The Selkie or seal woman, is a Scottish/Island myth. In the myth the Selkie transforms from a seal into a woman by taking off her Selkie/seal skin. Her Selkie skin represents her soul and her true nature. In some stories she is tricked into removing her skin, in others she leaves her skin hidden because she falls in love and needs to live on the land. Often in the tales, her Selkie skin is stolen from her and she spends time looking for it. The stories recount how she often withers and dies from this separation. She finds herself having to leave something behind to recover her skin, and this can involve heartbreak and grief. It is only though when she is finally reunited with her Selkie skin that she is reunited with her essential self and can be fully embodied and connected to the natural world.
The Selkie tale is an old one but one that resonates with many women today. Somehow we recognise that we too may have been tricked, lured or perhaps willingly put aside our essential self, our Selkie skin. I speak to many woman, who say that they are so grateful for their lives and they know they have so much, yet something is missing? Something they know is important, but can't express or fully understand? They know that it can't be satisfied by something outside of themselves, and it certainly isn't satisfied by what the mainstream tells us that we need. This lack often manifests as illness, depression, or lack of focus. The woman knows that there is something more, but she doesn't know what that 'more' is? There is a feeling, that something is missing from her life, or that there is something she needs to attend too? It can be tantalising and infuriating in equal measure.
I believe that by exploring the tale of the Selkie there is treasure to be found. There is something in this story that can help us to discover the 'more'. For within this story we are introduced to the wild woman. The Selkie teaches us about coming home to ourselves. She shows us how to return to the wild places of the soul. Her message is one of freedom, belonging and a confirmation that we are part of nature. Not separate, but intrinsically woven into the seasons. The wild woman as depicted by the Selkie helps us to discover what we need to attend to in order to feel a sense of connection and belonging.
We can work with the Selkie woman by writing our own Selkie story. We begin by looking back to when we lost our Selkie skin! Through diving deep into the treasure of our own life, we can discover what was put aside. We ask ourselves questions such as: When in our life did we lose our Selkie skin? Did we willingly give it up? Or who did we entrust our Selkie skin to?
In writing my own Selkie story, I realised how I tucked away my Selkie skin, neatly folding it and placing it in a drawer of dreams that didn't feel real. Somehow instead of following my dreams, I got lured into something altogether different. I had a good life, a career, a family but inside I died a little every day as I drifted further and further from who I wanted to be in the world. Instead becoming someone other people wanted me to be. With each passing year the things I promised myself that I would give time to shrank and withered. I believed so strongly in the mantra 'the harder you work, the luckier you get' and I was good at working really hard. I was really good at using my work as an excuse for missing family occasions, for not getting involved in community, and for my lack of self care. I eventually convinced myself that I had no choice but to continue on the same path, even though it was making me ill. I became an expert at using 'work' as a reason for not living my life. As I became more and more disconnected from myself, I also became disconnected from the natural world. My love of nature and wild places was put on hold, whilst I sat under strobe lights and stared into computer screens.
Writing my Selkie story I imagined what my soul skin looked like? What was its colour? It's texture? What and who could I be if I wore it once more? I imagined the parts of my personality, my essential nature that would be woven into the fabric of this new becoming. As I wrote I wove a new story, one where I hadn't tucked away my skin, but instead one where not only had I taken it out from its hiding place, but where I proudly wore it. I acquired an actual piece of material that represented my Selkie skin, and I wrapped it around my shoulders. There is a beautiful sympathetic magic that occurs when we take things from our imagination and breathe life into them. I created a small woman's altar, where I placed my Selkie skin cloth. along with items to represent the elements, earth, air, fire and water. I placed things from nature, things that represented my own wild nature. And gradually as the seasons turned I discovered that I no longer needed to feel it as an outer representation, because what was outer was now inner and my Selkie skin was now my own skin.
What does your soul skin look like? How does it feel? Do you have it still or have you lost it
somewhere on the journey of life? Do you know how to retrieve it or does someone else have it in their keeping? When you imagine your soul skin what does it say to you about the wild and perhaps hidden parts of your self?
The joy of being in my own Selkie skin has taken me on a journey where my love of creativity and nature has led me into activism for the planet. You can find out more at www.treesisters.org. I now make time in my life for my art, for my writing. I spend time in the wild places that feed my soul. I still work hard but in alignment with my soul purpose. The treasures of the Selkie are many, and my work with her continues. She has certainly not finished with me and still has many teachings to incorporate into my life. She consistently asks me to step up on behalf of life and to keep wearing my Selkie skin out in the world.
Louise is a Priestess of the Goddess the finance mama for TreeSisters and a wild soul woman who is passionate about life, the planet, the trees, and in particular being a water protector. She believes that when we are in deep connection with our passions and life purpose that we come into right relationship with our community and the wider environment, and that living our passion and bring forth our creative self is the birthright of all. To find out more visit her website.