Bright Blessings of the Day to you!
This Sunday, you can come and take part in a Tradition brought to the U.S., from the Congo, by enslaved folk with spiritual roots by creating a ancestor chime and altar tree in Highland Park, Michigan. This is a "Fall Equinox Community Project," according to the event's creator, Goddess Shamayim Sapphira Shu. The Equinox for most pagans is known as Mabon, the second of the Death Festivals.
Nestled in the heart of our area, this project encompasses everything that will engage all the senses. Sight, sound, emotion, touch, and the taste of reverence on your tongue. How fitting that such an otherworldly venture, a communion for those beyond the veil, takes place on Avalon street. There, they invite all to
"adorn a tree that looks "dead" and resurrect it by adding colorful bottles, bells and and colorful cloth strips and other meaningful objects!"
This is a variation on the "bottle tree" http://www.thebottletreeman.com/history.php memorials and wards, seen in most places where the descendents of the African American diaspora are found and celebrate the connection with the world of the unseen. Blue is a protective color, well known throughout our practices, the most famous example being the color Haint blue on doors by those who practice Conjure or believe in Rootwork, also known in some circles as HooDoo.
This tree will be honoring the dead as a memorial. Participants may write the names of their ancestors on the bottles, bring ribbons to blow in the wind, chimes to ring, or other meaningful objects as they see fit. It is an act of honor.
The Tradition of the Bottle Tree goes back a long time.
"Slaves hung blue bottles from trees and huts as talismans to ward off unhealthy spirits. The spirits would become trapped in the bottles and as the wind blew you could hear them howling.."
according to Goddess Shu.
But more than this, the practice of bottle magick continues today in the form of the famous Four Thieves Vinegar Banishment Spells http://www.luckymojo.com/fourthievesvinegar.html, among others, that many of us know and love. The most sold item in Detroit may be the Vinegar, and you can find it everywhere. The river sparkles on its own, but some of it may be the glass at the bottom of it!
You will also notice, if you look, that many homes have blue glass in their brickwork or gardens in Detroit. This is not a coincidence, as many families have ancestors who moved from the American South, bringing their traditions with them.
There is even a nod to this practice in the film Daughters of the Dust, written,directed and produced by Julie Dash. There is a powerful scene in which the Gullah tree is smashed. It is a film of dedication and beauty in regard to Traditions that have survived. Visit http://usads.ms11.net/bottletree2.html to read an article specifically about the trees by Charlotte Conner.
There is also a bottle tree at Faith Farm https://www.facebook.com/pages/Faith-Hope-and-Unity-Farms-of-Detroit/127219696310 in Detroit. At the blessing of the farm, participants tied ribbons and placed bottles. The event wound up leading to this reporter having a speckled pullet nesting on her head! Ah, already the leanings toward Papa, eh?
If you have a chance, stop by the event and participate in the sacred practice. Make it a part of your Mabon celebrations, and vibe with the sacred sound of the wind as you honor the Mighty Dead. The day is this Sunday, from 12 noon until 7:00 pm that evening. Bring a dish, if so inclined. The location is 24 Avalon Street, Highland Park, Michigan.
Need to know where to find Four Thieves Vinegar? Try Discount Candle on Gratiot in Detroit, or Knight Light Candle on 9 mile in Ferndale. Both places have knowledgeable staff who are the real deal.