Monday, March 1, 2010

Sealskin, Soulskin

"There is human time, and there is wild time."
~Clarissa Pinkola Estés~

Picture by the wonderful artist Germano Ovani

If you haven't read 'Women Who Run With The Wolves' ('Die Wolfsfrau') by Clarissa Pinkola Estés yet, I think you should. It is a book mainly for and about girls, as the title says, but all the same it might be interesting to flick through for guys as well. Dr. Estés is a jungian psychologist and cantadora -storyteller-.
The following is my most favourite story of hers.

“During a Time that once was, is now gone forever, and will come back again soon, there is day after day of white sky, white snow...and all the tiny specks in the distance are people or dogs or bear.

“(There was a man who was so lonely he cried cracks into his face. One evening, hunting in his kayak, he came to a big rock in the sea.)

“...there atop the mighty rock danced a small group of women, naked as the first day they lay upon their mother's bellies. The women were like beings made of moon milk, and their skin shimmered with little silver dots like those on the salmon in springtime, and the women's feet and hands were long and graceful.

“(They were seal-women, who had taken off their pelts and were now dancing on the rock. The hunter leapt to the rock and stole one of the sealskins.)

“Soon, one of the women called in a voice that was the most beautiful ... [and the seal-women began] putting on their sealskins... Except for one. The tallest of them searched high and searched low for her sealskin.... The man felt emboldened...stepped to the rock, appealing to her, " ......wife. I am ....a lonely man."

“(The hunter said, “Be with me for seven years and then you can decide to stay or go.” The seal woman could not find her sealskin and reluctantly agreed. )

“So in time they had a child, whom they named Ooruk. And the child was lithe and fat....

“(But as time went on, the seal woman began to lose color and become weak. When the seven years was up, she wanted her sealskin back and he would not tell her where it was. Their child heard their argument, and that night an old silver seal appeared out in the sea, calling the child's name. As the child was climbing down to the sea, he stumbled across his mother's sealskin.)

“The boy scratched open the bundle and shook it out--it was his mother's sealskin. Oh, and he could smell her all through it... And as he hugged the sealskin to his face and inhaled her scent, her soul slammed through him like a sudden summer wind.

“(The child returned the sealskin to his mother, who put it on. The child feared his mother will leave him. But, she filled her child's lungs with her own breath, and took him beneath the sea with her...)

“And they swam deep and strong till they entered the underwater cove of seals where all manner of creatures were dining and singing, dancing and speaking, and the great silver seal that had called to Ooruk from the night sea embraced the child and called him grandson.

“(But the time came for the child to return to land... and so....)

“On that night, the old grandfather seal and the boy's beautiful mother swam with the child between them. Back they went, back up and up and up to the topside world. There they gently placed Ooruk on the stony shore in the moonlight.

“(His mother assured him she would always be near him and would send her spirit through him for him to learn the songs of life and of healing. The boy grew to be a great singer, drummer, maker of stories...)

“... it was said this all came to be because as a child he had survived being carried out to sea ... Now... sometimes he can still be seen, with his kayak tethered, kneeling upon a certain rock in the sea, seeming to speak to a certain female seal who often comes near the shore. Though many have tried to hunt her, time after time they have failed. She is known as Tanqigcaq, the bright one, the holy one, and it is said that though she be a seal, her eyes are capable of portraying those human looks... those wise and wild and loving looks.”

The End.


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