Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bottle trees

I don't know everything. I know that. Then why is it when I learn something new, I can't believe that I didn't already know it?

This happened a couple of years ago when we visited a small museum that had a display on bottle trees. It was the first time that I had heard of bottle trees and I was fascinated. They have a long history (maybe thousands of years) so there are a lot of variations on their origins and how they work. The general idea is that the bottles capture evil spirits before they can enter your house. In other words, they are a good luck charm. There is also a general consensus that they were part of the African heritage that slaves brought to this country. They are popular in the southern US and blue is the favorite color for the bottles. Besides being a good luck charm, today they are used as garden art.

After I first learned about them, I discovered they were not as rare as I thought. I began to notice references to them in various places, and a few months later, one popped up in my neighborhood. So as I always do, I wondered how something that many others knew about had slipped under my radar.

But maybe they weren't as far removed from my experiences as I thought they were. Customs change and the bottle trees have had many variations including putting blue bottles in your window for luck. Now here's the interesting part. I had had a blue bottle in my window for several years. It came from my grandmother's house where she had it in her front window. I put it in my window just because I thought it was pretty. Who knew that maybe it was really a good luck charm based on a bottle tree. So I almost knew about them. I feel better.

Decorated bottles from the exhibit that first introduced me to bottle trees.

Neighborhood bottle tree. They have been slowly adding bottles.

My blue bottle from my grandmother.

Information from the exhibit we saw.