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  • Marla Brooks

Never, Ever, Step Into A Fairy Ring


There is a great deal of folklore surrounds Fairy Rings, but before you can heed the warning, you need to know what a fairy ring is.

In the mundane world, a fairy ring, which is also referred to as a fairy circle, elf circle, elf ring or pixie ring, is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms. The rings may grow quite large in diameter, and they become stable over time as the fungus grows and seeks food underground. They are found mainly in forested areas, but also appear in grasslands or rangelands. They are the subject of much folklore and myth worldwide and particularly in Western Europe. They are often seen as hazardous or dangerous places.

Legend has it that a Fairy Rings are worn areas in the grass made by fairies dancing. It is believed that they are where fairies came to dance and celebrate, and perform many of the rituals of their own magic. The mushrooms of the rings were used as stools for the fairies to rest up a bit during the evening's festivities. It is believed that those who join the fairy dance within the circle under the moon are sometimes lost to time and place and may even disappear forever.

There are many stories written on Fairy history, folklore, and superstitions.

In German folklore, it is believed that these rings mark the place where witches gather and dance. The term for them in German is Hexenringe, or "witches' rings." Old Dutch superstitions state that the rings are where the Devil churns his milk. In Austria legend has it that the rings are created by dragons. Similar tales arise in French and Scandinavian folklore and stories of tiny spirits inhabiting these rings come from the Philippines as well.

Most of the stories talk about the terrible consequences of interfering in the lives of Fairies, revealing their location, stepping into their ring or trying to capture them. Sometimes just running into a fairy by chance can change a person’s life. Take, for instance, the tale of Thomas The Rhymer.

There once was a great bard who was called Thomas the Rhymer. He lived at Ercildoune (Earlston), in Berwickshire, during the thirteenth century. It is told that he vanished for seven years, and that when he reappeared he had the gift of prophecy. Because he was able to foretell events, he was given the name of True Thomas. During his seven years' absence from home be is said to have dwelt in fairyland.

As the story goes, one evening, Thomas was was walking alone on the banks of Leader Water when he saw riding towards him the Fairy Queen on her milk-white steed, the silver bells tinkling on its mane, and the silver bridle jingling sweet and clear. He was amazed at her beauty, and thinking she was the Queen of Heaven, bared his head and knelt before her as she dismounted, saying: "All hail, mighty Queen of Heaven! I have never before seen your equal."

Said the green-clad lady: "Ah! Thomas, you have named me wrongly. I am the Queen of Fairyland, and have come to visit you."

"What seek you with me?" Thomas asked.

"You must hasten at once to Fairyland, and serve me there for seven years," said the Queen.

Then she laid a spell upon him, and he had to obey her will. She mounted her milk-white steed and Thomas mounted behind her, and they rode off together.

He dwelt among the fairies for seven years. The time passed so quickly that the seven years seemed no longer than seven hours. After his return to Ercildoune, where he lived in a castle, Thomas made many songs and ballads and pronounced in rhyme many prophecies. He travelled up and down the country, and wherever he went he foretold events, some of which took place while yet he lived among men, but others did not happen until long years afterwards. There are still some prophecies which are as yet unfulfilled.

It is said that when Thomas was an old man the Fairy Queen returned for him. One day, as he stood chatting with knights and ladies, she rode from the river-side and called: "True Thomas, your time has come."

Thomas cried to his friends: "Farewell, all of you, I shall return no more." Once again he mounted the milk-white steed behind the Fairy Queen, and galloped across the ford. Several knights leapt into their saddles and followed the Rider of the Shee, but when they reached the opposite bank of the river they could see nothing of Thomas and the Fairy Queen.

It is said that Thomas still dwells in Fairyland, and that he goes about among the Riders of the Shee when they come forth at the beginning of each summer. Those who have seen him ride past tell that he looks very old, and that his hair and long beard are white as driven snow. Thomas wanders far and wide through Scotland. He has been seen, folks have told, riding out of a fairy dwelling below Eildon Hills, from another fairy dwelling below Dumbuck Hill, near Dumbarton, and from a third fairy dwelling below the boat-shaped mound of Tom-na-hurich at Inverness.

But Thomas isn’t the only soul who has been swept away after stepping into a Fairy Ring. Most often if a someone is enticed to enter and dance with the fairies for at least 20 minutes, they will find upon leaving the ring that many years in the 3rd dimension have passed.

One folktale in Ireland talks of a girl who was on her way home with bread, she heard music and went to see where it was coming from she encountered a group of fairies having a jolly time. They beckoned her to dance with them and she stepped inside the Fairy Ring. She danced for a while then told them she must go home because her mother is waiting for her. When she entered her house she was shocked to see that her mother was 20 years older. When her mother asked where she had been. she said, she only went to the market to buy bread, and then handed her that fresh loaf of bread. The child didn't age, but 20 years passed on earth.

So if you were walking alone in the woods and heard music and saw fairies dancing inside the ring, would you enter?


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