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Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation

DigiTrad:
GREAT SILKIE
HIROSHIMA
LADY ODIVERE (GREY SILKIE 3)
THE GREY SILKIE OF SULE SKERRY
WOMAN BY THE BAY


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: The Great Silkie (60)
(origins) Origin: I Come and Stand at Every Door (P Seeger) (22)
Lyr Add: Silkie (as sung by Anne Lister) (12)
Tune Req: The Great Silkie (26)
Lyr Req: The silkie of skule skerry (closed) (9) (closed)
The Great Silkie "earthly norris..." (42)


Bearheart 09 Mar 08 - 09:33 PM
Joe_F 09 Mar 08 - 09:48 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 10 Mar 08 - 12:27 AM
Megan L 10 Mar 08 - 04:15 AM
Jack Blandiver 10 Mar 08 - 06:02 AM
Bearheart 10 Mar 08 - 11:32 PM
Jack Blandiver 11 Mar 08 - 06:02 AM
Jack Campin 11 Mar 08 - 07:38 AM
Bearheart 14 Mar 08 - 12:55 AM
Jack Campin 14 Mar 08 - 12:19 PM
katlaughing 19 Mar 08 - 11:21 PM
Jack Blandiver 20 Mar 08 - 05:52 AM
Jack Campin 20 Mar 08 - 06:25 AM
Jim McLean 20 Mar 08 - 07:26 AM
Nerd 20 Mar 08 - 10:32 AM
Jack Campin 20 Mar 08 - 10:39 AM
Malcolm Douglas 20 Mar 08 - 11:39 AM
Fortunato 20 Mar 08 - 12:01 PM
Bearheart 20 Mar 08 - 08:56 PM
Bearheart 20 Mar 08 - 09:34 PM
Bearheart 20 Mar 08 - 09:48 PM
Malcolm Douglas 21 Mar 08 - 03:32 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Mar 08 - 04:12 AM
Jack Campin 21 Mar 08 - 06:13 AM
katlaughing 21 Mar 08 - 10:50 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Mar 08 - 11:58 AM
Jim McLean 21 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM
Bearheart 22 Mar 08 - 02:11 AM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Mar 08 - 03:48 AM
Jim McLean 22 Mar 08 - 06:19 AM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Mar 08 - 08:49 AM
Jim McLean 22 Mar 08 - 10:21 AM
Bearheart 23 Mar 08 - 12:11 AM
Jim McLean 23 Mar 08 - 07:03 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 08 - 04:02 PM
Bearheart 23 Mar 08 - 10:30 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Mar 08 - 11:00 PM
Bearheart 24 Mar 08 - 12:11 AM
Bearheart 21 Apr 08 - 04:27 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 09:33 PM

I have been writing some songs about the seal-folk based on some shamanic work I am doing and need some advice on the spelling of this word. I would like to be consistent. Some of the versions of the old ballads use one spelling, some another-- are they both pronounced the same way? I believe (but don't know for sure) that most of these originated in Scotland and this could perhaps affect the spelling and pronunciation of the word-- depending on where they migrated to that could change?

Grateful for all help...

Also anyone know anything about MANX stories of the seal-folk? I am familiar with some from Ireland (and love The Secret of Roan Innish)and a little from Scotland and northward.

I am curious also about Danish tales of seal-folk(my Dad's grandparents were all from Denmark)...

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Joe_F
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 09:48 PM

The OED lists sealchie and sealkie, with corresponding pronunciations
(ch pronounced the Scottish way). It also lists silkie as a variant.
Older spellings are selchie (1600s), selkie (1800s), and selkie, selchie, saelkie, & silkey (1900s).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 12:27 AM

I only ever heard it pronounced and spelled "silkie," but I don't know how close the folks who performed it were to the original tradition--i.e., don't know if they had done much serious study.

CC


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Megan L
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 04:15 AM

here in Orkney where Sule Skerry is it is usually spelt Selkie with the k being pronounced as in the word sulk.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 06:02 AM

You'll have read David Thomson's The People of the Sea of course?

Bekki Bearheart - do I detect a Boyds connection in there somewhere?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 10 Mar 08 - 11:32 PM

Thanks all. Megan, I am particularly interested in the Shetland material for that reason (the old ballad reference).

I have to some extent stayed away from doing too much research, at this point in the process. I am more interested in ballads, songs and stories that carry references to folk healing or folk magic, or lore about the seals.

I do shamanic journeywork (trancework)and it is much more validating to be given information that way first and to have it later validated by research. A Selkie shows up regularly to guide me in the Other World in connection with specific kinds of healing, I am usually directed by him to make a healing song which tells the story of the journey. Initially he was not helping with the healing, other beings were, but he is becoming much more active. Since this has led to some rather powerful healing for some of the people I have worked with, I am eager to know more. The seal first showed up in shamanic ancestor work with my father's line.

Do not know the The People of the Sea reference. Would be interested to know more about this.

Do not know the Boyd's reference either.

I know there are folks on Mudcat interested in all of this stuff-- thought someone might have come across something pertinent and taken notice of it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 06:02 AM

The People of the Sea is David Thomson's 'journey in search of the Celtic seal legend'; a standard work on the subject (however so personal) & an essential insight into the traditional cultures in which we find such folklore.

Do a Google search, but meanwhile, here's a link to Amazon.com : The People of the Sea


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 07:38 AM

According to the Concise Scots Dictionary, the word is a variant of "selch" or "selk" meaning "seal" - its primary meaning has nothing supernatural about it. The Orkney pronunciation is different from everywhere else.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 12:55 AM

Thanks Sedayne for the reference and link I will check it out.

Also thanks to you Jack-- What is the Orkney pronunciation?
Wondering if in those days "supernatural" didn't mean the same thing to people-- that is, things we would consider so, they didn't back then...or at least it was all taken for granted, a part of life. Like precognitive dreams. My Hungarian granny had them all the time and didn't think them anything but a nuisance.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 12:19 PM

"silkie" in Orkney, "selkie" elsewhere.

In traditional Northern Isles culture, a seal is a large blob of potential leather and lamp oil. Any supernatural connotations have be a long way secondary to the economic ones.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Mar 08 - 11:21 PM

Bekki, so good to see you on Mudcat, again. Welcome back!

Regardless of the more mundane meanings, watery things and creatures have always held some mystery etc., though women may have related more to that and believed more than the men. As you say, even if things about them are not mysterious now, they certainly could have been, i.e. not understood, in olden days.

As to shamanic totems and spirit helpers, you will get a lot of naysayers on here. No one seems to have a live and let live attitude any more.

I hope you get more responses as to songs and ballads, etc. Have you heard Art Thieme's version of the The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry...beautiful.

BB,

kat


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 05:52 AM

Here's a link well worth having a look at:

http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/sulesk.htm

He we learn that The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry was first collected by Dr Otto Andersson in 1938; Otto being one of early authorities on Northern European Bowed Lyres (crwth, jouhikko etc.). Interestingly, when I ordered an English edition of Dr Andersson's The Bowed-harp back in 1982, the copy that arrived was a first edition from 1930 - some eight years before he collected The Great Selkie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 06:25 AM

The original poster was asking about the origin of the WORD. Whatever beliefs may have becomne attached to seals, there is no reason at all to think that the WORD "selk" or its variants originally meant anything other than "furry food animal with fishy breath".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jim McLean
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 07:26 AM

Bearheart, checkout the Danish Ballad Rosmer Hafmand.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Nerd
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 10:32 AM

I hate to point it out, but that site Sedayne linked to above ("orkneyjar") is completely wrong. It claims of "The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry" that "it was first written down in 1938 by one Dr Otto Andersson, who had heard the song sung on the island of Flotta."

In fact, it was written down long before that, by F.W.L. Thomas, a Captain in the Royal Navy, from the dictation of a "venerable lady of Snarra Voe, Shetland." He published it in 1852, and Child included it in The English and Scottish Popular Ballads as number 113.

Interestingly, Child says he would have put it directly after Tam Lin, as #41, if he had known of it when Volume I was published. Makes one wonder what his criteria for ordering would have been if he had had all the ballads in advance of publishing the books...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 10:39 AM

Andersson was the first to write down a tune for it.

Which just about nobody uses any more.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 11:39 AM

It appears that Andersson only noted one verse from John Sinclair of Flotta. He did, however, get Mr Sinclair's tune along with it; the earliest example (as Jack points out) that we have. The texts published with that tune have been taken from other, earlier sources. F W L Thomas didn't note any melody, but remarked that it was 'sung to a tune sufficiently melancholy to express the surprise and sorrow of the deluded mother of the Phocine babe'.

The website Sedayne indicates also has two further texts, given without any attribution.

The first is a slightly anglicized form of a text from North Ronaldsay, noted in 1860 by Charles R Thomson of Howar on behalf of John Keillor, the minister of the island. It has been quoted here recently, I think, in another thread. I imagine that the Orkney website compiler copied a transcription from the revival performer who recorded it, unaware that it contains modern alterations.

The second is taken from a text printed in The Orcadian for 11 January 1934, and that is the version given in Bronson II 564-5. It seems originally to derive from the text in R Menzies Fergusson's Rambling Sketches in the Far North and Orcadian Musings (London, 1883).

For a detailed study of extant versions of the song (from which most of the above information is taken), and a convincing dismissal of 'The Play o' de Lathie Odivere' as a late Victorian fabrication, see Alan Bruford, 'The Grey Selkie', in E B Lyle (ed), Ballad Studies (Folklore Society, 1976, 41-65 and 177-185). Bruford, incidentally, remarks 'A selkie is simply a seal, though readers of the ballad have tended to assume that in itself it means a seal which can take human form.'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Fortunato
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 12:01 PM

Bearheart,
    Thanks for an interesting thread.
"I do shamanic journeywork (trancework)and it is much more validating to be given information that way first and to have it later validated by research. A Selkie shows up regularly to guide me in the Other World in connection with specific kinds of healing, I am usually directed by him to make a healing song which tells the story of the journey. Initially he was not helping with the healing, other beings were, but he is becoming much more active. Since this has led to some rather powerful healing for some of the people I have worked with, I am eager to know more. The seal first showed up in shamanic ancestor work with my father's line."

I'd like to learn more about your journeywork.
chance


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 08:56 PM

Thanks to everyone for additional posts.

Jack, just want to say in response to yours:"In traditional Northern Isles culture, a seal is a large blob of potential leather and lamp oil. Any supernatural connotations have be a long way secondary to the economic ones." For Europeans that might be true-- for non European people with shamanic practices (who also have many stories of seals becoming human and mating with humans)the two-- hunting and spiritual practices- often go together, and hunting without honoring the spirit of the creature hunted was and often still is believed to bring bad luck, illness etc. I think perhaps not all Europeans have left those early practices behind-- witness the widespead folk customs regarding the Little People. On another note, I would be very interested in the tune Andersson recorded-- where would I find it?

Hey Kat, great to hear from you! You got my PM? Thanks for checking it out and commenting. Have not heard Art's version of the Great Silkie.

Nerd-- all very interesting-- Child was one of my first intros to balladry-- I can see why he made that comment re: Tam Lin.

Malcolm Thanks so much for your input-- as always you bring so much useful information to the table in discussions like this.

Fortunato: I'm happy to discuss the work I've been doing with the Selkie and the other Fey. I have been cautioned by them "not to throw pearls before swine" their words not mine! so please PM me. I am actually eager to share some of the music they have given me with people of like mind...it has been very special for me, transformative and deeply nurturing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 09:34 PM

Jim-

Where will I find that Danish ballad, hopefully with translation? I don't speak Danish (grew up in the eastern US and Mom's folks were Hungarian-- not very compatible with Danish! so we only ever spoke american).

Interestingly Dad is going to Denmark this summer for the first time, to visit relatives and the places his grandparents came from. I can get his help with Danish pronunciation, but he isn't good enough with it to translate. Would love to learn this ballad and record it for the folks over there.

and how did you come across it?

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 09:48 PM

Jim-- found a reference on line to this ballad which was translated by Jamison-- but it doesn't give a Danish version. Where did he find this?
Is there an original source?

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 03:32 AM

I will return to Jamieson and his Danish source later, though that song isn't particularly relevant here. Meanwhile, a little more on an earlier question.

The tune noted by Andersson is in Bronson and (slightly differently) in Thomson. Bronson describes it as 'an authentic Mixolydian variant of the air particularly associated with "Hind Horn" (No. 17), but met as well in a good many other British and American connections.'

The DT file The Grey Silkie of Sule Skerry includes a midi (SILKIE2.2.MID) of a mutant form of it, presumably made by ear from Jean Redpath's recording of the song. Here is an abc of the tune based upon the form printed by Bronson:

X:1
T:The Grey Selchie of Sule Skerry
B:Bronson II, 564-5
S:John Sinclair, Flotta, Orkney, 1938
N:reproduced from Otto Andersson, Budklaven, XXVI (1947), 115
N:time signatures of individual bars not specified in Bronson
N:words fitted notionally, following Bruford
N:tempo approximate
N:authentic mixolydian
L:1/8
Q:1/4=120
M:4/4
K:G
A2| [M:3/4] G3/2E/ D7/ B,/ | [M:4/4] B,3/2D/ E4 A2 | [M:2/4] G3/2E/ DE/F/ | [M:4/4] G3/2A/ B4 d2 |
w:I am a man up-on the land, I am a sel-chie_ in the sea And
[M:3/4] dc B3 A | [M:4/4] GD E4 EA | [M:3/4] AA B3 A | [M:4/4] GE D4 |]
w:when I'm far from eve-ry strand, My_ dwell-ing is in Sol-sker-rie.

Whether the John Sinclair of Flotta from whom Andersson got it is the same John Sinclair of Flotta from whom Sean Davies (not Peter Kennedy, as stated in another thread; though Kennedy may perhaps have recorded him later on, in 1964; as usual, the information he provided was ambiguous) recorded a version in 1955 isn't clear, but it seems likely enough. Alan Bruford may not have been aware of the recording: at all events, he didn't mention it in the article cited above.

A brief sound sample can be heard at http://preview.mp3fiesta.com/disk11/a/alan_lomax/sailor_men_and_serving_maids/12_the_grey_silkie_john_sinclair.mp3

For further comments on the North Ronaldsay text, see thread Silkie (as sung by Anne Lister) (links above). At some point I will have to post the genuine text there, to replace the mediated one given (the second text there is apparently taken from a revival arrangement, so tells us nothing useful about the song).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 04:12 AM

Another take on the legend from Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy.
Jim Carroll
Mermaid of Filemore   (tape one)
Well, back in Kerry, even to this present day, the Murphys, anybody by the name of Murphy, they're supposed to be very unlucky fishermen, d'ye know.    They never go out of a Friday and they never go out of' a Saturday at four o'clock. The reason why is that there was a Dan Murphy one time he lived in a place called Filemore. 'Tis back where I came from actually, a town called Caherciveen.   
So their time for fishing back in this town was five-o'clock in the evening.    So Dan was a bit anxious for the money and he hits away about four o'clock.    So he was fishing away near a rock that's out there, the name of the rock now, we used call Over The Water. He was fishing away and he had his nets out and bejay, he found his nets getting very heavy anyway, and he was hauling and hauling and he couldn't lift it in.
So he said, "I've the biggest fish of all times".   
So bejay, what did he do but he tied it on to the stern of the boat and he oared it away into the shore.    And when he opened the nets, what was inside only a mermaid.   He didn't know what to make of it at first.   
"Oh", she said, she spoke to him, she said, "let me go back to the sea", she said, "or I'll curse you for the rest of my life".   
He said, "I won't leave you go back to sea, you'll never go back to sea", he said.
Those mermaids, had a tail, he got the tail off like and he hid the tail inside in the house where he was for years. The shride was the name of the tail.    He'd the shride hid away.    There's a kind of loft back in the old houses long ago, they'd be made out of coarse bags and they'd be whitewashed, and that's where he hid it.   
So she was the best housekeeper in the parish.   For years he was married and all, to her, for seven or eight years.
So bejay, she was quite happy for years and years anyway, but one day, wasn't he out fishing again and bejakers, wasn't she poking around, she was whitewashing the ceiling, and what happens but she comes across the shride.    And the very minute she found it, away back to sea with her.    She met Dan out in the boat anyway.   
She said, "Dan, I'm going to save your life, she said, because", she said, "you're the one to' look after the four children", she'd four children, "but anybody by the name of Murphy", she said, "that ever go out to sea again", says she, "I'll drown them", she said.    "Moreover, a Friday, that's the day you caught me and the day is Saturday you hid the shride, from four o-clock".
Any a man by the name of Murphy could never go out fishing of a Friday or at four o-clock of a Saturday, he would always have to wait to five o'clock.
But bejay, there was 'Murphys went out after that, there was two Murphy chaps, cousins of his own, and they went out fishing.    And bejay, whether it was her that did it or not, they found the boat and it turned upside down.   
That's a hundred years ago now, and to this present day a Murphy will never go out fishing of a Friday until after five o-clock.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 06:13 AM

Jim, I've heard that story (names and places changed) from a Scottish storyteller. Would they have got it from Mikeen McCarthy, or are there other versions known?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 10:50 AM

Great stuff!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 11:58 AM

Jack,
It's a traditonal story with a motif index number (don't know how to read my index - one day maybe).
Would be interested to see yours if you have it transcribed, or at least get its location.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jim McLean
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM

Bearheart asked 'I am curious also about Danish tales of seal-folk(my Dad's grandparents were all from Denmark' so why isn't the Rossmer ballad relevant here?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 02:11 AM

Malcolm --thank you! I will follow up on the tune information. I really appreciate it.

Jim M-- from what I could tell of that ballad, when I found it online, it seemed to be supernatural but I couldn't find anything directly referring to seal folk-- but it was hard to read and I skimmed it pretty fast. Would like to see a better reproduction, easier to read... Malcolm maybe you could elaborate on the Danish reference?

Jim C-- great story!

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 03:48 AM

In order best to help the original questioner we ought to make a clear distinction between traditions relating to sea-dwelling skin-changers in general and those who are able to move between human and seal form in particular.

That is why I described 'Rosmer Hafmand' as not particularly relevant. Rosmer is an undersea king of considerable power and monstrous form, but he is not a seal; and the ballad tells a very different story from that of 'The Grey Selkie'. It has a lot more in common with the 'Child Rowland' fragment as explicated by apparently related folktale and cante-fable examples ('The Golden Ball' and so on), and it was in that context that Child quoted from Jamieson's (very free) translation in his English and Scottish Ballads. In the later English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 'Rosmer' is mentioned only in passing, in a footnote to 'Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight'.

Child Rowland: including 'Rosmer Hafmand': Google Books. Other facsimiles seem also to be available.

Jamieson's 'translation' appeared in his Popular Ballads and Songs, from Tradition, Manuscripts, and Scarce Editions; with Translations of Similar Pieces from the Ancient Danish Language, and a Few Originals by the Editor. (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1806), II: 202-209. :

Rosmer Hafmand, Or, The Mer-Man Rosmer (Google Books again).

Jamieson got his original (he also translated two other ballads on the same theme), it seems, from the Kæmpe Viser, a collection of 100 heroic ballads originally published in 1591 by Andrew Vedel, a friend of the astronomer Tycho Brahe. It was re-issued in 1695 by the Rev Andrew Syv (or Say) with a further 100 song texts added 'from oral tradition and MSS'. It was probably from the second edition that 'Rosmer Hafmand' was taken. I have no idea where you might find the Danish text, though it probably appears in one of Svend Grundtvig's 19th century collections.

For more on 'Rosmer' (including the details I have just quoted) and 'Child Rowland', see Margaret Dean-Smith, 'The Ominous Wood: An investigation into some traditionary sources of Milton's Comus' in Venetia Newall (ed), The Witch Figure: Folklore essays by a group of scholars in England honouring the 75th birthday of Katharine M Briggs (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973, 42-71. To my surprise, most of the article can be seen at Google Books:

The Ominous Wood

Pages 68-71 are witheld, but I can copy them for you if you like. None of it has anything to do with seals, though.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jim McLean
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 06:19 AM

Bearheart, have a look here, there are lots of interesting comments regarding sea-folk. http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/origins/origin2.htm

My own translation of rosmer is water horse. Ross is still used in German for horse and is an old scandinavian word for the same. I was in the Swedish mercahnt navy at one time and also lived in Denmark. Jamieson's translation if Rosmer Hafman is indeed loose and in one particular case he mis-translates the word for anger (ved) as wood. In old Scandinavian and modern Swedish 'ved' can mean both 'wood' and 'anger'. Jamieson may have been thinking of 'wud', the old Scottish word for anger and took the wrong turn.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 08:49 AM

How do you know it's a mis-translation without having seen the Danish text? Surely, by 'like wood', Jamieson means 'as if he were mad'. 'wood' is a perfectly good Scots spelling of the old English word, possibly more common than 'wud'.

'Hafmand' can certainly be translated as 'mer-man' (literally, 'sea-man') but I'm dubious of 'water-horse' for 'Rosmer'. Wouldn't the Danish be something more like 'vandhest'? Could you be more specific on how you derive it? C17 Danish obviously differed to an extent from the modern language, but surely, even if 'ros' is taken as a form of (for example) ON 'hross', it would be the second element in the word?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jim McLean
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 10:21 AM

Each-uisque 'horse-water' 0r water horse (kelpie); hippo-potamus 'horse-river'; ros-mer 'horse-sea(water)'or water horse. In those three examples the word for horse comes first and is translated into English as 'water horse' or, if you like, horse of the water (sea) using the genitive. I have discussed this with Scandinavian scholars at the School of Celtic and Scottish Studies and they are in agreement with me. We mustn't forget that we are not dealing with modern Danish. I don't understand -- 'wood' is a perfectly good Scots spelling of the old English word, possibly more common than 'wud'---. I have never read the word 'wood' meaning angry in Scots although 'wud' is common and I don't know why Jamieson would write 'like wood he sprang the castill about' when he knew the word 'wud'. 'Wood' could mean 'angry' in middle English but Jamieson uses it as a noun which doesn't make sense, 'wood-like' or 'wud-like' would seem to be more fitting.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 23 Mar 08 - 12:11 AM

Thanks to Jim M and Malcolm for keeping the dialog going on this. I am more intrigued than ever with this ballad and with the possible explanations given.

I did look at the links, Malcolm, but found it rough to read online, and prefer when I can to copy the material to a document and study the printed material. I am copying your notes on the Bronson tune and plan to work on it in the next few days when I have a bit of free time.

Jim, your reasoning on ros-mer makes sense to me; I did look at the site-- very interesting, yet brings up lots more questions in my mind about the seal lore and potential connections with Scandinavia and the Saami. (I studied for a while with a Norwegian Sami man who teaches shamanism and while he had lots to say about other animal spirits he never said anything about seals really.) I am wondering if there are variants of the ballad still known in Denmark? Would any of the scholars you mentioned be likely to know?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jim McLean
Date: 23 Mar 08 - 07:03 AM

Bearheart, I'll ask around. I won't be going back to Edinburgh for about a month or so but will keep it in mind. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 08 - 04:02 PM

Off topic somewhat - There is a very strong tradition of sea-lore in this part of the world (West coast of Ireland) with a rich repertoire of tales and beliefs and some songs.
Anybody interested in Irish sea lore should look up folklorist Bairbre Ní Flionn's article 'The Lore of the Sea in County Clare' in the 1986 edition of the Clare magazine Dal gCaís, which can be found on the Oidreacht an Chláir (OAC) website.
There are numerous other articles on music, song, dancing and folklore in these magazines.
One of the strongest traditions on this coast is that of the mermaid.
Bairbre says in her article that the last reported sighting of this creature here, was in a fishing village a couple of miles south of here, Quilty. Apparently, the local hooligans stood on the shore and pelted her with stones; she wisely disappeared and was never seen in Ireland again.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 23 Mar 08 - 10:30 PM

Hi Jim C, I found the Oidreacht an Chláir (OAC) website, but could not find the magazine or the article you mention.

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Mar 08 - 11:00 PM

Simply look at the 'archive' link in the main menu: a full list of contents is available. The articles themselves are only available to members, however; you will have to pay if you want to read them.

I'm not sure why you're having difficulty reading online texts at Google; they can be enlarged via the usual magnifying-glass icon at the top of each page. If you have sight problems that make this difficult, you can download the documents in pdf format and print out the bits you want; the files are quite large, though. Don't bother with the plain text files, which are uncorrected OCR output and shouldn't have been put online as they stand.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 24 Mar 08 - 12:11 AM

Thanks Malcolm I will try again.

I finally had a chance to listen to the John Sinclair mp3. Thanks for linking that. I'd be interested in knowing more about the source of it.

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Selkie/Selchie? & pronunciation
From: Bearheart
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:27 PM

Sedayne, I was finally able to get a copy of the first printing of "People of the Sea" by Thomson. I hope to pick up a used or new copy of the 2002 edition soon.

I was fascinated with his journeys. He does address the difference between those people who saw/see the seal as just another product of the sea to be used, and those who take seriously the fey or otherworldly aspect. Many people in the book, even some who had at one time been seal-hunters, were concerned about the dangerousness of doing harm to seals. In fact at least one person he quotes refers to the seal-folk as fairies. A tremendous amount of lore here. Thank you so much for suggesting this book! While my original question had to do with naming etc I am also searching for folk lore that validates my inner experiences, and I found lots of that in this book. I remember when first encountering the selchie in my shamanic journeys I questioned whether he could be considered "fey", and was concerned that my conscious mind was "making things up". I really went on about whether he should be there in my journey at all!!! But apparently in some parts of the Isles at least, selchies are considered by the old-timers to be fey.

And there seem to be families in many locations who consider themselves descended from seal-human alliances. It is a bit more common than I had thought. One of the reasons why some folks are reluctant to harm them-- and some have a reputation of protecting them.


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