Tree Talk: September/October Issue 2014


Read or download our most recent newsletter: Fall 2014 Issue of “Tree Talk”

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Tree Talk Volume 20, No 1-2: Spring and Summer

Our quarterly newsletter is back –
Tree Talk Volume 20, No 1-2: Spring and Summer
Can now be accessed by going to Enjoy!

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2014 Fairy Human Relations Congress


2014 Fairy Human Relations Congress
* June 27-29, 2014 * Skalitude Retreat * Twisp, Washington * *

Every year around the Summer Solstice in June, Fairies and Humans gather together to network, communicate, co-create, and bridge relationships on Planet Earth. Specifically focusing more on Nature Spirits, Devas, and the Faery Realms rather than on the Sidhe, Fae, and Faerie, the more human-like races also attend this spiritual gathering. The Congress was first held in the early 1950’s by Daphne Charters in England, but migrated to the United States under directorship of Michael Pilarski at Skalitude near Twisp Washington. The first American gathering was held in 2001 and became an annual event ever since. It was the early ones that I first attended and then with my travels around the world and moving away from the Pacific Northwest, I haven’t had the chance to return until this year. Amazingly it has retained its same beautiful community natured cohesion, peacefulness, center of love and harmony I remembered from 2003-2004. It has grown a bit with more attendees, but never infected with the riff-raff you get at most other festivals. It still has the trustworthiness and balance I remembered loving about the first Pagan gatherings and festivals I went to. Not having to worry about theft, violence, disorderliness, nor people with ulterior motives. The Congress is like the very first spiritual Rainbow Gatherings (before Rainbow fell apart and decayed with riff-raff) meeting a Pagan academic conference. Peace, Love, Healing, and Community empowered the grounds the entire space of the event. I felt recharged and rejuvenated albeit it I was unable to attend many workshops or rites since I was chasing around our little one and watching our festival booth The Tree Leaves Oracle.

As the world has been seeing a full blossom of Fairy and Faerie festivals popping up around the globe, this is the only one that I’ve ever attended that is primarily knowledge and spirituality based unlike some of the others that are music festivals wrapped around the faerie cloak, commercial malls, fantasy dress-up balls, role-playing game conventions, and what-not on a different level than you experience here. This is a true community with more rituals than a normal human can handle and great workshops abound. The music scene is primarily drum circles, although some bands and entertainers will take the small stage in the evenings. The entertainment is drumming, dancing, meditating, yoga, frolick, and education. Of course all the fairy / faerie festivals I attend all have a spiritual nature and rites/rituals embedded in their fabric, but many you have to be “in the know” or hunt around for those aspects if you seek them. Not here, they will be an essential part of your experience. It was good to be back after a 10-12 year hiatus.

Every year, world renown authors and experts on faerie/fairy wisdom hold workshops and classes at the event. Next to the rites and rituals, this is the prime purpose of the Congress. This year, the congress secretly began on thursday and ended on monday as opposed to the flier posted dates – with a special immersion workshop thursday evening by Michael Dunning on “The Dragon Body”. Friday Morgan Brent did “songs from the Garden”, Kirsten Sogge did Eurythmy, Aimee Ringle a Meadow Walkabout, followed by a communal breakfast, opening ceremony and morning circle, Joanna Schmidt on “Opening and Nurturing Your Intuitive Gifts”, Diane Pepper “Meeting Your Multi-Dimensional Selves”, Maia Klevjer “Introduction to Shamanic Journeying for Young Adults”, Joseph Freeman on “Animal Communication”, Ellen van de Viss on “Gardening with the Joyful Devas and Nature Spirits”, Saphir Lewis on “Standing Up as a Human in the Co-Creaetive Relationship”, followed by a communal lunch, then David Spangler on “Understanding the Subtle Worlds: A Foundation for Partnership”, Orion Foxwood on “Growing the Tree of Enchantment: A Journey of Fairy/human Co-creation and Companions”, Laurence Cole: “Listening Deeply to the Emergent song of Now”, Michael Dunning: “Standing in the Power of the Spiritual Stream of Human Becoming”, Creeksong: The Taoist 5 Element(al)s: Using Ancient Sounds as Invocations”, Bridget Wolfe & John Curtis Crawford: “The Alchemy of Unity: When the Whole is more than the Sum of its Parts”, Evening Yoga with Kat Allen, Integration Hour, Circle, a communal dinner, Ecstatic Dance and Drumming with Burke Mulvaney and Friends.


Saturday saw repeat performances and presentations of Friday morning, with added in the afternoon Jacqueline Freeman: “Shrines: Doors to the Fairy World”, Michael Dunning: “21st Century Grail Stream and its Guardians”, David Spangler: “Partnering with the Subtle Worlds: Rules of the Road”, Flora LaRayne and Fransisco: “Blossoming: A Soul’s Longing”, Deborah Koff-Chapin: “Bringing the Subtle Beings into Form Through Touch Drawing”, Shoshana Avree: “The Essence of Existence, Essence of your Soul”, followed by communal lunch, and then
Rj Stewart: “Elizabethan Fairy Magic”, Orion Foxwood: “Clearing the Soul Cage: Cultivating Presence, Clarity and Wonderment”, Saphir Lewis: “Attunement for Powerful Co-Creative Communication”. Ellen Vande Visse: “Gardening with the Joyful Devas and Nature Spirits”, Bridget Wolfe & John Curtis Crawford: “Being in the Other: A New Perspective o Co-Creation”, followed by repeat activities from friday night of yoga, integration, and communal dinner. After dinner was the main Ritual and Fairy/Human Parade, Acousitc Concert in the Lodge with RJ Stewart, Drumming/Dancing/ and Merriment all night long. Sunday had repeat activities from friday and saturday morning, but after Circle held the spectacular “Angel Wash” in the meadows, and the afternoon presentations of Anastacia Nutt on “Celtic Fairy Traditions: Herbs, Charms and the Wise Ones Who Made Them”, Creeksong “Cernunnos: Lord of the Forest, Lord of the Wild Things”, Orion Foxwood: “The Re-Sourcing Prayer: A Technique for Attunement and Alignment”. Jacqueline Freeman: “Honeybees: The Vibratory Voice of Transformation”, Dolores Nurss:”Dreaming with Fairies”, Closing Circle followed by Yoga, Integration Hour, and communal Dinner. Monday had a special Immersion workshop by RJ Stewart of “The Four Cities of the Tuatha de Danann: Beyond the Hidden Crossroads”. It was a most spectacular weekend with clear weather, good sun, fun nature, and a charming community. All meals were communal and included in the festival fees – good wholesome vegan, vegetarian, and free-range organic foods. The food alone was worth the 12 hour drive we had entering this realm.

In previous years, the notable speakers and workshops were done by Peter Tompkins (Secret Life of Plants), Findhorn co-founders Dorothy Maclean and David Spangler, and teachers in the Celtic Faery tradition RJ Stewart, Caitlín Matthews and Orion Foxwood. Other presenters also included flower essence specialists, animal and plant communicators, shamanic practitioners and herbalists, wildcrafters, fairy seers, intuitives, geomancers, Bards and Druids, and Native American storytellers.

The founders and organizers feel this event is very important as the Congress affects the planet by joining with the nature, devic, and other higher realms to bring more peace, love, and understanding into the world with a goal of not escaping the outer world but to positively affect it. It is a time on the globe wheras multiple crises are affecting humanity and they feel it is very important to seek alliances with as many light forces as possible in other realms. Although many deny their existence, the fairy realms and Mother Earth are big players in what is happening on the planet and this vanguard event bring these people together with an intent for communication and cooperation for ourselves and humanity. They feel that the event has more fairies, devas, and light being in attendance both seen and unseen, albeit registration for 2014 was over 250 in attendance, with a feel of close to 300+ frolicking in the meadows. It was a perfect sized event and one I hope to return to again and again for years to come. It has been a long time since I’ve had a good recharge like I did at this event which makes it worth all the more.

~ Leaf McGowan, Druid, Ovate, Faeid, & Healer
founder of the Faeid Fellowship, Tree Leaves Folk Fellowship & Pirate Relief


Photos from the Event:

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Friday, Oct 3, 2014: Ashland Zombie Walk (tentative date)


Greetings Ashland community!

It appears that the Ashland Zombie Crawl happens annually on the first friday of October. We’ll verify that date when we find out and post here and on our community page at as soon as we know. We’ll be involved somehow – backup makeup and/or bodypainting support, crawl sponsorship, helping with gear, etc.

Beginning October 2014 – The Tree Leaves’ Oracle will once again be sponsoring the zombies as they crawl, walk, moan, growl, and drag down the streets of America – while we always promote and network the crawls in Manitou Springs, Colorado and Colorado Springs, Colorado – we have moved from that location to our new home of Ashland, Oregon. So while former focalizers of those western crawls, we’ll get our hands bloody helping the zombies of Ashland along. Apparently the Ashland Zombie Crawl occurs the first friday of every October – and we look forward to joining them this year. You can get zombie supplies, blood, bodypainting, and costume support from The Leaf and Dragon at 33 North First Street Suite 1, Ashland, Oregon for all your zombie, Halloween, and dress up needs. See you out during the crawl! We have set up an event notification and community page at as a point for finding out more information.

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Grand Opening of the Leaf and Dragon


Join us at our new storefront at 33 North First Street, Suite 1, Ashland, Oregon 97520 as we embark upon our newest phenomena as

The Leaf and Dragon

The combined efforts of The Tree Leaves Oracle and The Jelling Dragon bringing together their hordes of treasures from their travels around the world specializing in Viking, Pirates, Faeries, Fantasy, Folklore, and Medieval Re-enactments, supplies, gifts, clothing, jewelry, herbs, oils, candles, art, crafts, and sundries.

Now open – Mondays through Saturdays, 10 AM until 5 PM excluding holidays and Faerie festivals we attend.

Web shopping carts open 24/7. Toll free: 1-800-605-9705.

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Consignments with the Tree Leaves Oracle

Interested in placing your art on consignment with The Tree Leaves’ Oracle?

Send us an email at and let us know about your art – please include pictures, descriptions, and prices. We need to have more than 6 items each of your items you want to be listed online with us, and any amount is ok for display in our festival booth or storefront.

To learn about our rates and policy, discounts and volunteer swap – download our consignment sheet here: consignment-rates.

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Visit our Booth at Faeriecon West!

Our festival season is upon us and the first festival of the season will be Faeriecon West in Seattle, Washington during the weekend of February 21st – 23rd, 2014.

Come visit our booth in space number 16 displaying a good bulk of our wares and collections found in our Store. See you there!


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400 sq. ft. off grid Solar Cabins

Cross-posted from Off Grid World 12/18/2013 “How to Build a 400sqft Solar Powered Off Grid Cabin for $2k” at

How To Build a 400sqft Solar Powered Off Grid Cabin for $2k

How to build a nice small cabin powered by solar panels. Lamar Alexander built this cute little 400 square foot cabin for approximately $2000, and powers it with a 570 watt solar and wind power system. The whole system is very inexpensive, and the best part is he is mortgage free. Very cool little cabin. I’d be proud to build something like this myself, and call it home.

How to build a 14x14 solar cabin

“…This cabin is 14×14 with a full loft and approximately 400 square feet of living space. Downstairs is Kitchen, Bathroom, Dining and Living area. Upstairs is a large Bedroom and Office. There is enough room for 6 people to sleep comfortably. Power system is 580 watts Solar electric and 400 Watts wind power which powers a 12 volt fridge, lights, water pump, TV’s, laptop and many gadgets. Heat source can be propane or wood stove. Toilet is composting or a septic tank system…” ~

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Uvogel house by Peter Jungmann

cross-posted from Viral Nova 2014 “I Really, Really Want To Live In This Tiny House. Step Inside And You’ll Instantly See Why.” article published at

I Really, Really Want To Live In This Tiny House. Step Inside And You’ll Instantly See Why.

January 8, 2014 Entertainment

If you have ever wanted to visit the Alps in Austria, then you should do it in style. This 45 square meter house, designed by Peter Jungmann, is available for rent and will give you the most spectacular view. The best part about it, though, is its unique design… oh, and did I mention it’s only 45 square meters (484 square feet)?

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The Gypsy Wagon ~ a.k.a. “Vardo”

vardos in front of the Coach House Cafe, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland

Article by Thomas Baurley © 2013 – Technogypsie Productions – All Rights Reserved.

There are always discussed a lot of pros and cons about “Gypsy” culture, and we’ve always been on the side of admiration for the talents, beauty, and charm portrayed by Gypsies, rather than the disgust that their under-culture of thieves, beggars, and trash that many towns fear when they hear the term. One of the beautiful elements of Gypsy culture in my eyes is the “Vardo” or the “Gypsy Wagon”. They are also called a van, living waggon, caravan, house truck, or waggon. Originally it started out as a traditional horse-drawn wagon upon which was built a house that the British Romani people lived in. Today, they are mostly mechanized, without horse, and is usually an artistic masterpiece that has some of the same utilities as an RV, motor home, caravan, or camper van. They often have a wood fire stove within, having a chimney or a pipe, and consist of fine decoration, woodwork, intricate carvings, gilding, and painting on the inside as well as the outside. The woodwork of these masterpieces are fantastic. It is said that amongst the British Romani, the vardo is seen as a masterpiece of wood-crafter’s art and artistic design, representing their culture and way of life. They were very popular for well over 70 years recorded as early as the mid-1800’s upwards into the 20th century C.E. (common era) With the motorized age, they’ve been replaced by Recreational vehicles, caravan’s, and house trucks. They are still around, but not used for year-round living like they were in the past. You’ll find them at alternative festivals, Romanichal horse fairs, and country fairs being displayed as the exhibit they are.

The Original Vardo
The Romani arrived into the British Isles by 1500 C.E. (common era) but did not live in the vardos until the early 1800’s. Before the 1800’s they traveled in traditional tilted carts or horse-drawn carts, on foot, and sleeping in the carts or in small tents or bender tents (made of branches like willow that bent inwards to support a waterproof cover). The original vardos were drawn first by cast-off horses and then after World War II replaced by breeds of horses suitable for the work such as the Gypsy Cob, Coloured Cob, Gypsy Horse, Gypsy Vanner, Tinker Horse, and Irish Cob. The first recorded use of a vardo as a living accommodation was in 1810 by non-Romani circus troupes in France which were much larger vehicles pulled by teams of horses allowing for maximum capacity for storage and living spaces. This was replaced in the 19th century by a smaller caravan that current vardos are found to be styled after. The Romani Gypsies only lived and highly utilized the vardo for just over 150 years. By 1840-1870 the Romani in the U.K. incorporated their living spaces within them, required less horses to pull them, and added their own characteristic art and design elements to the inside and outside. These were designed with large wheels set on the outside of the wagon’s body with sloping sides outward as they rise towards the eaves. There have been recorded to be six original types that differ in shape, placement of the wheels relative to the bed, size, by maker, and location manufactured. Doors are usually located in the front. The bow-top roofs and open-lot types usually consist of canvas stretched over a curved wood frame, while the others are roofed in wood. Designs were pretty much standardized by the 1850’s with common features shared amongst them all. Cast-iron cooking stoves from America where imported in and incorporated within them from the 1830’s onward. This led to the incorporation of a chimney to draft out the smoke. Chimneys are placed on the left side in American and European vardos, while usually placed on the right side since the caravan in the UK, Ireland, and Australia travels on the left side of the road in order to prevent damage from trees, shrubs, and other items sticking out over the road. The stove will also be found within a wooden fireplace outfitted with fire-proofing and protection surroundings. The inside of the vardo often has built-in seats, a wardrobe, cabinets, bunks in the rear, chest of drawers, and sometimes a glass-fronted china cabinet. Windows are often found on the left side and rear in UK, Irish, and Australian vardos, while on the right side in American, European, and Canadian versions – again as protection from damages along the side of the road. Some are built with clerestories to allow air and light in for ventilation and natural lighting. Brackets for oil lamps can be found mounted over the chest of drawers opposite the fireplace, while the dresser top is used as a table.

Charles Dickens’ describes a vardo in the Curiousity Shop (Chapter 27) as:

    “One half of it… was carpeted, and so partitioned off at the further end as to accommodate a sleeping-place, constructed after the fashion of a berth on board ship, which was shaded, like the windows, with fair white curtains… The other half served for a kitchen, and was fitted up with a stove whose small chimney passed through the roof. It also held a closet or larder, several chests, a great pitcher of water, and a few cooking-utensils and articles of crockery. These latter necessaries hung upon the walls, which in that portion of the establishment devoted to the lady of the caravan, were ornamented with such gayer and lighter decorations as a triangle and a couple of well-thumbed tambourines.”

The Romani termed these caravans as “vardo” within the Romani language deriving from “vurdon” the Iranian word for “cart”. In its age of popularity, they were commissioned by families or newlywed couples from coach builders that specialized in their construction which took upwards of 6 months to a year to build. They were artistic treasures to the Gypsies and included much customized work and design around their construct. They often included ash, elm, pine, cedar, and oak with gilding of gold and/or silver. Created first by the Romani, they were incorporated by later non-Romani Gypsy types such as tinkers and travelers becoming a theme for the nomadic lifestyle they all share in common. The wagons were often named after their owners (such as ‘Brush wagon’), their style (such as ‘Ledge wagon’), town of its construction (such as ‘Reading Wagon’), or the builder’s name (such as the ‘Burton wagon’). There are six main styles today of the vardo with a variety of designs, these are:

  1. Brush Wagon (or fen wagon) – Was a standard Romanic vardo with straight sides and wheels located outside of its body. Sharing the family name “Brush” of its owner, it was very similar to the “Reading vardo” but unlike other styles had a half-door with glazed shutters located in the back of the vardo with a set of steps arranged the opposite way from other wagons. It did not have the molly croft skylight on its roof. It had exterior racks and cases fitted on the outside frame as well as its chase so that the owner could carry trade items and merchandise such as wicker chairs, baskets, brooms, and brushes. It had three light iron rains around the roof and sometimes trade-name boards used for storing bulk goods. Later wagons were elaborately decorated and colorfully painted.

  2. Reading Wagon (or kite wagon) – sharing the name of the town it was constructed in and represented a design that was the epitome of the Romani’s golden age. It had straight sides that sloped outwards towards the eaves with high arched wheels. They were relatively light weight dating from 1870 C.E. and synonymous with the original builder “Dauton and Sons of Reading” where they were made. These were probably the most cherished of vardos by the Romani because of its weight and aesthetics, ability to cross fords, able to pull off road and over rough ground. They were 10 feet long with a porch installed on its front and back. The rear wheels were 18 inches larger than the ones on the front. By the 20th century they had raised skylights and on either side of the bed were installed quarter-inch thick beveled mirrors with lavish decoration. The locker seats and cupboards were clasped to prevent movement during travel. The back and side windows were shuttered and decorated. The body was made from beaded tongue-and-grooved match boards, painted red picked out in yellow and green. The extent of the decoration varied with the wealth of the family and represented as such, sometimes with gold gilding, gargoyles, carved lion heads, gold painting, or gold leaf. A good video demonstration of this wagon can be seen at
  3. Ledge Wagon (a.k.a. “cottage shaped wagon”) – This wagon was named after its unique style of construct and design. The wagon had a more robust frame and living area extending over the large rear wheels. To support the frame, brass brackets and a solid arched roof upwards of 12 feet in height would extend over the wagon’s length forming a porch at both ends of the vardo. This porch roof had support by iron brackets. The vardo’s walls often had ornate carvings and scroll work design along its length. The tongue would be paneled in groove boards for extra support and structure.
  4. Bow Top Wagon was named after its unique style of construct and design. It was designed to be like the “Ledge wagon” but significantly lighter and less likely to topple in strong winds. The roof is a very light weight canvas top with wooden frame supports reminiscent of the old “bender tents”. The front and back of the vardo are decorated with ornate scroll work and the tongue/groove with the rest of the wagon painted green to be more invisible when camped in the forests. The interior had the same high scroll work design or was covered with Chenille fabric. Often inside was found a table, double bed, and a stove. Before World War II the canvas was said to be teal-colored because only cotton duck was available at that time.
  5. Open Lot Wagon (a.k.a. Yorkshire Bow) was named after its unique style of construct and design. It was almost identical to the “Bow Top Wagon” with same design except there was no door – a curtain was hung instead for privacy.
  6. Burton Wagon was named after its builder and is one of the oldest examples of wagons used as a home in the U.K. It was often found undecorated in its origins evolving into the elaborate design it is now. It wasn’t suited for off-road use because of its small wheels. In the later evolutions they became very ornate and well decorated. Later nicknamed “Showman” as they became used by tinkers, travelers, and gypsies that hit festivals, fairs, and shows – exhibiting wealth from their intricate carvings, adornments, cut-glass, heavy gold leaf, and angel lamps. Most have a molli-croft roof.

Life in a vardo was a tight fit. The vardo is a one-room wagon, sometimes with a sliding door installed for privacy and bunks that pull out under the adult bed for children to sleep in. Every nook-n-cranny was used for storage and as a chamber to stuff things. The original wagons were horse-drawn and a days travel would never be more than 15 miles in a day (except a rare instance). Often the vardo is pulled by one large horse, with a second added for hilly terrain. Every 10 years of use, the vardo was often returned to the builder for upkeep and maintenance, re-structuring, and a check-over.

Vardo artwork almost always is of ornate and elaborate design, hand carved, and painted with traditional symbols. Sometimes this was used to exhibit the owner’s wealth, their lifestyle, or trades. The exquisite nature was to represent the fine craftsmanship, artistic skills, and wood carving that they were notable for as an example of their skills when looking for work. They rarely constructed the wagons themselves though, as they left that to task to specialized coach builders. Besides notable Romani symbols, artwork included gargoyles, lion heads, vine work, floral designs, griffins, birds, lions, horses, and foliage. Sometimes upwards of 4-15 books of gold leaf were added to the decor. Some of the artwork have raised attention to the specific artist for their style and beauty – in the early days these were Tommy Gaskin, John Pickett, Tom Stevens, Jim Berry, and John Pockett as notable artists. Today artists like Lol Thompson and Yorkie Greenwood continue the tradition.

Death of a Vardo – The Romani would often burn the vardo and belongings of a owner when they pass from this realm. This was very traditional during the 19th-20th century. No possessions would be sold and would be burned or few items of jewelry, money, china, and personal effects left to the family. Today they are rare and far few in-between but represent a revival culture on the move up. Popular in the 18th-20th century, the Gypsies began to lose ability to keep them from the mid 1900’s as economics, environment, technology, and a lack of interest in traditional ways/crafts became common place. The auto replaced the horse, motorized caravans replaced the horse drawn vardo. It is estimated that less than 1% of gypsies today live in traditional horse-drawn vardos. They have been converted into conversation pieces, art exhibits, collector items, play houses, garden plant potters, museum pieces, lawn decoration, writing rooms, art studios, and festival vending booths. Some old vardos have been restored and salvaged with an upsurge of use in festivals and horse shows.

The Motorized Vardo or Truck House
As revitalized interest has developed over the vardo and Gypsy Wagons as an art form, many have began to modernize the construct while keeping an avid interest in preserving the art, design, hand carvings, gilding, and painting upheld. They can be built atop pickup trucks, trailers, carts, and wagons. Many have rubber tires. A modern manufacturer of these tells easy-to-do-it-yourself instructions here:

Modern Gypsy Wagon/ House Truck we are currently renting made by the very talented Markie Stuart.

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