Many folk beliefs generally paint fairy rings as dangerous places, best avoided.
Sikes traces these stories of people trespassing into forbidden territory
and being punished for it to the tale of Psyche and Eros.
In it, Psyche is forbidden to view her lover, and when she does so,
her palace disappears and she is left alone.
Superstition calls fairy circles sacred and warns against violating them lest the interloper
(such as a farmer with a plough) anger the fairies and be cursed.
In an Irish legend recorded by Wilde,
a farmer builds a barn on a fairy ring despite the protests of his neighbours.
He is struck senseless one night, and a local "fairy doctor" breaks the curse.
The farmer says that he dreamed that he must destroy the barn.
Even collecting dew from the grass or flowers of a fairy ring can bring bad luck.
Destroying a fairy ring is unlucky and fruitless; superstition says it will just grow back.
A traditional Scottish rhyme sums up 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.
- Numerous legends focus on mortals entering a fairy ring—and the consequences.
- Most often, someone who violates a fairy perimeter becomes invisible
- to mortals outside and may find it impossible to leave the circle.
- Often, the fairies force the mortal to dance to the point of exhaustion, death, or madness.
- In Welsh tales, fairies actively try to lure mortals into their circles to dance with them.
- Entering the ring on May Eve or Halloween night was especially dangerous.
- One source near Afon fach Blaen y Cae,
- a tributary of the Dwyfach,
- tells of a shepherd accidentally disturbing a ring of rushes where fairies are preparing to dance;
- they capture him and hold him captive, and he even marries one of them.
- Freedom from a fairy ring often requires outside intervention.
- A tactic from early 20th century Wales is to cast wild marjoram and thyme into the circle and befuddle the fairies;
- another asks the rescuer to touch the victim with iron.
- Other stories require that the enchanted victim simply be plucked out by someone on the outside,
- although even this can be difficult.
- Other folk methods rely on Christian faith to break the enchantment: a stick from a rowan tree
- (thought to be the wood from which the cross of Jesus Christ was built) can break the curse,
- as can a simple phrase such as "what, in Heaven's name",
- A common element to these recoveries is that the rescuer must wait a year and a day from the point where the victim entered the ring.
- Mortals who have danced with the fairies are rarely safe after being saved from their enthrallment.
- Often, they find that what seemed to be but a brief foray into fairyland was indeed much longer in the mortal realm, possibly weeks or years.
- The person rescued from the fairy ring may have no memory of their encounter with the sprites,
- as in a story from Anglesea recorded in 1891.
- In most tales, the saved interlopers face a grim fate.
- For example, in a legend from Carmarthenshire, recorded by Sikes,
- a man is rescued from a fairy ring only to crumble to dust.
- Some legends assert that the only safe way to investigate a fairy ring is to run around it nine times.
- This affords the ability to hear the fairies dancing and frolicking underground.
- According to a 20th-century tradition of Northumberland, this must be done under a full moon,
- and the runner must travel in the direction of the sun;
- to go widdershins allows the fairies to place the runner under their sway.
- To circle the ring a tenth time is foolhardy and dangerous.
- A story from early 20th century England says that a mortal can see the sprites
- without fear if a friend places a foot on that of the person stepping beyond the circle's perimeter.
- Another superstition says that wearing a hat backwards can confuse the fairies
- and prevent them from pulling the wearer into their ring.
- a legend from Pont y Wern says that in the 13th or 14th century,
- the inhabitants of the town of Corwrion watched fairies dancing in a ring around a glow worm
- every Sunday after church at a place called Pen y Bonc.
- They even joined the sprites in their revels.
- The legend survives in a rhyme:
- "With the fairies nimbly dancing round / The glow-worm on the Rising Ground.
- Fairy imagery became especially popular in the Victorian era.
- Thomas Hardy uses a fairy ring as a symbol of lost love in The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886);
- the character Michael Henchard passes a fairy ring
- and remembers that he last saw his wife Susan there when he sold her to a sailor in a drunken rage.
- Victorian poets who have referred to fairy rings in their works include
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Eliza Cook, Robert Stephen Hawker, Felicia Hemans, Gerald Massey, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
- W. H. Cummings composed the cantata The Fairy Ring,
- and William Butler Yeats wrote of them in The Land of Heart's Desire (1894).
African Fairy circles
are enigmatic barren patches,
typically found in the grasslands of the western part of southern Africa.
These fairy circles consist of round areas barren of vegetation;
as yet there is no clear picture as to how they are formed,
although scientists are researching the matter.
One theory suggeststermites as the creator of these circles,
but recent studies have stated that there is no evidence termites would cause this phenomenon.
In the oral myths of Himba people these barren patches are said to have been caused by the gods and/or spirits and natural divinities.
There are about 60 mushroom species which can grow in the fairy ring pattern.
The best known is the edible Scotch bonnet (Marasmius oreades),
commonly known as the fairy ring champignon.
One of the largest rings ever found is in France. Formed by Clitocybe geotropa,
it is thought to be about 600 metres (2,000 ft) in diameter and over 700 years old.
On the South Downs in southern England,
Calocybe gambosa has formed huge fairy rings that also appear to be several hundred years old
Reminds me of Avatar - connection to the peoples land....