HomeFirst NationsSEDNA – The Old Woman Who Lives Under the Sea

SEDNA – The Old Woman Who Lives Under the Sea

Most Eskimo of Northern Canada have an Old Woman legend. The Eskimo of the central arctic called her SEDNA.

Two giants co-existed peacefully along side the Eskimo. No one knew where they came from or their names. They had a girl child who had an enormous appetite and little concern for what she ate. One night the giants were awaken to the realization that their daughter was chewing on their limbs.

Horrified, the giants gathered up the girl and rowed her out to the middle of the sea. There they began to cut off her fingers and toes and throw them into the sea. The fingers and toes turned into whales and seals. On seeing this, the giants threw the entire girl into the sea and paddled furiously for home.

Drawing of Inuit Sedna

Sedna Inuit Goddess of the Sea – Artwork by Do’an Prajna.

The girl became SEDNA, Mother of the Sea. SEDNA controlled all the elements of the sea. She, when angry, could create storms and other bad conditions. She could tell the seals and whales to move away from hunting grounds.

When confronted by a shaman, SEDNA, at her fancy, promises to provide abundant food to the Eskimo or cuts off the local food supply forcing them to move to another fishing ground.

Editors note: Mysteries of Canada published the legend of the SEDNA in 2001. Since that time we became aware of a slightly different version of the tale. This one suggests that First Nations Peoples are a bit more advanced in their thinking that some of today’s critics of same-sex marriage!

from: North American Indian Mythology. Cottie Burland, Hamlyn Publishing, 1965

Long ago a great catastrophe caused the world’s supporting pillars to collapse and destroy the earth. Two men emerged full-grown from hummocks of earth. They married each other, and one became heavy with child. The other man sang a magic song, which caused the pregnant man’s penis to divide, he then became a woman and gave birth to a girl child.The mother and father giants cared for the child who grew large and fiercely loved meat. One night she bit into her parents limbs while they slept. They awoke in horror as she tried to bite them again. They took her in a umiak far out into the deepest sea, where they pushed her into the water. She clung to the side of the boat, so they cut off her fingers. The fingers became whales, seals, and shoals of fish. The giant parents were afraid of their child and they rowed away into the night.The giant girl became the demon girl Sedna, the Great Mother of sea creatures. She causes storms and governs the migrations of her sea creature children.

Summary
SEDNA - The Old Woman Who Lives Under the Sea
Article Name
SEDNA - The Old Woman Who Lives Under the Sea
Description
Most Eskimo of Northern Canada have an Old Woman legend. The Eskimo of the central arctic called her SEDNA.
Author
Publisher Name
Mysteries of Canada

Written by

Author of Mysteries of Canada

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4 Responses to “SEDNA – The Old Woman Who Lives Under the Sea”

By Devon - 16 November 2018 Reply

Isn’t Eskimo an offensive term to natives? Loosely translated to “meat eater” labeled by the English settlers.

By Eri Ishii - 30 July 2018 Reply

I’d like to know the name of artist who created this image. Please let me know. Thanks!
Eri

By Do'an Prajna - 24 January 2019 Reply

I am the artist of the image posted here, which the author of this article should have given me credit for using my artwork. You can find this piece and other artwork by me here: https://doan-art.pixels.com/featured/sedna-antony-galbraith.html
Thank you
Do’an Prajna
https://doan-art.pixels.com

By Hammerson Peters - 25 January 2019

Thank you for your comment, Do’an. I apologize for the author’s lack of accreditation, and have added your name to the image. Thank you for allowing us to use it.