Weaving Text and Pictures


A Village by the Sea


Selkies and Seal Legends


Spinning Tales Around the Text



watercolour painting of a seal from The Seal Children

There are many stories about selkies in all cultures where seals are found.

I heard my first when I was 14 years old, from "The Orchard Book of British Folk Tales", written by Kevin Crossley-Holland, and was captivated.

In most legends of selkies the creature is a seal in the sea and a woman on land, and if a man can capture the skin of a selkie she will make the perfect wife, and so long as he can hide her skin away from her she will have to stay with him. In evitably the skin is found, often by a child of theirs and she returns to the sea leaving her family behind, for the sake of her freedom.

Sometimes the selkie is a man, as in the song of the Sule Skerrie, where a woman gives birth to a child whose father is a selkie. Years later he returns and takes the child to his watery world. She marries again, to a fisherman and seal hunter, and tells him not ever to hunt in the Sule Skerrie, but he does, and the first two seals he kills are her selkie husband and child. A sad song but hauntingly beautiful.

One of the very best selkie stories is in a book called "Women who run with the wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes published by Rider books. Sealskin Soulskin in this book is a beautiful tale told well.

"The People of the Sea" by David Thomson, a journey in search of the seal legends, published by Arena is a haunting book.

And "The Daughter of the Sea" by Berlie Dougherty is a short poem of a novel of selkie legends.

"The Broonies, Silkies and Fairies" by Duncan Williamson puts the selkie into the world of faerie.

The film "The Secret of Roan Innish" is full of the most beautiful photography and music and interwoven with strange stories of seal folk and stolen children, with the most wonderful scene where a Selkie comes ashore and sheds her skin.

photograph of seal swimming



©Jackie Morris