The More Things Change…

Old-school crop circles, from Bailey’s of course:

   FAI’RY Circle, or FAIRY Ring, an appearance pretty frequently seen in the fields, &c. being a kind of round, supposed by the vulgar to be traced by fairies in their dances. There are two sorts of these rings or circles; one of them is about seven or eight yards in diameter, being a round bare path about a foot in breadth, having green grass in the middle; the other is of different sizes, being encompassed with a circumference of grass, much fresher and greener than that in the middle.
   The philosophers suppose these rings to be made by lightening, and this opinion seems to be confirmed, in that they are most frequently found after storms, and the colour and brittleness of the grassy roots is a further confirmation.
   The second kind of circle they suppose to rise originally from the first, in that the grass that had been burnt up by lightening, usually grows more plentiful afterwards; some authors say, that these fairy rings are formed by ants; these insects being sometimes found travelling in troops therein.

OED sez these are caused by “certain fungi”. Basically the rings seem to come about because of the underground spread of mycelial webs from a central point. Among others, the fairy ring toadstool (also called mushroom, champignon) can spread in this way. But if fairies are your theory, the presence of mushrooms in these circles is unlikely to surprise you or change your thinking about the rings’ origins: everybody knows the two go together.

50 Responses to “The More Things Change…”

  1. Becky Says:

    Fairy circles also appear as preternaturally perfectly round rings of old trees with a clearing in the center. Katja and Nixon have one in their woods. Could it be Stonehenge is less a giant vagina than an attempt to make a manmade, more permanent fairy circle?

  2. Desultor Says:

    Giant Vagina? I thought it was some sort of astro(logy|nomy) thing?

  3. Desultor Says:

    Oh, I see. Far out! Unfortunately, Bailey doesn’t have anything about Stonehenge that I can find. And OED doesn’t have anything except a couple passing mentions of kings being buried there. So I’m fresh out of ideas 🙂

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