Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land.
These mythological creatures from the sea are found in Irish, Scottish, Faroese, and Icelandic folklore.
The stories frequently revolve around female selkies being coerced into relationships with humans by someone stealing and hiding their sealskin, often not regaining the skin until years later upon which they commonly return to the sea, forsaking their human family.
Male selkies are described as being very handsome in their human form, and having great seductive powers over human women. They typically seek those who are dissatisfied with their lives, such as married women waiting for their fishermen husbands.
If a woman wishes to make contact with a selkie male, she must shed seven tears into the sea.
If a man steals a female selkie’s skin she is in his power and is forced to become his wife.
Female selkies are said to make excellent wives, but because their true home is the sea, they will often be seen gazing longingly at the ocean. If she finds her skin she will immediately return to her true home, and sometimes to her selkie husband, in the sea.
Sometimes, a selkie maiden is taken as a wife by a human man and she has several children by him. In these stories, it is one of her children who discovers her sealskin (often unwitting of its significance) and she soon returns to the sea. The selkie woman usually avoids seeing her human husband again but is sometimes shown visiting her children and playing with them in the waves.
- Thomson, David. The People of the Sea: A Journey in Search of the Seal Legend. Counterpoint. ( 2002) ISBN: 9781582431840.
- Briggs, Katharine. An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Boogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures. ISBN 0-394-73467-X.
- Williamson, Duncan. Tales of the seal people: Scottish folk tales. New York: Interlink Books. (1992) ISBN 0-940793-99-7.
by Njord Kane © 2017 Spangenhelm Publishing
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