As this is my first blog post for Spirit House Connection, I am starting off with a classic shot. We took this picture at a farm house on a long country road in central Thailand because, like an ‘X marks the spot’, the Thai flag caught my attention. And here we begin! Thailand is known to be the land of a million Buddhist temples, and it is true that every village revolves around their local wat. Yet inside the daily life of the average Thai family spirit houses are home-grown temples of Thai culture. The original san jao thi spirit houses are so old no archeological date can establish their beginnings. The first historical evidence of their recognition is an official document issued by King Ramkamhaeng of the Sukhothai dynasty in the 13th century where he pays respect to the land guardians. My research suggests, like the pagan nature worship of Europe, spirit houses are much older and date back to our early beginnings when the human ego began to consciously separate from nature through agricultural societies. Spirit houses were a way to reconnect to nature and communicate with it to live in harmony.
The essence of the spirit house tradition in Thailand is not so much its antiquity- rather we can marvel at how Thais integrate this ancient tradition into present day lifestyles and how the ideal continues to persist even alongside trash dumps and polluted ecosystems. Today nearly every home, building, high rise, and business including Mc Donalds has a spirit house. These are the curiosities that lead me to ask: Could there one day be a such thing as enlightened animism?