Women’s Animist Rituals

Puppetry is considered to be one of the oldest forms of artistic creativity. It combines sculpture, sacred objects, embodiment, performance, movement, voice and imagination.

Its origins on the African continent stem from animism, a way of being alive to the world, understanding the connecting flow between the living, the still to be born and the ancestral, the divine and the profane, the female and the male, the human and the non human (plants, animals, land, space, stars, objects, art).

Animist based practices such as puppetry are found all over the world, and in South Africa our indigenous puppetry and doll practices are linked especially to the Great Mother. Dolls and puppets are linked to secret initiation traditions and to women’s sexual, spiritual and creative healing powers, ancestral knowledge and the resistance of patriarchy.

Puppetry expresses the uniquely feminine knowledge of birth, death and rebirth that we hold in our being and bodies. Puppetry is a creative expression of the feminine meeting points of spirit and matter, of what makes us human and divine, of the exquisite vulnerability of our lives and the power and magic of being. It is our ability to see and feel the processes of life in everything all around us.

Since 2012 the Paper Body Collective have been creating once off public ceremonial puppetry rituals for healing, peace and re-membrance of the Divine Feminine.  These have been performed on public festivals including The Women of the Earth Gathering Soetwater (2015) and The Goddess Festival Tulbagh (2012).  Aja Marneweck also performs animist puppetry rituals for personal blessing, rites of passage and healing ceremonies.