Before the 19th Century, First Nations people in northern Canada cremated their dead. A spirit house would then be built as a home for ashes and personal effects.

Though most groups began burying their dead in the second half of the 19th century, these spirit houses or spirit lodges are still built on top of the burial site. Spirit houses are respected as the resting place of the dead and tourists are requested not to visit these areas or to take photographs.

In Thailand, a spirit house is a miniature temple set atop a pedestal, containing miniature figures representing a guardian spirit and its servants. They are common in gardens and outside of office buildings. The purpose of the Spirit House is to provide an appealing shelter for the spirits, or celestial beings, who would otherwise reside in the heavens. Before a spirit house can be built and placed, a Brahmin priest must be consulted and proper ceremonies must be performed. One generally pays respect to the spirit by making an offering of flowers, lit incense, food or water.