croning: an article and a ritual

Persistent images of independent old women have come down to us from a time when few people enjoyed long lives, and those who did were skinny, bent and rickety, with voices as croaky as that of the pet raven on their shoulder. Their faces are sometimes depicted as resembling death’s heads, the skull all but visible beneath the skin – and indeed, they seem close to death. It is this image of the crone that people fear.

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