If you’re ever caught by the enchanted pull of a faerie circle, it is impossible to skip leg day. I’m not saying that you should seek them out to see incredible gains, I’m merely pointing out the facts.

Faerie circles are a part of folklore from western Europe that most people with even a passing familiarity with European myth and legend have heard of. The lore stems from the natural formation of circular rings of mushrooms found in grasslands or forested areas. We now know that these are a perfectly normal occurrences in nature, but in the past, they were seen as places of magic, danger, or otherworldly creation. Areas in continental Europe often associated them with witches, sorcerers, or the Devil himself, but in the British Isles and Scandinavia there were different notions. Scandinavians attributed the circular nature of the rings to the dancing of the mysterious elves, while the people of the British Isles considered them the dancing grounds or homes of the Faeries and it is from this particular idea that the phenomenon gets its English name.

As with most folklore, there are many differing stories and legends about faerie circles, even when they deal with the same concept or come from the same region. The people of the British Isles had developed a substantial amount of faerie lore over hundreds of years. In some areas, faeries were seen as helpful or simply mischievous spirits that would assist people if treated with respect or given gifts, while in others they were seen as dangerous or outright hostile. There is also the fact that beliefs change over time and may subtly or substantially shift views on a topic, as is the case with the Victorian age association between witches and spell casters with faeries and faerie circles.

The earliest clear examples of folklore regarding faerie circles paint them simply as places where the faeries dance or live. Many of these stories deal with individuals that stumble across a gathering of faeries as they dance and the consequences they face for entering the ring themselves. Some tales say that to enter a faerie circle is to invite death, or to be cursed, while others reflect the idea in today’s comic: that the person entering will be trapped there, often by the enchanted melodies of the faeries within. In this version of the folktales, the victim is often unable to escape without outside help, and there is a subset of faerie lore that deals with how to release a person from their spellbound state through the use of herbs or the power of Christian faith. The people of the British Isles even came up with various ideas of how to enter faerie circles safely. These include but are not limited to: wearing a hat backward to confuse the faeries, putting one foot inside the circle while keeping another outside and having someone else step on your outside foot, and running around the circle a number of times sometimes only during certain phases of the moon.

There are also some versions of the folklore that paint the faerie circles as places of benevolent magic. Some believed that allowing sheep to graze within one would cause them to grow stronger and fatter, or that by building on or near a circle would grant prosperity or wealth to the household. There are also tales of people that helped faeries that resided in the circles and received some kind of boon or assistance that improved their lives.

So that’s the intriguing, significant, and conflicting folklore of faerie circles. The lore of faeries in general is even more substantial and would take an awful lot of time to discuss but I’m sure we’ll get to more bits and pieces in the future!

Also hello, it’s been a while. I hope you’re all doing well. <3