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Selkie Sirens of Lake Saimaa
press play, headphones are best.
Vocalisations to Shatter IceAlysia Mentula, Marika Krook
00:00 / 02:29
About the Project. This is a research-based concept development project which focuses on realising through a fantasy lens the endangerment of the Norppa ringed seal of Lake Saimaa. Through rigorous folklore and mythic studies, this creature was carefully created from such figures as the Näkki (Finnish lake seaweed monster), Selkies (Ireland) and Sirens (various). Research spanned as far west as the UK and as far east as northwestern Russian lore, and of course includes creative license.
Awareness. with approx. 400 seals living in Saimaa to date, the importance of their conservation is something I would like to bring attention to. This is why through a fantasy lens, This creature (nuisance and dangerous) populates from the death of each individual endangered ringed seal. This monster concept is a metaphor for environmental and species decline. In the hope of making some impact, if this piece finds a new home, a one-time donation will be made to the Suomen
Luonnonsuojeluliito (Finnish Conservation Union). https://www.sll.fi/tule-mukaan/lahjoita/
Those that dwell near Lake Saimaa
of Finland whisper rumors of the Selkie Sirens, mysterious & beautiful creatures said to take the shape of young women with seal’s tails, stranded upon the ice that forms atop the lake’s surface. Their appearance is usually accompanied by a melancholic song that can sometimes be mistaken for the strange sounds of cracking ice echoing along the lake’s vast surface. Curious fishermen are drawn closer, entranced by the magical melody, until they find themselves suddenly stranded on the lake, then dragged down into an icy grave.
In truth, these fey spirits are adamant protectors of the lake’s endangered population of unique ringed seals, called the Norppa (phoca hispida saimensis). Sightings of Selkie Sirens are few and almost always lethal.
Spawned from death. Whenever a Norppa dies and
sinks to the lake’s algae-filled bottom, a fey spirit begins
to form around the eyes of the seal, preserving them
until it eventually becomes a fully-grown Selkie Siren.
These sirens exist only to protect the seals and avenge
their deaths by luring in and drowning their would-be
killers. Thus, the more Norppa that die, the more of
these dangerous Fey appear.
The eyes are not the only features of the Norppa that
remain with the Sirens: the pelt of the perished seal also
becomes part of their anatomy, attaching to their heads
like one would wear a hood. Hunters of these Selkie
Sirens might claim the pelt as a trophy, without which
the siren cannot live.
Lament of the Norppa. Like harpies, the song of the Selkie Siren acts as is laced with enchantments, but since they possess three sets of vocal chords, one siren alone can sound like a small chorus. While the melodies may seem sorrowful to humanoids, punctuated by dissonance and discordant notes, they also serve a practical purpose, creating cracks in the ice above the lake to allow the Norppa seals to surface and breathe. When a passerby or hunter comes too close to the seals, however, the siren can direct its voice to shatter ice directly beneath the intruder’s feet, plunging them into the icy water and then dragging them down into the entangling seaweed below until they drown. Natural weapons. The sirens grow long black claws that seem like frostbitten fingertips, which can rot the skin of their victims. Sometimes these unfortunate souls wash ashore with telltale black spots along the corpse, mimicking the rings of the Norppa. With unhinged jaws, the Sirens can split and open their mouths to wider than the size of a human head, exposing long, needle-like teeth reminiscent of an angler fish. They also have the unique ability to transform into a mass of algae while underwater, but only as a last resort when overwhelmed by foes and escape seems unlikely.
Made for use in games. with the help of my good friend and Professional Game Master (Dungeons and Dragons) John Charles Checcerelli, we developed a complete monster trope that can be inserted into a tabletop gaming session. The descriptive text and stat-blocks (below) indicate the difficulty level to beat this kind of creature, should you encounter it while adventuring with your party during a game.
Statblocks for Players
get the .pdf
Warm Thank You's to the collaborators
who made this possible :
Marika Krook - Opera Singer, Music Expert. Audio Contributor
JC Ceccherelli - Professional Game Master. Game Implementation
Mainoste Print OY Kerava - For their generous sponsorship of the prints.
Owning this Piece
If you are interested in purchasing this art piece, you may do so through Artmu's website:
Oddities of Lake Saimaa, Part 1: Selkie Sirens
Calling Out: An Ethereal Illustration
Creature Ethology: Selkie Sirens of Saimaa, 2023 (includes audio file)
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