March52012

Selkie and Bunyip

Selkie

Selkies are a kind of shape-shifting fae similar to mermaids, who live in the sea. They are said to live particularly in the waters around the Orkney and Shetland Islands in Scotland, but also other islands in the Northeastern Atlantic and Norwegian Sea. Selkies wear a seal skin when they are at home in the water. If they choose to come ashore in human form they must remove their seal skin. Like all fae they are preternaturally beautiful and often take human spouses. But these marriages always last only briefly, long enough to produce a child before the selkie returns to the sea, never to return, often taking the child with them.

One famous tale of a selkie marriage says that the woman came ashore, whereupon a man finds her seal skin and hides it, preventing her from ever leaving and forcing her to be his wife. They had a child and one day the child finds what she takes for an old leather coat in a trunk or a cabinet. The child asks its mother why father has an old leather coat hidden away. Having finally found her seal skin, the selkie dons her coat and returns to the sea.

Selkie men are equally attractive and often take to the land to seduce unhappy or unsatisfied women, unmarried and married alike. One tale tells of the selkie king taking a human wife who bears him a son. He has prophesied to her that one day he will take his son with him back to the sea where a seal hunter will kill the both of them. Not believing his vision, the woman marries him and events happen as foretold. But what the selkie king had left out was that the seal hunter was the woman’s new lover.

further reading:

Through the Faerie Glass by Kenny Klein

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selkie

http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/

Bunyip

Bunyips are water-dwelling creatures from Australia. Descriptions vary from a cat-like creature to a maned serpent-like being, but they all conclude that the animal is very large and semi-aquatic, preferring the water but coming onto the shore at times.

1848 drawing of an Aboriginal carving

The Aborigine believe the bunyip is a dreamtime spirit punishing those who do wrong by devouring them and will avoid water sources where bunyip have been reported. As Europeans began to settle the country, they also reported sightings of the animal, lending credence to the possibility that the bunyip may be a cryptozoological creature and not a mystical being.

Either way, Australia has embraced the animal and added it(in several artistic expressions) on a stamp.

further reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunyip

http://www.skepdic.com/bunyips.html

Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth by Carol Rose

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