My continued fascination with the American South has led me to the aesthetically pleasing tradition of bottle trees. Though they primarily function as garden ornamentation today, their original purpose, as brought to the U.S. by African slaves, was to catch evil spirits.
“Glass bottle trees originated in Northern Africa during a period when superstitious people believed that a genii or imp could be captured in a glass bottle. Legend had it that empty glass bottles placed outside the home could ‘capture’ roving (usually evil) spirits at night, and the spirit would be destroyed the next day in the sunshine. This practice was taken to Europe and North America by African slaves. While Europeans adapted them into hollow glass spheres known as “witch balls” the practice of hanging bottles in trees became widespread in the Southern states of North America, where they continue to be used today as colorful garden ornaments.” [Via Squidoo]