“Journals 002” by Shimi; April 2021
Selkies are a type of fae that I feel that many therians can relate to, as they become seals when they put on their pelts and enter the water and can become human on land at the simple removal of their coat. Many stories show the selkie as a woman who, upon coming onto land, will place her pelt on a rock which will get stolen by a man who insists that she must stay with him for a chance to ever get her pelt back. She’ll often marry him and bare his children, but should she ever find her pelt again, the call to the water becomes far too great to justify staying with her human family. Some stories show her as a happy person who truly loves her husband and kids, but I feel that this is merely the romanticization that mankind has towards animals and the environment as the natural world becomes industrialized more each day. What once was feared and untamable has become “correctable”, so what does the therian experience become when we are much like a modern and very real form of the selkie’s lore?
When I think of the selkie, I often look at myself as someone who is both a saltwater crocodile and a human, two very different types of animals merged into one form. One might think that as we age, our animality disappears due to simple child-like imagination fading away, but I argue that it is really just transformed. We are told as young kids to act normal and how we will never have a place in society if we don’t talk like humans, walk like humans, perform as humans, die as humans. Some people are forced into traditional paths to survive and forget that they ever acted nonhuman at all in favor of a comfortable life working nine to five for a set salary until retirement. To some, this is a fair life and it can even be enjoyable since it is secure and normalized, much like how an animal at the zoo will do tricks for food since it is cozy and easy. In my case, the opposite has been true as my heart aches more for an animalistic experience in a human form, even if it proves to be a harder way of life than pure conformity since I am sacrificing some easiness salary wise. The crocodile, even when in captivity and given upmost comfort, will still bite the hand that feeds it since it has millions of years of evolution instructing it to be wild.
Many people fear the crocodile, calling it a cold beast or a ruthless killer. The essence of a crocodile isn’t really like this, and in truth, crocodiles have some sense of elegance to them. Crocodiles are intelligent and opportunistic animals who embody the virtue of patience. When they need to eat, they often wait for their food to come to them and they waste nothing. They then usually rest or travel until the next opportunity arises on its own, not needing to eat very much in any given year. They may bite when they feel that they are in danger, but they are just like any other animal that wants to protect itself from any potential threat to its life. I feel that as a crocodile therian, my place in society mimics this and like the animal, I am sometimes feared as well. I am highly independent and I will move to places where I know opportunities are to be had, which can make it hard for me to feel satisfied in one position for too long. This makes it often scary for a company to hire me as they become worried that they will put money into training me only for me to feel like I’m not getting enough room to grow. I think this can intimidate my romantic partner too as I will so readily take off and seek new opportunities as I always want to do more and learn more, until one day I will give up much of my humanity when I have enough money to afford to do so. I have stopped seeking power in the way that I have been told to and how I used to want it, and I instead desire my own ideas of comfort.
I appreciate some aspects of captivity such as the roof I have over my head, the clean water in the bath, and the food in my fridge. However, I don’t think that I can ever be domesticated into total servitude or be convinced to give up all of my freedom for a better paycheck outside of emergencies nor live to satisfy others. I often simply consider what I can do to survive and to contribute to society just enough such as opening a small business or working temporarily for a company and succeeding in university, but my life has become much like the selkie’s story over the years. I started as an animal, I became more human to earn my place in society, and one day I shall find my own skin and return back to the sea and answer the cries in my heart. I think that many therians of all kinds follow a similar cycle where they too start out as being more animalistic, become more human, and then their animality becomes channeled in new ways as adults like living in a place that feels more like their true home and working in careers that feel familiar enough while following lives similar to the animal that they identify as. Some of us settle down with lovers and have children, and some of us don’t. Some of us want corporate jobs and others follow the opportunities that their hearts tell them to follow. Some of us work very hard and try to make big impacts in some way and others prefer simplicity and calmness in whatever way that they can achieve it. Regardless of our walk of life, all of us have some degree of animal and wildness in us mixed into our inherent humanity, even the most domestic of us, just like modern selkies.