October 12, 2014

spirit houses

some are simple.  some are as elaborate as a palace.  some are big and some are small.  they are in every house and business.  a spirit house is a shrine to the protective spirits that dwell on the property.  the concept of a spirit house comes from Animism which predates Buddhism.  the purpose is to provide an appealing shelter to spirits who if not appeased can be mischievous.  the spirits are guardians of the home and help in business maters.

there are often fresh food or flower offerings at the shrines so when you are walking down  the street there will be a plate of prepared food sitting on the sidewalk. that's not trash or food for the homeless.  that is a spirit offering.  at this tree a full soda with a straw so it's ready to drink and a joss stick are offered to the tree.  there ae elaborate rules around the construction and placement of these shrines like they must face north or east and can not be in the shawdow of the building it's protecting.  if intercession from a special spirit is required, rituals can be preformed.

the place i stayed in Chiang Mai had quite a nice spirit house.  i did notice a correlation between the affluence of an establishment and how elaborate the spirit houses were.  at this spirit house there was an offering of two apples, some liquid in tiny cups, a heaping plate of garlic, a mango and flowers.

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