sábado, 16 de agosto de 2014

Concerning Some Animal Brides / Grooms

Having seen stories about the Selkies and the McCodrums, I thought I could make an entry about this kind of folk tales where Animals become brides or grooms.
There are many tales of marriages between humans and Seals in Scottish and Irish tradition. Some families are supposed to be descended from the Seal People, and their children were born with webs of skin between their fingers and toes.
Members of the Clan MacCodrum of South Uils have been known as the Children of the Seals.

Selkies, sometimes called Silkies, are Seals with the magic ability to turn into men or women when they leave their skin on the coast after getting out of the water. If at that time a fisherman finds one of the skins belonging to a Seal turned into a woman, he takes it forcing her to follow him to his house and live out of the water until she recovers the stolen skin. But not without having lived far from her underwater home for years and even giving children to her kidnapper. However, eventually one of her children helps unknowingly his mother to recover her precious object, and she returns at last with her real family turned again into a Seal.
This kind of legends generally includes Skin-Changers, and even in Africa we can find them:
"A hunter in Chad found an Elephant skin and hid it. Soon he saw a lovely big girl crying, because she had lost her good clothes. The hunter promised her new clothes and married her. They had many big children, for the son of an Elephant can't be a dwarf. One day when the grainstore was empty, his wife found the Elephant skin where the hunter had hidden it, so she put it on and returned to her old life as an Elephant. Her sons became the ancestors of the clan whose totem was the Elephant, and they don't have fear of them".

Others instead have very tragic ends, like the following story.
There was once a young girl called Yaiwa who went far from her home in Wujyashima and walked alone to the mesa where she played, running behind the low tide waves and going backwards before the breaking waves.
A Sea Wolf in love was watching her without being noticed, and when a big wave made her fall, she found with the animal beside her.
Like all the Yagan women, the girl was an excellent swimmer, and thus tried to escape. But keeping between her and the beach and forcing her to go even more far from the coast, the Sea Wolf finally managed to extenuate her and then she found herself forced to hold to his neck.
Now that her life depended of him, a little later the girl also fell in love with the Sea Wolf. They swam together for many miles until they reached a big rock where there was a cave. The woman knew that she couldn't return home by her own, so she decided to stay with the Sea Wolf in the cave. He would bring abundant fish for her and, having no fire, she would eat them raw.
After some time they had a child. He looked like a human, but covered with hair like a Seal. Their son grew up quickly and was a good companion for his mother specially since he learned to talk, something that the old Sea Wolf would never do. Nevertheless, her husband was so kind and 
sweet-hearted that she had got to love him greatly.
But in spite of all, the woman wanted with all her heart to see once again her homeland and her people. She made her husband understand her desire and one good day they went to Wujyashima. Some times mother and son swam side by side with their protector; ocassionally he would push them in the water at great speed and some times they went on his back. At last they arrived to the gravel mesa. The Sea Wolf crawled out of the water and started to rest under the warm rays of the Sun, as the mother -with her strange son by her hand- walked to Wujyashima.
In the village she found some relatives who thought her dead long time ago. Great was their surprise when the woman told them her story and were very interested in her strange son.
When the commotion had ended, the women of the village proposed to go to the west in search of Mussels and those Sea Urchins that have the size and form of flattened apples and whose hard shell is covered of rigid barbs resembling nails. The young mother joined them while children and men stayed there waiting for their return.
The other children began to play and the newcomer joined them. The village men, wanting meat instead of Mussels or Sea Urchins, and knowing that on the beach there was a Seal took their spears and found the old Sea Wolf and killed him. With all that meat, they returned to the village and grilled it. The children smelt the delicious smell of grilled meat went quick to gather around the fire. When the moment came to share the food, a piece was also given to the young visitor and he, after tasting it, said delighted "It's meat of Seal!"
Still eating, he started to run by the road to reunite with his mother who was returning that very moment. The boy ran to his mother and offered her the last piece of meat saying how delicious it was. She inmmediately discovered what had happened; took an Urchin from her basket and hit with it her son in his forehead. The boy fell into the deep water and turned instantly into Suyna, the Fish of the Rocks, went away swimming.
The other women went to the huts to enjoy the cooked meat of Seal but the mother refused to eat and mourned alone for her lost son and her beloved companion. She never married after this any of her own race, and still can be seen crying for having lost the two beings she loved so much.
If one examinates a Suyna will see that the head is flattened and marked with little holes left by the Sea Urchin barbs, which is enough to prove the veracity of this tale.

In this story, by the way, you can see easily two things: the Animal groom was always a Sea Wolf, and the magical transformation came only to their son, leaving to us the mystery about why he turned into a Fish just because of falling to the sea.
The second is, something so apparently trivial and brief has been enough to create a whole story, even if a woman indeed married a Sea Wolf but having nothing to do with the rest of this myth.