All About Spirit Houses

One of the features I have really come to love, and always look out for, are the spirit houses. The spirit houses in Thailand are miniature houses on a platform, which are often furnished with flowers, incense and candles. Spirit houses are found outside most homes and businesses and vary in size, intricacy and offerings. I find them fascinatimg not only as a tradition but in how different they all are.

I read some interesteing facts about spirit houses – thought it would be fun to share them.

The tradition of the spirit house dates way back to ancient times when spirit worship was widespread. I read that when Buddhism came to South East Asia it developed along, side by side, with the ancient spirit religion. Many of the old animistic beliefs have become intertwined with Buddhism, one of them being the spirit house.

In Thailand you see spirit houses everywhere. They can be found in a hotel garden, on a pedestal at the front of a business, outside homes and even outside an outdoor market. The key element that all spirit houses share is they are built outside.

The spirit house was created to appease the spirits who have been displaced by the construction of the building on the land. The house can be temporary or permanent and is built from wood, brick or concrete. As diverse as the material it is made from so is the size of a spirit house. It can vary from a tiny little structure to a large walk-in house.

In the center of the house rest symbols or statues, either small figures or animals, usually elephant figurines, and around the outside of the house is usually a balcony where such offerings as flowers, incense or candles are left. Food is also left for the spirits, everything from fruit slices to full-blown meals. I have found myself fascinated by what each spirit house owner chooses to leave.

Garlands of brightly coloured flowers hang from the balconies. These are often orchids or some kind of miniature marigold threaded onto fine string. In Bangkok there are many street vendors that sit right on the side of the crazy, busy road, patiently ‘sewing’ these delicate creations.

morning dew
freckles fresh petals –
gift for the spirits


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