Flora - robertsjohnj

Spirit House

I brought this home from Thailand 15 years ago and since then its been home to birds squirrels, spiders, etc. as well as serving as a garden ornament.

These can be found throughout SE Asia. They are from ancient belief systems that predate Buddhism (which only came to these countries about 1500 years ago). They celebrate native spirits that inhabit the daily world. When a piece of land is cleared to build a home, plant a new rice field, or build a luxury resort, the native spirits are displaced from their hollows and trees. These "houses" are erected to provide them new places to live which hopefully appeases them. Some can be quite ornate and in the courtyard of Bangkok hotels they can be very large.

Although not part of the Buddhist belief system, they are somewhat integrated by the people so monks are often called to bless a new "house". When they start to fall apart, they are replaced but not destroyed. Instead they are taken to a particularly venerable Banyan tree and piled on the ground around its trunk. There they are left to ultimately decay back into the earth.

I've seen such old trees bedecked with ribbons with hundreds of spirit houses stacked 4 and 5 feet high and stretching out for several yards from its base. This one's getting a little long in the tooth. No Banyan trees around here so I'll probably take it to a Thai temple.

2011 daily