This is a story about building a spirit house in our garden, as part of living in Thailand. Almost all houses or plot of land have one or more spirit houses, to please the spirits and not bother the people now living there. And of course our house had also 2 spirit houses. One made of wood on four legs and one made of cement on 1 leg. But they were old and due to an auspicious occasion my wife had promised the spirits of our land a new house. Of course she had not told me that, but a few days later she said “I promised to build new spirit houses, is that ok?”. She knows I am not a real fan of spending money on things that are in my opinion useless. But we life together so I thought “Why not? What harm could be done?". I thought that we could just re-paint the old one's, but I was wrong.
You might have noticed that I speak about spirit houses, yes it are 2. Something you might have notice while traveling in Thailand. And it are 2 different spirit houses. For different kind of spirits of course. The one thing that is very easy to notice is that one spirit house is standing on 1 pole (leg) and that the other one is standing on 4 or 6 legs. There is also a significant difference in the style of the roofs. But I did not know yet.
So my wife told me that the Old Spirit Houses are actually on the wrong place, so there had to be made a new place for the New Spirit Houses. To be sure where to build the New Spirit Houses a specialist was needed. So my wife had a chat with one of the neighbors who know somebody in another village who knows all about spirit houses. And conveniently they also sell spirit houses. So the next morning a Thai boy of about 20 came to our house to look where the New Spirit Houses must be build.
Where should our New Spirit Houses be standing?
- Well north of the house you are living in. I am now wondering how you do that when your house consists of more buildings but lets not make it more difficult as it already would become.
- And they need to be build on a floor that is higher as the floor as where the house is standing on.
- And they should not be standing in the shadow of the house.
- And the spirits should be able to see the road.
The next question was, how big must be this floor for the New Spirit Houses? A few calculations came to 3 meter by 3½ meter and about 60 to 70 cm high. Wait a minute I am not going to build a guesthouse! As we had already had discussed that we would buy small size spirit houses, we would not need a floor that big! Let say 2½ meter by 2 meter would be ok, right? And 10 cm higher as the floor of our house is higher, so 50cm high would be ok, right?
Now the last question was of course what was the best day to bless the New Spirit Houses? They young spirit specialist made some calculations again and declared 21 May a very good day. So 7 o’clock in the morning he would come here to bless the New Spirit Houses. And of course he will also bless the Old Spirit Houses and ask the spirits to move to their new house. And that all for the symbolic price of 6 baht. And of course a donation is up to you. My wife decided that she would give a donation of 1.000 baht.
So a new platform for the new spirit houses was build for 2.500 Thai baht, and we went on search for the right spirit houses. Well this is an all new business to me and you can choose out many different style's, sizes and colours. But 2 weeks later the new spirit houses were brought to our house for only 5.500 Thai baht. Of course we still had to buy some things to put in the spirit houses and that had be bought at a special shop. And of course the young spirit specialist had announced a special day as being the best day to bless our new spirit houses. So at that planned day the new spirit houses and all people gathering were blessed and food was given to the spirits. The food was of course later eaten by us and the neighbours.
Then what to do with the old spirit houses? Now I would going to learn why you see at some places under an old tree a lot of old spirit houses. Thai people do not renovate old spirit houses, but they buy new ones. And you cannot just put the old ones aside somewhere. So we had to dig out the cement leg of the old spirit house (very heavy) and put them all on our pickup-truck to bring them to an old tree near a local temple. And that is where are now our old spirit houses.
And we lived happily together, we in our house and the spirits in their new house. And my wife gives weekly (on Buddha day) new flowers and fruit to the spirits. Now that the spirits are comfortable in their new houses my wife does not have to be afraid anymore to be alone at home at Buddha day. It all makes sense to me now.