Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Visitor From the Sea

colllage, pan pastel, acrylic

You have seen Aislinn in an earlier post.  
Today you hear her story, 
 a version from old Scottish and Irish folklore.  
A selkie (pronounced silky) is a seal who has the ability 
to shed its skin and become a human woman.  
She can live on land, even marry and bear children 
yet the sea remains in her heart always.  
Once she dons her skin again 
she can reenter the sea 
leaving her human life behind.   
Often it is not an easy choice 
after bonding with her family.  
Aislinn is one such selkie.  
Exhausted from a storm,  she was caught in a fisherman's net.
She had no energy to fight.  The gentle fisherman took her into his isolated cottage
on the northern most tip of Scotland
where few humans chose to endure the harsh winters.
There they lived as man and wife for seven years
with two young children.
He never questioned the look that came  to her 
when she thought no one saw.  Nor did he question 
the day she disappeared.
Though there were days after the disappearance that a seal appeared 
in the bay in front of the cottage
skimming the surface of the glassy sea with 
hauntingly familiar eyes following the movements of the
young children.
If you look close enough here
you can recognize her longing.
When I walk along the cliffs near my home,
I sometimes hear seals barking, 
echos of another time
and wonder of the stories they have to tell.


  1. "recognize her longing...."

    oh irene i want to spend time beside you, painting, the way a selkie longs for time within the sea.

    your work speaks volumes to me.
    thank you for your ability to strike the hearts of others with your beauty and depth.

  2. I was totally engrossed in your facinating story! I have heard os selkies before...maybe through Scottish songs that my musician husband's friends sing. The image is wonderful, as well...thank you!

  3. Irene,
    This is one of my favorite pieces and your telling of her sad and poignant tale makes her complete.


  4. Lovely mystical story and a *wonderful* painting which captures that mystic. I've had a seal come right up to my canoe as I paddled along the Pacific North Coast. With those soft eyes it wouldn't be hard to believe the story of the selkie. :)