Selkies

Though the stories of selkies are often romantic, in the end, someone always ends up with a broken heart.

The most popular of the Selkie legends (although it does vary some from place to place) start with the finding of a seal pelt.  Occasionally, Selkies come to the shore and shed their furry skins simply for the enjoyment of being on land for a while. If a human man happens upon the seal skin while it’s unattended, he can coerce the Selkie woman to become his wife.  Most stories hold that Selkie women make excellent wives as long as they cannot find their skins.  Once they find their pelts, they are compelled to escape to the sea, leaving their human life behind forever.  Some legends even have the Selkie’s own children accidentally discovering their mother’s seal skin and returning it to her, and consequently, robbing themselves of their parent.  It’s a tragic tale that never ends well.  Someone—sometimes someones—are left bereft.

Selkies are sometimes mistaken for mermaids or lumped together with them.  However, Selkies are said to be beautiful women (occasionally men, but most legends refer to them as women) who wear magical seal skins in the water but who become women on land once their seal skin is removed.  Fur, not fish scales on the lower half.

Original Art by Stuart Higgins. See more @limbo_artwork on Instagram

Legends of these creatures are popular in Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia, and particularly the Orkney Islands.  In fact, the term selkie is the Orkanian (from Orkney) word for seal (www.orkneyjar.com).  To this day there are selkies all over the place in the cooler climates of Orkney and Scandinavia.  However, Selkies might be a bit harder to spot (they don’t like to make a fuss, you know.).

Looks like a good Selkie habitat

It’s thought that hundreds of years ago, people used stories to explain oddities or strange happenings.  Often these stories involved gods or goddesses, or unfamiliar (some maybe real?) creatures to explain such things. The Selkies have their own descendants in this way.  In the Outer Hebrides, there is a clan who claims they come from a line of Selkies due to the hereditary webbing of skin between their fingers (the condition is called Syndactyly) (www.conollycove.com, www.cinncinatichildrens.org).    I think that’s a pretty logical explanation for a child born with scaly-like skin (like psoriasis) or for the webbed digits—we must come from these revered creatures of legend.  See?  Here’s our proof!  

What do you think?  Would you rather meet up with a mermaid or a Selkie for afternoon tea?  Go up to the top of the article, click the grey Comments, and let me know!

Selkie by Julia Ruprecht. Find more of her artwork @julruprecht on Instagram

Book Recommendations

Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper

The Little Selkie by K. M. Shea

An Echo of the Fae by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Fathom by Merrie Destefano. (Fathom is going on sale for .99 this week!!!)

Creative Writing Prompts

The sun feels glorious on my skin as I shiver in the light breeze that flits off the ocean.  I peel the rest of my seal skin from my legs, reveling at my toes that wiggle into the rough sand.

“Your mother must never touch the skins kept in this trunk.  Do you understand?”  I nodded my wee eyes, terrified at the vehemence in my father’s voice as he locked the cedar trunk.

I stared at the webbing between my fingers proudly.  It proved I was kin to a Selkie.

Contains some slightly mature content

The Loch Ness Monster

Urquhart Castle sits a silent stone sentinel, guarding the vast waters before it.  Waiting, watching, for a glimpse of its most famous inhabitant.  The Loch Ness Monster.

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

Nessie, possibly the most famous mythological marine creature in the world, is said to exist deep in the murky waters of Loch Ness near Inverness, Scotland.  Many people claim to have seen this large, long necked, flippered friend.  Some sightings date as far back as Pictish stone carvings (think back before Rome invaded England!  That’s old!).  A 565 AD biography of St. Columba contains the first written mentions of Nessie.  It’s said that our mysterious beastie chomped a swimmer and was poised to go after another, but St. Columba commanded it back, and the creature obeyed (www.britanica.com).

St. Columba rebuking the monster

Loch Ness, with a depth of close to 800 feet, and a length of nearly 23 miles, has plenty of places for a giant marine creature to hide.  The loch is filled with fresh water and holds a larger volume of fresh water than any other lake in Great Britain (www.history.com).  What if Nessie really has been hiding for centuries?  Could it be possible?

Ariel view of Loch Ness

Let’s look for just one minute at a real creature that has indisputable proof of existence in the fossil record.  Meet the plesiosaur.  Plesiosaurs had a small head, long willowy neck, a plump, rounded body, and four flippers (www.britanica.com).  Sound a bit like the common description of our favorite loch-loving friend? 

 

Plesiosaur Skeleton

What if dinosaurs didn’t all die out however many years ago?  What if some of them survived?  Maybe even secretly thrived?  Could Nessie be one such creature?  Scientists are still discovering new land and marine animals every year.  Why couldn’t Nessie have escaped notice?  Especially in the deep shadowy waters of a giant lake, or if the Nessie population is small.

Original Artwork by Julia Ruprecht
Follow her @julruprecht on Instagram!

The most famous Nessie photograph, captured in the early 1930’s, was proved to be a hoax in 1993. However, it’s important to note that of the three men who concocted the toy submarine-based photo, one of them claims to have seen the Loch Ness Monster and remains a believer (http://www.unmuseum.org/nesshoax.htm).

The “Original Sighting” of Nessie

What do you think?  Is Nessie real, or has she always just been a hoax? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Go to the top of the post, click the grey “Comments” and it’ll take you right there.

Book Recommendations

Dragons of the Deep by Carl Wieland

The New Answers Book 1 by Ken Ham

The Fossil Book by Gary Parker

CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS

“Look!”

“Where?”

“There!”

“Is that…” the words died away as a head towered out of the water.  Beady yellow eyes fixed on us as the sun glinted off rows of tiny, needle like teeth.

The Loch Ness Monster is/is not real.  Why or why not?

Nessie was my best friend.  Only no one else knew she existed.

 

The Loch Ness Monster Myth

National Geographic on Loch Ness Sightings

The History Channel on Loch Ness

Award winning, professional harpist, Tiffany Schaefer, plays a beautiful rendition of the Scottish song, “Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon”

 
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Loch-Ness-monster-legendary-creature

https://www.visitinvernesslochness.com/property/urquhart-castle/

http://travelinos.com/castles/n22-16194-Urquhart_Castle

 http://anomalyinfo.com/Stories/565-ce-st-columba-and-beast-river-ness

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/loch-ness-from-above-veli-bariskan.html

https://www.britannica.com/animal/plesiosaur

http://livingdinos.com/the-cryptids/marine-cryptids-sea-monsters/living-plesiosaurs/