Sedna: The Inuit Sea Goddess

"Sedna" by Joan Relke

“Sedna” by Joan Relke

Sedna is the Goddess of the Sea. She is known as Sanna, Nerrivik, Nuliajuq, or Arnarquagssaq. She was a beautiful young Inuit woman pursued by the hunters of the village. She was vain and rejected them all despite her father’s protests. Then one day a handsome man arrived and asked her father Anguta for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The stranger hid his true appearance from them. The father agreed, but the man lied to her father, assuring Anguta she would live in a castle and be happy.

Once they arrived on the island Sedna became upset. The man was a bird in disguise and lived in a messy bird nest on a barren rock. He fed Sedna raw fish. Sedna cried and pleaded for her father to return and rescue her from the island. Sedna’s father heard her cries on the wind and hurried to rescue her.

As they fled from the island in the kayak, the bird arrived on the island to find his wife gone. He summoned the birds to find Sedna. The birds flapped their wings strong enough to cause a storm to threaten Sedna and her father Anguta and the Inuit people. The ocean waves almost capsized the kayak. Anguta cast his daughter into the sea to appease the bird spirits. Sedna clung to the boat to avoid drowning but her father cut her frozen fingers off. She drowned and as she sank to the bottom of the ocean, her fingers transformed into the first creatures of the sea- seals, fish and whales. Anguta died of grief over what he had done to Sedna.

The sea creatures turned her into the sea goddess and granted her dominion over them. Sedna became the Goddess of the Sea. She ruled Adlivun, the Inuit Underworld, and when she cried, the sea creatures visited her to console her. The shamans journey to her lair to comb her hair since she has no fingers to comb her hair herself. They depend on her to provide them with food to sustain them. Sedna chooses when to send her sea animals to the surface for the hunters to hunt and kill.

Sedna lives in a home built of whale ribs and stone where she rules over the Underworld. Sedna compels us to journey deep within ourselves. She dwells in the deep abyss of the ocean. We fear to journey deep within ourselves, because we fear what we might discover.

Every hunter who catches fish must put fresh water into the dead fish’s mouth to appease Sedna. She is a temperamental Goddess who is loving and cruel, like the ocean. When her hair is combed, she is generous. When her hair is tangled, she is the opposite.

We all have negative aspects of ourselves we need to overcome. We grow as a human being by confronting our fears. Sedna’s story reminds us of the necessity of facing our fears and weaknesses.

Here is a meditation to meet Sedna, the Goddess of the Underworld. Prepare yourself by lighting a dark blue candle. Dark blue represents the watery depths of the ocean. The Element of Water symbolizes the power of intuition and the inner self. Burn jasmine incense, which corresponds with Water. Cover your altar with a dark blue altar cloth to represent the Element of Water. Place a few seashells and a lapis lazuli gemstone on your altar. Lapis lazuli aids a person in conscious attunement to the psychic self. Sit, relax, and make sure you will not be disturbed.

Take three deep breaths to cleanse your mind, body and spirit then return to a normal rhythm of breathing, avoiding shallow breathing. With each in breath, inhale positive energy and on each exhale, release negativity; draw in relaxation and release tension; inhale harmony and exhale discord. Know that the Universe will absorb and neutralize all the negativity you release.

Perform the meditation in the evening on a Full Moon. Assemble and place your altar facing the West quarter. Perform the rite on a Monday or Wednesday night. The Water element flows from the Full Moon. Place a bowl of salt water on the altar.

Be sure to make a small offering to Sedna to gain her favor. As you meditate, visualize that you are swimming deep in the ocean. Bring a comb with you to comb Sedna’s hair. When you meet Sedna, comfort her. Be open to any messages you may receive. Sedna is a demanding Goddess. She challenges you to embrace your inner self and the aspects of yourself that you would normally ignore. She is cruel as the sea yet she believes that all people and creatures deserve to be treated with respect. If you are given a message about the aspect of yourself you dread to face, you must take the time to acknowledge and release it. For example, it could be impatience, jealousy or rage. If you do not work on yourself, you won’t be whole, like Sedna’s mutilated fingers.

When you are ready to end the meditation, thank Sedna for her guidance and blessings. Leave her home of whalebones and swim to the surface. Return your awareness the room you are in. When you are ready, open your eyes and stretch. Let the candle burn down.

Record the experience in your journal or Book of Shadows. Reflect on what you learned from Sedna. Sedna rules the realm of the dark deep oceans.

Sedna’s theme is gratitude, abundance, and nature. Her symbols are water, an eye and fish. She is the mother of all marine life. She is honored in Inuit tribes as the provider of food for the body and soul. Be mindful of the way you treat the earth and the oceans. Adopt a pet fish to invoke Sedna’s blessings upon you. Every time you consume seafood, remember to honor Sedna and her life giving powers.

The ocean represents the power of intuition and our subconscious. She challenges us to see our true selves and have compassion.

[Heddy Johannesen is a freelance writer with several published magazine articles. She keeps a blog at] 


Conway, D.J. Maiden, Mother, Crone: The Three Faces of the Goddess. Woodbury, MN. Llewellyn Worldwide, 2008, pp. 71,99.

[Editor’s Note: “Sedna” by Joan Relke can be found on the artist’s site.]

4 thoughts on “Sedna: The Inuit Sea Goddess”

  1. ibgreenie3 said:

    A wonderful retelling of the Goddess Sedna.
    She who is sadly unknown to many in the Pagan ways. May She as Their Queen, protect all of Her sea creatures. For all those who are polluted or over- hunted & who make the oceans their home, Compassionate Sedna
    let their voices be heard!

  2. Yes anyone who believes themselves to be more powerful than nature, they will fall the hardest!

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