“Sedna” copyrighted image by Susan Seddon Boulet
The Legend of Sedna the Inuit (Alaska Native) Sea Goddess
Sedna is a daughter who was betrayed, physically assaulted, and left to die by her parents, but she survives. Indeed, through her crushing experiences, she overcomes her pain and, through spiritual awakening and healing, transforms the profound wounding into an exalted new life, surrounded by love and reverence.
This is the underlying spiritual journey of transformation taken by every shunned daughter that tells of our birthright to utterly transform family betrayal and claim our own lives.
Sue Kientz writes in “Sedna: Treasure from the Depths” published in The Mountain Astrologer that the story of Sedna “leads to a core predicament of deprivation, suffering, and extreme brutality, followed by a magically uplifting resolution. When Sedna takes direct action in trying to save herself after being thrown into the sea by her parents, something “magical” happens! Her dismembered parts become living things, and she becomes majestic, wonderful. As she descends into the ocean, she is uplifted to divine status.”
The traditional story of how Sedna became a sea goddess is told among Indigenous nations throughout the Arctic. However, in all versions, a young woman becomes the Sacred Mother of all sea creatures. As a Divine Creatrix of the oceans, Sedna has responsibility over the deep-sea creatures and controls the availability of seal, walrus, fish, whale, and other sea animals to Inuit hunters. Here is a paraphrased version of the story found at: http://www.polarlife.ca/traditional/myth/sedna.htm, but there are many versions of this story in Native American books and electronic sources:
“Once there was a young woman named Sedna. She lived in the Arctic with her mother and father. She loved her parents and refused to marry. Many Inuit men desired Sedna for a wife and asked her parents for permission to marry her. But Sedna refused them all until she at last gave in and was wed in order to respect her parents and her people’s traditions. When Sedna’s parents came to visit, they saw their daughter was so unhappy and that her husband was a sorcerer. Hence, they took Sedna and fled from him in a kayak. When they did, his wrath caused the ocean waves to crash over the small kayak making it almost impossible to keep the boat upright.
“Sedna’s parents were so frightened that the storm would fill the kayak with water and that they would drown in the icy waters that they threw Sedna overboard. When they did, Sedna clung to the edge of her parent’s boat and would not let go. Fearing that she would tip them over, the parents hacked Sedna’s fingers off, one joint at a time. Seeing the injustice of her parents and the great strength of this daughter to survive, the Divine Creatrix made each of Sedna’s finger joints become different sea creatures: fish, seals, walruses, and whales.”
Sedna sank to the bottom of the ocean and began a new life under the sea, becoming a powerful deity in her own right. Her home is now on the ocean floor. Sedna transcended the betrayal of her husband and the brutality of her own parents to become a Goddess governing her own life.
Adapted and paraphrased from © Lenore Lindeman, 1999.
Moore Charles. 1986. Keeveeok, Awake! Edmonton: Ring House Gallery. p. 9–10.