Fire & Shadow

Fire & Shadow: A collaboration with The Dark Mountain Project

An 8 month expedition into the fire and shadows of our times, working together to bring back new light.

Fire & Shadow

Fire & Shadow is a unique programme exploring the state of the world, our place in it, and how we might weave a new kind of story in an age of upheaval and uncertainty. Over the course of eight months, we will go deeply into some of the biggest questions of our times, through two week-long retreats, solo expeditions into the wild, real-life projects as individuals and small groups, workshops with guest teachers, and virtual get-togethers as a community of people. We aim to build a kind of 21st century tribe, committed to looking into the darkness in order to bring wisdom and hope back into our times.


Ecologically, economically and culturally, we are living in an age of crisis. But within every crisis is the opportunity to forge new narratives and new ways of seeing. Fire & Shadow is a unique collaboration between The Dark Mountain Project and Way of Nature, which aims to build these stories from the ground up. It will look with radical honesty at the state of the Earth today, to build an understanding of the failed stories which have led us to this point, and help us construct new ones together. It will explore intellectual, emotional and practical skills to help navigate the turmoil of our times and to find our roles within it; what we can do, what we can be, what we can offer.

In times like these, it is easy to feel despair, anger, and confusion. This course aims to help us find a sense of wholeness and balance again, to navigate the world we live in, and use our skills for the best in times of fire and shadow.

Questions we will explore include:

– How to look honestly at the state of the world, leaving behind both false hope and false hopelessness.
-How to understand the stories which got us here, and to navigate the emotions they create.
– How to see crisis as opportunity; to build new narratives for a time of change.
– How to explore realistic options for change, both personally and more widely.
– How to see the meaning and the beauty in nature and each other.

Course Structure

Fire & Shadow follows from the success of our week-long 2016 collaboration, Shadows in the Wild. Here, we will go on a deeper journey, combining retreats, virtual gatherings and more meaningful work by taking individual and collective questions from the process into our everyday lives. The course will begin with a week-long retreat, in May 2017, in the wild land of Alladale Wilderness Reserve. This retreat will include a wild ‘solo’ – a powerful, personal expedition into Nature, inspired by traditional Vision Quests. With the help of wild Nature and a combination of stories, workshops,  fireside conversations, ancient wisdom practices and teaching sessions, we will outline the challenges of our times, and shape a set of questions and experiments to take back to our ‘real lives’.

After the first retreat we will form ongoing project groups to help each other carry these questions and ideas as we go about our daily lives. We will invite people to work in smaller groups around related questions, reconvening for online conversations – ‘virtual firepits’ – led by the course teachers. Additionally, in between the retreats we will offer two virtual workshops on ‘Working with Stories’ and ‘The Nature of Change’ – and we will design these workshops, also inviting in guest teachers, based on the themes and questions that emerge through the process. 

As we move into the autumn of the year, we will reconvene for a second gathering, this time in wild nature in continental Europe. We are delighted to say that this retreat is planned to take place in the wild Romanian Carpathian Mountains – a place of outstanding natural wonder and home to the largest carnivores in Europe. Here, we will regather to explore what we have learnt from our shared journey, and revisit the stories that we might form in the world. We will go deeper into the art of transformation, again looking to ancient wisdom for insights into the transformative forces of life. And we will return to the wild for a second ‘solo’, trusting that Nature will reveal more to us. By the end of the second gathering, we will draw a new source of insight and potential to help us live our lives more fully, and use our skills more effectively, as we navigate these difficult times. Autumn will also be about closing our journey together, celebrating whatever our journey together has brought.

In the stillness of winter, we will hold a final round of virtual conversations. In the space after the journey, and before spring returns again, we will do a little more to help each other ground this experience and understand how it might ripple out to the world.


Paul Kingsnorth co-founded the Dark Mountain Project in 2009. What began life as a small writers’ movement has since become an international network of many thousands of writers, artists and thinkers exploring the need for new ways of seeing in a time of change. Dark Mountain publishes two collections of writing a year and holds semi-regular events. Paul is also the award-winning author of five books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and an experienced teacher and facilitator. He lives on a smallholding in the west of Ireland. His website is

Andres Roberts is a guide and advisor dedicated to a new kind of progress, fit for a positive future for all. His work combines renewed ideas about learning and change, reconnection to Nature, and the wisdom of ancient cultures to help more positive, and more systemic, change happen. Building on twenty years of experience in learning and leadership, Andres has studied with respected elders from across the world, helping to make ancient wisdom and Nature-based practices more accessible in the modern world. Andres is co-founder of Way of Nature UK and founding partner of The Bio-Leadership Project.

The Fire and Shadow course will also feature two special guest teachers; one on each retreat. Details to be confirmed.


Fire and Shadow is open to anyone, anywhere, who feels that these questions resonate in their lives, and who would like to explore them further in the company of others. We have space for up to 20 people on the journey. If you are interested in joining the programme we ask that you send us a short summary (no more than a few hundred words) saying something about why you think it is for you, and what you would hope to get out of it. 


The first Fire & Shadow retreat of the year will take place at a remote base in Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Scotland, from the 8th to the 14th May.

The second Fire & Shadow retreat of the year is planned to take place in the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania, from the 2nd to the 8th of October.

Online workshops and group meetings will be announced and arranged over the duration of the programme. We will arrange these around dates and times that work for the whole group.


Full Price: £2650

Early Bird: £2205 – for booking and payment before 23rd December 2016

Bursary spots (4 available): £1600

Price includes all retreats, local transfers on arrival, guiding and teaching, online ‘fire-pits’ and continued provision of materials and support. Price excludes travel to local area stations/airports. Note accommodation will always be camping. The retreats are in May and October, to be held in temperate climates but a degree of reasonable physical fitness will be required, and comfort with camping in wild places.


To book, please email the summary above to and we will get back to you with more information and a registration pack.

Practical Pointers

Fire & Shadow is a deeper kind of journey, both individually and collectively. There will be high points and low points, and we hope that there will be much to celebrate on the other side. This will take time and commitment, so we are inviting applications for the full nine month process only. This means you need to be able to make the two wild gathering dates as well as virtual fire-pit meetings. The programme will also support you to carry learning themes and actions into your everyday life, working with other members of the programme in a supportive way. In this way we hope to make it something that can genuinely change lives and inspire positive actions in the world.     Copyright Way of Nature UK 2015.                         Videos & images by Terry Bond © 2015