What if you are not who you imagine yourself to be?
What if, while packing up to move, you came across a strange satchel hidden in the corner of your closet. Unbundling it reveals a large animal pelt, the skin of a Seal. After holding it for a few moments an uneasy feeling starts to grow in your stomach. This is so familiar, you know this furred pelt as if its your own body. Holding it closer to your pounding heart you feel its warmth sink into you. Feelings bloom into a realization – you have found your own second skin. As you press its salt-dried leather against your lips, its seductive smells filling you, your knees almost buckle beneath the weight of the memories of your other life in the Ocean. All of those days of freedom in the water, surrounded by your Seal kin, playing and flourishing in a way the people of the land could never understand. All of those feelings rolling down on you like a tsunami … how did you ever forget that life?
What would it feel like to hold your lost wildness in your hands?
As its trickled down through the ages the story of the Selkie has come to be one of gifted creatures, unique amongst other Seals, able to change shape into a human and back. Selkie men were purported to be so seductive no mortal woman could resist them. Selkie women were so enchanting that fishermen stole their skins, hiding them in the roofs of their homes to imprison the Selkie as human beings and make them their wives. Once the Selkie women rediscovered their skin they always returned to the Ocean, still connected by longing to their children on the land. For years I thought this was the whole story, but I was wrong.
The Selkie’s allure is the allure of our own wildness.
After studying stories of the Selkie, working with dreams given to me by Seals, and through the grace of the compassionate helping spirits, I came to understand that every Seal is a Selkie. Selkie (also Selchidh) is just the old Gaelic word for Seal. Not only did my ancestors think any Seal could be a shapeshifter, EVERY Seal was likely to be a shapeshifter. You yourself might be descended from a Selkie, or even be a Seal trapped in human form. Many of our ancestors understood the power to magically transform is an intrinsic quality of the natural world because it is an intrinsic quality of spirit itself. These stories compel us to embrace the aspect of our soul inseparable from the natural world.
The Selkie is not a myth, the Selkie is our story.
Almost all cultures have stories of shapeshifting. We all have ancestors who understood that one way to revitalize their own spirits and their relationship with nature was to put on their own animal skins, and change into that wilder self. This gave them entry into the world in a new way, gave them a means to achieve balance with the world. In exchange for being “civilized” we have had to let our other skins lay silent and hidden, yet we all have second skins just waiting to be discovered. If the Earth is to survive the burden of our culture, this part of our souls must be reclaimed.
Your souls wildest embrace is waiting for you.
This work pulls on everything we are. This is the work of dancers, singers, of writers, of artists, athletes, storytellers, artisans, visionaries and healers. This work demands that we awaken our souls and call on them to lead us back to our lost animal skins, to return to that place and reclaim our authentic, soul-filled relationship with life.
I’m working with some extraordinary spirits in developing practices that will help us all regain access to that part of our own souls that know the way a Selkie moves through the world.