Editor’s Note: The following article on Sedna is from Planet Wiki, the Planet Waves site devoted exclusively to the study of planets and the astrology, astronomy and mythology surrounding them. It was part of the 2008 annual edition, Small World Stories, and is being updated for the upcoming 2009 annual: Next World Stories. The Sedna article is reprinted today in honor of Sedna’s discovery five years ago today. –RA
SEDNA, the undersea creation goddess of the North Pole, arrives just as we are figuring out as the ice caps are melting. She emerges from the collective unconscious just as the cetations (such as whales and dolphins) are dying off and being massacred. In this moment, we get a planetary discovery, honored with a name evoking a myth, that tells us where these creatures come from.
The great ice melt of the early 21st century is indicative of something much larger — oceans and a world in crisis. The oceans are the immune system of the planet, and Jacques Cousteau said as early as the Sixties that the oceans were dead or dying. That is not surprising; we extract the life from them, scraping with trawling nets down to the very bottom destroying the delicate ecosystem for Filet-o-Fish sandwiches; and then we express our gratitude by using them as a garbage dump.
The Myth of a Young Girl
The story of Sedna is exceedingly complex, and in many ways it is menacing. The tale brings in the social patterns and customs of the Inuits (Eskimos) and the life of a vain young girl who spends her time brushing her hair, looking in a mirror. Above her objections, she is finally married off by her father to a demon. In truth, it’s a story that could come from any aboriginal culture, and yet still bears resemblance to our own. Sedna is extremely preoccupied with her own beauty, in a way that is more than vaguely reminiscent of life today.
Her father finally decides he cannot support her any longer and (because she has rejected so many suitors, perceiving herself better than they are) he marries her off to the very next one. Her new husband takes her away, and then she makes her terrible discovery: he is really a demon disguised as a man. Sedna signals her distress by making the winds scream wildly.
Her father, hearing her howls in the wind, comes and rescues her, but in the process, she falls off the little boat into the cold sea. In the struggle that ensures — wherein her her father tries to rescue her, and the demon tries to kill her — her father gives up the fight for her life and she sinks to the depths of the sea. There, she loses her fingers and toes; then her arms and her legs. As they break off, they become the creatures of the sea from sea lions, seals and porpoises to the great whales.
She is left in the approximate shape of a Weeble. One of the ways of worshiping her is to brush her hair, which she can no longer do herself. She is helpless to indulge her vanity and so that in a sense becomes cultural property.
This is a story where hunger plays a prominent role; the family is too poor to feed young Sedna. When she becomes an undersea goddess, it is by Sedna’s graces that the hunt succeeds and the entire population eats — or not.
Sedna and the Concept of Transpersonal
Until recently, astrologers were still trying to convince one another that the further out a planet is, the less personal it is. There may still be validity to the idea, but it was the extremely direct, personal implications of Pluto that I believe ended that discussion.
All planets have personal effects, if only through society that we must participate in. Still, we must reckon with the notion that distance from the Sun means something. Sedna in one of her expressions seems to point directly to collective and global issues: the warming of the planet, the death of the seas, whether the population eats.
But she is personified in the story of a young girl and her relationship to her family, as well as to her perception of herself, her feelings about men and her emotional needs. Sedna seems to reach so deep into the psyche that she shows up in our most conscious awareness of our soul, and is likely to be a force that guides us there through the experiences she brings.
A Planet in the Deeps of Space
The name Sedna was given to a most intriguing planet, discovered Nov. 14, 2003 (with the Sun in water sign Scorpio) and announced March 15, 2004 (with the Sun in Pisces). She was discovered (in the sign Taurus) by the same team that brought usВ Eris: Mike Brown, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz.
It takes Sedna 10,666 years to go around the Sun once, more thanВ 40 times longer than it takes Pluto. Sedna is a resident of what is called the Oort Cloud, a region in space further away than the Kuiper Belt (where Pluto, Eris and many other planets in this encyclopedia) exist. The Oort Cloud is believed to have objects orbiting our own Sun that extend halfway out to the next star. If we go back one Sedna cycle, we come out at the end of the last ice age.
It fits that a planet so deep into space would be given the name of an undersea goddess at the North Pole, something residing so deep in the collective unconscious that we would not be aware of her. In the strange way that science relates to culture, the naming of this planet has called attention to a nearly-forgotten myth which, in turn, has pointed to a planetary crisis that many would prefer to overlook. It is indeed easier to squirt some tartar sauce on your fish sandwich.
What I find the most interesting about this story is that it’s about the creation of a god where humans are doing the creating. I know of no other such myth associated with any creation god or goddess among the named planets.
Sedna’s preoccupation with her own beauty but total disinterest in men is significant in our times. Perhaps that quality makes sense given who she is revealed to be, once the story is borne out. Yet there are many women today, of many ages, who feel they are too good for men and that men are demons in disguise.
The dynamics between the father and his daughter deserve a much closer look: he perceives her as property to claim or discard as he pleases. There is obviously a relationship between that and the way we treat one another, and the world.
We could also ask: who were these people? They predate the gods, or at least Sedna, a primordial goddess. Were they proto-people, or deities themselves, disguised as humans just as Sedna’s husband was a demon disguised as a human?
Melanie Reinhart, in her article “The Goddess of the Frozen Waters,” writes of Sedna, “The encounter with what has been lost, drowned out, or frozen long ago is her theme, which can be taken most fruitfully on the inner levels. In other words, our own ‘Ice Age’ is being highlighted here: the wounds in the soul caused by the impatience, condemnation, dismissal or anger of the father; the living hell of unresolved outrage; the violence of hardship where we cut off from what is desperate and vulnerable in ourselves or others in order to survive. And how this harshness is internalized.”
She continues, “Even in the face of unrelenting trauma and suffering, we can, indeed must, beat our drum and sing to life. This is not a plea for escapism, but rather an acknowledgment that the Work is about keeping our heart open in hell. Sedna’s story is about acknowledging just how bad things really feel, and starting from there. Radical acceptance is demanded. Allowing love and harmony into our lives (symbolized by the Star of David) may mean opening to the frozen places inside where we are conflicted and feel unloving. To try and manufacture joy is to metaphorically cut off our own fingers.”