Spirit Trees

All I want for Christmas is good spirits

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Spirit (of Christmas) tree
Spirit (of Christmas) tree


Say hello to our spirit-of-Christmas tree – Gary’s take on the Gullah spirit tree. As my friends Marlena Smalls and Anita Prather schooled me long ago, the spirit tree keeps “haints” and “plat eyes” away from your house. Why blue bottles? According to an article in the Island Packet “spirits come out at dusk and are beckoned inside by slanting light refracted through the sparkling blue bottles. Once inside, the spirits are trapped. Some say they are vaporized when the bottles are flooded with morning sun. Others say the spirits simply cannot escape the bottle and that you can hear them moaning in agony when the wind blows through the tree branches.”

My good friends who drink the kind of white wine that comes in blue bottles provided the essential components and we constructed our first spirit tree a few years ago from a snag we found in the park (that’s snag, not hag, an important distinction) A storm blew that one down, but did not destroy our sacred bottles (as if we needed proof of the strength of tradition.)

Our collection of bottles has been tucked up out of the wind beside the house for a good many months but this weekend, Gary found another tree floating up to our dock. It was an abandoned Christmas tree from years past, stripped of all needles and with jagged stumps instead of boughs. He dragged it up to our yard and gave it a new home next to our winter fire pit. A few tiny blue Christmas ornaments and a string of little lights and viola – a combination Christmas and Spirit tree. Let the holiday spirit take root!