Beware the Fairy Ring

Beware the Fairy Ring

Have you ever seen a gathering of mushrooms in the shape of a near-perfect circle and been drawn to it? Well, do your best to take care because that might just be a fairy ring. While it may seem like a harmless, everyday occurrence of nature according to lore this spot marks the boundary between our world...and theirs.

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To many, it would seem that these rings would appear overnight and their quickness was a sign of an otherworldly presence setting up shop. Sometimes, one can even see the creators of these rings dancing around them. Other origins have them linked to fairies dancing and/or parties from the night before or burned into the ground by their dancing feet. Fairy rings, as inviting as they may seem, often have malevolent intentions.

If you dare to enter the ring there is no telling what could happen to you. In some cases, it is mere humiliation. For example, Fairy Room reports that anyone who enters a fairy ring may be “welcomed and have fun at first, but the dance will start to move faster, and then faster until the speed confuses his human senses and he falls to the ground exhausted. The playful fairies, riled by the unconscious body, throw him high into the air through the combined effort of many tiny, magical arms. The unhappy human interloper wakes in the morning to find the fairies gone, the merriment over, and himself covered in bruises.”

However, the effects of fairy rings can be much more harmful and intense than mere humiliation and a handful of bruises. Some people spend a night in a fairy ring and are driven insane or even whisked away to fairyland permanently, with no hope of ever returning home.

Fairies sometimes feel as if the humans are imposing when they cross the boundary. To protect their portals, they often curse those who intrude. For example, the fairies would forever plague you of visions or even premonitions that would slowly but surely ruin your life. Or, if you ate while in fairyland it is said that as soon as you eat human food, you will crumble into dust. Others warn of plagues of disease, bad luck, and even early (and eerily unexplained) death.

However, fairy rings weren’t all bad. As long as you respected the rings they were seen as a good omen. If one popped up on your land they were said to bring good luck to your household for however long they remained. In parts of Africa, they were also believed to be the souls of dead or symbols of the human soul and also seen as a positive.

Fairy rings do naturally occur. The fungi create a ring or arc within the soil which affects the grass and, in turn, grows up through the greenery creating a circle of fungi. They vary in size from just a few inches to 100 feet. The grass within the ring can sometimes die and wither, which leaves an even more permanent mark in the land. They seem to pop up overnight because the tops of mushrooms represent a huge network of subterranean mycelia. Interestingly enough, perhaps with some understanding of how fungi work, it was believed in Wales that seeing a fairy ring indicated an underground fairy village that should not be disturbed.

This image was created by user Sporulator at Mushroom Observer, a source for mycological images. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.