Selkies Part 2 Transcript
"Hello, and welcome to Our Veil of Smoke and Gold Podcast! I'm your host, Annelise, and this is Part 2 of our Selkie informational episodes. If you haven't listened to Part 1, please, go back and listen to it now. In Part 1 we discussed a first story, Selkie origins, first, writings, and role in history, their nature or personality as well as physical characteristics and abilities, Selkie magical characteristics and abilities, their habitat, homes, and relationship to other faerie folk, their relationship with humans and how to find, interact, trap, lure, or repel them based on said relationship. Today, in Part 2, we will be discussing a second story, then analyzing that story and analyzing what the Selkie means in our modern day life and then how it applies in my personal life. And so, without further ado, this is our second story."
"The following story is a direct excerpt from the ‘Fairy Bible’ by Teresa Moorey. While there are many different interpretations and writings of this particular folktale, I found this variation to be especially to my liking.
Once upon a time, in the cold northern lands, a weary hunter was returning home, late at night. His journey brought him close to the seashore, where the full moon bathed the waters and the sands shone like pearl.
He pushed through the bushes and then, to his amazement, saw three beautiful women dancing naked, where the waves rippled about their slender feet. Mesmerized, the hunter watched, and it seemed to him that eerie music played in the light sea breeze.
He looked down, and there on the sands lay three seal-skins, one for each of the graceful dancers. The hunter had heard tales of seal-women, whose soulful eyes betrayed the fact that they had human souls. He was lonely, and longed for a wife to share his nights. He looked once more at the lovely dancers and, on impulse, seized one of the skins and buttoned it up inside his coat.
The dance was ending. With silvery laughter the women skipped over to retrieve their skins, slipping inside them and diving into the waves. Only one, the most beautiful of all, could not find her skin and was looking for it in increasing panic.
“I have your skin,” the hunter told her. “Come with me and marry me. I will give you back your skin after seven years and you may do as you please.” Secretly, the hunter believed that the seal-woman would be so happy with him that she would give up all thoughts of the cold ocean in favor of his hearth and home. How little he understood the call of the waves and their haunting music.
What could the poor seal-maiden do? She consented and went away with the hunter, and they lived together happily enough. She did all that was expected of her. Only her huge, gray eyes were distant, gazing every so often toward the sea. She bore the hunter a son and loved him dearly, but her skin grew cracked and dry, and her beautiful face was sad. At the end of seven years she came to her husband and begged for her seal-skin, but he became angry.
“Would you leave your son?” he challenged her. “Would you go and disappear into the waves?” After that, the seal-woman became even quieter and more sorrowful, and her eyes became larger and larger, like great pools. Yet never did she shed a tear, for some sorrows are too great for crying. Her son loved her dearly and did all he could to lift her spirits. One night, he hid amongst the shadows and listened to his parents talking and realized the truth about his mother. Unable to bear the thought of her unhappiness, he took to following his father around stealthily, until one day he saw him dig up a seal-skin, check that it was intact, and bury it again.
The boy was overjoyed. Now he could make his mother smile. He waited until his father was out hunting and returned to where the skin lay beneath the ground. Swiftly, he dug it up and ran with it to his mother. How her gray eyes shone when she saw her skin. Hardly stopping to embrace the boy, she ran to the shore, where she slipped into the skin and made for the waters.
The boy ran after her, crying, “Mother, don’t leave me -- please take me with you!” For an instant the seal-woman hesitated. Then she caught hold of her son, breathed her magic breath into him and carried him with her, beneath the waves.
In the underwater world, the boy learnt many wondrous things, absorbing the wisdom and grace of his mother’s people. But he knew he could not stay forever, for his destiny lay in the earthly world, with his father. When the time was right, his mother took him back to the shore and, kissing him for the last time, took sorrowful leave of her only child.
The devastated hunter was overjoyed to see his boy back again, and helped him to adapt once more to life on land. But every time the lad looked out on the moonlit waves, he could feel the presence of his mother. At length he became a renowned musician, and his greatest pleasure was to sit upon the beach and play, while the seal people cavorted far out in the ocean."
Story/Creature or Fae Analysis
"The Selkies, Roane, and Seal people of Celtic myth are on so many occasions neglected and overlooked by modern society, their spotlight traded for the more vengeful or salacious mermaids and sirens depicted in fairy tales, novels, films, and artwork. Selkies are a peaceful and sensitive people, who are far beyond the domestic duties of being a mother and spouse. There are themes of oppression in many Selkie bride tales, a man’s greed leading to him to enslave the undeniable beauty and mystique that is the seal maiden and which is often how women are portrayed in folklore; unattainable, precious things for the taking. Roane culture differs so greatly from that of ours that being coerced into assimilating to human life is a torture and altogether wrong to who
they are, therefore introducing a side of racial opression as well. The seal-maiden’s longing for the sea symbolizes the yearnings of humanity for something deeper and more complex than we can even comprehend: the call of our soul and vastness of the world and all its secrets. In a way, the Selkies knowing where they’re supposed to be and who they truly are (free and among the waves), is a beautiful and almost unimaginable concept for most people; I can speak from experience as a teen, if there’s one thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I have no idea what kind of person I’ll become, much less what I think defines me now. This confidence sets Selkies apart from other underwater fae, particularly mermaids. I mean, the Little Mermaid was so confused she literally died trying to be something she was never meant to be for the purpose of being with someone who she barely knew. When analyzing the previous story, it also shows us that the product and benefit of believing in magic or, theoretically, being born of magic, is creative inspiration, such as how the hunter and Selkie’s son grew to be a prominent musician after spending time with his mom. Retaining a sense of wonder of the world around us fuels the imagination and can help us achieve happiness as well as accomplish many goals we may have in life. That is what we can take away from the Selkie, and her story."
"Okay, this is my personal magic section, where I will be discussing how the Selkie and its messages relate to my life. So, my first note is that I think its admirable that Selkies have a goal and do whatever it takes to follow it through. If they're in captivity, they do whatever it takes to escape and they don't stop trying until they get back to their true home. Personally, I think that I am a very goal-oriented person. Right now I have about a million goals and "stretch" goals that will hopefully lead to me becoming a pediatrician. I also think it's really important that they know and understand that they don't conform to the standards of human life. So, they don't try to meet anyone else's expectations, they just don their seal skins and escape! I am so lucky to to be a part of a kind and accepting friend group because I know that many girls my age are in a toxic friend situation that they feel they can escape from. They're a group of about fifteen girls, we all sit out at lunch and we all laugh and talk and generally do quirky and weird things. But, I still feel like we're able to be ourselves to a high degree. There's a quote in my mom's book, A Hidden Memory of Objects, check it out if you have the time, that I think really sums up how unimportant and trivial being normal really is, "Normal is a statistical invention, it is not a desirable personality trait." We all try to conform to everyday standards that are arbitrary, so, I just think it's thrilling to read about a fae who knows who they are an who knows what they're supposed to be doing because that is just such an exciting idea."
"In summary, Selkies are fairies from Celtic myth that are capable of transforming into a seal by putting on a magical sealskin coat. They are kind and forgiving, unlike their mermaid counterparts, as well as beautiful in a sad, knowing way. Seal-people occasionally mate with humans, either because they choose to come ashore, are forced into marriage when their skin is stolen, or are summoned by dropping seven tears into the sea. When Selkies bear a human child, this offspring takes on a fish-like appearance. But, in the end, all Selkie-mortal relationships end in tragedy, for the Selkie’s true home is in the sea, specifically on skerries (rocky islands or reefs) or in some other underwater world like a cave. And that concludes the episode! Please leave a rating and review on whatever podcasting source you’re listening to this from and feel free to email me at email@example.com about any concerns, feedback, suggestions on faeries, or anything else you want me to know. Does this really encourages me to continue recording this podcast and “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism” Norman Vincent Peale said that, so I do welcome any constructive criticism. I’m just a kid, but I find that we do really well at learning. Thank you so much listeners for tuning in to learn about the shape-shifting faeries we know as Selkies and I commend you for having the patience to listen to a middle school girl ramble on about a topic. (Sources) This is Annelise on Our Veil of Smoke and Gold Podcast, thanks again for listening and I’ll see you next episode."
An Encyclopedia of Fairies by Katherine Mary Briggs
The Fairy Bible by Teresa Moorey
Abbey Lubbers Banshees and Boggarts by Katherine Briggs
“Legends of the Selkies, Hidden Gems of Sea Mythology” article at Ancient-Origins.net