The Hero’s Journey – Men’s Woodland Retreat

With Will Gethin & Sam Bloomfield

Cherry Wood, nr Marshfield, South Gloucestershire  

Friday 14- Sunday 16 September

Is there a next step in life calling you? Or a desire to explore? This weekend is a chance to move through the stages of The Hero’s Journey, the mythical transformation process described by Joseph Campbell, in the ‘Special World’ of this 45-acre woodland.

A celebrated mythologist, Joseph Campbell was also famous for his mantra for a meaningful life, ‘Follow your Bliss’. What is your deepest passion, the thing that makes you feel most alive? Often it’s the thing you can’t not do despite any resistance you may feel, hence Campbell later said what he really meant was ‘Follow Your Blisters’! This retreat invites you to open the door to your bliss. Supported by the fellowship of a group of men and experienced guides, you can journey towards your chosen new horizon, facing and learning from any fear and resistance that arises and opening to new inspiration and direction.

This journey of inner and outer discovery is relevant for men of all ages looking to grow or evolve in some aspect of their life – be it a personal quest or crisis, creative project, or community or work-related endeavour. We’ll also explore and reevaluate the role of the modern “hero” and what it means to be a man in these more collective and gender-equal times.

Complete with sharing circles around the campfire, ritual space, and time for silent reflection in the woods, this is a rare opportunity to connect deeply with yourself, others and nature. It’s a chance to find a fresh sense of purpose, to feel revived, resourced and enlivened, ready to move forward with your chosen dream or goal.

Cherry Wood: is a stunning 45-acre, sustainable woodland designed and managed with permaculture principles. It’s also home to The Cherry Wood Project green woodwork school. Complete with beautifully hand-crafted indoor and outdoor spaces, a lake for wild swimming, a romantic wood fired bush-bath and a sauna, 95% of materials come from the wood itself and much of the food on courses is grown or foraged from the land. Off grid with no mains power or wifi, the location offers a restorative digital detox. You’ll eat wonderful fresh local food prepared in the woodland’s outdoor kitchen and cooked on wood fires. The compost toilets are airy and have fantastic views! See more at

Will Gethin: as a holistic explorer and travel writer, Will has explored many edge-of-the-world frontiers on a quest for enlivened living. Founder of comms & events agency Conscious Frontiers which gives voice to organisations and people engaged in creating a better world, he gives talks and workshops on The Hero’s Journey and is a qualified meditation teacher. More info:;

Sam Bloomfield: Sam is a creative arts psychotherapist (RDMP) and specialist mentor at UWE. A published poet and performer he is also an experienced workshop leader. A full member of the College of Healing, he has worked as a healer and body-worker for 30 years and hopes to inspire people through facilitating workshops in personal and social transformation, contact improvisation, creativity and poetry. More info:

Retreat Timings:

From 7pm Friday until 4pm Sunday.

Cosy, rustic double cabin

Retreat Cost: (including food)

  • £245 Camping in the woods
  • £255 Shared yurt dorm
  • £295 Double bed cabin (two cabins available)

Concession Price:

  • £195 Camping in the woods
  • £205 Shared yurt dorm
  • £245 Double bed cabin (two cabins available)


Food costs are included in the price. We will share some cooking and other practical tasks between us.

Outline for the weekend and the stages of the Journey

Dedicating his life to the study of world mythology, Joseph Campbell discovered ‘one story’ at the heart of all great myths. Mapping the stages of this ‘Hero’s Journey’, he provided a powerful template for storytelling which has been been applied to countless films, from Star Wars and The Matrix to The Wizard of Oz. The story typically starts with the protagonist having their world shaken up. They go on a journey and face tests, challenges and their greatest fears, and return redeemed and transformed through their trials. The Hero’s Journey is also a map for our own lives and the challenges we face.

For the purposes of this weekend workshop, we have condensed the Journey into five core stages.

Call to Adventure
The Call to Adventure is an invitation to grow, face your fears and make changes in your life. Often precipitated by a crisis or a period of restlessness, the call invites you to re-evaluate your life and to “Follow Your Bliss”, as Campbell called it. What is life calling you to do right now? What is the thing that you can’t not do, in spite of any fear and resistance? What new goal would bring your life more meaning and fire up your passion? How can you best be of service to others? We set our personal intentions and prepare to journey towards our chosen destination.

On the Road
Committing to the Journey, we set off on the road. It’s a time for forging new allies and connections, raising morale and finding new strengths, assets and insights. Supported by the group, we may also learn new skills useful for overcoming challenges on our journey ahead.

The Dark Wood
In “The Dark Wood” in the ancient stories is where heroes fought dragons and monsters. In modern stories, heroes often face internal dragons, fears and rejected parts of themselves, and integrate them as they grow towards more wholeness, self-acceptance and inner peace. In the safetly held space of the woodland, you will have the chance to co-create your ultimate challenge, what Campbell called “The Ordeal”. Whether a physical, outer challenge or an internal one, this is your chance to move through a major obstacle that stands in the way of you fulfilling your intention.

The Treasure
As Carl Jung once said, “The gold is in the dark”. And so it is that in meeting our greatest challenges and fears we have the chance to find our greatest gifts in them. The gift might be a new perception, understanding or clarity; an inner shift, or more love and acceptance for yourself. Part of you has died and something new has been born – part of the reward comes from facing that death.

The Return
We have the choice to stay stuck or make that change. In the stories, returning home, the hero must integrate any changes and redefine his place in the home tribe. He also has the chance to put to good use his discovered “unused potentials”, contributing to the welfare and happiness of the wider community. Taking silent time to reflect in the woodland, and in discussions around the campfire, we crystallise our learnings from the Journey, and consider any adjustments needed to meet our intentions when we return to the outside world.

The workshop’s facilitators share their personal experience of the Hero’s Journey

Will: In the year 2000, after the break up of my marriage, I followed a ‘Call to Adventure’, taking a year’s sabbatical from my PR job in London and travelling to India to explore its spirituality and pursue my dream of becoming a travel writer. Along the way I faced my fears and experienced a psychological breakdown that ultimately became a ‘breakthrough’: I found new strength, left the ‘London rat race’, and created a more meaningful and enlivening life. Starting to write about this life-changing period in what has since evolved into a novel (in progress), I discovered my real-life experiences mirrored the stages of the Hero’s Journey, and decided I’d like to use my lived experience of this transformation process to support others to move forward in their lives.

Sam: I unexpectedly became a dad at 18. This followed an unusual dream I had had at 12, in which I met my wife to be and was told I would have two children with her, a boy and a girl. I met the girl two years later, knowing I had dreamt of her and a few years later as the dream foretold we had a boy and then a girl together. This still seems bizarre and magical to me today. My family took my becoming a dad badly and this meant I was thrust into the real world and the beginning of my hero’s journey with a rude awakening. It was very challenging to become a labourer at 18 but I love being a dad and as well as repeatedly returning to my studies I have taken the boon home with me of now having a son aged 28, a 24 year old and 17 year old daughter and a 14 year old son. I am now about to have my fifth child, two marriages later, and I am intrigued now by how my dream now is to parent another child with my partner and create a relationship that can provide love and creativity for my family and heal the last scars from my parents’ divorce 43 years ago.


Participants from the last Hero’s Journey retreat Will Gethin co-faciliated with natural happiness author Alan Heeks earlier this year, said:

“Powerful and cathartic.”  John Harley

“A remarkably enriching adventure!” Stuart Finlator

“Very enlightening. I would definitely recommend it to others.”  Keith Howat

Well worth the value of the treasure I found!“  Lawrence Hughes

“Truth is an amazing thing to find.” Gregory Pike

In the Press

The Guardian featured our April Hero’s Journey retreat in this article about the growing Men’s Movement.

Kindred Spirit magazine: ran this article by Will Gethin exploring the use of The Hero’s Journey in the Movies

Resurgence & Ecologist magazine ran this Hero’s Journey article by Will Gethin exploring Joseph Campbell’s mantra for living ‘Follow Your Bliss’

Campfire Convention ran this article by Will Gethin sharing tips for following your bliss, entitled ‘Pathways to Bliss’.


For booking and content enquiries, contact Will Gethin:, 07795 204 833; or Bloomfield:, 07527 885150

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