Goddess of the Week: Sedna
In Inuit Mythology, Sedna is known as the Mother or Mistress of the Sea. She is often the most celebrated diety in the Inuit pantheon. There are many different myths surrounding Sedna, especially how she came into being. Typically she is the daughter of Anguta, a type of all-father god.
In one version Sedna is filled with an insatiable hunger which causes her to attack her parents. Angry, her father takes her out to sea in a kayak and throws her in the waters. He then chops off her fingers as she clings to the side of the boat and Sedna then sinks all the way down to the underworld, and becomes ruler of the sea and all sea animals.
In another version, Sedna is dissatisfied with the men her father is considering her to marry, and she instead marries a dog. Angry at her insolence she is then thrown into the sea, and yet again sinks to the underworld and becomes the sea goddess.
In this version Sedna mated with dogs and other creatures and the offspring of these enemies were said to be the common enemies of the Inuit peoples (typically whomever they were warring with at the said time).
Sedna comes to rule Adlivun, which is both the name for the underworld as well as the name for the departed spirits who dwell there. This makes her particularly important in Inuit mythology, as the Inuit believed in reincarnation, and that a soul must spend a year in Adlivun until it would be able to reincarnate. For this reason, and the fact that Sedna was is considered a vengeful goddess, the Inuits had a great deal of respect for her. She was particularly important to fisherman because there was a belief that if there were no fish or sea animals to be caught or killed that it was because they were tangled in Sedna’s hair.
The idea here is that the god Sila (a formless god, never depicted by the Inuits), the personification of a concept known by the same name (the primary component of life, the substance souls are made from), while spending time with Sedna’s father purifying the corrupted souls of the deceased, extracts taboos from the souls and these taboos become knots and filth stuck in her hair. When her hair becomes so polluted that she cannot stand it anymore, Sedna gathers up all the sea animals to (so they can share her burden).
Both to give Sedna relief and to keep a very necessary part of Inuit life alive (fishing), shamans would have to be called upon to cosmically untangle Sedna’s hair (she cannot do it herself, she does not have fingers, remember?).
Want more info on her? http://www.polarlife.ca/traditional/myth/sedna.htm Have a gander.
I love Sedna’s story, not in a happy butterflies way obviously, but it’s such a really amazing story.
I don’t talk about it much because serious issues of cultural appropriation, but Sedna is the deity I work with & am connected to most strongly. I was minding my own business & bam she was in my life, & in the years since her influence hasn’t let up.
When I was in Glastonbury a few months ago, my visit was luckily timed with one of the semi-regular healing sessions done at the Goddess Temple*. I laid on a massage table while two women sang & moved their hands over me & played homemade instruments, & it was all about Sedna, & my legs shook after.
* Absolutely if you are a witchy type or similar & if you have the means, you must visit the Glastonbury Goddess Temple at some point in your life.