fairy ring

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fairy ring

1. a ring of dark luxuriant vegetation in grassy ground corresponding to the edge of an underground fungal mycelium: popularly associated with the dancing of fairies: seasonally marked by a ring of mushrooms
2. short for fairy ring mushroom Marasmius oreades, a dainty buff-coloured edible basidiomycetous fungus, characteristically forming rings in grassland
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
Enlarge picture
A man is pulled back before he enters a fairy circle. Drawing by T. H. Thomas, 1880. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Fairy Ring

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A darkened green ring that sometimes appears in a patch of grass, in lawns and meadows. It is caused by the enrichment of the soil by the mycelium (spawn) of certain fungi, which radiates outward from the center. The ring gradually increases in size, year by year, with mushrooms appearing around the perimeter. Rings up to more than two hundred feet in diameter have been recorded.

In popular folklore these circles of mushrooms, or darkened grass, are the rings in which fairies meet and dance. In many areas it is considered dangerous to fall asleep within the circle, for the fairies will take exception to their space being invaded.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.