Selkies

Saturday 14th November comments: The Isle of May is well renowned for its Grey Seal colonies but do we have Selkies… and what we are talking about? Well lets explain.

As we are an island on the Scottish east coast it is only right we should mention Selkies as they are steeped in Scottish folklore. The word selkie (also spelled silkiessylkiesselchies)means ‘seal folk’ who are mythological beings capable of changing from a seal to a human by shedding their skin.

The word selkie is diminutive for selch which in Scottish means ‘grey seal’ and folklore has many stories about these shapeshifting creatures (often involving romance). They were regarded as gentle souls and often overlooked in mythology by the more intriguing sirens or mermaids, but nevertheless had a place in Scandinavian, Scottish and Irish folklore. Traditionally Selkies were either men or women, but were always took the form of seals in the water. However once out of the water, they would undergo a full body transformation upon coming to shore, transforming from seal to human. As a result it was always bad news if you killed a seal as misfortune was placed on the perpetuator. There are many Scottish folklore stories surrounding Selkies but we will keep those for another day. For now, at least you know what Selkies are and the next time you are visiting the Isle of May, keep your eyes open as you just never know what is lurking on the rocks, you just never know…

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