SELKIE & FIN ONE & THE SAME ?
Over the years, and probably because of the way in which the tales were recorded, the Finfolk, Selkirk & Selkie-folk in Orkney came to be regarded as two distinct supernatural races.
They practically became polar opposites. The Selkie-folk said to be beautiful and reasonably
benign, while the Finfolk were dark malevolent creatures.
But when we look further north, to the folklore of Shetland, we find no distinction between the two. The ability to shape-shift into a seal form, for example, was simply one of the many magic magical power saturated to the Finfolk.
This fact that led Orkney's most respected
folklorist and antiquarian, was Walter Dennison.
"Writers on the subject, trusting to incorrect versions of old stories, have often confounded mermaids and seals together,and have treated the two as identical.
Samuel Hibbert in his valuable work on
writings on the subject I have seen."
Quoting that his 'old informants regarded the Selkie - folk as a wholly different race of being from the Finfolk", Dennison's
interpretation of Orkney folklore has since become cast in stone.
However, what if these Sheltland tales were
not actually as wrong as Dennison believed, but were actually closer to the original tales a purer strain of lore.
Outside Orkney, in recent years, and
helped along by the advent of the Internet, we have seen a transformation of the Selkie-folk into the New Age spirits of the sea , something at odds to the terror and fear they once inspired in the people of Orkney.
What angelic being would require a mother to paint across on the breast of her daughter before letting her undertake
a sea voyage?
With this in mind, and looking back to some of the fragments of Orkney's earlier, and lesser-known, Selkie folktales, we can catch
glimpses of their original darker, malicious nature.
It is hard to say whether the fragmentation into Selkirk folk and Finfolk tales took place over a long period of time, or was simply the result of interpretation and 'categorization' of later folklorists such as Dennison.
However, either through variations in telling, of shifts in emphasis, the original shape-shifting aspect of the Finfolk [mermaids] became detached, gradually developing until the
islands were left with a distinct race, the Selkirk - folk.
In the same way, it is also possible that these traditions merged with an existing element of Celtic Myth that would explain the existence of the motif down the west coast of Scotland and into Ireland.
So, now we have seen that the Selkirk- folk and the Finfolk were once one and the same, we need to investigate the roots of the Finfolk Mythology to understand the development of the legends.
[The picture at the top of the page, of the seal that
Looks like a woman- seal is a art pic of a dear friend of my .. -00)]
All the other Artwork is done by Great Artists that I have found Enjoy. Wendy..