BOOKS ....... FREE STORIES ....... TALES OF TAM YS ....... ARCHIVE ....... EDITING ....... SARAH

the wild language of selkies and forest-boned women

There isn't a place along the west coast of New Zealand where a small house sits in a dark, damp valley. I have never visited there, spending hours soaking up the old mouldering dreams of the woods and waters and slow brown river; I have not seen its stars crawl out of hill-gold to hound the moon.

But when I described this place in a story which never got finished, I knew it needed its own full story, because it exists somewhere, somewhen, and I longed to really visit there. That to me is one of the best things about writing. You can explore all the dream worlds.

I believe in dream worlds. I believe they are places, and they are also languages - strange, feral languages we have never documented, of salted sea or forest shadow, or misty river valley. They can flow, hum, sing beneath the words of a story. They are visual languages, or languages of feeling, and they belong to the wild people, the selkies, the wind children, the riversouls. 

You may know some of those people, you may have met them at the edges of the world, or in strange lonely places where they have gone to hide from a civilisation which speaks and sees so differently from themselves. If you say hello to them, they will probably be silent beneath their careful response. Or else, if you are blessed, they will speak to you with the voice of the tide.

Then again, you may be such a person yourself, and understand about the secrets within stories, the language of metaphor and poetry and places that don't really exist but we can describe them as a way of expressing a state of being. You may have spent your life feeling muted or unheard. You may have wandered lost in a world of shopping malls, tv shows, fashion, rules, money, grammar, when all your instincts were singing wild and weird with water, stone, flashes of gold, rather than words. 

A language of body and soul as well as speaking.

And you may have spent years looking for others who hear your language, only to give up and escape to the sea, to the mountains, inside yourself, or sadly all the way out of life. But if you are lucky you have learned that going home will bring you to your people, because they have the same home. And they can't talk to you until you talk your own truth. 

This is the other best thing about writing. It allows a writer to shape human words into wild language. To make valleys or rainstorms into soul expressions. For the selkies and forest-boned women lost in the world. 


  1. i would love to think that there is, indeed, a tribe of forest-boned women out there...and yes, selkies, and wolf-spirited and other wild-eyed lost souls in this concrete world. i'd like to sit shoulder to shoulder with them, watching "the stars crawl out of hill gold to hound the moon"...(what a lovely phrase.)

  2. "It exists somewhere, somewhen...I believe in dream worlds."

    Me, too. ♥

  3. What a beautifully written piece Sarah. Sometimes I don't understand the meaning behind your words - but this one I understood perfectly - it speaks to me in a way I find hard to express myself. sometimes you just hit the spot.

  4. Forest-boned. Oh yes yes yes.

  5. So beautiful, and true. I don't know how I know it is true, but it doesn't matter, does it? Sometimes I wander to this place, traveling via dreams and quiet meditation, or sitting with the plants, in the woods or by the water.

  6. Happy sigh... Yet again....

    Thank you for sharing all you share. With those of us, who do not live in the lovely worlds, you have access to.


  7. I feel like you've described the landscape inside my head :) Just beautiful.

  8. You're weaving vibrant tapestries with your words - beautiful, magical, multi layered images softly touching the strings of my soul. Thank you!

  9. This post made me think, made me remember how I used to feel so sad because there was no magic in the world. I wasn't very old when I thought that, and I wonder if it was really a feeling of not belonging in the world, that the language I spoke had no place. I guess I understand things through feeling, intuition maybe, and there were no words for that at school, when I was growing up. I thought I was all wrong. I did not know I just spoke a different language.

    Thanks for your lovely words. I too believe in places that exist somewhere, in a different world perhaps, and that we can feel them, describe them, though we've never been there, at least not in body.

  10. The last post was me, just forgot to change my name :)

  11. I was never a writer, but reading this, makes me want to write!


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