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Bottle Trees and Ancestor Cults

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posted on Jul, 24 2016 @ 06:02 PM
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A curious Southern custom is that of "bottle trees" - sticks, posts, metallic frameworks, and sometimes even dead trees with colored glass bottles stuck on the end of the branches. A google search turns up thousands of examples along with instructions on how to make them. A few sites declare they originated in "ancient Egypt" (though the Egyptians had no such thing.) This charming custom comes from Africa and is at least 500 years old, imported with the slaves.

They have a folklore of their own:


There was no word that fell from Solomon's lips to say what they were for, but Livvie knew that there could be a spell put in trees, and she was familiar from the time she was born with the way bottle trees kept evil spirits from coming into the house - by luring them inside the colored bottles, where they cannot get out again.

(source)



Smithsonian Gardens says that the modern version was a Creole tradition


While the meaning of bottle trees continues to evolve as it has for centuries, one of the more common interpretations is that they protect the home and garden by catching evil spirits, which some say are attracted to the bottles by their bright colors (sometimes made by swirling paint on the inside of a clear bottle). Once inside, the sunlight destroys the spirit. Other interpretations suggest the spirits are trapped inside the bottles in the evening. Then, the morning sunlight destroys them. If you pass by and happen to hear the wind blowing across the bottles, it is thought to be the sound of the spirits trapped inside. Bottle trees have also been thought to bring rain, luck, and to make trees bloom.



There's a wonderful museum catalog from an exhibition that includes several bottle trees that says, in part...


Among the Yoruba and other Kwa speakers of West Africa, the altar is referred to as a "face of the gods," a place for appeasement, where
votive pottery is placed and cool liquids are poured from vessels. Yoruba altars gleam with massed vessels whose fragility demands tact and delicacy in worship. In contrast, Kongo civilizations of Central Africa consider the altar to be a "turning point," the
crossroads, the threshold to another world. Kongo worshipers make the tombs of their ancestors into altars, using a cross-in-a-circle pattern mirroring the passage of the sun to signify the cycle of life and chart the immortal journey of the soul.




(with so much angst and irritability making the rounds these days, I thought I'd post an older cultural tradition that's fun and interesting.)




posted on Jul, 24 2016 @ 07:09 PM
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mwahahaha..........As soon as I read bottle trees I thought of a pair of sneakers(runners/joggers) with laces tied and thrown up & left hanging on power lines.
I have no idea why... Lol !!



posted on Jul, 24 2016 @ 07:12 PM
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West Texas desert. Old gas station.
Bottle tree.
Keep driving.



posted on Jul, 24 2016 @ 09:17 PM
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byrd, my ray of light....



posted on Jul, 25 2016 @ 07:17 AM
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I was in elementary with one particular girl whose parents still live down the road from me. They have a really cool bottle tree in their garden still to this day. I never knew all of this information, and I wonder if they know any of it, or just thought it was a cool decoration.

Very interesting, thank you!

-Alee



posted on Jul, 25 2016 @ 08:27 AM
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Cool interesting thread! Thanks Byrd for putting a song in my morning


I have seen these before & thought some of them were really pretty.
Kinda a spooky history.





All these bottle trees need a bottlebrush tree to go with







posted on Jul, 25 2016 @ 11:46 AM
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a reply to: Byrd

I thought that I had seen the bottle tree garden mentioned in the Mojave Desert, but after looking that the pictures, no, I had seen something else; a house made of glass bottles. That could potentially be a dreadful house to live in.

The engineers for this study hall were wise to fill the plastic bottles up and cap them before using them.



edit on 25-7-2016 by pthena because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 25 2016 @ 07:11 PM
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originally posted by: SeekingDepth


All these bottle trees need a bottlebrush tree

Do they grow these outside of Australia? I hate them, look nice but dusty, stinky and scratchy. Maybe not so bad in a wetter climate.
edit on 25/7/16 by Cinrad because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 25 2016 @ 08:21 PM
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originally posted by: SeekingDepth
Cool interesting thread! Thanks Byrd for putting a song in my morning


I have seen these before & thought some of them were really pretty.
Kinda a spooky history.





All these bottle trees need a bottlebrush tree to go with






Oh, those are beautiful aren't they!



posted on Aug, 20 2016 @ 12:41 AM
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While I haven't much experience down south, when I was a kid visiting the country side in Jamaica I would see some of these bottle trees I had always thought that someone was just messing around like the strange writing done in chalk on the ground or on trees, it was through the book above that I became aware that there was more to it than that.
edit on 20-8-2016 by Spider879 because: (no reason given)



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