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Myths & Legends Day
"The Selkie was bathing in morning light
A fisherman struck by this beautiful sight.
Alone he was in his solitary life
He stole her pelt and made her his wife."
~ Selkie, Fiona Lochhead
Beware if you are taking a walk by the sea or shore of the lochs! You may encounter the shape-shifting selkies or kelpies! Selkies, meaning "Seal Folk", are mythological beings capable of changing from seal to human form by shedding their skin. Tales of Selkies originate mainly in Orkney and Shetland (with counterparts in Faroese and Icelandic folklore that speak of seal-women and seal-skin who may bond with a human counterpart, but always long to return to the sea). The Scots word selkie is diminutive for selch which translates directly to "grey seal," though in some tales the rarer word "maighdeann-ròin" or "seal maiden" is found. Legend has it that entire families, such as Clan Macfie, are descendants of Selkies as the first Macfie took a selkie for a bride! Kelpies are also shape-shifting water spirits inhabiting the lochs and pools, usually appearing as a dark water horse that can adopt human form as well. However, unlike the Selkie, the Kelpie preys on humans and will drag any human it encounters under the water. In this tartan, black represents the spirit of malevolent Kelpie while the grey and brown mark the more playful and curious Selkie, who will sometimes save the lives of those in peril in the sea. 🧜♀️ 🐴
Designed by Caryl J Bohn
Register notes for this tartan:
As far back as before stories were written down, the Kelpies and Selkies have served as a cautionary tale. The need to explain the unexplainable fed into the incredible tales of creatures and the world of the fae. This tartan design is broken into two portions; blues to represent the water and neutral tones for the earth. Black is intended to represent the malevolent Kelpie, which inhabits the water and is said to appear as a horse on land to lure man to his death. In contrast, the grey and brown are intended to represent the playful and curious Selkie, which takes human form on land and that of a seal in the water where it will save the lives of those in peril.
Selkies are mythological creatures found in Scottish, Irish, and Faroese folklore. Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. This legend is prominent in tales from Orkney and Shetland.
Male selkies are said to be very handsome in their human form, having great seductive powers over human women. They typically seek those who are dissatisfied with their lives, such as married women waiting for their fishermen husbands. If a woman seeks to make contact with a selkie male, she must shed seven tears into the sea.
On the opposite side, if a man steals a female selkie's shed skin she will be in his power and is forced to become his wife. Female selkies are said to make excellent wives, but because their true home is the sea, they will often be seen gazing longingly at the ocean. If the selkie wife finds her skin she will immediately return to her true home, and sometimes to her selkie husband, in the sea.