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Monks and Mediums: Religious Syncretism in Northern Thailand

Photo credit: Sanook


Buddhism and Animism have long coexisted harmoniously in Thailand. Monks represent the face of Buddhism, as they preach the teachings of Lord Buddha and dedicate their lives to attaining spiritual liberation. Spirits, on the other hand, are represented by mediums: people who channel the voice and will of the supernatural. In Northern Thailand, belief in Animism remains strong. Contrary to the view that modernity breeds out folk practices, the popularity of spirit mediums seems to grow as time progresses. Today, we examine unique ways in which Buddhism and Animism have synchronized in the modern era. 


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Marjorie A. Muecke


* This article was published in the Journal of Siam Society and is being shared on the Thailand Foundation Website with permission from The Siam Society.