Albion, ancient sites, Art, Don and Wen

Rooted in the Land – Dawn celebration

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (7)

Every year we suggest that our companions on these Silent Eye weekends might like to join us to share the dawn. It is a choice… there is no requirement to drag themselves from slumber to gather outside the hotel before sun-up… and every time, they come, making the moment complete. They are a wonderful group of people.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (2)

To stand above the Cow and Calf looking east at this time of day is always magical. When the dawn rolls back the night and the mists billow in the dale and that first blush of daylight tints the horizon, it is breathtaking. You watch… first the warmth of colour, then the flooding light that spreads over the world… then the sliver of flame that rises, becoming the disc of the sun in a sky of liquid gold.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (5)

It doesn’t take long… a few more minutes in bed and you would miss the miracle of a new-born day. To begin the day with the sun changes the very nature of how time unfolds. You are at one with the measured dance of the universe. To rise with the sun is to extend the day by something immeasurably more than just the movement of the hands on a clock.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (10)

Chanting once more a greeting to the risen sun and what that ancient symbol means to each one of us, we then stood and watched in silence until the brilliance had faded to soft gold… A silence broken only by the popping of a champagne cork as we shared a moment of joy and loving congratulations with a brand new grandfather on a perfect morning.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (8)

There was no-one to see… just the pigeons and the odd sheep… who probably thought we were by far the odder sight. It was a joyous moment with our friend. We watched a little longer as the mist lifted, revealing another unseasonably beautiful day and a cloud-dragon sailing overhead that looked remarkably like the creature in my hand… although the delicately sinuous cloud took the laurel for beauty.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (6)

Eventually we turned, looking towards the quarry, watching the lingering mist in the valley. There was plenty of time before breakfast, so we walked towards the Hangingstones, a rocky outcrop that gives its name to both the quarry and the lane that runs beneath it, climbing up from the town to the moor.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (3)

While some of our companions had visited this site before, to other sit would be new… and to me almost a place of pilgrimage. I had found worked flints and petrified rocks in the heather filled quarry as a child… and of course, high on the flat surface of the Hangingstones, there is rock art… petroglyphs that can be traced with a finger, taking you back to a time beyond the dawn of history….

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (9)

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