Seal Wives and Stamp Collections

Faroese_stamp_584_the_seal_woman
Stamp FO 584 of the Faroe Islands: The Seal Woman 

Selkies, or seal people, can be found populating the folklore of the British Isles and Scandinavia. When they come to shore, these mythical creatures shed their seal skins and dance on the beaches in their human form. Although there are male selkies, it’s the women who often show up in the cultural myths. Labelled as part of the folklore attributed to animal brides, these stories often tell of a fisherman who spies a selkie girl and binds her in her human form by hiding her sealskin. But selkie wives are canny creatures. Even when they are trapped on land in their human forms and are forced into marriage with the human husbands who hold them hostage, they secretly wait for the day when they can reclaim their sealskin and return to their homes beneath the ocean.

In 2015, Denmark’s Faroe Islands celebrated one selkie myth with a stunning series of stamps detailing the story of “The Seal Wife.” In this story, the selkie wife is taken captive by a fisherman who hides her seal coat. Unable to return to the ocean, she is forced into marriage and ends up bearing him seven children. One day, the fisherman goes to work, but forgets the key to the trunk where his wife’s sealskin is hidden. She discovers her coat and returns to her seal form, leaving her human husband behind. Back in the ocean, the seal woman is reunited with her selkie husband and bears him two sons. However, the jilted fisherman tracks down her seal family and murders them. In retribution, the selkie vows to drag Faroese fishermen to a watery grave, until so many fishermen drown that there are enough dead to circle the islands holding hands. With 694 miles of coastline surrounding the Faroe Islands, the selkie’s vengeance will not rest until at least 613,736 fishermen have died. 

There are 10 stamps in the The Seal Woman (kópakonan) series. These Faroe Islands stamps were designed by artist Edward Fuglø and were issued on February 12, 2007. 

stamps-selkie

Further reading: 

Clickbait for Paranormals: Try These Simple Tricks to Make Your Man Give Your Seal Skin Back” by Sarina Dorie

In Sea-Salt Tears” by Seanan McGuire

Selkie Stories are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar

“Skin,” The Girl with No Hands by Angela Slatter

“The Tale of the Skin,” The Orphan’s Tales, Volume I: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente

  

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside by John Allison

The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley

Selkie Girl by Laurie Brooks

Seaward by Susan Cooper

The Secret of the Ron Mor by Rosalie Fry

The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff

The Selkie and The Selkie Bride by Melanie Jackson

Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire

Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas

Seal Island trilogy by Sophie Moss

Petaybee trilogy by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Neptune Rising: Songs and Tales of the Undersea Folk by Jane Yolen and David Wiesner