In Norse and Celtic mythology, selkies are mythological beings capable of therianthropy, changing from seal to human form. They are found in folktales and mythology originating from the Northern Isles of Scotland. There are counterparts in Faroese and Icelandic folklore that speak of seal-women and seal-skin.
About Selkie in brief
In Norse and Celtic mythology, selkies are mythological beings capable of therianthropy, changing from seal to human form by shedding their skin. They are found in folktales and mythology originating from the Northern Isles of Scotland. There are counterparts in Faroese and Icelandic folklore that speak of seal-women and seal-skin. The Scots language word selkie is diminutive for selch which strictly speaking means ‘grey seal’ In Gaelic stories, specific terms for seLkies are rarely used. In Orkney lore, seLkie is said to denote various seals of greater size than the grey seal. Only these large seals are credited with the ability to shapeshift into humans, and are called \”selkie folk\”. The type of large seals that might have been seen on the islands include the Greenland seal and the crested seal. In one popular tattletale version about a certain certain seal-folk, it was rumoured that when she wished to make contact with her male husband, she would shed seven tears into the sea. Children born between the seal and man-folk may have webbed hands, in the case of the Shetland mermaid, whose children had their webbed fingers between their fingers. In the typical folktale version, the selie wife was never seen again by the family, but a large seal would approach them and witness their plaintive cries. Male selikes are described as very handsome in their human form and having great seductive powers.
They typically seek those who are dissatisfied with their lives, such as married women for their fishermen husbands. A typical folk-tale is that of a man who steals a female se lkie’s skin, finds her naked on the sea shore, and compels her to become his wife. But the wife will spend her time in captivity longing for the sea, her true home, and will often be seen gazing longingly at the ocean. She may bear several children by her human husband, but once she discovers her skin, she will immediately return to the sea and abandon the children she loved. Sometimes, one of her children discovers or knows the whereabouts of the skin, and it is revealed she already had a first husband of her own kind. The only term which specifically refers to aselkie but which is only rarely encountered is maighdeann-ròin, or’seal maiden’, in Gaelic. In SheTland tradition, that the mermen and mermaids prefer to assume the shape of larger seals, referred to as ‘Haaf-fish’, they are called ‘finns’ or ‘Finfolk-a-heem’ This notion, although seconded by Ernest Marwick, has been challenged by Alan Bruford. The term’selkie’ should be treated as meaning any seal with or without the implication of transformation into human form. In Scottish Gaelic, they are most commonly referred to. Maighdean mhara in Irish, and moidyn varrey in Manx and clearly have the seal-like attributes ofselkies.