Seal – a Soulful Clown by Judith Shaw

Seal – ever curious – stands up in the water gazing about with her dark, soulful eyes before diving again into the enigmatic, mysterious sea. Seal initiates us into wonder by her extraordinary presence filled with playfulness, adaptability and deep emotions. 

Dreams, Emotions 
Seals are marine mammals of the Carnivora order – members of one of three extant families of pinnipeds – walruses, eared seals, and true seals. With flippers angled backwards making land movement difficult, seals are best adapted for living in water. Their streamlined bodies help them to be powerful and graceful swimmers. Their nostrils close underwater and the pupils of their wide, dark eyes expand, allowing them to see well in the darkness of the deep sea.

Seal, a Soulful Clown by Judith Shaw

The most widely dispersed of the 18 species of true seals, the harbor seal, also called the common seal, is found along the coasts of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Baltic and North Seas

By David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada – Harbor Seals on Snake Island

Water, where Seal spends so much time, symbolizes emotions and the world of dreams.

Faroese Stamp – Seal Woman

Seal is a shapeshifter in the folklore of the seafaring folks of Scotland, Ireland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Called Selkies or Selchies – dervied from the early Scottish word for seals, selich – they are seals in the water, who on land shed their sealskins and become human. Selkies stay on land only briefly before returning to the sea and cannot return to human form again for seven years.

But their gentle beauty as women proved alluring to these seafaring folks. Many tales have been told of men who, after witnessing female selkies sunning on the beach, would steal a sealskin. That selkie, still in human form, was then forced by circumstances to become his wife. In most tales he hid her sealskin, thus marooning her on land. Generally the female selkie came to care for her husband and they had children together. But she always longed for the sea. Sometimes she found her sealskin herself, sometimes her child revealed it to her, but ultimately once donning her true skin, she returned to the sea. In some stories she took her half-selkie children with her. In others the children were left behind. Some report that the selkie, now a seal, came to play in the waves near her previous human home,

One story from the Faroe Islands recounts how a man, caught in a terrible storm at sea, was saved by his Selkie wife who donned her seal skin and saved his life, giving up her human life to save her love.

By Siegfried Rabanser -Selkie in Mikladalur, CC BY 2.0,

Occasionally the stories involve male selkies. They are very handsome and seduce dissatisfied wives into love affairs. But they are only visiting lovers, maintaining their home underwater. It is believed the woman can call her selkie lover by shedding seven tears into the sea.

Emotions of love and loss permeate these stories. Seal reminds you of the importance of emotional awareness and how they affect your perceptions of reality for good or for bad.

Believing that seals were created from the body of their Sea Goddess, Sedna, as an innocent young woman – they became symbols of innocence to the Inuit. 

Playfulness, Curiosity, Imagination, Creativity, Awareness
Everyone loves seals. Adorable and playful, with their big, puppy dog eyes and clown-like antics, Seal reminds you that laughter feeds the soul. 

Curious seal – By Dankarl – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Seals’ insatiable curiosity most likely leads to its antics as it jumps up to discover who or what is nearby – kayakers, swimmers, divers. Seal has even been spotted hitching a ride on the back of a whale.

These charismatic beings bring a light-hearted energy to us all which inspires our imagination to greater creativity. 

A seal’s whiskers, which remain unresponsive to its own movement, are powerful tools of awareness allowing a quick response to disturbances caused by other swimmers. Equipped with up to 1,500 nerve endings, they can detect the size, speed and direction of potential prey and then follow their trail. 

Seals have distinctive ears which are not external like other mammals. Their internally located ears give a superior ability to hear the direction of sounds when underwater.

Seal wisdom brings an awareness of the vibrations swirling around you and the ability to interpret them, increasing your understanding of the true meaning found in the words and actions of others.

Abundance, Strength, Protection
Seals were a main food source for indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Hunted on land and in the open sea, Seal came to represent abundance and safety on the sea to these tribes. Images of seals are found on both tools and ritual objects such as amulets, clubs, and masks.

Seals might be adorably cute but they are also very strong and can be fierce when threatened. Seals have been known to successfully ward off attacks by polar bears, one of their most ferocious predators. Or they take the path of least resistance and simply swim away. 

Seal has natural built-in protection against the frigid cold waters of her habitat – thick skin, dense fur and a very thick layer of fat called blubber.

Seal wisdom offers the ability to remain tough in the face of aggressive or difficult situations – to stay emotionally centered and non-reactive.  

Adaptability, Change
Seal navigates deep waters with ease and an inherent sense of adaptability. The Harbor seal regularly dives 500 feet for its meal with some having been known to reach over 1400 feet. When diving the depths, seals are able to slow their heart rate and hold their breath for long periods of time – drawing on oxygen stored in blood and muscles and leaving normal blood flow to supply only their sense organs and nervous system.

Seals love to roam about. Harbor Seals move within their natal area and at times travel almost 500 miles in search of food. They have even been spotted over 100 miles upstream in a river they followed in search of food. Harp seals, who can dive up to 1,000 feet, travel even further – up to 3,000 miles round trip each year. 

Though seals spend most of their lives in the sea, they are mammals who give birth to their pups on land. Seal, accepting its clumsiness, also clambers on shore to relax, sunbathe, and socialize with other seals.

By Mike’s Birds from Riverside, CA, US – Harbor Seals, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Seal calls you to seek balance in the face of opposite needs or situations. Seal wisdom offers balance between the elusive Water element of emotions and dreams and the stable Earth element of strength and groundedness

When Seal appears remember the importance of incorporating play and laughter into your life, using this energy to access your own creativity and to express your true self. 

Give reign to your curiosity and allow it to increase your awareness of life’s complex situations. Seal’s gift of cleverness offers an awareness of new opportunities. Try on Seal’s thick skin and layer of fat as protection against the barbs and thorns of life.

Seal asks you to pay attention to your dreams and helps in your understanding of their meanings, while calling for an acknowledgement of your emotions as a pathway to your inner soul.

Seal reminds you of the importance of balance – between imagination and intellect, your inner world and the external world, the creative and the mundane.

Sources: A Natural History of Britain, Icy Sedgwick, Natural Resources Council of Maine, kidcyber, The Atlantic

Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now. You can order your deck from Judith’s website – click here. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Wisdom. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings,

Categories: animals, Earth-based spirituality, General, Myth, Nature

Tags: , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. I grew up around harbor seals, swam with them and loved them…I didn’t know that ” that seals were created from the body of their Sea Goddess, Sedna, as an innocent young woman – they became symbols of innocence to the Inuit” Sedna is a most powerful Sea Goddess who had an influence over me long before I ever heard of her! Dreams and the element of water call me home…. and you are right Judith, there must be a balance between this world and that belonging to land. I keep two plush seals in my bedroom that I have had for years…a kind of animal totem I made to sit upon a deer antler – the dolphin is below the mama seal followed by bear and then a baby seal! I love your paintings.


    • Sara,
      Sedna is actually credited with creating all of the warm-blooded animals of the sea. I probably should have stated it that way….

      Dreams call me home also. They had left many for many years and am so happy that they have returned. Your animal totem sounds wonderful – inspiration to create one of my own

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful post (as always). I love your artwork (as always). I was drawn to your description of the big eyes and their ability to see in the dark depths of the seas. There is so much under the sea and yet these mammals travel to land and sea, able to navigate and be aware of both. That is truly remarkable. And that’s a lot of nerve endings in the whiskers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating! You do wonderful research on every animal you tell us about. Beautiful images, too. I remember the first time I saw what looked like a whole pierful of seals in San Francisco. I was standing at the edge of the Bay, near a pier, and it looked like every seal in the world was there. And they all seemed to be playing with each other.

    You know what? I think we all need your seal card in a reading right now. As you wrote, “When Seal appears remember the importance of incorporating play and laughter into your life, using this energy to access your own creativity and to express your true self.” And we need balance, too. Everyone in the whole world needs play and laughter and creative energy and balance. Bring on the seals! Bright blessings to them and to you for your excellent work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barbara,
      I used to live in San Francisco and I have fond memories of bringing my son ( a boy at the time) to both Cliff House to watch the sea lions who gather noisily on the rocks just off the coast and the seals found around the Bay. I do miss all the marine life now that I live in the Southwest.

      Yes – Bring on the seals!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Janet,
    Isn’t is it strange how humans tend to think of ourselves as the pinnacle of creation – or at least humans in Western Civilization – far superior to the other animals and yet each animal possesses such amazing abilities which we lack – like seals ability with land and sea and yeah those whiskers! Thanks for reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this beautiful and soulful post and painting! I love the stories of the selkies. I wonder if we don’t all have something of the selkies in us, wishing we could be of both land and sea and feeling that the ocean is our true home.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Carolyn,
    OMG – you hit on it perfectly I think -the reason we resonate so strongly with the Selkie stories. After all don’t we all come from the sea originally?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh! Thank you. Enjoyed this post. Learned some new things, reminded of some things. All so lovely. Love the selkie lore. Many blessing to all.


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