Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sedna, Inuit Goddess of the Sea

 Sedna, a song with the low boom of the didgeridoo from Heather Dale's beautiful album, The Road to Santiago

Can you imagine a mermaid swimming about in a great, fur coat?  Sealskin or Polar Bear, perhaps?  That is Sedna.  Inuit Goddess of the Sea.  Black haired beauty.  When Sedna is angered, men are sent out in canoes to wash & comb her long hair, for Sedna has no fingers & the sea creatures will become tangled in its knots.  When trapped in her hair, fish will not reach man & when the fish do not reach the land, there is no food for the people of the frozen waste.  Sedna, Satsuma Arnaa, Mother of the Deep.
     Though many legends & variations upon her legend exist, Sedna always meets with tragedy & disaster.  Her father chops off her fingers with the blade of his axe.  She floats to the bottom of the sea, no longer able to hold onto the edge of the canoe.  Her fingers, & the blood from them, become the lifeblood of sea creatures.  Of seals & sea lions & walruses & fishes & otters & whales.

The Lure of the North; Arthur Wardle

A Mermaid & Polar Bears; Arthur Wardle


       Before Sedna's immortality in Adlivun, the underworld of Inuit mythology, there beneath the waves & the icebergs, she was a young woman whose father was a mighty hunter upon the land.  Many of the warriors of the village came to court her, Sedna rejected each one to a man.  It was not until a striking stranger, a man with raven dark hair & green-gold eyes came, that Sedna would consent to a marriage.  He provided her with shining otter pelts & carved bone jewelry.  His canoe was intricately carved with beasts of the sea & it was stained blood red.  Sedna, aloft in the prow of his canoe, the wind stinging her cheeks & the foam of the waters spraying over her hair, went with him, to journey to his country.  The man with the green-gold eyes told her that if she looked out upon the horizon, that the land of his birth was just beyond that point.  She slept, waves lapping, her husband whistling into the wind like a bird.
     Sedna woke to the screaming of ravens.  They beat their black wings like whirlwinds & the nest in which she lay, pressed its barbed branches into her back.  She recognized the one who had once been the beautiful stranger, she knew the green-gold of his eyes & found them horrible.
     The wails of Sedna, flew over the ocean, the awful sounds led her father to the island of ice where he set his courage to rescue her at his first chance.  When dark night fell, the wretched bird-men preened their feathers, they squawked haughtily at the Inuit girl, jabbing her with their sharp beaks, & then, they slumbered at last.
     Father & daughter stole along the cliffs.  The canoe was in sight when the lords of the air  discovered the theft.  Wings beat the air, storm clouds rolled over, blotting out the light of the moon & the storm in the skies caused the sea to boil.  The canoe, now far across the ocean, was covered by a white wall of water.  The wave crashed against them, nearly capsizing the little craft.  Then it was, that Sedna's own father turned against her.  The fear of death had gripped his heart in a bony hand.  He found himself a coward.  He grabbed hold of her inky black hair, tossing her over the side.  Sedna screamed in terror, her slender fingers gripping the wooden side.
     The axe, he smashed down against her where she clung for dear life.  It took several swings to break the bone.  Sedna sank beneath the waves, the light gone from her eyes, staring up at the men of the world who had betrayed her.  Her heart had become as cold as the snow and the ice.

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