Friday, May 29, 2009

Bottle Tree

Our Bottle Tree

I had heard a little about bottle trees and saw one in a local yard. Since Eddie is a metal artist, I asked him to make me a metal bottle tree. The teachers at the school I work at were kind enough to drink some wine in beautiful colored bottles for my tree. I love it in our yard.

Bottle Tree History
(Taken from internet I did not write this but I don't know who did)
Glass "Bottle Trees" originated in ninth century Kongo during a period when superstitious Central African people believed that a genie or imp could be captured in a bottle. The legend said that empty glass bottles placed outside and near the home could capture roving evil spirits at night. The spirit would be destroyed the next day when the sunshine hit the bottle. They could then be corked and thrown into the river to wash away the evil spirits. So, this is how bottles and trees originally came together.
This practice was taken to Europe and North America by African slaves. Thomas Atwood, in History of the Island of Domi (1791), made particular note of the bottle tree as a protection of the home through an invocation of the dead. Atwood writes of the confidence of the African people "in the power of the dead, of the sun and the moon--nay even of sticks, stones and earth from graves hung bottles in their gardens."

While Europeans adapted the bottle tree idea into hollow glass spheres known as "witch balls," the practice of hanging bottles in trees became widespread in the plantation regions of Southern states and from there migrated north and inland into Appalachia.

Traditionally, the bottles are placed on the branches of a crepe myrtle tree. The image of the myrtle tree recurs in the Old Testament, aligned with the Hebrews' escape from slavery, their diaspora and the promise of the redemption of their homeland.

Bottle tree colors can range from blue to clear, to brown, but cobalt blue are always preferred. In the Hoodoo folk-magic tradition, the elemental blues of water and sky place the bottle tree at a crossroads between heaven and earth, and therefore between the living and the dead. The bottle tree interacts with the unknown powers of both creative and destructive spirits.

The bottles are placed upside down with the neck facing the trunk. Trees need not be thickly populated with bottles. Malevolent spirits, on the prowl during the night, enter the bottles where they become trapped by an "encircling charm." It is said that when the wind blows past the tree, you can hear the moans of the ensnared spirits whistling on the breeze. Come morning, they are burnt up by the rising sun.

Today, the bottle tree has entered the realm of folk art. Companies now market bottle tree armatures meant to serve as colorful garden ornaments, once covered with colorful bottles.


  1. I have seen bottle trees but did not know the history of them. Very interesting. I love the one in your yard!

  2. Thank you for that in site. My wife also fell in love and being I do art and I know how to weld guess what. Like you also we do have ours with lights. Thanks again for the information.
    Ron emulsionarts