These are touchstone stories. Offered in short form to orient you to the variations of mythic shapeshifters, seals, women, mermaid, naiads and the like as known in many parts of the world. More aspects of the myths and references will be shared here and there…as we travel to meet our own Selkie Stories in art and life.
Our story begins with Sedna, a beautiful Inuit girl who lived with her father in a small village by the sea.
Life was simple there. The people lived quietly—hunting and fishing and gathering in community. They celebrated, they loved, they kept old traditions alive. But the winters were long and harsh. During a particularly brutal winter, that Sedna’s father decided she must marry—for it was becoming a burden too great to feed two mouths.
But Sedna refused every suitor sent her way until there were no more eligible men left. Then a stranger came…and Sedna became enamored by this strange man. His mystery intrigued her, and she married him. Soon they left the village and arrived at the deserted island where he lived. It was here he revealed his true nature – he was a spirit bird disguised as a human.
Sedna, realizing she had be tricked—and now, on an island with no means of escape—fell into a deep despair. The spirit bird would never let his new bride leave! Months after the marriage, Sedna’s father traveled across the waters to visit his daughter in her new home. He loved her, and missed her, and wanted to see how she was thriving inside her new life. But when he arrived, all he could hear were her despaired cries.
Running to his daughter’s side, the father felt fear strike deep inside his heart. They snuck away to the father’s canoe, and Sedna told him everything—how the man wasn’t really a man, how he trapped her here, how every new day brought her a greater pain.
And when both father and daughter were inside the canoe—the shoreline becoming more distant with every passing second—it seemed like Sedna’s nightmare was finally over.
Until he arrived.
The spirit bird, having watched his new bride flee from their nest, was overcome with rage. He flew over the canoe and flapped his great wings to thrash the waves and storm the waters. She can try to leave, he thought. But she won’t get far.
Back on the canoe, the waters raged and stormed something fierce. And it was at that moment that the father had realized how deep of a mistake he had made. Yes, he loved his daughter. And yes, he didn’t want to see her suffering but he had to stop the torrent of energy and the father threw his daughter overboard—offering her as sacrifice in an effort to calm the sea.
But Sedna, with her young and rebellious heart, clung to the side of the canoe. She screamed at her father, begged him to pull her back up. it was then that the father, cut his daughter’s fingers so she could no longer cling—and watched as her body sank below.
A Sedna became one with the sea, her fingers melted into the oceans—becoming the great whales and seals and polar bears. And her body, as it sank, transformed into a great and moving energy…Sedna became the Goddess of the sea.