A Seal Is Embracing Her.
While investigating Aries’ symbol, I came to the legend of the Seal-Woman, or the Selkies of Celtic folklore.
The Selkies live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land, usually as part of a ritual on a specific night of the year. The stories are generally romantic tragedies where a Selkie maiden only has temporary contact with humans before going back to her true home, the sea. Often this means leaving behind a husband or family on land. Sometimes the Selkie returns to the sea-family she was kidnapped from, because a man on land took her pelt and therefore made her his wife. Sometimes a Selkie woman changes back into a seal to save her fisherman husband from drowning but she cannot transform again so they are thereafter separated.
Is the ‘embracing’ seal the pelt taken off the underlying human form, or is it another member of her seal family? Either way, Aries’ woman has risen out of the ocean, and in emerging, steps forward as human, yet to cast off her seal nature.
There are many Selkie stories, and your story is another version again—you don't have to fit the myths that have already told—so what resonates in the symbol for you?
Analysing the symbols using Aries' context for the rest of the cross:
Libra’s butterfly has already transformed—from caterpillar to butterfly and now caught, pinned in death. It is perfectly still, preserved, ‘complete’ in terms of ‘finished’, once ‘pinned down’.
Cancer’s vessel with flags refers to a sea-going ship, where flags self-identify and signal to other boats. The furled and unfurled flags indicate an ambiguity resonant with Aries’ woman/seal identity. There is still more to unfurl, develop, bloom or grow, or perhaps hold back from others. The signals of the vessel could represent self-doubt or mixed messages.
Capricorn’s chief is a symbol of power, identity and ego. The proud chief demands recognition, imposing on others the same view he has of himself. That he is indeed the chief means his view aligns with reality—his challenge appears to be others’ disrespect or ignorance.
Overall the cross develops the theme of identity, varying from Aries’ emergence and Cancer’s transition—both at sea—to Libra’s pinned perfection and Capricorn’s assertiveness.
I'd long ago read a story about a gay man who had grown up completely repressed in America's deep south. His family were deeply religious and the community was homophobic. He decided he could not live this way anymore and left to live in California, pursuing the freedom to be himself (Aries). The transition from one tribe to another—for example, from one that conflates religion with homophobia to one that is LGBTIQ+ supportive—takes time and adjustment to fit in. It requires letting go of personality structures that helped him to survive in the previous tribe (Aries' seal pelt), signalling himself to the new tribe (Cancer's unfurled flags) carefully, unsure of the new tribe or location (Cancer's furled flags).
In the man's story, he knew his family would never accept him, so he moved on with forgetting about them. His family did the same, except his sister. After a few years, she turned up on his doorstep deeply upset that he had abandoned her. He wondered why she wanted to see him, considering the homophobic culture they grew up in. She demanded to have a relationship with him (Capricorn) because she loved him as her brother (Libra's pinned identity). His responded that she had to accept he was gay (Libra) to be part of his life (Capricorn's demand). Over time, with many tears, arguing and love, they both have a connection and it meant more growth, self-exploration (Aries) and communication (Cancer).
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