Sedna and the Storm
Updated: Feb 3
"You carry both lightning and thunder
in that space between your bones and soul.
Become the storm you are hiding from;
a hurricane does not run from the rain.”
― Nikita Gill
Let’s start with the sea.
Let’s start with a storm on the sea.
Black waves rising high like the curve of a skua’s wing. Grey clouds, light for all their anger, twisting back against themselves, petrichor in the air. White snow, a slurry, swirling down to mix with the angry foam – both white, both dancing – until the waters of the sea and the waters of the sky were indistinguishable as each other.
Against the water, a small kayak, bobbing up and down in the surf, the cries of its two occupants drowned in the cries of the spirit bird – his wide wings beating up the storm as he calls for his run-away-bride.
She cries harder, clings to her father, the beauty she was known for marred by chapped skin and cold-split lips. Her brave father, her father who loved her, who was neither brave nor loving enough. His daughter spurned all suitors, he allowed it, let her stay beside his side, far too fond to let her slip away. When she chose a man, he let her, did not bind her to his home, but let her seek her own happiness and chase the man she thought she loved. When she did not visit, sent no word, was seen by no one, he followed, put his boat into the sea and searched and searched and searched until he caught the faintest hint of where she could be.
Where she was.
When she told him, through her tears, of her husband, of the human skin he had shed, and the bird that lay beneath, her father did not hesitate to take her far away from that place.
And yet… when her husband followed, when the waves grew high and the skies grew dark and wingbeats echoed in his ears, he faltered.
It is easy to be noble on land. Easy, with a spear in hand, and feet firm and chin held high. When even if you die, you die a noble death, you die remembered. In the sea, do you even die at all? Who can say? No body to recover. No person to bring home. Just a deep crush blackness, salt against unseeing eyes, and bloated skin plucked like seaweed from your bones to feed the gaping maws that lie beneath the ice. He did not want to drown.
And fear turned his loving heart far colder that the spray that blanched their cheeks. Sedna, lovely Sedna, beautiful and proud. Her father threw her to the waves.
She did not go gracefully. This is not legend of a candle that burns itself out, so others may live. A dutiful daughter, unnamed and nameless, who would softly, silently slip into death to light the flame of her father, brother, husband, son. To make them strong or fill their lives with guilt and dark revenge.
Sedna wanted to live.
She clung, barnacle-tight, to the side of the kayak, until the cold wind and frigid water froze her hands to the ship.
He cut her frozen fingers off.
And from those fingers, seals and whales were born and swam away, drifting light across the waves, even as their mother sank beneath the dark waters.
Her father returned home. Bundled himself close by the fire, his daughter’s angry eyes burning dark, reproachful in his mind.
He told himself that guilt had turned the wailing of the wind into his daughters angry cry. Told himself that bitter memory turned the distance waves to weeping. That fear and guilt made them sound much closer than they were.
He turned away, bundled close beneath his furs, with covered ears.
He did not hear the roaring of the waves grow louder still. He did not hear his daughter’s foot, step gently onto shore.
He did hear the waters rise, until they touched his skin.
He daughter dragged him down to where she lay.
He did not hear her laugh.
Beneath the waves, Sedna laughed in victory, vengeance granting colour to the song she sang beneath the waves. She stayed there. It was her home now. Beyond her husband’s wings. Beyond her father’s failing love. She stays there still. Watching every season come and go. And every summer seals and whales return to waters that their mother sings below.
Let’s end with that summer.
Let’s end with the sea.
Insp. The Legend of Sedna the Sea Goddess