If You See a Fairy Ring
By: Marion Brigantia (van Eupen)
“If you see a fairy ring
In a field of grass,
Very lightly step around,
Tiptoe as you pass;
Last night fairies frolicked there,
And they’re sleeping somewhere near.”
by William Shakespeare
This season of Imbolc, the time of innocence, playfulness and pureness is a beautiful time of the year to connect with the Inner Child or Soul Child.
In relation to the Crone, my Inner Child connect with Her as the Grandmother. She who shares Her wisdom through the medium of stories and fairy tales. A grandmother can tell these folk tales of ancient wisdom, which are not always fluffy and can contain quite scary and challenging content, and still hold your safe and sound in Her love. In many fairy tales the Crone is the witch and as such serves as the catalyst of the transformation that the main character in the story needs to go through. But that is a story for another time…
As priestess of the Crone of the Otherworld, I am working this year with the ‘Fairy Circle’ and this brought me back to the world of fairy tales that my grandparents and parents used to read to me and later I loved to read myself. The stories and poetry I loved most, even when they were not sweet or had a happy ending, were the stories about the fairy and fae realms.
My absolute favourite in this genre is a poem of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, called ‘Der Erlkönig’ The Alder King (often interpreted as the King of the fairies), a story where the Fairy King entices a little boy to come to his realm to dance and play with his daughters, and although the human father rides fast through the night and tries to dispel all what the boy tells him he sees and hears, doesn’t take notice. In the end the boy dies before the father is able to reach safety.
Looking back, it is interesting to notice that as a little girl, I was fascinated by that threshold of magic and danger and even death. And I remember that, when in the poem the Alder King was talking about his daughters, I always depicted them dancing in a circle in the forest and I recall the strong attraction of dancing with them, despite the outcome.
The Faery realms always seem to have that edge place of magic and danger to them, it seems to be seen as a place you can loose your mind or even die. They are places where you can get trapped for years, and since faery years are different than human years, when you would to return all the people you knew would have died. Faery energy was and is not a magic to mess with.
Places that were linked with this faery energy were therefore seen as dangerous and, I feel that this was probably the source of the fear of the Fairy Circles and Fairy Rings. Because it was said that fairy rings were circles where the fae danced and these circles were seen as the entrance into their realm. If you stepped into a fairy circle the fae would make you dance with them until you became mad or died from exhaustion or you would disappear from this earthly realm altogether. Or was all that just symbolic for something else?
So what are Fairy Circles?
Biologically they are a phenomenon, where the mycelium of a fungus equally spreads out in all directions from a central point. The mycelium will produce toadstools each season, and after the ‘blooming’ of the mycelium it will keep spreading out. This means that if you know the location of a Fairy Circle, there is a big chance that if you return the year after, the ring will be there again, just a bit wider out. Apparently, the biggest fairy circle ever measured had the diameter of 600 metres! That is a lot of faeries dancing!
Eventhough this natural phenomenon is pretty magical in itself, in the old times, people had to come up with different and often super-natural explanations of these rings. In folklore of different European countries, they are known as Witches Rings (Germany), Dragon rings (Austria), in the Netherlands they were the result of the spill of the Devil churning milk and in Russian and Swiss folklore they were treasure rings, which only the fairies or witches could reveal.
There are also those who suggest that the believed links and experiences of people with fairy circles and the otherworld, had to do with people eating the mushrooms which were part of the circle. We know that in ancient and modern shamanic traditions, the shaman/ka would consume (parts of) a mushroom to journey between the worlds. This would explain the link of these magical mushroom circles with the stories of fae, witches and dragons and other ‘otherworld’ experiences.
Into the Fairy Circle
Tread fearlessly into the circle, child
Where magic dances free and wild
We’ll take your from this common life
of struggle, worry, fear and strive
Step gently into this world of soul
to gather the threads which makes you whole.
And remember when you have returned
to gift onwards that what you have learned.
by Marion Brigantia
In my experience and how I personally as a Priestess work with both the Faery Circle and the Faery Otherworld realm, is with great respect, from a place of love, not from fear!
When connecting with this magical portal into the Otherworld, become clear in yourself or your intentions and your energy. Try to tap into the innocence and naivety of your Inner Child, a place of curiosity and playfulness, but at the same time a mindset of magic and wonder. This will open a place of deep connection and respect for both the natural side and the magical side of the Faery Circle!
State your intention and your respect, just as you would do at a place of the ancestors, and feel if it feels right to step into this portal. If it feels right step in gently and as you sit in the centre of the circle connect with the magical threads of communication, the mycelium, which not just connects you with all of nature, all that is alive in this world, but also with all that is alive in the Otherworld, the world of the fae and the Otherworld Crone!
Maybe you have a question you want to sit with. Listen to the whispering of the wisdom and connect these threads of otherworld insight and understanding with your own. Let the Fae take you, let the Sidhe guide you, open yourself to meet the Crone, the Grandmother there, to share Her stories of magic and wisdom with you!
When you are ready to leave the circle, don’t forget to thank the fae and all elementals and otherworld Crone and spirits of the place. You can of course leave a gift, a prayer or offering to them and the Otherworld Crone there as well!
This experience in the Otherworld might bring a challenge or even the death of that what is not alive in you. That what has blocked you from growing and radiating out in the world, just like the mycelium would. But it might also bring the blessings of the fae and the Otherworld Crone on your deeper insights and magical new beginnings!
Marion Brigantia (van Eupen)