Sedna: Inuit Sea Goddess!

Nov 03 2011

Sedna, an important figure in Inuit mythology, is the goddess of the sea and protector of all marine life. A number of versions of this Sea Goddess’s legend exist.

In one version Sedna, the daughter of the Creator Anguta, is a giant who is plagued with endless hunger. This causes her to attack her parents. Furious at the attempt, her father takes her out to sea and throws her overboard. She clings onto the side of the kayak for dear life but her father chops off her fingers. She sinks to the bottom of the ocean where she becomes ruler of the deep sea. Her severed fingers turn into the seals, walrus and whales actively hunted by the Inuit.

Another version of the legend claims that Sedna, dissatisfied with all her potential suitors suggested by her father, marries a dog. Upon learning about the marriage, her father becomes so enraged that he tosses his daughter into the sea. When she tries to get back into the kayak, her father severs her fingers. She becomes the Goddess of the sea and her fingers the first seals in the ocean. According to this version, when Sedna is angered someone is sent to wash her hair (she can’t do it herself because of her dismembered hands). She then believed to release animals for the inuit hunters.

In other versions Sedna is a beautiful maiden who rejects every marriage proposals from the hunters of her village. Her father, fed up with her attitude, commands that she marry the next eligible hunter that comes along. Shortly afterwards, a mysterious elegantly dressed hunter appears. Her father, determined to get her married, boards a fighting and screaming Sedna aboard the foriegner’s ship. Upon arriving to her new home, at the edge of a rocky cliff, her husband reveals his true form. He is not a man but a great raven. Sedna is miserable. She hates her new home and her new husband. She constantly cries and calls out to her father to come rescue her. Through the howling Arctic winds her father hears her cries and feels her sadness. After days of navigating the fridge Arctic sea he reaches his daughter. Sedna climbs into his kayak and they begin their journey back to their village. Upon learning of her departure, the great raven becomes enraged and causes a great storm. Amid the storm, her father attempts to appease the sea gods by throwing Sedna overboard. As she clings to the kayak her hands freeze and her fingers fall off. She sinks to the bottom of the sea and grows a fish tail while her frozen finger become a the creatures of the ocean.

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