Significance of animistic belief systems

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

With reference to one particular country in mainland south east Asia,discuss the significance of animiatic belief systems?

In this essay I will be discussing the significance of animiatic belief systems particularly in how it relates to Thailand and the significance of it. Animisn can be defined as the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Animisn was the religious practice of most of the Indigenous people in south east Asia before organized religion came to the area. Many places in Thailand sprite cults are still practiced or as a part of everyday religious life.

‘Thailand is a country located in south east Asia, bordering countries include Burma,Cambodia,Loas and Malaysia. Thailand government system is a monarchy with a prime minister, and has a mixed economic system.’[1]

The magico animiatic sector of Thai religion is very important to Thai culture. It also contains within Thai religion large,changing and sometimes contradictory body of beliefs deserve their attention and deference and the co tent of any villagers be lit may change over time. Thai magico animiatic belifs and practices are exclusively this worldly in orientation, and it is this feature that most clearly distingiushes animisn form Buddhism +as operative being systems. The magico-ani,magic sector of Thai religion embodies no explicit ethic for everyday behavior. The powers and agents of this realm may be induced to intervene benevolently in human affairs. The premises which underlie Thai magico animiatic belifs I\’m sure a good deal of creativity or innovation in this sphere. Spirits and minor deities is very important part of Thai magico animiatic beliefs as Thai people believe that of all the nature sprites believed to inhabit the world those that are the most important are sprites of rice,land,the house,water,trees and the wind. These spirit\’s usually have specific powers, therefore the house spirit is connected with the blessing and protection of that house or compound, the rice spirit is in connection with planting and harvesting the rice crop. However sometimes a healer may call upon the wind spirit to assist in the ritual. Another important spirit is those of special deceased humans as they believe that when humans die they can sometimes assume the status of a minor deity. Ghosts and sorcery, rural Thai villagers believe that the immediate presence of numerous ghosts can cause a lot of anxiety. All ghosts are the souls of the recently deceased, however some can be more dangerous than others. Especially if that ghost has died a painful death, or if it is a women who has died in childbirth. ‘Ghost possession is believed to be one of the causes of illness and death it is greatly feared’[2]. In addition, rural Thai villagers also fear sorcery . Popular Thai beilefs holds that ethnic Thai never become sorcerers. Amulets are very important as all Thai villagers and children have amulets many with the form of the Buddha on them, this is for good luck, protection and to avoid illnesses. Religious practitioners in a sense all villagers are practitioners of the magico animiatic religion, because all propitiate sprites and all possess amulets yo wars off the effects of ghosts and sorcery.

Although magico animiatic beliefs and pra6may be employed in pursuit of a positive purpose, their main focus usually is the avoidance of a misfortune.

General characteritcs of Thai magico animisn especially relating to the Thai religion has no explicit ethic for everyday life and behavior. Thai magico animiatic beliefs embody an ad hoc approach to life. Therefore the content of Thai magico animiatic beliefs to situations as well as the establishment of the Thai villagers of the psychology elements as well as the two separate belief systems in Thai culture with the other main belief system being Buddhism.

There has been a lot of religious mixing between animisn, brshmamism and Theravada Buddhism and has slightly integrated itself with Buddhism in Thailand. However animisn and Buddhism in Thailand are to some extent contradictory religious systems. However animism would probably represent more of Thai religion pre Buddhism. Many animistic beliefs and practices that once had a autonomous position have now been partially subsumed by Buddhism, as spritis have now become an important part of Buddhism cosmology. In Thailand there are some Animist practitioners who in contrast to Buddhism they tend to be women. Many features associated with animisn rituals such as the use of alchoel,dancing and trance like Statesm, are in direct opposition to many values that are featured in Buddhism. Animisn contrasts Buddhism in five ways an animisn world view involves capricious and unpredictable elements,spirit practitioners tend to be women, such practitioners are recruited ascriptively and particularistucally, animisn is viewed with considerable ambivalence, and it\’s social focus is local in scope. Folk brshmamism appear to be interstital between the Buddhist and animist components. As such, it does not present any distinctive features that contrast with those of the other two components, through it does not share more features in common with Buddhism than with animism. Another way of looking at animistic belief systems in Thailand is to look Buddhism and animisn as contradictory religious systems. As in one effect the beilefs in spirit\’s to be people the opportunity to deal with their daily life through rituals. Buddhism however is a moral religion that encourages good behavior, while spirit\’s are believed to be bad.

Animisn is by far the oldest and most established influence in the spiritual lives of Thai people. ‘Animisn is practiced on a daily basis by most Thai people. In Thailand you can find examples of animisn in nature, architecture and social behavior.’[3] In Thailand you can find spirit houses outside homes,shops and hotels, the taller the spirit house the grander it usually is these house are very respected and well looked after as if they do that then they will protect the land. Most Thai people will offer incense, food and drink to these spirit\’s at least once a day, and ask good favour of the spirit. ‘Thailand fig tree can be categorized as animism however it is not pure animism as they also relate close to Buddhism and Hinduism.’[4]Due to the religious and spiritual significance these trees are left undisturbed, in thailsn they will often build roads and highways around them. These trees are sometimes decorated with coloured sashes around their trunk, a spirit house and figurines of the Buddha, and pictures of the king of Thailand.

Animism also has great benefits and significance to Thailand. The great connection between the animist and nature is a contributing factor towards the enhancement of the peaceful coexistence of different communities in Thailand. The animist belief amongst the Thais stimulates the sense of brotherhood and sisterhood by taking care of each other; both belief in the divinity of nature and those that do not. The Animists assert that lack of respect for both growing and living things leads to a lack of regard for humanity also. Thus, they try their best to ensure that the society remains hopeful to connect with every active iota of the creation effectively. Thailand continues to enjoy the tranquillity of the environment due to their conservative environmental approach that is stimulated by the animalistic belief, Controlling the concept of poaching, deforestation is a mystery in the world due to lack of commitment and resources necessary to deal with the challenge. However, Thailand can achieve environmental conservation because the practice is intrinsically embedded in the belief of the animists. This belief is passed on from generation to another.

Overrule with reference to Thailand the significance of animiatic belief systems are still quite important as many parts of Thai Buddhism contain animiatic elements, as well as many rural villiages particular in northern Thailand still practice animism as their main religion and as a part of everyday life. However there has been a decline off animism due to Theravada Buddhism becoming the religion of state in Thailand, however within this there is many animistic beliefs that have been incorporated within Buddhist practice and traditions. Thailand achieves a lot of benefits from the animists believe, which ranges from an increased sense of empathy. Empathy enables the country to realize the high level of tranquillity and peace. Empathy reduces the rate of inter-ethnic conflicts. Therefore animism plays a significant role not only in the religious,daily like of Thailand but also its environment.


  1. www.globaledge.msu.edu
  2. www.coursehwro.com
  3. www.pattayunlimited.com/Thailand’s-animistpractices-and-beliefs/
  4. www.pattayunlimited.com/Thailand’s-animistpractices-and-beliefs
  5. Chunhabunyatip, Prompassorn, Nophea Sasaki, Clemens Grünbühel, John Kuwornu, and Takuji Tsusaka. \”Influence of Indigenous Spiritual Beliefs on Natural Resource Management and Ecological Conservation in Thailand.\” Sustainability 10, no. 8 (2018): 2842.
  6. Pongpandecha, Narong, and Ken Taylor. \”Traditions, beliefs and sacred natural sites in Northern Thailand.\” Asian Sacred Natural Sites: Philosophy and practice in protected areas and conservation (2016): 167.
  7. Sponsel, Leslie E. \”Love in/of Nature.\” Love in the Time of Ethnography: Essays on Connection as a Focus and Basis for Research (2017): 17.
  8. Winzer, Lylla, Bhubate Samutachak, and Rossarin Soottipong Gray. \”Religiosity, Spirituality, and Happiness in Thailand from the Perspective of Buddhism.\” Journal of Population and Social Studies [JPSS] 26, no. 4 (2018): 332-343
  9. Www.jstor.org-/the relationship of belief systems to behavior in rural Thai society- s piker. 1968

Cite this paper

Significance of animistic belief systems. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/significance-of-animistic-belief-systems/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out