Spirits Live in the Empties

by Pasadena Adjacent

Hollow glass bottles first began appearing around 1600 B.C.E. in Egypt and Mesopotamia. People would come to believe that spirits lived in glass bottles and referred to them as ‘bottle imps’ or genies; from the pre-Islamic Arabic word djinn (genie in a bottle). Ancient people also believed that night spirits could be lured into bottles they placed around their entry ways. And that the morning light had the power to destroy such spirits. This superstion took the form of ‘bottle trees.’ These glass trees made their way from sub-Saharan Africa, up into eastern Europe, and eventually were imported into the Americas by African slaves. 

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Photo credit Eudora Welty 1930

An excerpt from Eudora Welty’s short story Livvie, describes a bottle tree:

Then coming around up the path from the deep cut of the Natchez Trace below was a line of bare crape-myrtle trees with every branch of them ending in a colored bottle of green or blue. 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 the 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.

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The Editor’s bottle collection took a big hit when the cinderblock wall crashed down on her bottle tree. But a bottle wall? even better.

Dear loyal blog followers (what is left of you) the ‘editor’ has another ‘Home Despot’ project on the horizon that requires your involvement. As a shaman in training, I would like to relieve you of your emptied blue bottles. I make this request with the greatest respect, knowing that you are all a bunch of lushes. Especially worth coveting are the light blue sapphire bottles that come filled with gin. You may keep the gin. Frosted bottles would also be nice. Any color will do. Except clear. This beggar is a chooser.

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