WRITTEN BY: EMILY WATERS, MARKETING INTERN
Something magical has appeared in the gardens over the weekend—a pair of fairy rings!
A fairy ring, perceived by many cultures to contain the mischievous magical beings they are arranged for, is simply a circle of well placed mushrooms. Though the placement of the mushrooms is lucky, stepping into one of these circles is rumored to cause immense misfortune. According to English and Celtic tales, if a human enters the ring, they will be taken to an underground world, forced to dance with the creatures until they either perish from exhaustion or go mad. Dutch tales tell a different story—they claim that the rings are made by the devil to keep his milk churn, and that any livestock unluckily enough to wander into the circle will have their milk soured. Other lore believe the circles are just where fairies come to celebrate, using the stoles of the mushrooms as a resting place between the festivities of the celebration.
Fairy rings have snuck their way into the arts for centuries. Artists, from at least the 18th century, have displayed fairy rings in their works, depicting both the good and evil the rings are said to bring about. Even Shakespeare mentions fairy ring lore in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” during Act II, Scene 1, when Puck comes across a fairy in the woods. William Blake (1757–1827) depicts this encounter as well in “Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing” (c. 1786).
Though the rings seem inviting and we are curious as to what the truth of the tales are, we can only assume the worst, so enter the rings at your own risk (but if you do happen to stumble into one and nothing happens to you, let us know).