Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Qarrtsiluni Days

So much toing and froing with cards and postcards, home baking, wrapped gifts, tissue paper and ribbons, Christmas trees and decorations. How does one do it all when the light in December is scant, and many tasks must be undertaken in darkness?

I think of the days before Yule as being qarrtsiluni days. That lovely Inuit word with its bewildering arrangement of consonants means "sitting together in the dark, waiting for something wonderful to happen", and that is how these darkling hours at the end of the calendar year feel to me. 

It's a northern thing. Before a hunt begins, Inuit hunters gather quietly indoors and sit silently in the darkness, no lanterns or other sources of light. They wait for inspiration, for a song to come to them that honors the spirit of the whale, its gifts to the tribe. When the song comes into their collective conscious, they sing it together.

There is something similar going on here (no whale hunt, thank Herself, and we definitely don't want me singing). We northerners are hanging out in the stygian gloom, trying to stay warm, downing endless mugs of hot stuff and waiting for the light of the sun to shift, to head back in our direction. Things are the other way around of course. It is earthlings who are in motion, not the dancing star at the center of our universe. 

Winter's fruitful darkness is a doorway through which we pass to ready ourselves for an exuberant blooming somewhere up the trail. Beyond these dark turnings at the postern of the old calendar year, light, warmth and wonder await us.