Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Inuit Legends -The Legend Of Sedna
Once upon a time, before the white men and all others, the Inuit hunted the land and fished the land. In this time, was a great hunter, whose wife had died long ago leaving a girl child. The hunter would raise the child himself.
The child grew to become a very beautiful woman with many suitors seeking her hand. The hunter was proud for his daughter, she could sew good clothing and in all the land none was so pretty . Finally the hunter had decided who would marry his daughter, with pride he called his daughter to his side and said, "Daughter I have chosen your husband, it will be this man".
The daughter disagreed and would not take the man selected, the great hunter felt shamed and in anger, the great hunter said " You have shamed me, since you will not accept a man, then you will have my dog, for that is all that is fit for a girl child who dishonors her father".
During that night, the hunter's dog came in and visited the daughter, on this night he took her as his wife. When the great hunter realized what had occurred, once again he was shamed and cried out "Daughter, you are with the child of my dog and shame me again, you will be placed in isolation as you deserve no better". With that the great hunter took his daughter and isolated his daughter so no others would be shamed by her.
But the dog husband loved the daughter for she was gentle and kind and so to save his love and the mother of his litter, Dog would swim out to the island, his packs laden with food and skins. And lo and behold, the daughter survived and gave birth to a litter, some human and some dog children.
The great hunter finding out about this perceived atrocity was enraged, unknowingly to Dog, the hunter filled the packs with heavy stones and so the Dog swam out with supplies. But the pack was too heavy and the seas too rough, Dog sank to the bottom and drowned.
Several days later, the great hunter feeling remorse for his only child, set out in his kayak laden with food to make amends, but was driven back, when in her grief the daughter sent her dog children to attack their grandfather. Fearing reprisals from her father, the daughter in efforts to save her children, placed her dog children in a seal skin boot and set them adrift upon the seas praying to the gods of air to see them safe. And so they were, they floated out to sea and became the ancestors of the white men. With her remaining boot, the daughter placed her human children inside, and once again prayed to the gods, and set them adrift. The human children floated away to become the ancestors to the Indians.
Now the daughter was alone and without food for the great hunter was fearful to return with supplies. Each day before hunting he would look across the sea and his daughter but never would he venture out to her again.
The one day as he glanced out, his daughter was no longer there, she had disappeared. For during his hunt, a handsome man in a kayak appeared and seeing the beautiful daughter, stopped. "Come with me, daughter, for I am a great hunter and will provide you with food and home" said the handsome man. And so the daughter went.
En route to her new far off home, they stopped along the way, and the handsome man removed his clothing for the sun was high and kayaking is hard work. The girl burst out into tears, for now standing before her was not a handsome man but a northern fulmar (Bird man) in human form. His eyes black, his muscles bulging. Without the need for human clothing, the fulmar now made good speed and soon he and the daughter were at his nest tent.
Time went by and true to his word, the fulmar provided food and warmth to the daughter and she did not want for anything. Together they had a child.
The Father had continued his search for his daughter feeling remorse at how pride had made him treat his only child and after many years of travel he once again found his daughter in the land of the Fulmar. The father arrived when the fulmar was away and seeing his daughter he burst into tears "Forgive me daughter, I have come to take you home". With those words, the father scooped up his daughter and with his kayak began making his way home.
The fulmar returned and seeing his wife gone, set out to rescue her, and in his bird form was able to catch up and try to regain his wife. His wings beat down upon the water as he swooped trying to make the father turn back. The waves grew bigger and almost capsized the kayak, the father in fear of dying, threw his daughter overboard so he could get away, but she held upon the kayak by her fingers.
The hunter in abject terror now took his knife and with one blow chopped off a finger, it fell into the sea and behold, it became a seal and swam away. The hunter chopped another finger, and it too became a walrus. The hunter chopped a third finger, and it became the bearded seal. With each finger being chopped, so the sea mammals were made.
Finally, not being able to grasp the kayak, the daughter sank to the bottom of the seas. As she sank, the Moon Spirit (Tatqeq) and The Air Spirit (Sila) combined together and said "For your hardship, we give you the power of all so that you will become the guardian for the Inuit". With that, Sedna was born and created a kingdom which lies at the bottom of the sea and was once again reunited with her Dog husband.
The father made good his escape, but memories of his daughter gave him great remorse so that one day, he lay down at the edge of the sea and asked his daughter to forgive him. As he slept, the tide came out and reunited him with his daughter. Together all dwell at the bottom of the sea.
Now when the Inuit transgress against other Inuit or the land, Sedna will make the sea mammals scarce and cause the seas and the air to storm, displaying her anger to her people. It is then that the shaman must travel down to the kingdom and discover the roots of the problems then solve and rectify them with the people. Only then will Sedna be placated and calm the weather and release the mammals so the Inuit do not suffer starvation.
In some cases, the shaman can enter a trance like state to visit with Sedna or can be given the ability to breath underwater. Sedna keeps a comb and when shamans visit, it is expected that they comb her hair from algae for she can not hold the comb herself.
visit: Jim's Soapstone Carvings at http://www3.sympatico.ca/ve3jji