Mythology Monday: Kidnapping Seals For Fun And Profit

Seehundfrau in Mikladalur

Hello, again! This week, we’re heading back to Scotland, more specifically the Orkneys, to talk about a tale called “The Goodman o’Wastness.”

It involves selkies, which are basically seals that can shed their skins and turn into people. It also involves a dude coercing a selkie into marrying him.

So there’s that too, i guess.


We start off with this guy, the titular Goodman o’Wastness. Now, the Goodman is a good-looking dude, with a pretty successful farm, so he’s doing pretty well for himself. So well, in fact, that he’s got all the ladies up in his business.

The thing is, though, that he’s not particularly interested in marrying any of them, or any woman at all, really. Because he thinks women were placed on earth in order to test men. Sounds like a real peach, this one.

Anyway, this thought changes when he comes across a bunch of selkies hanging out on a beach, with their seal skins set on some nearby rocks. One of them is an extremely attractive lady, and he decides that he really wants to get with that. So he steals her skin while the other selkies start to head off.

This leads to the selkie following the Goodman (whose name becomes more ironic with each passing second) into town, begging him to give her back her skin. Which he naturally refuses to do, but does end up marrying her and hiding said skin so she can’t run away.

Yeah, gross.

The years pass and the two of them have several children, but all the while the seal woman is pining to return to the sea. Try as she might, though, she’s unable to find her skin, but sees a chance to really start looking when her husband and sons head out on a fishing trip.

So she starts tearing the house apart, but try as she might she still can’t find the skin. Her daughter, noticing her frustration, asks what she’s looking for. The selkie fudges the truth a bit and says she’s looking for a really fine seal skin that she can use to make some nice shoes for her.

The daughter responds, “Oh, yeah. I saw a skin like that. Dad put it in the rafters above your bed.”

So the selkie takes a look, and, sure enough, there’s her skin. She grabs it and immediately runs out of the house and into the ocean, donning the skin on the way. While out on the ocean, she runs into her husband’s boat, where she’s like, “Bye, bitch.”

Then she swims away, never to be seen again.

This is a pretty common sort of selkie tale, where for some reason dudes see selkie women then force them into marriage. A lot of them tend to end the same way too, with the selkie bride eventually finding her skin and fucking right off. It’s kind of hard to blame them, though. If I were kidnapped and given a shot at escape, I know that I’d certainly take it.

And the moral here is that kidnapping people is wrong, and you shouldn’t do it.


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