Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sedna, Arctic sea goddess of the Inuit people

For this blog, I am going to research Sedna, the Arctic sea goddess of the Inuit people.  She is half-woman, half-fish, and has the ability to change into either a complete woman or a fish.  She is associated with wild birds, heaven and hell, and beauty.  She can be associated with the sirens of ancient Greece.

Sedna refused many suitors until one day she married a man who was cloaked (or somehow disguised).  He promised her a nice home, but the "nice home" turned out to be a dirty nest.  She sees the man without his cloak on and realizes that he is a bird.  She had been fooled.  Her father comes to rescue her, but on the way home birds attacked them in their boat while a storm churned up wild waves in the sea.  Her father decides to sacrifice her to the sea to appease it, and throws her in.  Sedna grabs onto the boat, trying to climb back in.  Her father chops off her fingers at each joint and then chops off her hands.  He throws her fingers and hands into the sea and they become fish, seals, whales, walruses, and other sea creatures.   Sedna had to let go and sink to the bottom of the sea, where she still resides.  She grew fins where her hands were and her legs grew into a fish tail.  She rules the bottom of the sea, or in some myths Adlivum, the Inuit Land of the Dead.  She is the goddess of life and death because it is she who holds the power making the hunter or fisherman successful.  If she is displeased she will not let the Inuit people have the food they need to survive.  To keep Sedna happy or to make her happy again, a shaman must go to her.  The shaman's journey is difficult.  He must pass countless dead souls, an abyss where an icy wheel turns slowly and perpetually, then past a cauldron full of boiling seals, and finally past the horrible dog that guards the knife-thin passageway into her home.  Once there he must comb the seaweed out of her hair, since she can't do it herself with no hands.  According to some myths, he also has to braid her hair to make her happy.  Only then with Sedna be satisfied and the Inuit people can have successful hunting and fishing expeditions

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