made me shiver and cry all at once. The absolute bottomless fear and sadness these children convert into angels and devils is heartbreaking, but amazing.
  • I'm hoked up reading this. Can it be a coincidence that Bloody Mary turns out to be an infanticidal demon when so many of the children interviewed have been led into danger by their own parents?
  • A parent on the miserable pittance of the US minimum wage doesn't earn enough to pay rent. And seems far less to blame than an economic system that enables the already wealthy to become obscenely rich while ignoring the poor who have no place to live, no medical care etc. Where is the rental housing in New Orleans? It's been over a year since Katrina, and nothing. Conclusion: in the US, they don't care.
  • I didn't mean to imply that the parents had a choice, merely that it might seem that way from the perspective of a child.
  • This is a wonderful post. Thank you.
  • Fascinating.
  • This brings back memories, and it's fascinating how much further it's grown since my childhood. I remember in the mid-70s, I first heard a similar story to the Bloody Mary legend. Most of it was the same, though she wasn't called Bloody Mary then. In Oklahoma at that time, it was the legend of Mary Worth. My best friend at the time told it to me, and I was at just the right impressionable age for it to scare me silly. Back then, the legend went that she could only appear is summoned, with chanting to a mirror in a darkened room. The light of a single candle was permissable, but no other light was allowed. Anyone in the room would be horribly mutilated and killed if she was summoned. For a number of years, I would not have a mirror in any room where I slept. I knew perfectly well I could avoid summoning her when I was awake. But I also had been told repeatedly that I talked in my sleep, and I was convinced that I'd say those words in my sleep if there was a mirror in the room. After a few years, I got old enough to break free of the myth, but I remember that in those years, the story had begun to go through a metamorphosis. The younger kids in my school were scaring each other with the tale of Bloody Mary by then. The rest of the secret stories hadn't yet begun to spring up. Or if they had, I wasn't one of the ones who heard them. The changes and new stories that have grown up around that old core I find both fascinating and heartbreaking. The layers added by the feelings and needs of the homeless children who tell the secret stories, the reflection of their desire for an unconditional love (the Blue Lady), their need for a rescuer motif (the angels), and the feeling of ultimately inevitable doom got me all choked up. Excellent post, PatB. Thank you.
  • Very well done. Fascinating cultural mythos combined with urban well as heartbreaking to read about these kids who experience such things.
  • ...the legend of Mary Worth. And she mutilates you to death with boring melodrama! I more or less heard the same Bloody Mary legend, excepting the silly name. Did you have troubles reading the funnies as well, Christophine?
  • I couldn.t get this out of my head all night. It occurs to me that blue is the color traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary. The Blue Lady seems to me like the other side of the maternal coin for these kids - she provides love and comfort when possible, but is powerless to stop the evil in the world unless the child has some secret key. When my mother was going through rough times, I can remember feeling like there outght to be something I could to to make things right, if only I could figure out what it was (knowing the secret name.) So, we end up with this dichotomous mother-goddess figure, her one face troubled and dangerous, the other loving but powerless.
  • The blue haired fairy made Pinocchio a real boy and tried to keep him safe with advice until then.
  • Mythology Web has more on Bloody Mary variants. There's also a forum Here's more about La Llorona.