Monster Monday: Selkie

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Selkie.

Faroese Stamp: Scene from "The Seal Woman"
Faroese Stamp: Scene from “The Seal Woman”

A selkie is a creature in Scottish, Irish, and Faroese folklore. A selkie is a creature that lives in the sea as a seal but sheds its skin on land to become a human. There are both male and female selkies. In their human forms, they are described as being extremely attractive and seductive. Male selkies seek out women who are unhappy in their lives. A woman who wants to attract a selkie lover must shed seven tears into the sea.

A man can force a female selkie to stay on land in her human form and be his wife if he steals and hides her seal skin. If she ever finds her skin again, however, she will escape back to the sea. In some stories, the selkie wife has children with the human who has stolen her skin, and it is one of the children who finds the skin, not knowing what it is.

In some stories, selkies lure unsuspecting victims out to sea where they drown. Sometimes selkeis are said to be the spirits of people who drown at sea.

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