History of the Bottle Tree: Folklore, Present and Darkness.
Before I had ever heard of a bottle tree, let alone seen one, I had – still have – a dead tree in my living room that is decorated with whatever theme, or lack of theme, my children and I feel like hanging from it. It’s odd for sure, but we have enjoyed this for many years.
A friend came over to visit for the first time and noticed my decorated dead tree and said, “Oh, you have a bottle tree…” I had no idea what she was talking about, but figured she was making polite conversation and I wondered if she didn’t question my sanity. She had told me that people like decorating trees with bottles – I had some old bottles hanging from this tree – and that was just something people were doing. Of course I wondered who these people were and why would they ever do such a thing? I knew I was nuts, but other people?
I had to research it. Here’s a simple explanation on what I found.
A bottle tree’s original purpose was to capture evil spirits. Two different versions on this exist, however it’s generally agreed that this practice originated in the Congo, where eventually African Slaves brought the superstation of demon catching through bottles to America. It is known for bottles to hang anywhere, from a living tree, a piece of wood from a house or the more elaborate bottle trees that are making their way in popularity.
In one version, it is said evil spirits are drawn to the color of the glass (some colors more powerful than others) and the evil spirit is then trapped inside. When the bottle “moans”, meaning the wind has blown past it, an evil spirit has been captured. One is to cork the bottle and toss it into the river to dispose of it.
Another says wandering evil spirits are trapped at night inside the bottles and are destroyed by the sunlight the next day. I guess, in this manner, one wouldn’t have to acquire more bottles, nor pollute the river. However, this kind of seems to defeat the purpose of the colored glass.
A few years ago, when I researched this, I had yet to see one in Michigan. Then a bottle tree boom began to happen like that “garden gazing ball” fad – which I have yet to understand. I wondered how many people knew of its history, or cared too. For most, I’m sure they just love the colors of the bottle tree and that’s good enough for me.
As for Darkness, I knew I had to sneak the bottle tree in somewhere. I loved the idea and folklore that darker-forces are attracted to light, demons could be trapped using light and could be dispelled at the same time. And so I did. The bottle tree has a small place in Darkness, but it touches on a growing concept; that’s left open for questioning or further exploration. The bottle tree in Darkness, represents the human and demon attraction for light, the awareness light is a presence in which we try to hold, and the question, “What would one do with it, if it could be obtained?”