I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
Realm of the Deep Waters
The Goddess Sedna’s home is in the cold waters of the icy sea of the Arctic region where the Inuit people live. In Inuit mythology, Sedna is the Goddess of the Sea and Marine Animals. Some of her other names are Arnakuagsak or Arnaqquassaaq, Sassuma Arnaa, Nerrivik, Nuliajuk Arnapkapfaaluk and Takánakapsâluk or Takannaaluk. The story of Sedna is a creation myth and tells the story of how Sedna came to rule over Adlivun, the Inuit underworld.
There are many different versions of the myth, in one, she marries a dog, in another, a bird-spirit, in yet another, she is a mistreated orphan and the tribe is trying to get rid of her. Whichever version you read, the one common thread is that her father takes her out into his kayak and throws her overboard into the stormy sea. Sedna tries to cling to the boat, but either her fingers freeze off or her father chops them off in order to appease the spirits.
Her fingers become sea creatures and Sedna sinks to the bottom of the sea, where she rules over the monsters and creatures of the deep, as well as the sea mammals. She is also said to have grown a fishtail, hence my choice of a mermaid picture, which my little 10-year-old daughter Tarini has edited and put the writing on. (She is extremely proud of doing this, as am I; and we had great fun with me teaching her how to do it and her creating this beautiful writing.)
One of these creation tales mentioned above is that Sedna lived with her parents whom she loved very much. Her father was a very good hunter and thus, Sedna lived a very comfortable life. Because of that, she was unwilling to marry and leave her parents’ household. When a strange hunter came, he promised to be a very good hunter and provide her with plenty of meat and furs to wear as warm clothes and blankets. Sedna agreed and went with him to his island.
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Facing Your Fears
However, it turned out that the man wasn’t a man at all, but a bird dressed up as a man. He couldn’t hunt for meat at all, and so only brought fish home. Sedna was upset and unhappy because she didn’t want to eat fish every day. When her father came to visit one day and found out that his daughter was so unhappy, he killed the birdman in a rage and took Sedna in his kayak to bring her home again.
When they were on the water, the friends of the birdman found out what the father had done and flew after them. They flapped their wings hard above the boat to cause a storm with high waves. Sedna’s father thought they would stop if Sedna was out of his boat because he feared that the waves crashing into his kayak would drown him. So he threw Sedna overboard, but she didn’t want to stay in the sea and clung to the boat. Her father then chopped off her fingers one by one, from which different sea creatures were born. Sedna sank to the bottom of the sea and changed into her form as spirit or goddess of the sea.
The Native peoples in the Arctic region ensure to always maintain a good relationship with Sedna, so she will allow the sea creatures to give themselves to the people for food. When the Goddess is upset, the Shaman will change into the form of a fish, dive down into the waters and comb and braid her hair, which appeases her. This is probably to do with the fact that she lost her fingers and having her hair done by someone else makes her happy because she can’t do it for herself.
To the Inuit people, Sedna is the Mistress of Life and Death because she provides for them. If she is not respected she begins to feel her hands sear with pain and, in her misery, sends sickness, storms, and starvation to punish the humans. Only when someone is willing to brave the journey to her home and assuage her pain will she let the animals return to be hunted. But when people treat her with respect and concern, they receive her blessings.
On a deeper level, the archetype of Sedna teaches us that we must delve into the dark, cold places that we fear most if we are to find the riches that rest there. Sedna reminds us that, in spite of all our infirmities (and foolish mistakes), we are still worthy of love and respect and have every right to expect, and even demand, that others treat us well.