Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Selkie Dreaming

I had a dream of selkies not long ago. The image was vivid and profoundly painful. When I woke up, I drew it into a dream diary I have near my bed. I won't tell you what it was because I am weaving it into a novel I have tentatively started writing. But it's a coincidence...

You see I recently had the pleasure or reading a charming children's book called Thomas Trew and the Selkies's Curse by celebrated Australian writer – Sophie Masson. Sophie has won several major literary awards and has around 50 published books under her belt. Her style is lyrical and her imagination is wondrous and this young readers' book is a reflection of her gift.

Here's the blurb for the book:
A mysterious young water girl is found on a river bank not far from Owlchurch. She's very ill, poisoned by a curse. She needs Thomas's help. With his friends, Thomas must travel to the wild depths of the ocean – a land of mermaids and mermen, fin-folk, syrens and selkies. Who unnleased the curse on the Hidden World? And can Thomas stop it?

Did that lure you in? I hope so. The mere mention of mermaids is enough for many. Add syrens (I'm using the spelling in the book) to the mix and I'm a goner. What also pulled me under the surface of this magical tale were the delightful illustrations by Ted Dewan. I've attached one – I hope you don't mind, Ted. I don't think you have to be between 9 and 12 to enjoy this book: I think it's a keeper on any mermaid lover's list.

So where else have I come across selkies recently? Well my Mermaids & Mythology magazine (Winter 2011) for that matter. I opened the pages and there was a lovely article "Living with the Selkies" by Hannah Titania that made me want to book a flight to Scotland straight away. I've always wanted to visit Findhorn since I read a book about it when I was about 13 or 14 but now I now have to add the rugged Isle of Islay to my travel itinerary.

Here's a section from the article:
How strong must a Selkie's call to go back to the sea be if she can leave her children and her lover? ... Even today in our modern world, without any prior knowledge of these legends, an onlooker can feel a great sense of longing and magic when encountering a seal. Their deep, dark eyes that hold as much depth as the sea do look as though they could be encapsulating a whole other being or energy much greater than their outward appearance lets on.
Then I flipped over the page and there was another article called "To Reclaim our Skin and Sea: The Selkie" by Lucy Cavendish, which explores the selkie's connection to the feminine divine and the idea of shapeshifting from a state of freedom to a state of servitude:
To dream of Seal, to be one with the Selkie for a time, is to understand that as women, we must return to the form in which we are free. Because the tale of the selkie is that of women who have been capture, and had their deep wildness tamed, who have in some ways fallen into an amnesiac state. The selkie's is the story for all of us who have forgotten our strength, our freedom, our right to choose again and again our delight in life.
Amazing ideas: beautiful words. Sigh.

If you want to read more, then SUBSCRIBE to Mermaids & Mythology magazine here.

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