Inuit Mythology

The Gods and Spirits of the Inuit


Inuit Sea Goddess

Also known as Siarnaq

Inuit Sea Goddess and Queen of the Frozen Underworld

She’s a sinister hag with one eye, no fingers, and a giant bloated body. She is sometimes depicted as a walrus. This is a far cry from the good old days when she was a beautiful maiden. That’s what being sacrificed to the sea does to you.

One legend tells how she made a vow to remain single in order to look after her poor old father. All suitors were spurned and offers of marriage refused.

Then one day a mysterious but utterly charming fellow turned up in his kayak. He was a handsome foreigner, intelligent, exotic and very alluring. Not only that, he was rich! Sedna was offered blubber in abundance. Luxuriant furs to sleep on. All the fish oil she could possibly make use of. This was too much for a young girl to cope with and she allowed herself to be lured into his canoe.

The marriage was not a happy one. Although he adored her, she soon came to find him repellent. “You’re not the man I married,” she often said. With some justification as it turned out he was really a spooky bird-spirit.

Meanwhile Sedna’s father was tearing his furs in anguish. Deciding to pay a visit to his lost daughter, he sailed to the Land Of Birds and found her in a state of distress. That evening, her husband returned home from work and found her gone. In a screaming rage, the bird spirit climbed into his kayak and paddled in pursuit at full speed. (He did an awful lot of paddling for a bird spirit.)

As he approached, Sedna tried to hide under some furs, but her husband became so angry that the skies turned black and the ocean began to seethe. That was enough to terrify anyone, and Sedna’s father, fearing the very world was coming to an end, chucked her overboard.

Poor Sedna clutched at the side of the kayak, but her grim father chopped her fingers off and down she went. At once the skies cleared, the bird spirit flapped off and peace descended. Sedna’s fingers wriggled onto an ice floe and became the first sea creatures, and Sedna herself floated to the very bottom of the sea and stayed there.

Many many years have passed since then. Now she rules all Arctic Sea life, deciding the fate of all ocean creatures — and the people who hunt them. If you haven’t said a prayer to Sedna, you might as well pack up your harpoon and go home. But if you can adopt a shamanic trance, descend into the depths and comb her dark tresses, she’ll send you a seal or maybe a walrus or two for dinner.

Being such an important deity, Sedna is popular across the various Inuit peoples under several names, including Arnakuagsak and Nerrivik.

As Queen of the Dead, Sedna rules over the Adlivun Underworld from her eternally unreachable ice palace on the outer reaches of deathsville. She has also given her name to the so-called tenth planet, a remote object lurking in the nether regions of the solar system. Located way beyond Pluto, this object is small, remote and extremely chilly. Like Adlivun, it’s the kind of place most people would happily pass up the chance to visit.

Sedna Facts and Figures

Name: Sedna
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names: Siarnaq

Gender: Female
Type: Goddess
Area or people: Inuit
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: the Ocean
Area of expertise: Sea, Seas, Ocean, Oceans

Good/Evil Rating: Unknown at present
Popularity index: 22765

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Article last revised on October 23, 2018 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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