by Eric Whollem
mixed media digital art
Copyright by the artist.
The Secrets of the Selkies
The Selkies appear in Scottish and Irish lore as the mermaids of
legend. They are often described as taking the forms of seals.
The movie, The Secret of Roan Inish, gives a good account of
the legends of the selkies.
The selkies can take on the forms of bird, men, animals, trees,
and even stones. This is the doctrine of metempyschosis, or
reincarnation that exists in Buddhism and Hinduism as well as
traditional Celtic religion. In Hindu scriptures, specifically, The
Yoga Vasistha there is a discourse on consciousness in stones.
In a sense this lore delineates the selkie as a form of ghost, but
more than a ghost--a varied transformation into animate and
supposedly inanimate objects, but more accurately describes
the processes of reincarnation and the rarer phenomenon of
"transference of consciousness." An interesting story of this
transference is found in the biography of Sri Shankara, where
a yogi enters the body of a drowned man and brings it to life.
THE RUSALKIS AND THE SELKIES
In Russia the Rusalkis, or river mermaids, may well be linked
to the selkies. The Russians call themselves the Rus. They are
one of the Aryan tribes that migrated north out of Persia.
The Celts also migrated originally from Persia and Scythia. The
Fenian migrations out of Persia were led by Fenius Farsa. Farsa
means Parsee, or Persian. The Irish Chronicles of the 12th
century describe these migrations through Egypt and Iberia into
The term Rusalki may possibly be read as "Russian selkie,"
or "Rus-selkie," according to my own interpretations of folklore.
Since both Celtic and Scandinavian peoples were originally Aryan
these etymological speculations are not too far afield.
The Rusalkis are said to be the daughters of the Tsar Morskoi.
Morskoi is the Sea King.
THE VALKYRIES AND THE SELKIES
The selkies also seem to correlate with the Valkyries of Norse
legend. The Valkyries are "gatherers of the slain," taking on
much of the same role as the Celtic Morrigan, who as a raven
goddess would gather up the dead. Morrigan means literally
Sea Queen and is a goddess of the sea.
Morana is the Russian name for the Goddess of the dead. As
such she corresponds to Morrigan and also the Moirae of
the Greeks. The Moirae are prophetesses and seers.
Ravens and crows are often referred to as Psychopomps of
the Dead. A pscyhopomp is a conductor of souls. They lead
the departed into the next world.
The Valkyries are also related to the swans, birds of trans-
cendance. Interested students of mythology may want to
examine the lore of the Swan Maidens.
In my studies of Mermaids, I have found many, many bird
symbols. Dolphins and hawks are interconnected. Many
stories could be told of the hummingbird. But enough for
My post of December 14, 2009, where I talk about the
Rabbit Man of the Sea, contains more information on the
Readers interested in my posts on the SELKIES may find them on this link:
My general posts of MERMAID ART may be accessed here:
Mermaids, selkies, undines, water nymphs, water sprites, Nereids, Naiads, Oceanids by Eric Whollem, mythology, anthropology.
CLEAN WATER FOR THE PLANET