fairy ring A natural mushroom fungus that grows in dark rings on grass and turf. In folklore it is said to be the site where fairies and witches meet at night to dance and sing. The mushroom is inedible — and animals tend to shun it — and has a reddish, buff or tawny cap. It is common in Europe, the British Isles and North America and often appears after heavy rains. In Britain, fairy rings also are known as hag tracks, in the belief that they are created by the dancing feet of witches.
Because fairies are associated with Magic, fairy rings have magical superstitions attached to them. It is said that if one stands in the center of a fairy ring under a full Moon and makes a wish, the wish will come true. If one wishes to see and hear the fairies, who often are beyond the awareness of the five senses, one can run around a fairy ring nine times under a full moon. However, superstition holds, it is dangerous to do so on Samhain (All Hallow’s Eve) or Beltane (May Eve), two major festivals of fairies (and witches), as the fairies may take offense and carry the mortal off to Fairyland.
Fairy rings are still associated with natural magic and are used by contemporary Witches as sites for meetings and seasonal festivals (see Wheel of the Year.) Fairies also are said to dance around stone circles.
- Briggs, Katherine. An Encyclopedia of Fairies. New York: Pantheon, 1976.
The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.