S is for Selkie

Source and more Selkie stamps

Selkies are from Irish, Icelandic, Faroese, and Scottish folklore. They are shapeshifters that change between seal and human by shedding, or putting on, their seal skin.

Originating from the Orkney and Shetland islands off the coast of Scotland, where the word selkie is Scots for “seal,” the myths were spread by fishermen and traders across the rest of England. Similar stories of these creatures are found in Norway, Sweden and with the Chinook people of North America with some variations.

Most of the stories involving selkies are mournful love stories and ballads. The summation of the most common is a fisherman sees a selkie, and he takes for her as his wife, while secretly hiding her seal pelt. She thinks she’s lost it forever and is sad because she longs for the sea and life as a seal, but they live happily and have several children. One of the children find the seal skin and ask what it is, and then the selkie puts it on and rushes back to the ocean. She’s sorrowful again, but this time because she misses her husband and children. A very interesting Faroese variation is located here.

Other variations include male selkies who have great power to seduce women. For women to come into contact with them, they have to cry seven tears into the sea. Typically, the children of these couplings have webbed fingers and toes as an indication of their origin. Also, according to Wikipedia.org, “The MacCodrum clan of North Uist claim descent from selkies and have been known as Sliochd nan Ron, the ‘Offspring of the Seals’ for many generations.”

Examples of selkies in literature, games, songs, and television & movies are located here. These include the movie Ondine, which I haven’t seen yet but now I really want to!

So, what are your thoughts on Selkies? Have you read, watched, or played something with one in it?

5 Responses to S is for Selkie

  • There's a beautiful romance novel called the Selkie by Melanie Jackson.

  • Oooh, I nearly did "Selkie" – settled on Succubus instead. I'm enjoying your mythological creatures theme – I didn't use it for the whole A-Z, mine are all either folklore- or writing-related.

    Nice to find your blog through this challenge!

  • Thanks for the comments! I'm glad you both stopped by. =)

    C R, I'll have to check that out. After researching Selkies, I'm super fascinated by them.

    Beth, how awesome! I waffled between Selkie and Succubus too, but I ended up going with Selkie since I did Incubus previously and made mention of Succubi. I'm totally going to check out your blog. I love mythology/folklore and writing stuff. It's nice to meet you!

  • Celtic mythology is rather fascinating i must say.
    Loved the theme and I'll certainly read the novel recommended in one of the comments.

  • Thank you for the comment, confident! I agree, I think Celtic mythology is really fascinating too.

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