Women IN Folk Horror – Maiden, Mother, Crone?
By Stephanie Ellis
As a writer of folk horror, I have created my own unique world within the Five Turns novels (The Five Turns of the Wheel and Reborn) in which human and semi-human/supernatural creatures interact according to old beliefs and religion. Within this particular community, I have deliberately placed The Mother—Mother Nature—at the top of the pecking order; all worship her, but the males of her family subvert her rule. There is very definitely an ongoing conflict as to who, ultimately, wields power in this world. The religion, the rituals, the contract between people and the goddess of the land, of blood and sacrifice in return for prosperity is a link that has been found again and again throughout the history of humanity. And again and again, the woman has been used as that physical representation within folk horror: the fertility of woman equates to the fertility of the land. But gives her no agency of her own. Once those so-called fertile years end, the woman is dismissed, becomes Crone, a horrible name with its connotation of old equalling ugly. But is that just an impression gleaned from watching a few films, reading a few books, or does it remain a trend?
I called this article, ‘Women IN Folk Horror – Maiden, Mother, Crone?’, the capitalisation of IN referring to how women are portrayed within folk horror literature*. It is something I have long pondered: how the female has been used to set up the backdrop of the story. What is her underlying role?