Selkies (also known as silkies or selchies) are mythological creatures in Irish and Scottish mythology that can transform themselves from seals to humans. The legend apparently originated in the Orkney Islands, where "selkie" is simply the Orcadian word for "seal".
Selkies are able to become humans by shedding their seal skins, and can revert to seal form by putting the skins back on. Stories concerning selkies are generally romantic tragedies. A human and a selkie fall in love, but after a while the selkie becomes restless, and decides to return to the sea. Sometimes the human will not know that their lover is a selkie, and wakes to find them gone. Other times the human will hide the selkie's skin, thus preventing them from returning to seal form. The Grey Selkie of Suleskerry is a ballad typical of the former, while The Secret of Roan Inish is a movie telling the latter tale. "Seal Child" is a children's novel by Sylvia Peck which details a modern telling of this myth.
Selkies should not be mixed up with Silkies.
- The Selkie Folk, from Orkneyjar, "a website dedicated to the preserving, exploring and documenting the ancient history, folklore and traditions of Orkney."
- Annotated Selkie resources from Mermaids on the Web
- The Origin of the Selkie Folk from Orkneyjar
- A Home for Selkies by Beth Winegarner
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