Tuesday, February 10, 2009


These circles of inedible mushrooms, often red with white spots, featured in all the best fairy tales. The fairy ring is also known as a fairy circle, elf circle, pixie circle, etc. It is a naturally occurring ring of either mushrooms, darker green grass, or dead grass and can grow to be over ten meters in diameter. They grow naturally in Europe, Britian and North America and may spring up after rain.

A fairy ring is typically a gateway into the realm of the fairies, or a gathering place where they dance and celebrate. In one instance, there are fairy rings located in South Downs in England made up of St. George mushrooms that researchers believe could be several hundreds of years old.

According to folklore, they provide convenient magical circles where fairies and witches meet, dance and sing at night. A fairy ring in a field beside a house is a lucky omen. Fairy rings also occupy a prominent place in European folklore as the location of gateways into elfin kingdoms, or places where elves gather and dance.
Run 9 times clockwise round the outside of a fairy ring to see fairies. Standing or sitting in a fairy ring at the full moon means a wish will come true. However, legend warns of interfering in fairy revels as one may be enchanted within the ring. Fairy rings are closely linked with the ancient solar circle dances, which took place on the great festivals under the full moon.

Humankind has long been fascinated by a phenomena called the Fairy Ring. The following is one interpretation of their creation and the magic that is held there.

****** In the light of the moon with a soft breeze blowing through the trees and flowers, if you are very quiet and cautious, you may witness the fairies laughing and dancing in a small clearing. You may have seen the circles they leave in the grass from their joyful dancing. Do not go in search of the fairy dance alone for their magic is powerful.

*** The enchantment of fairy music and laughter is well know to draw passersby toward the Fairy Ring, and should you join in the merriment of the dancing by stepping into their ring you may be led forever into the world of Faerie. The Fairy Dance may seem to last only a short while - a few minutes, an hour or two, or a whole night - but in reality the normal length of the dance could be seven years by our time and perhaps longer.

*** Attempting to rescue a friend from the Fairy Ring is difficult. A captive can be rescued by following the faerie music while others hold firmly to the rescuer’s clothing, reaching into the ring (keep one foot firmly outside the circle) and pull the captive dancer out.

*** The enchantment of the fairy music and dance is overpoweringly beautiful as are the fairies themselves. It is perhaps best to enjoy the presence of fairies without joining them.

English folklore, fairy rings were said to be caused by fairies or pixies dancing in a circle, wearing down the grass beneath their feet. Toads would then sit on the basidia, poisoning them, hence the name toadstool.

Scandinavian folklore, these circles were attributed to the elves and were called älvdanser, i.e. elf dances.

In German tradition, fairy rings were called “hexenringe”, because they were believed to be the gathering place of witches on Walpurgis Night. The witches would gather, and dance all night, leaving behind the ring to mark where they been. In the region of Tyrol, located in what is now Central Europe, folklore believed that fairy rings had to deal with magical flying dragons; when a dragon had created such a circle, only toadstools would be able to grow there for seven years.

Entering a fairy ring, according to European folklore, was extremely bad luck. They were guarded by huge toads that would curse anyone who entered the circle. Some superstitions were that, if one entered a fairy ring, soon they would lose one of their eyes. Other stories warned young girls against touching the dew inside a fairy ring; if it got on your skin, it would develop into skin problems. Almost all European folklore has a warning against entering a fairy ring because the fairies could kidnap you as soon as you stepped into one. Or the fairies might wait until you were in bed asleep, and slip a changeling into your place.

Many tales also tell of people who have stepped inside fairy rings and were never seen again, or of others, who have gone inside one only to be driven insane by the music of the elves that they could hear once inside. Several other legends say that stepping into a fairy ring would allow one to see fairies and elves, but would also make the person prone to their deceptive illusions as well. Another myth states that fairy rings are doors into the fairies world, transporting people to other places, or make people appear in the same place in a different time.