The heather still shows patches of purple although the massed luxuriance of colour has now faded; the bracken begins to turn to bronze and the autumn mists swirl in. Even so, beauty remains. This weekend saw a gathering of companions at a small hotel, high above the little Yorkshire town of Ilkley, for the first Harvest of Being weekend. It was to be a small gathering this year, as the idea had come late. Rather than simply leave it till next year we had chosen to go ahead and take the gift the idea had offered. We, as a School and as companions, have much to be thankful for at this harvest time.
The weekend was intended to be relaxed; no formal teaching, just time to play, to explore both the ancient landscape of the moors and the inner landscape of being, seeing how the two are intricately woven, reflecting and informing each other. We were simply going to begin with ideas, accept the gifts of the moment and see where the days would lead us. Our annual April workshop in Derbyshire takes a more structured approach, seeding knowledge through a sacred drama that is played out as a story, engaging both intellect and emotions as the tale progresses. This harvest time was to take a more leisurely, reflective approach and give the opportunity to gather in what has grown from the knowledge of the mind to the understanding of the heart as our personal journeys move onwards.
My travelling companion and I stopped for lunch at the little café below the rocks. It was as near to the moor as he intended to allow me to get before the weekend began. “I’ll never get you down otherwise…” Even so, a sandwich and a coffee later and we were both climbing up to the top of the famous Cow and Calf rocks once again where I could look out over Ilkley Moor… Rombald’s Moor… and drink in the sense of place that goes straight to my heart.
We stood upon the wide surface of a rock carved in ages past by ancient hands, overlaid with more modern names that span the past few hundred years. Human names, human hands, human history… a presence and continuity that leaves its mark with timeless immediacy. Looking down I saw once again the profile of the falcon in the rocks… a random figure, a simulacrum that the eye builds from line and form or something shaped, encouraged into life by hands other than the artistry of wind and rain? Who knows. For us it is a special symbol and it seemed right to have seen it there first, so many years before the school was born and to now be poised upon the edge of a new chapter, just as we were perched upon that high eyrie, ready for the weekend to take flight.
My room looked out over the Cow and Calf rocks, along Wharfedale towards the setting sun and although we were there with the School, there was no stopping the singing in my heart at this return ‘home’ to a place I have loved all my life. Sunday would also be my birthday and the anniversary of the publication of The Initiate, so to be on these moors with these companions was to be doubly… trebly… gifted. Blessed. We greeted the first of our companions to arrive and as the sky began to fade we walked back, up onto the moor, to the Hanging Stone, to where the carvings are truly ancient, to where, millennia apart, we stood in a sacred place with the shadows of our kin to watch the sun sink beyond the western horizon.