Friday, August 28, 2009

Fairy Circles, Fairy Rings

In ancient traditions, especially in the British Isles and Scandinavia fairies were magical beings who inhabited kingdoms beneath the surface of the earth. Fairy lore tells of how the fairies or "fay" continually meddled in the affairs of humankind sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. It is believed that fairy folk have the power to whisk a human away to their fairy kingdom from which the human might return many years later but insist that only a few hours have passed. German, Irish, Scots, English and Scandinavian people have countless tales of fairies interacting with humans and stealing time, or even babies which they replace with a changling. There are variations of stories in Wales, the Slavic countries, Japan and China and even some native American tribes had such tales.

In nature there is something known as a Fairy Circle or Fairy Ring. It is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms. They are found mainly in forests but also in grasslands or ranges. In European folklore fairy rings were believed to be gateways to fairy or elfin kingdoms beneath the earth. The ring was thought to be where fairies or elves came out in the evening to dance and celebrate. In German tradition it was believed that witches gathered and danced in a fairy circle. The Dutch believed the circle was where the devil set his milk churn. Superstitions and traditions often warned against entering a fairy ring for fear of injury, death or even being made invisible. A human who finds himself inside of a fairy ring may not ever be able to escape. Sometimes fairy rings could bring good luck too, places of fertility and fortune. Fairy rings have been featured in works by European authors, playwrights and artists from as early as the 13th century.

The other night at dusk as I was coming home I noticed something from the window of the bus. I could not believe my eyes! So early the next morning I hiked back up to the spot and with my camera recorded my very first fairy circle! I even braved death or invisibility by stepping into it and I paced it off. It was approximately 15 feet in diameter. I heard about fairy circles all of my life, sometimes even questioning their existence, but had never actually seen one. Until now. So I thought I would share this happy experience with all of you. This is the fairy circle I found in La Crosse, WI.


  1. Great information! Love you found such a delightful ring, I've never seen one either!!

  2. Don't you just love finding these! I came upon one a couple of weeks ago, we have had more rain than usual and the shrooms were quite lovely, it was a full moon too so extra fun, pics at my blog, cheers, Laura

  3. Oooh lucky you...thanks for taking pics of this and sharing them...

  4. I've never heard of a fairy circle before. Thanks for the background info. What a delightful find! I'll have to keep an eye out now that I know what to look for :)


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