Calme Inconstant

ᖄᕐᑦᓯᓗᓂ | Stillness | qarrtsiluni

In the Inuit culture, the iñupiaq language has an untranslatable term referring to a traditional ceremony: each fall, to honor the whales’ souls, men are called upon to compose new songs. Thus they solemnly gather in a ritual hut where no lampsor fires are lit, away from any shallow distraction, and silently sit together in stillness, or in qarrtsiluni (i.e. waiting in the darkness for beautiful things to take shape and emerge like bubbles from the depths of the ocean), as witnesses of what may arise.

In its original sense, the expression qarrtsiluni indicates the fickle and benighted calmness that precedes a great vision, the hope of an insight, the expectation of a new cycle. More generally it evokes a state of patient contemplation, a moment of quiet sorrow, a thrust of creativity tinged with humility.