Sedna – the Goddess of the Sea

Senda, Goddess of the Sea

In the Inuit mythology, Sedna is the goddess of the sea and the sea animals. She is considered a vengeful goddess and hunters must pray for her to release the sea animals from the depth of the ocean for them to hunt. When she is angered, the shaman travels to wash and comb her hair for her (since she cannot do it herself), after which she is pleased and releases the animals for the hunters.

There are many different versions of the legend giving different stories of how she died and became the goddess of the sea. Common to all of them is that three of her fingers were chopped/fell off while she was trying to cling to her father’s kayak and that eventually she drowned. The chopped fingers became three different species of the marine animals – walruses, whales and seals and she became the ruler of the sea.

The version of the legend that I like (found in the book by Germaine Arnaktauyok
and mixed with one of the versions on Wikipedia) depicts Sedna as a beautiful maiden who rejects marriage proposals from the hunters of her village. When an unknown hunter appears, Sedna’s father agrees to give her to him as wife in return for fish. Sedna’s father gives Sedna a sleeping potion and gives her to the hunter who takes her to a large nest on a cliff, revealing his true form: a great bird-spirit. She wakes surrounded by birds. Her father attempts to rescue her, but the bird-spirit becomes angry, causing a great storm. In desperation, Sedna’s father throws her into the raging sea. Attempting to cling to the kayak, her hands freeze and her fingers fall off becoming the creatures of the sea. She falls to the bottom of the sea and becomes the sea goddess.

Categories: Decorative ArtTags: , , , , , , ,

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