Who is Mary Weatherworth and What is She Doing in Your Mirror?

November 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM

The estimated reading time for this post is 5 minutes, 21 seconds

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“This is breaking and entering,” said Delores.

“Not,” said one of her friends. “The older kids party here all the time.”

“So it’s only breaking and entering for the first person to do it?”

“If you’re too scared go home. Baby”

Delores opened the door, its brass handle gleaming like some sole survivor of decay. Diseased breath seeped out. Flowers carved above the fireplace bloomed in the moonlight. The beam of their flashlight conjured bottles and cans strewn about the floor, ghosts from parties past. They walked down a corridor past tall doors and peeling wallpaper. A clock kept time to the secret pulse of all things, ticking slower than it had the week before. As they were told, there was a mattress in one of the rooms. And a mirror.

“What are those things in the corner?”

“That’s the skin from little snakes. Go pick one up.”

“Condoms, gross!”

“Let’s not do this,” said Delores. “What if it’s true? Why do we even want to know? How can she see us if she has knives in her eyes?”

“I knew she’d chicken out.”

“Why can’t we do this at one of our houses?” said Delores.

“Because your mom would walk in with PBJs.”

The cruel derision of her friends silenced all protests. Death before displeasing your peers. Their reflection in an oval mirror vanished when they shut off the flashlight. “Mary Weatherworth come forth,” they said, quietly the first time, louder the next. The third time it fled their mouths and took on a life of its own like some blank check tossed into the abyss. A pinprick of light appeared and expanded. Delores’ friends fled.

What looked back. Three of them. White leather skin. Saucer eyes black and glossy. Featureless faces like the pupa stage of some malevolent becoming. Each clasped two daggers with stone handles, holding them with the blades pointed up.

Delores tried to scream but the muscles in her throat must have conspired against her, unless they were no longer under her control. She said the name again. About extra incantations the legend was silent.

The frame of the mirror glimmered from a sepia strobe within. The smell of pavement after a summer rain filled the room. The reflections’ hair blew from a breeze Delores could not feel. One of them cried. One laughed. Another extended a hand to the glass like an ape at the zoo, as though puzzled by its whereabouts, outraged by the ex nihilo curse of its existence in the way most humans are not.

Slowly they looked less blank, more like animate outlines. More like Delores.

A cacophony of voices told her she was the reflection, not them. Told her they would prove it, that the proof would make it so. They raised the daggers to shoulder level and pointed them at their eyes. With muscles suddenly freed Delores turned to run.

Calibrated to the dying clock, her frantic pounding on the door slowed down to primal beats. Her friends wouldn’t have locked it. She crouched and covered her face and the voices commanded her to observe the proof.

***

Years later, Delores keeps a blog:

The meme researcher is a paleontologist, digging through the soil of history and literature and art for common fossils, looking for connections between the earliest forms and their living descendants. Just because most people do this poorly and in pursuit of frivolous artifacts doesn’t call the whole enterprise into disrepute.

This is also a way of keeping my feet wet in Philosophy. I’m NOT interested in Mary Weatherworth as a supernatural phenomena but as a meme, a compact chunk of information. I’m studying how it gets passed on, how it competes in the meme pool (the pool of ideas or units of culture) and how it mutates and evolves. Please send me occult lore involving mirror-inhabiting entities who are blind.

I discovered the following on an Ana blog, a site devoted to unhealthy tips for losing weight. The meme was the least creepy thing I found there. Ana, as best I can tell, is the animistic force of anorexia. According to the hostess of this site it’s a positive lifestyle choice rather than an illness. I’ve emailed Zelda for more details about the following story (posted without permission).

“there was a aynshent rituel 2 defeet evil beings. a princess named Nica had her eyes gowjed out by hi preests. 1 wore a cote of black fethers. 1 wore a giant fish head. they chanted Ave de Pico Ancho, Ave de Pico Ancho, Ave de Pico Ancho. BY REEDING THIS SPELL U JUST OPENED THE WINDOW TO THE OTHER SIDE! ITS UR MIRROR!! the only way 2 close it is by sending this email to 97 people. if U dont Nica will appeer in ur mirror all covred with rotting skin and glowng eyes and PULL U THRU 2 B with her 4 EVER!!”

Notice how the summons “ave de pico ancho” has to be repeated three times just like “Mary Weatherworth come forth.” This meme spreads itself virus-like by using the same mechanism as mainstream religions and cults. 1) You are cursed. 2) To break the curse you have to spread the meme. My evidence that this story evolved from the Weatherworth meme as opposed to sharing a common ancestor is based on three considerations. The first involves the transformation of Nica’s eyes. Similar to the legend of Mary Weatherworth, the mutilation of her eyes had supernatural consequences. Hopefully Zelda will respond to my email and clarify the scope of Nica’s powers.

The name “Mary Weatherworth” wasn’t contained in the earliest versions of the story. It comes from a traveler persecuted in Oaxaca for powers of divination and unnatural acts with the local girls. Before a trial could proceed, an angry mob abducted her, blinded her, and threw her down a well. Then the town suffered a series of droughts until it was abandoned. The legend, spread by recipients of Mary Weatherworth’s affection, was that she appeared in the mirrors of her persecutors, haunting them, eventually driving them to suicide. The inhabitants of neighboring villages began fending off the apparition with strange rituals and even human sacrifices. (In case of emergency, kill a virgin.)

So what’s the deal with mirrors? In the ancient world it was widely believed they were passageways to other realms. The most famous example is Detritus, a Gnostic philosopher, self-styled “prophet of the reflections,” possible author of the Gospel of Detritus, which was condemned by the early church fathers. He allegedly summoned an evil priestess in a mirror who told him the first one to blind him/herself would force the other to become the reflection. Perhaps it was a trick, but on which side should you err? He taught that owning a mirror was like opening a window during a pestilence. He wrote a tragedy about a kingdom invaded and vanquished by mirror warriors, its citizens too vain to dispense with them.

The simplest explanation for these tales is that scary stories conjoined with mirror stories. As they became more intriguing and outrageous they were repeated more often, making them the fittest in the meme pool, ensuring their survival. Let’s stick with that until something better comes along. Why are people so resistant to explanations in terms of chance mutation and layers of happenstance?

The diligent meme researcher must resist the ever-present temptation of assuming that legends have a factual basis. Interesting stories get passed on and mix with other interesting stories. It really is that simple.

My favorite version, if I had to pick only one, is the blank entity who absorbs the personality of the summoner, enslaving her in a parallel dimension in the mirror then taking her place in our world. The reflection proceeds to spread the lie that Mary Weatherworth is just a story, thereby enticing more to summon her. I’ve cataloged over sixty versions on this blog. The meme researcher’s work is never done.

Credit To – Petronius Jablonski