Last night Fairies frolicked there...

posted by Meg

No comments

Have you ever seen one? A fairy ring that is.. Maybe you have even seen the fairies prancing around one in the dark of the night.. I know I used to go searching for them as a child. And finally seeing one as an adult has rekindled my fascination with them. Whilst scientifically these rings are not at all that magical, I’m going to focus on the folklore and mysticism of them here. Because lets face it, it’s just more fun!!

A Fairy Ring is simply the term for a circle or ring of mushrooms. They are naturally occurring, and are the result from an organism (Mycelium) that grows under the ground and the mushrooms you see pop up from the mycelium underground. Ok that’s all the science I’m getting into, but if you want to read more I got that info from here.

European folklore is full of Fairy Rings. They are known in English and Celtic folklore to be gateways into elfin kingdoms and places where elves, fairies or pixies gather to dance. There is even a Welsh variant that says fairy rings pop up over an underground fairy village. But superstition warns mortals to stay away from them as they may be punished or cursed by the gathering creatures for disrupting the dance.
There is a traditional Scottish rhyme which tells of the danger of such places:

He wha tills the fairies' green
Nae luck again shall hae:
And he wha spills the fairies' ring
Betide him want and wae.
For weirdless days and weary nights
Are his till his deein' day.
But he wha gaes by the fairy ring,
Nae dule nor pine shall see,
And he wha cleans the fairy ring
An easy death shall dee.

There are many legends which foretell of the consequences of a mortal entering a fairy ring, such as: anyone who steps into a fairy ring will die at a young age, entering a fairy ring would result in the loss of an eye. Or someone who violates a fairy perimeter becomes invisible to mortals outside and may find it impossible to leave the circle. The mortal may be forced to dance to the point of exhaustion, death or madness. Fairies are even known in Welsh tales to lure mortals into their circles to dance with them.

To be free of a fairy ring requires outside intervention, one way was to throw wild marjoram and thyme into the ring to befuddle the fairies. Another way is to touch the victim with iron, or even just pulling the victim free. Some methods rely on Christian faith to break the enchantment, or a stick from the Rowan tree could break the curse (The Rowan tree is thought to be the wood from which the cross of ‘Jesus Christ’ was built). Even a simple phrase such as “What, in Heaven’s name” , could do it. Often  a rescued victim finds that what seemed to be a brief visit in fairyland was really much longer in the mortal realm, possibly weeks or years! And even rescued they may not be safe as there are such tales as having no memory of the encounter, or crumbling to dust or even mouldering away when eating their first bite of food. Even the touch of iron could cause the victim to disappear.

One legend tells that the only safe way to investigate a fairy ring is to run around it nine times, which will give you the ability to hear the fairies dancing and frolicking underground. But it must be done under a full moon and the runner must travel in the direction of the sun. If you run the other way it will place you under the fairies sway.
But there are even more legends of fairy rings which tell that they are places of fertility and fortune. And a house built on a fairy ring will bring its inhabitants prosperity.

In France fairy rings are known as ronds de sorciers (sorcerers rings) and were guarded by giant bug-eyed toads that cursed those who violated the circles. In Germany they are known as Hexenringe (witches rings) and belief is that Witches gather and dance at the place of a fairy ring. Which makes sense to me, seems like a good place for a ritual. The Dutch superstition is that the circles show where the Devil set his milk to churn, and their presence on a farm caused an inferior quality of butter if the cows ate the grass from the fairy ring. This could well be slightly true due to the fact that the fungus that makes a fairy ring consumes all the nutrients it encounters.  And in Austria it is believed that they are made by the fiery tails of flying dragons, and once a dragon had created such a circle nothing but toadstools could grow there for seven years. There are also stories from places other than Europe although those are harder to find, but are much the same associating them with little people and diminutive spirits.

The rings even feature in prominent literature such as Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream, and The Tempest. And William Yeats’ The Land of Heart’s Desire. And many poets refer to fairy rings, such as; Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and W.H.Cummings.

As a child hearing tales about fairies from my eccentric mother sparked such curiosity within me. I believed so strongly that they were there at the bottom of the garden, dancing and being cheaky (I notably still do however). I was given so many books on the topic from flower fairies, to squashed fairies. And I truly believe that every child should be given this wonderment of fairies, and I implore to all of you to introduce a little of their magic into a child’s life.

Try making your own fairy ring out of large stones or planting something such as lavender, tulips, daffodils or anything that takes your fancy in a circle. You could even find some little fairy statues and hide them amongst the flowers and stones. It’s bound to be a hit with children and adults who haven’t grown up. Cause growing up is so over rated!

And with all that said I will leave you with a fabulous piece of writing containing a reference to fairy rings from the book ‘Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens’ written by J.M.Barrie. I’m sure you are all familiar with the tale.

"The fairies are exquisite dancers, and that is why one of the first things a baby does is to sign to you to dance to him and then to cry when you do it. They hold their great balls in the open air, in what is called a fairy ring. For weeks afterwards you can see the ring on the grass. It is not there when they begin, but they make it by waltzing around and round. Sometimes you will find mushrooms inside the ring, and these are fairy chairs that the servants have forgotten to clear away. The chairs and the rings are the only tell-tale marks these little people leave behind them, and they would remove even these were they not so fond of dancing that they toe it till the very moment of the opening of the gates. David and I once found a fairy ring quite warm."

Love & Light,

Leave a Reply

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...