The Inuit word Qarrtsiluni means to sit expectantly together in darkness, waiting for something to happen or ‘burst forth’. It encapsulates that strange, quiet period before a momentous event.
It’s their way of honouring the whale, using this ritual to create new whale-songs. In a special house, a group of men sit in darkened silence, thinking of only beautiful things. Collectively, they await inspiration from which they make their new whale songs.
This extraordinarily simple concept is one which translates perfectly to our artistic practice. There’s something almost primeval in the plainness and clarity of darkness and silence, where that absence of noise and light acts as a tipping-point for inspiration and focus.
It’s really about re-igniting that ancient connection with our instincts, gently drawing out what’s already there. In our hubbub world of clamour and tumult, just the idea of sitting quietly in a darkened room is like a healing balm for the soul. Like those mammoth creatures of the sea, who seem able to stare at us through the misty veil of time, we too, can create beautiful melodies rising and dipping to our own artistic rhythms.
But it’s much, much more than that. We’re honouring time – siphoning new creative courses and directions, like sustaining water pouring forth over dry and arid land, simply because we’ve actually given ourselves time.
Like turning on a switch, that light-bulb of clarity appears. But it’s in that world of shadowy, contemplative darkness we all need to turn from time to time, to enrich and renew our own whale songs, honouring the work we want and need to create.
In the words of Simon and Garfunkel’s iconic song ‘hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.’