Clarissa Johal: November 2016

Thursday, November 3, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Fairy Rings

A "fairy ring" is a naturally occurring ring of mushrooms. Found in forested areas and grasslands, there are two different kinds; free and tethered. Free rings are usually found in meadows, fields, or lawns and aren't connected with any other organisms. Tethered rings show up in forests, usually with one or more trees in the center, and have a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the tree. A fairy ring is caused by mycelium, which advances away from the center of the ring at about 6-18 inches per year. In Belfort, France, one such fairy ring was estimated to be over 700 years old and spanned a quarter of a mile in diameter.

Fairy rings are the subject of worldwide folklore—particularly in Western Europe. Thought to be the result of elves or fairies dancing in the grass, straying into a fairy ring was often seen as dangerous. It could bring on disease, bad luck, or put one at risk of being captured and enslaved within the fairy realm. On the lighter side, the dew from the grass of a fairy ring was prized as a cosmetic skin treatment, and used as an ingredient for love potions. In some cultures, building a home within a fairy ring would bring good luck to the family. In other cultures, it was believed that fairies buried their treasure within the fairy ring itself.

Beliefs such as these have been around for hundreds of years - some still believe in them today.

So, next time you see a faerie ring, will you stray inside, or give a wide berth?