maiden and the selkie


Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. 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. The legend is apparently most common in the Northern Isles of Scotland and is very similar to those of swan maidens.

mythology aesthetics: selkies

selkies are mythological creatures found in scottish, irish, and faroese folklore. similar creatures are described in the icelandic traditions.the word derives from earlier scots selich, (from old english seolh meaning seal). selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. The legend is apparently most common in orkney and shetlandand is very similar to those of swan maidens.

Water Spirits

Nereids: nymphs of the Agean sea, the 50 daughters of Nereus and Doris. Depicted as beautiful girls crowned with branches of red coral and dressed in white silk robes trimmed with gold, but who went barefoot

Kelpie: shape-shifting water spirit inhabiting the lochs and pools of Scotland. Depicted as a melancholy dark-haired maiden balanced on a rock

Naiad : nymph, presiding over fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of fresh water. Distinct from very ancient spirits that inhabited the still waters of marshes, ponds and lagoon-lakes

Rusalka: water spirit in Slavic folklore. Depicted as a young woman who lures young men, seduced by either her looks or her voice, into the depths of said waterways where she would entangle their feet with her long red hair and submerge them

Swan Maidens: mythical creature who shapeshifts from human form to swan form. key to the transformation is usually a swan skin, or a garment with swan feathers attached.

Selkies: maighdeann-mhara (“maiden of the sea),mythological creatures found in Scottish, Irish, and Faroese folklore. Said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land.

On Faeries: Selkies

Selkies are a kind of aquatic faerie native to the northwest Atlantic Ocean, where stories of them are found throughout Ireland, Scotland, the Orkney Islands, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland. Similar stories of shapeshifting seals can be found elsewhere in the world as well. The term “selkie” supposedly originates from an older Scots word, “selich”, which simply means “seal.” I have also read, however, that at least in the dialect of Orkney, “selkie” is itself just a word for “seal”. In Scotland and Ireland, selkies are often not differentiated from mermaids and may be referred to simply as “maighdeann-mhara” or “maighdean mhara”, meaning “maidens of the sea”.

Said to live in the sea as seals, selkies may assume the form of a human to traverse on land. When changing into human form, a selkie quite literally sheds its seal skin, which they are often depicted as wearing like a cloak. A selkie’s seal skin is its most important and treasured possession, as it is the source of their shapeshifting powers; without it, a selkie can’t change back into its seal form and return home to the sea. As such, a selkie will often hide its skin in a safe place along the shore while on land. Beliefs differ from place to place regarding when and for how long selkies can come onto land, with some making the claim that they can only come onto land on a specific night once each year, and others putting no such restrictions on them at all. In the Faroe Islands, it was believed that the selkies were the spirits of drowned humans who could only come to land and regain human form on Twelfth Night, January 5th or 6th, when they would dance and revel on the shore. 

Cultures across the world have stories of faeries and faerie-like beings that become beholden to a human who has stolen their clothing and, unfortunately for the selkies, they are no exception to that trope. Many stories about selkies tell of men who steal a selkie woman’s cloak, preventing her from returning home and forcing her to marry him. In most such stories, the selkie lives with her human husband for many years and bears his children, but her seal skin is nearly always returned to her by some means in the end, at which point she leaves her human family behind and returns to the sea. In some stories, her half-selkie children may also join her in the sea, leaving their father all alone. It should be noted that the so-called seal-wives were not always held against their will, with some stories telling of happy marriages between human men and selkie women. 

While stories of selkie women often depict them as victims of human men, the opposite is true of stories about selkie men, who are depicted as targeting human women in a similar fashion. Terribly handsome and seductive, male selkies were said to come to land to seek out unsatisfied or lonely human women, whether married or unmarried, with whom they could engage in sexual relations. Quite commonly, the woman in question is a fisherman’s wife whose husband is often away at sea for long stretches of time. It was also believed that a woman seeking out a selkie man could summon one by shedding seven tears into the sea at high tide. If a woman went missing while down by the shore or while at sea, it was often said that she had been whisked away by her selkie lover. 

In more modern portrayals, selkies are most often depicted as being largely benign and friendly, and while many selkies certainly may be friendly, there was apparently a great fear of them, historically. Faeries are people, after all, and not all people are nice. Shipwrecks, drownings, shoreline disappearances, and poor catches while fishing might be blamed on the acts of malevolent selkies, and mothers would often paint crosses on their daughters’ breasts to protect them from the selkies while at sea. A story from Mikladalur in the Faroe Islands tells of a vengeful selkie woman whose family was killed by hunters, who laid a curse on the people of the island to die at sea until their collective severed hands would be enough to circle the entire island. 

In the folklore of the Orkney Islands, the malevolent acts attributed elsewhere to selkies instead became attributed to another supernatural race called the finfolk, who were a more fish-like race of amphibious sorcerers who would abduct humans at sea and drag them to their underwater homes to be used as slaves. Selkies, meanwhile, came to be seen exclusively as more benevolent and romantic. It is theorized by some, however, that the finfolk and selkies were once believed to be one and the same in Orkney, as the finfolk do not appear to exist in other places where belief in selkies has existed. 

There are many different theories as to the origins of the selkie, which may vary from place to place. A more Christianized theory claims that, like other kinds of faeries, the selkies are fallen angels who were cursed to live on Earth as animals until Judgment Day. Others claim that, rather than angels, they are humans who, for whatever transgressions, were cursed to become seals and live the rest of their lives in the ocean. In some places, as previously mentioned, it was believed that the selkies were actually the spirits of drowned humans who took on the form of seals, only permitted to come on land and regain human form for one night each year. Other, far more mundane, theories posit that stories of selkies and finfolk originated from old Norse stories of the Sami people, who were referred to as “finnar” and were believed to be powerful sorcerers capable of shapeshifting.  

ABC’s of Shapeshifter Lore

S is for Selkie: Selkies (also spelled silkies, selchies; Irish/Scottish Gaelic: selchidh, Scots: selkie fowk) are mythological creatures found in Scottish, Irish, and Faroese folklore. Similar creatures are described in the Icelandic traditions. The word derives from earlier Scots selich, (from Old English seolh meaning seal). Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. The legend is apparently most common in Orkney and Shetland and is very similar to those of swan maidens.

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 life, 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.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Name as many water cryptits as you can off the top of your head. Bonus challenge: which water cryptid is which yuri on ice character?

  • mermaid - guang hong
  • siren - christophe
  • kelpie - otabek
  • selkie - yuuri
  • (swan maidens might also count because swans can swim) - yurio
  • naiad - sara
  • undine - viktor
  • rusalka - mila
  • vodnik - georgi
  • nessie - minami
  • neck/nix/nokk - leo
  • nymph - phichit
  • that irish creature that’s like, the mother of oceans or smth - minako

ask me anything

You can tell a lot about a person from their music. Hit shuffle in your music library and put the first 10 songs; no skipping! Tag ten people to do the same and pass it on. I was tagged by @gynoid13 

  1. Modred’s Lullaby by Heather Dale
  2. Shut Up And Dance With Me cover by Devin and Kyle
  3. Sexy, Naughty, Bitchy me by Tata Young
  4. According To You by Orianthi
  5. Black Space by Taylor Swift
  6. Because of You by Kelly Clarkson
  7. The Maiden and the Selkie by Heather Dale
  8. The Bus Is Late by Satellite High
  9. Mad Hatter by Melanie Martinez
  10. Boys Like You by Who Is Fancy

I tag: (YOU DO NOT NEED TO FEEL PRESSURED TO DO THIS! :) ) @pumpkins-n-candy @swushandsuch @anubianpagan @caninesandcomplaints @floydlawtonssquad @redshirt-nebula @sjwbullcrap @spoopyscaryromulan @groudonium @fictionalbugzapper