by Leaf McGowan

A mystical beast of legends and mythology, especially within the Greek, Roman, and Celtic worldviews – the Griffin (aka griffon, gryphon, grypon, gryps, and gryphus) is a fantastical creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head, front leg talons, and wings of an eagle. Sometimes it is represented without wings (later called an alce or keythong in other mythologies). It was always representing royalty and leadership, with power and majestic authority as king of all beasts and birds. It many legends, the Griffin ruled over all creatures, protecting richly treasures, and gold. There is a proposition by folklorist Adrienne Mayor that the griffin was a misconception derived from the fossilized remains of the Protoceratops found in the gold mines of the Altai Mountains of Scythia, present day Kazakhstan.

amongst the earliest representations of a griffin were found in Ancient Persian and Egyptian art dating around 3,000 B.C.E. The Egyptian palette from Hierakonpolis called the “Two Dog Palette” dating to 3300-3100 B.C.E. possibly depicts a griffin. Cylinder seals from Susa, Persia dating from 3000 B.C.E. depicts griffins. They can also be found in ancient art from the Levant, Syria, and Anatolia dating from the Middle Bronze Age (1950-1550 B.C.E.) Ancient Greek art from the 15th century B.C.E. frescoes show griffins in the Throne Room of the Palace of Knossos. From 5th-4th century B.C.E in Central Asia, the griffin appears in iconography representing the Achaemenid Persian Empire who considered the beast a protector from evil, witchcraft, and secret slander.

There are other mythical beasts carrying resemblance to the griffin including the Lamassu (Assyrian protection deity hosting a bull or lion’s body, eagle wings, and a human head); Anzu (demon creature from Sumerian and Akkadian mythos – half man and half bird); the Jewish Ziz (resembles Anzu); the ancient Greek Phoenix; Minoan Genius; and the Hindu Garuda (large bird-like creature).

Griffins were believed to have mated for life, and if its partner passed, the other would continue the rest of its life alone never searching another. Because of this the Church used it as an emblem to represent its opposition to remarriage. A Griffin’s claw was believed to possess medicinal properties and its feathers could restore sight to the blind. When represented in a herald or crest, the griffin represents courage, strength, power, boldness, leadership, and military courage. In British iconography, the male griffin is shown without wings, body covered in tufts of formidable spikes, and a short tusk protruding from his forehead. The female griffin is depicted with wings.

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“Shadow Hills” – Fontana California Hauntings

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“Shadow Hills” – Haunted South Ridge and Fontana area, California

According to the Inside the Inland Empire web site and various other ghost hunting blogs, the South Ridge area of Fontana is quite haunted. It has been nicknamed “Shadow Hills”. One family off of Jurupa street claim much paranormal activity in their home. Foot steps up the stairs with no one around, doors slamming on their own, microwave fan turning itself on, lights flickering, a little girl spirit on the stairs, spirits demanding the family to “Get Out”, apparitions of blood in the shower, zombies, and shadow creatures in the yard. Shadow creatures are commonly reported around the Inland Empire, especially at Mt. Rubidoux. Several of their neighbors off Jurupa street also claim a lot of activity. Rumor has it, there occurs a lot of moving in and out of the Jurupa street neighborhood. Stories and reports extend off Jurupa into the houses along Cypress, Coleen st, oleander ave, corner of Woodcrest drive, and Citrus. Some of the hauntings were reported in brand new homes without former residents. Apparitions of a little boy wearing a striped shirt, plumes of smoking rising up from the closet floor, feelings of being touched, jiggling door knobs, and chairs moving on their own. Some conclude that these houses are built atop an ancient Indian burial ground, although the reportings and activities don’t necessarily support such a theory. A house on the corner of Oak Park Elementary reports seeing a 1800’s dated apparition of a woman wearing a bonnet, lights turning on and off, voices, shadows, stuff moving around, etc. Another resident nearby also claims seeing women with white bonnets and powder blue dresses in their homes in the South Park district at 17203 Avenue Del Sol. A South ridge resident claimed poltergeist activity – reflections of people standing behind the sofa when the tv was off, doors opening and closing, banging in the walls, etc. Also reports on Heritage by various neighbors one claiming a mirror in their house on the east wall was a portal for entry as dictated by a psychic investigating the activity. A haunted house report on 14774 Mountain High Drive off Canyon Crest with apparitions of a silhouette atop the stairs, shadow beings, voices, etc. Another house below baseline near Beech Avenue reports of shadow beings, a little boy made of rock in the fire place, a little girl running about. Again more legends of houses built over a Indian Burial Ground. One claims their house was built above John Redcorn’s burial ground and had a apparition of a woman. Others report sightings and activity off Argentine by Oakwood Drive and behind the Pancho Villas.

Sightings of a chariot drawn by horses coming down the street, a figure in a trench coat with glasses, off Green Vista drive behind Southridge middle school. Reports of an area with creepy trees and bomb shelters with a ghost of a girl wearing a hospital gown also declared. Off of Woodcrest drive there was a family sighting a gnome in one of the bedrooms. This gnome was spying on the resident while he was sleeping, was no taller than the electrical socket, wearing weird dirty sport coat and a evil Leprechaun smile. There is the fabled Victorian style manor at 4701 Sierra Avenue in Hesperia (can be seen from the 15) reportedly haunted. Some say the house was relocated from where it was originally built atop a ancient burial mound. Some say the ghosts moved with it (house originally was in Redlands built in 1888 for Judge George E. Otis by D.M. Donald). One report of a spirit of a giant angry man who hurled a trespasser onto stones causing severe injuries to the man reporting it. Some say the owner confirms the hauntings.

Along highway 66 originally, the foothill boulevard is believed to be haunted by a young man in a striped shirt carrying a long stick or buggy whip, he is reported to cross the street when cars approach then disappears. Sometimes he is accompanied by a black dog. (GPS 34.10648057912253, -117.47255516122095)

Green Acres cemetery has reported occurrences of blood appearing on the table between the three marble chairs in the southeastern part of the cemetery every Halloween. East end of 7th street (GPS 34.039240814445115, -117.39045982811149) Also at the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery there are rumors of a mother that haunts the bend around this cemetery and is the spirit of the mother who drowned her 6 children. According to Hispanic legend she is known as La Llorona or the Weeping Woman searching for the children she murdered. The spirits of two people who were executed here also reportedly haunt the cemetery and have been known to be the cause of fatal car accidents on this bend (2001 Agua Mansa Road – GPS 34.0420097, -117.36421819999998)

On Valley between Fontana and Colton there are reports of a man covered in black often walking the roadside. Reports of decayed children walking about at night. Multiple ghost sightings reportedly around Jurupa Park or Martin Tudor Park.
The Big Lots store (formerly Pic n Save) at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Sierra is reportedly haunted with reports of several ghosts flickering lights, making noises, voices, knocking things off shelves, pulling of employee’s hair, etc. Some say the Ghost of a former Pic n Save employee named Manny haunts the store.

Along the Thompson Creek Trail, some report shadow beings following them when hiking this trail, and that skulls appear in the clouds above. Also that trees and bushes bleed on occasion. Some say they have had visions of levitating boulders, invisible walls blocking the path, and violent images. GPS 34.1290555, -117.7222145. Also the old boy scout’s cabin that burnt down up there is reportedly haunted.

  • Aqua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery
  • Aqua Mansa Road (2001 Aqua Mansa)
  • Argentine
  • Avenue del Sol (17203)
  • Beech Avenue
  • Big Lots store (Foot Hill boulevard and Sierra)
  • Citrus Street
  • Coleen Street
  • Cypress Street
  • Foot Hill Boulevard and Citrus Ave
  • Green Acres Cemetery
  • Heritage
  • Jurupa Street
  • Mountain High Drive (14774)
  • Oak Park Elementary
  • Oakwood Drive
  • Oleander Ave
  • Sierra Ave (4701)
  • Southridge Middle School
  • Thompson creek trail
  • Valley between Fontana and Colton
  • Woodcrest Drive


  • Ghosts of America unknown “Fontana, California ghost sightings” website referenced 5/22/2015.
  • Haunted Hovel unknown “Fontana, Ca. / Renne / Sierra Ave off the 15 fwy.” website referenced 5/22/2015.
  • Haunted Places unknown “Haunted Places in Fontana, California” Website refrenced 5/22/2015.
  • Inside the unknown “Haunted House in South Ridge Fontana”. Website referenced 5/22/2015.
  • Palmer, Chuck 1982 “Old House has new home”. The Sun Feb 15, 1982. DM Donald built the home in 1888 in Redlands for Judge George E. Otis.
  • Wikipedia unknown “Shadow Hills California”,_Los_Angeles website referenced 5/22/2015.

If you’ve experienced sightings in this area, please share here.




02.27.2015 – 09:11 am

Here’s something you don’t hear every day: Mark Andrews, 51, of Atascadero, CA, who believes he’s a werewolf allegedly shot his neighbor Colleen Barga-Milbury, 52, twice because he was convinced that she was a vampire.

Defense witness Carolyn Murphy, a forensic psychologist said, “(He believes) he transforms into a werewolf,” and “holds the spirit of the wolf.”

The first record of Andrews believing he was a werewolf, she said, dates to 1996, though she suspects he had that same delusion during his first psychotic episode three years earlier.

Murphy said Andrews believed the voice of God commanded him to kill Barga-Milbury, whom he believed was a vampire.

In 2009 Andrew became convinced that another one of his neighbors was a vampire:

Andrews believed a different neighbor was a vampire. Andrews left mounds of dirt and flour on that neighbor’s door and once pounded on the neighbor’s door, calling her a “bitch,” though she didn’t answer.

At his home, according to police reports, police found two lists of names, several marked “hate with death.”

As to why Andrews didn’t kill this particular vampire neighbor “God didn’t tell him to kill her” Murphy said.

Mark Andrews has believed himself to be a werewolf for the past 20 years. During the time of the murder, Andrews was apparently not taking his medication.

Via Tribune News Death and Taxes



Gnome caught on film by Kids in Mexico

Here’s a recent youtube find: A Gnome watching kids playing in their basement, runs and hides off screen.



Pluto’s Cave (Weed, CA)


Pluto’s Cave
* Shasta, California * Article by Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions © 2014: Written March 31, 2014.

During our fabled quest for Telos, we decided to head off in search of Pluto’s Cave. In the heart of the high desert just 12 1/2 miles north of Weed, California. “Pluto’s Cave” is not really a cavern, but a lava tube dating to over 190,000 B.P. (before present) from early eruptions of Mount Shasta. It is located on the northern outskirts of Mount Shasta in the high desert. Segments of the tube are collapsed, while other portions are buried. There are about three segments one can access reliably. Unfortunately the entrances and walls within many sections of the early part of this lava tube has been vandalized with graffiti from locals partying at the location. Some of the graffiti is historic dating to the early 20th century. The cave floor is very dusty and too much activity will cause a cloud burst of fine powder that will take a bit to settle. The tube has a strong stench of bat guano. The early part of the tube has some flat level walking areas, but the deeper you go the more shambling and climbing you’ll need. Bring water, good hiking boots, long pants (I wore shorts and had received a bit of scrapes), and make sure you have a good head torch and several reliable back up lights. It is recorded that visitors can safely hike into the cave approximately 1200 feet. The tube varies from 20-50 feet in height at points. There is evidence that the cave was used by Pre-Columbian peoples. The tube was discovered by Westerners in 1863 by Nelson Cash, a local rancher looking for stray cattle that he believed wandered into these fields. He named the cave “Pluto’s Cave” after the Greek God of the Underworld. Pluto’s Cave is often described as a “classic lava tube” as it was a tunnel formed by molten lava passing through tubes in older, hardened lava. It was discovered because sections of the roof collapsed exposing the inner chamber. This desert contains numerous lava tubes and caves in the region. It is believed that there are over 778 caves and tunnels in nearby Lava Beds National Park, and over 150 documented caves in the Marble Mountain Wilderness that Mount Shasta is part of. Many of these have not been explored.


Local mythology: Pluto’s cave is not without its share of mythos. Some believe it is an entrance to the ancient Lemurian city of Telos – whether they be races of aliens, faeries, or other people. No scientific evidence supports these claims and is therefore classified as local legends, lore, and superstitions. In the 2008 edition of Fate Magazine, an article tells the story of “The Shaver Mystery” – depicting bizarre accounts of his abduction by subterranean beings known as “Deros” made into a low-budget movie called “Beyond Lemuria” by a California based Church of Hermetic Scientists that was filmed in Pluto’s Cave. The film’s plot encompasses a sinister Draconian Society that has secretly funded the development of a Intragravatron device and plans to open the vortex at an inter-dimensional convergence point deep in the lava caves on the northern slopes of Mt. Shasta. This was based on a original story of a 17 year old boy named Frederick Spenser Oliver who in the early 20th century published a telling of his channeled story of Phylos in his book “A Dweller on Two Planets” which eventually became an occult classic tale. Some believe it was this book that has triggered many of the myths of the area about Phylos, Telos, and the Lemurians. In 2011 there was a recording of a local boy disappearing. This tale is full of childhood imagination, aliens, and abduction theories. [see details here: ] That same year, a tourist from Los Angeles claimed to have heard a beautiful woman’s voice coming from the direction of Mount Shasta as he was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. He followed the voice, became lost, and found his way to Pluto’s cave where he claims to have been abducted, stripped of his clothing, greeting by a beautiful tall woman with unnatural blue eyes, and given a gift as well as secret information. After being lost for several weeks, he was found and he claimed to be “Lord Kalki” – the incarnation of a messianic Hindu god. Legends of a spectral lady appear to haunt the caverns, appearing as a spiritual guide, alien, a Lemurian, or Faerie queen. Online articles also claim there is a Native American legend of a red-headed female who used to live in caverns beneath Mount Shasta, some believe was at Pluto Cave. Some claim this lava tube as well as other tubes, caves, and tunnels in the region interconnect southern Oregon, Mount Shasta, and the upper coasts of California. Some writers online claim that Native American tribes admit to these locations and entrances, but that they are a closely guarded secret never shared with the outside world. Others believe the St. Germain foundation secretly guard the entrance of a lava tube above Mossbrae Falls in Dunsmuir, south of Mount Shasta. It is believed that this Mossbrae Falls tube is the secret entrance to Telos, not Pluto’s Cave. While meditating in the darkness at the end of the tunnel, in the pitch black silence there was a split second I thought I heard a moan, though that could have been my comrade’s stomach. There was another un-determined noise we both heard during our meditation. Other than that, light scratchings of the bats above on the lava rocks was all that permeated the silence.


How to get there: Drive approximately 12.5 miles north on Highway 97 from Weed to A12 (the Grenada turnoff), turn left, go past the “Juniper Valley OHV area” signs approximately 3.25 miles to a small sign post saying “Pluto’s Cave”, turn on that dirt road follow to parking lot at hiking trail head. Hike 1/4 mile down the trailhead, following the red lava rocks outlining the trail to a small white arrow sign pointing down into Pluto’s Cave.





Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary


Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary
* P.O. Box 1082 * Bloomington, IN * 47402-1082 * / * Needmore, Indiana * *

I remember the first time hearing about Lothlorien … it was by a member of the Omneopoia band in Eugene, Oregon in the early 1990’s as a place I must go for the folk there were like me. I made it there in the late 1990’s as I attended Wild Magic and Elf Fest. I was in awe and completely impressed by how this Elvin community cooperatively live together and manage the Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary. The estate is a center for spiritual retreat as well as a land sanctuary green haven all centered around community and the Earth. It is owned and operated by Elvin H.O.M.E., Inc. – The Holy Order of Mother Earth. In its origins it was known as E.L.F. but changed names when confused with a radical eco-group under the same acronym. They possess federal 501(c)3 status as a non-profit spiritual and ecological entity (since 2008). Lothlorien consists of 109 acres of forest, hills, and valleys along the southern edge of Indiana’s limestone belt. Operated by volunteer labor by means of community, love, ecology, and faith – the center is open to anyone for visitation and attendance to festivals. It is also a nature based campground where sponsors and members can come camp and share in its growth, perpetuation, and regeneration. It was founded by the Elf Lore Family (ELF) in 1983 as a woodland meeting ground, survival education center, and a retreat for Elves. It has since evolved to a sanctuary for all earth-respecting faiths, religions, paths, and beliefs. Members, volunteers, ELF, and HOME all consider themselves Earth Stewards – coming to the land working it, shaping it, and transforming it. They hold several festivals every year, have community gardening, landscaping, lawn-care, path clearing, building of structures and shrines, and repairing those existing as their sacred duties. In addition to the garden, there are several self-composting permanent toilet teepees, a Long hall where meetings, gatherings, and feasts held, a loaning library, a kitchen, campgrounds, communal showers, stages, sacred circles, a thunder dome for drumming, altars, shrines, and temples. Camping season runs from March 21st until October 31st. Definitely a magical model I’d love to follow, create, or be a part of … if only it existed on the west coast! Rating: 5 stars out of 5.





Rhine Maidens

Rhein maidens warn Siegfried. By Arthur Rackham. Published 1912. Copyright expired

Rhein maidens warn Siegfried. By Arthur Rackham. Published 1912. Copyright expired

Rhine Maidens

Common Names: Rhine Maidens, Rhine Maidens, naiads, river spirits, nymphs, sirens, nixies, nixen

Habitat: – Found in Germanic fairy lore. Attributed to the Rhine River of Germany.

Description: Rhine Maidens are water spirits known along rivers, especially the Rhine River in Germany, that protect children. The most popular myths depicts them as three sisters – water nymphs known as the “Rheintöchter” or “Rhine Daughters” most classically famous from the Richard Wagner’s opera cycle called “Der Ring des Nibelungen”. These sisters are named Woglinde, Wellgunde, and Floßhilde (Flosshilde) which were inspired by Wagner from myths and legends of the Nibelungenlied involving water nymphs, sprites, nixies, and mermaids. The tale tells that these river guardians along the Rhine were in charge of the golden treasures and through the renunciation of love had their gold stolen from them leading to world domination. Much of the myth today is influenced by Wagner’s works. They appear in the beginning and towards the end of his four opera cycle beginning in Das Rheingold and then in Götterdämmerung.

These German Nixen (Nixies) or Water Sprites were known to appear very innocent but with a range of sophisticated emotions. They are seductive, elusive, flirty, and enchanting. No one seems to know of their origin. Unlike much of the mythos they appear in, they do not originate from the Prose Edda (Iceland’s source for Norse Mythology), but rather from much older European based folklore. Sometimes they are described with siren and selchie traits, similarities to mermaids and naiads, but otherwise as shape-shifting seductive wise women found bathing and basking along the Rhine River or the Danube River nude. Much drama and trickery is mixed in the tales surrounding their stories which led to the creation of the modern day opera. Some say their existence was influenced by the German legend of Loreli – the lovelorn maiden who drowns herself in a river and becomes a siren luring fishermen to their deaths. Other similarities to Greek myths of the nymphs and naiads. Parallels of the Rhinemaidens of Das Rheingold to the Hesperides myth are extraordinary relating to three females guarding a golden treasure that ends up stolen. Most attribute them as daughters of the Rhine River. In the story telling they are however not destroyed by the fires at the end of Götterdämmerung but rather just swim away joyously in the river with their found treasure. They are said to have the good nature of the Oceanids (being helpful) and the austerity of the daughters of Ćgir (willing to drown people). A mystical ring that belongs to the treasure was supposedly imbued with the powers to allow its wearer the ability to rule the world – but was cursed until the stolen gold was returned to the Rhine’s Maidens. In 1933 they were depicted on a postage stamp designed by Alois Kolb for use in the Third Reich. From the 19th-20th century they have been a highlight in Opera, theater, and the arts.



For more German Faeries, visit our German Faeries page.

Article by Leaf McGowan, Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions:
© 2013 All Rights Reserved. If you enjoy this article, please consider treating the author to a drink or meal, and/or donating to ensure that this article stays preserved on the internet. You can do this by going to our Donation Page or sending the treat to the author at

Rhines fair children bewailing their lost gold Arthur Rackham from The Rhinegold n the Valkyrie, by Richard WagnerLondon, N
Rhine’s fair children, bewailing their lost gold, weep. Arthur Rackham, from The Rhinegold & the Valkyrie, by Richard Wagner, London, 1910

Bibliography/Recommended Reading:

  • Terreno, Bella 2006-2008 “Mystical Myth: Germanic Faeries”. Website referenced 1/25/2014 at
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia undated “The Rhine Maidens”. Website referenced 1/20/14 at

siegfried-and-twilight-of-gods-Art by Arthur Rackham- London1911
“Though gaily ye may laugh, In grief ye shall be left, For, mocking maids, this ring Ye ask shall never be yours.” (Art by Arthur Rackham – from ‘Siegfried & The Twilight Of The Gods’ by Richard Wagner, London, 1911).



Rock Close: Fairy Glade (Blarney Castle)


The Fairy Glade in the Rock Close of Blarney Castle
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * *

Not much is known of this glade except that fairies are rumored to flitter around the foliage. Of course this is more-less the Victorian image of small insect-like fairies that resemble tiny human-shaped beings with wings (better known as “pixies”) rather than a habitat for the human-form shaped Fae or Faeries like Elves, dryads, naiads, nymphs, faun, trolls, orcs, and various other hundreds of beings known as Faeries. Its a beautiful little garden section with a ring walk around. A new addition I noticed in 2013 was a wood carved stump chair with the Druid’s rays on it. Little altars and offerings abound throughout the glade. Since Faeries or fairies cannot be proven to exist, neither does any sound history or archaeology on this place being that it most likely was dreamt up by the Castle grounds owners in the early 1800’s when they landscaped and created the “Rock Close” around the prehistoric dwellings that were believed to be utilized by Druids and early Celtic peoples.





The Rock Close of Blarney

Rock Close

Rock Close
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * *

A mystical portal in the heart of the castle grounds of Blarney Castle is Rock Close, a place where faeries dance, Witches’ bless and answer wishes, Druids weave magic, stone monuments made, and magic is alive. The Rock Close garden is not only a site of myths and legends, but of romance and art. A dolmen greets you as you walk along the river after walking through a weaved willow tunnel, with misty meadows, moss covered rocks, and waterfalls. As you walk up the Witches Wishing steps to the Witches Kitchen and where the Witch is trapped in the stone, overlooked by the Druid Cave and by the Druid Ceremonial circle where you can walk around where the faeries play. This is one of the most fun and condensed folklore heavy sites I’ve encountered in Ireland – of course its history is a mystery in of itself. It is also a great romantic getaway from the tourist heavy section of Blarney Castle. Prehistoric dwellings adapted by 10th, 13th, and 19th century adaptations lead a lot to the imagination in this garden. In 1824, Croften Croker wrote in his “Researches in the South of Ireland” about the mysteries of this spot.

    “In this romantic spot nature and art (a combination rather uncommon in pleasure grounds) have gone hand in hand. Advantage has been taken of accidental circumstances to form tasteful and characteristic combinations; and it is really a matter of difficulty at first to determine what is primitive, and what the produce of design. The delusion is even heightened by the present total neglect. You come most unexpectedly into this little shaded nook, and stand upon a natural terrace above the river, which glides as calmly as possible beneath. Here, if you feel inclined for contemplation, a rustic couch of rock, all festooned with moss and ivy, is at your service; but if adventurous feelings urge you to explore farther, a discovery is made of an almost concealed, irregularly excavated passage through the solid rock, which is descended by a rude flight of stone steps, called the “Wishing Steps,” and you emerge sul margine d’un rio, over which depend some light and graceful trees. It is indeed a fairy scene, and I know of no place where I could sooner imagine these little elves holding their moon-light revelry. ~ Croften Croker, 1824


It was a highly popular in the early 19th century with antiquarians. The mysteries of the Blarney Witch, the Fairies, the Druids, and the Dolmen are sure to enchant you. Blarney Castle does document that this was a place for Druidic worship. The sacrificial altar of course is hearsay, the Druid’s circle is probably, the hermit’s cave or Druid’s cave is a mystery as is the Witches’ kitchen and wishing steps. It has been documented that in the late 1700’s C.E. (Common Era) that the Rock Close was made into the garden area upon which foundations are walked upon today. Apparently the castle owners landscaped around already existing prehistoric dwellings, stone monuments, and Druid circles to make the magical faerie glen it is today.





Fairy Rings (mushrooms)

Fairy Ring at Tobar Ghobnatan, Cork County, Ireland

Fairy Ring
aka fairy circle, elf circle, elf ring, pixie ring, ronds de sorciers, sorcerer’s rings, witches rings, hexenringe, dragon circles, faerie rings, fairy rings, elf circles, elf rings, elferingewort, cylch y Tylwyth Teg
article by Tom Baurley / Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Research, © 2013 (12/29/13) – All rights reserved –

Every now and then you’ll discover these mysterious rings in the woods and think immediately they were the mark of faeries / fairies. They are a naturally occurring ring of mushrooms that can be found in the woods, on a lawn, or in a meadow.

~ Ah the many mysteries of these fairy rings. Nothing radiates more folk or fairy lore than does the magical ring of mushrooms that opens a natural gate between the worlds. This is the reason they are called “Fairy Rings”. They are also known as “sorcerer’s rings” (France: ronds de sorciers), “witches’ rings” (German: “Hexenringe“), “dragon circles”, etc. The Germans believe they mark the site where witches had done their dances during Walpurgis Night, while the Dutch claim the circles show where the Devil placed his milk churn. In Tyrol, it is believed they were created by a dragon’s tail had laid there and nothing but toadstools could grow there for seven years. Much of folklore warns humans from ever entering them, for they were guarded by harsh magic, faerie magic, or giant bug-eyed toads that would curse those who entered them. Some say, those who enter a fairy ring would lose their eye. In English, Scandinavian, and Celtic lore – fairy rings are the result of fairies or elves dancing and in such regard they were called “elf rings” or “elferingewort” (translates to “a ring of daisies caused by elves dancing”) as early as the 12th century C.E. in written record. Olaus Magnus in the “History of the Goths” published in 1628 claimed that fairy rings are burnt into the ground by the dancing of elves and in his “Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus” says the brightness of the ring is Puck who refreshes the grass after a fairy dance. Thomas Keightley, a British folklorist, claimed that even in 20th century C.E. Scandinavia the beliefs were still strong that these were created by dancing elves. He warned that those humans entering the ring would allow the trespasser to see the elves, but might also trap the intruder in thrall of their illusions.

Rings are known as cylch y Tylwyth Teg in Wales as late as the 19th century and once again represented a place where faeries are dancing in a group. Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, England, and Ireland still have stories being told of them. Some tell tales of joining a fairy dance within the ring, this act sometimes opening a portal between the worlds, and trapping some humans eternally – especially if they have fairy food and drink after the dance. The parties are known to be done during moonlit nights as the rings only become visible to humans the following morning. In the Philippines, these fairy rings are also associated with diminutive spirits. Theree are 20th century tales of fairies dancing around a hawthorn thereby creating a fairy ring around them with a tree in the center. Ethnographic tales of a Balquhidder Scotland resident who claims the faeries sit atop these mushrooms and use them as dinner tables, while a Welsh woman says they use the umbrellas as parasols and umbrellas, and in Devon that a black hen with chickens will appear sometimes at dusk in a large ring on the edge of Dartmoor, while Manx and Welsh legends from the 1960’s claim fairy rings appear where there is an underground fairy village underneath. The Dartmoor’s “Pixies’ Church” is a rock formation that is supposedly surrounded by a fairy ring, and the Northern Wales Cader Idris site consists of a stone circle where fairies like to dance. Some believe that those trespassing into the fairy ring will meet the wraith of Psyche and Eros as it is forbidden for Psyche to view her love and when she does, her palace disappears and she is left alone. Some say fairy circles are sacred spaces and if interfered with will lead to a curse. There is an Irish telling of a tale that once a farmer built a barn atop a fairy ring despite his neighbors warning him not to – he was struck senseless one night and a local ‘fairy doctor’ had to come over to break the curse, he dream t he had to destroy the barn to make amends. Some believe even collecting dew from the grass or flowers of a fairy ring would bring bad luck. Legends claim one who enters the ring will die at a young age, others claim they are a ‘galley-trap’ so that if a thief or murderer enters the ring they will be hung. Those who enter the ring become invisible to mortals outside of the ring, and visible to the fairies within the ring and unable to escape it. Sometimes the fae will force the intruder to dance to the point of exhaustion, injury, death, or madness. Many Welsh legends talk of this, luring mortals within and then dance them to death.

It is supposedly even more dangerous for a human to enter the ring during Samhain (Halloween) Eve or May Day / May Eve as this is the most sacred dancing nights of the fae and they would be horribly angered if disturbed on such momentous times. There is a tale of a shepherd who accidently disturbed a ring of rushes where fairies were getting ready to dance – in such reaction they held him hostage until he married one of them. One can only gain escape from the ring by outside help. A Welsh method was to cast wild marjoram and thyme into the circle to befuddle the fairies so they can help their friend or family out of the ring. Others claim one needs to touch the victim with iron and that would let them exit. Rescue though could be as simple as someone reaching in and pulling their friend out of the ring. One Langollen farmer claimed he had to have four men tie him to a rope so that when he entered the ring to save his daughter they could pull him out. Christian theory is to rely on the faith to break the enchantment, alternatively using a stick from a rowan tree (wood the cross that Jesus was on was made from) would break the curse or the stating of the phrase “what, in Heaven’s name” would break it. The longevity of the rescue could be as long as a year and a day to wait and the victim would appear in the same spot s/he vanished before being able to pull them out. Time also moves faster in the realm of fae, so what seems like an hour could be days, weeks, or years later. Those rescued could also lose memory of their encounters. It was told of a man who escaped the fairy ring, once he stepped outside of it he crumbled to dust. Another moulders away after his first bite of food after he escaped the ring. In the Aberystwyth region, a woman who was saved from the fairy ring once touched by metal disappears. Most claim that the only way one can safely explore a fairy ring is to run around it 9 times which will allow the runner to hear the fairies dancing underground, while others claims this sprint must be done during a full moon and the runner travelling in the direction of the sun others a widdershins direction will allow the fairies to take control of the sprinter. If the runner miscounts, to do it a 10th round would be a fateful error. If one wears a hat backwards this will confuse the fae and make them inable to pull the wearer into the ring.

Traditional Scottish Rhyme warning about fairy rings:

    He wha tills the fairies’ green
    Nae luck again shall hae :
    And he wha spills the fairies’ ring
    Betide him want and wae.
    For weirdless days and weary nights
    Are his till his deein’ day.
    But he wha gaes by the fairy ring,
    Nae dule nor pine shall see,
    And he wha cleans the fairy ring
    An easy death shall dee.[48]

They start to grow when a spawn (mycelium) of a mushroom falls in a selected spot and sends out a underground network of fine tubular threads called hyphae which grow out of the spore evenly in every direction, forming a circular mat of underground hyphal threads. These produce mushrooms that grow upwards in similar patterns as below ground and eventually the underground mycelium at the center of the circle dies out, but its living edges keep growing year to year and the diameter of the ring keeps increasing and as the ring’s underground network dies out until the surface ring can no longer be detected. These are very common with the Agaricus campestris that measures normally around six feet in diameter. But also the Marasmius oreades, nicknamed the fairy ring mushroom, will form a large irregular ring that have been recorded upwards of 1,200 feet in diameter. Science has two prevalent theories as to how fairy rings are formed – one idea is that a sporocarpus delivers a spore underground and the presence of that fungus there can cause withering or color changes in the grasses above it. These spores give blossom to fungi and mushrooms through the soil after rainstorms, but also grows a huge network of thread-like mycelia in the soil and while the mushrooms look like individual fungi, they are all a part of the mycelia just beneath the soil’s surface. The other theory is that the rings are formed by connecting oval genets of the mushrooms with other neighboring mushrooms. In this way if they grow in a ring or an arc, they are continuously grown from the center of this object. Fairy rings also create a necrotic zone during their composition and decomposition – this is an area in the grass or local surface plant-life that has withered or died away. Fairy rings can cause arcs, circles, rings, double arcs, sickle-shaped arcs, and other geometric formations during this process. The Fungi will deplete the soil of other usual readily available nutrients like nitrogen which makes the plant life in the circle to become discolored while others will cause luxuriant growth as they release chemicals which act like hormones. Some theories believe they are dependent on wildlife such as rabbits – as in the case example of the fairy rings on Shillingstone Hill in England, where chalky soils on higher elevation slopes and meadows produce numerous rings – and its believed the rabbits mow the grass short and add to it nitrogen-rich droppings that feed the soil the nitrogen the mushrooms need, feeding the mycelium. Later generations of fungi grow outwards as the parent generations have depleted the nitrogen levels, and as the rabbits keep dropping n’ cropping the grass, they ignore the fungi, take away competition by the consumption of the grasses, allowing the mushrooms to prosper. Once a circle of mushrooms reaches a 6 meter diameter, the rabbit droppings will replenish the nitrogen levels in the center and a secondary ring can grow within the first. There are two recognized forms of fairy ring fungus – (1) tethered – found in woods and are formed by mycorrhizal fungi living in commensalism with the trees. (2) free – mushroom fungi that are not connected with other organisms and are often found in meadows as they contain saprotrophic mushrooms. Within this type the Calvatia cyathiformis will affect the local grass to grow more abundantly while the Leucopaxillus giganteus causes the grasses to wither. The are 60 species of fungi that can grow in fairy ring patterns – the most popular is the edible Scotch bonnet (Marasmius oreades) that is also known as the fairy ring champignon. The largest ring recorded was near Belfort, France at nearly 600 meters in diameter (2,000 feet), over 700 years old, and was the Infundibulicybe geotropa fungus. Southern England’s South Downs rings formed by Calocybe gambosa also seem to be several hundred years old.

Species that form fairy rings:
Agaricus arvensis, Agaricus campestris, Agaricus praerimosus, Amanita muscaria, Amanita phalloides, Amanita rubescens, Bovista dermoxantha, Calocybe gambosa, Calvatia cyathiformis,
Clitocybe dealbata, Clitocybe nebularis, Clitocybe nuda, Clitocybe rivulosa, Chlorophyllum molybdites, Chlorophyllum rhacodes, Cyathus stercoreus, Disciseda subterranea, Entoloma sinuatum, Gomphus clavatus, Infundibulicybe geotropa, Lepista sordida, Leucopaxillus giganteus, Lycoperdon gemmatum, Marasmius oreades, Sarcodon imbricatus, Tricholoma album, Tricholoma orirubens, Tricholoma pardinum, Tricholoma matsutake, Tuber melanosporum, and Vascellum curtisii.

Fairy Ring at Tobar Ghobnatan, Cork County, Ireland