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If your family likes to eat out on Sundays or at Christmas time, you will know all about buffets. First on offer are the starters: soups, cold meats, salads and lighter fish dishes. Then follow the main courses of roasts, “bredies” or casseroles, and perhaps even lamb on the spit. Finally there are desserts – malva pudding, milk tart, ice cream – followed by the cheese board and coffee. What a feast! After such a meal, most of us walk away with bulging stomachs that are completely over satiated. Now imagine if we could feed our souls with half as much as we put into our stomachs. In fact, what might the world look like if we valued nourishing both mind and spirit as much as we do our bodies?

When I arrived at the race course building in Kenilworth where this year’s Gnostic Wholistic Festival was being held, I was given a paper bag with the words “Helping you to live life well” on it. In short, this is what this festival, the very first of its kind in South Africa, aims to do.

It is especially for people who are interested in creating a healthier, more meaningful and fulfilling way of life for themselves.

For us to live more fulfilling lives, we need to give attention to all aspects of life and to create a balance between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts of ourselves. I found it insightful that the organisers, Antonet-Nirvana Lange and Traci French, had made space for each aspect in a very creative way by having the festival on four different floor levels.

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On the first level I was greeted by a man who asked me: “How close have you ever been to the moon?” Although at first perplexed, I soon realised, as I was looking around, that the crystals, quartz and gemstones on display represented physical matter in its most basic form. Accompanying this display in an adjacent stall were beautiful sculptures of the human body and demonstrations of flow arts where artists were dancing with poi and hoola hoops. For those feeling peckish, there were smoothies and healthy snacks to fuel us throughout the day.

One flight up the stairs was where most of the day’s talks were held. Here we could totally indulge our mental capacities by listening to topics such as “The true meaning of Gnosticism” by Silke Erasmus, “Conscious sexuality” by Phyllis Rawley, “Living a soulful life” by David Christopher Lewis, “Understanding the human mind” by Gideon Hanekom and “How to clear lack and limiting money beliefs” by Michelle Vooght. This last address definitely spoke to me in a personal way.

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It’s well and good to aim to live a purposeful and meaningful life. But let’s face it: at some point we all need to eat. And as I haven’t gone off the grid yet, I guess supermarkets are still my primary means of getting food. Also, living a meaningful life requires money: money to go on the next trip to Bali; money to follow a course in meditation or work/life balance; money to meet friends for an outing; money to express my vibrant inner self through the clothes I wear . . . Perhaps you think you should spend money only on your basic needs.

Maybe you are still stuck in the routine of living “to keep bread on the table”.

This is one of the many limiting beliefs that may be blocking you from experiencing financial abundance. By contrast, I have come to realise that I can spend money on the experiences, interests, objects and activities that make life worth living. Money makes it possible to live an abundant life.

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It is quite significant that this festival was held at a race course where people bet on horses in an attempt, most by luck, some by skill and insight, to win a few bucks. For many people, it’s a centre for gambling, a pastime that has become an addiction that plagues many people across the world. However, to address people’s problems, change needs to occur from within those affected.

No chasing of money or attempts to control outcomes by altering circumstances only will bring the desired results.

For example, closing all gambling institutions will probably not root out gambling, as the American Prohibition proved with drinking. Instead, real change requires a shift in mindset. But sometimes we do not know our own minds. In such cases, perhaps our emotions are closer to the truth of our current situation. It’s only when we completely break down and our lives fall apart that we know that we have a really big problem. This brings me to the next level.

On the third level were many small tables at which two people could sit. I saw some where festival goers sat with their heads in their hands, or there were others just sharing their heartbreak with a compassionate ear. Across from each was a guide, a therapist or healer either giving advice or doing a reading by channeling wisdom from the spiritual realm to the distraught person. If that wasn’t what you were seeking, you could just get creative and try some art therapy by colouring in a few mandalas.

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On the final level, the spiritual, I found a display of probably every metaphysical practice you can think of. There were tarot and palm readers, psychic mediums, angel intuitives, reiki masters, hypnotherapists and shamans. There were treatment rooms everywhere with festival goers lying on beds getting a taste of everything from therapeutic reflexology, meridian therapy, intuitive massaging to sound healing and energy balancing. I enjoyed stocking up on all the samples and brochures advertising holistic services or other holistic adult education workshops. I was particularly glad to run into Alison and Robert at the MetaVarsity stall where I gained some great insight through a pendulum and a pendulum chart. Pendulums can be very helpful tools when we need answers around specific issues concerning the mind, body or spirit.

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True to the festival’s holistic philosophy, all the levels purposefully fed into each other. On level four, for example, there was Nia, a form of dance that fuses martial arts and other dance techniques with yoga and other healing practices. Although technically “body” I particularly love Nia for its meditative properties that make for a better mind-body connection. When this connection is restored, my soul begins to speak. The South African Modern Hypnosis academy also had a stall. Hypnosis, for example, is particularly powerful in that it not only helps us change the beliefs that hold us back from living a fulfilling life, but also releases the immense energy that lodges itself in our bodies after a traumatic experience.

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Everything connects and contributes to the whole.

Ultimately all the practices showcased are meant to restore wholeness to all that we are and all that we do. Therefore the specific emphasis on “wholistic” with a “w”. In many ways we have become cut off from our wholeness, our oneness. Our beliefs have instilled fear and guilt in us, leaving us separated and alienated from ourselves and the beings around us. But we are starving for connection. We need these “(w)holistic buffets” to help nourish our deep desire to live an abundant life.

If you are kicking yourself for not attending this event, like their Facebook page here to stay up to date with future events. Perhaps you are a holistic practitioner yourself. In that case, should you want to showcase your unique offerings by having your own stall, you will find further information on the festival’s website here.

 [Photos taken by Vilien Coetzee]

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