Who Is Sedna?


“Sedna” 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 legend of every shunned daughter telling of our birthright to utterly transform family betrayal and claim our own lives.

Sue Kientz writes in “Sedna: Treasure from the Depths” 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 legend of how Sedna became a sea goddess is told throughout the Arctic. The story varies from one region to the next. However, in all versions, a young woman becomes the Sacred Mother of all sea creatures. As the Sea Goddess, Sedna has dominion over her creatures and controls the availability of seal, walrus, fish, whale, and other sea animals to Inuit hunters. This version is a compilation of many Sedna stories.

“Once there was a young woman named Sedna. She lived in the Arctic with her mother and father. She loved her mother and father very much and was very content. Her father was a skilled hunter, so he provided very well for his family. Sedna had plenty of food and warm furs to wear. She liked the comfort of her parent’s home 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. Even when her parents insisted it was time for her to marry she refused to follow tradition and obey them.”

“Sedna lived with her husband for a time, until Sedna’s parents decided to come and visit. Upon seeing that their daughter was so unhappy and that her husband had lied to her, they fled from the birdman. Sedna and her parents got into his kayak and set off for home. The birdman’s friends discovered what they had done and wanted to avenge the birdman’s death. They flew above the kayak and flapped their wings very hard. The flapping of their wings resulted in a huge storm. The waves crashed 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. They thought that this would get the birds to stop flapping their wings, but it did not. Sedna did not want to be left in the water, so she held tightly 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. From each of her finger joints different sea creatures were born. They became 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. 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 from © Lenore Lindeman, 1999.

Moore Charles. 1986. Keeveeok, Awake! Edmonton: Ring House Gallery. p. 9–10.

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