Fairy Circles

Main Content:

M= Me. I= informant

I: And then fairy circles. As a kid I was never allowed to walk in fairy circles.

M: I don’t know what a fairy circle is. What is that? 

I: Yeah, so you know, um when you see like those rings of mushrooms

M: Uh-huh (in agreement)

I: Or just like a patch of grass that’s dead in a circle

M: Yeah

I: Like those are called fairy circles. And um, I don’t know a lot about the background, but my parents always said like if you stepped in one then fairies would come and like replace you with a fairy

M: Ohhhhhhh, okay. Like a changling?

I: Kind of, yeah.

M: Okay

I: Or, or they just kidnap you. In general. Not even…

M: Okay, not even changed, just take you away *laughing*

I: Yeah

M:Do you think it came from you mom’s side? The fairy stuff? Or from a mix of the two

I: Um, I think *sighs* I think it was a mix of the two. The Germanic stuff was always scarier stuff

Context: She said that it was a mix of both her parents who passed this down to her, which makes sense given that her mother’s Scottish side has a strong history of fairies, while her father’s side has a history of scarier child tales or teachings(German) thus fairy circles would be a good mix of the two. While she no longer believes in them today, she still avoids what are deemed ‘fairy circles’ out of habit, for entertainment, and as a reminder of her parents.

Analysis: This depiction of fairies is consistent with the other lore I’ve read about fairies wherein they are mischievous creatures that will take power if given the opportunity. In this instance, by stepping into the fairy’s territory, you are giving over dominion by being on their ‘turf’ and thus they can snatch you. Additionally, with many other pedagogical teachings in folklore this has the consistent theme of kidnapping, which we have seen used throughout various cultures to steer children away from doing certain things or going to particular places.