Health & Medicine

Sacramento’s Healing Arts Festival offers insights for everybody

Renu Lal of Natomas decorates a client’s arm with a “prayer to wear” in henna at the Healing Arts Festival on Sunday in Sacramento. Henna designers say the symbols promote emotional healing and inner strength.
Renu Lal of Natomas decorates a client’s arm with a “prayer to wear” in henna at the Healing Arts Festival on Sunday in Sacramento. Henna designers say the symbols promote emotional healing and inner strength. rbyer@sacbee.com

An estimated 800 seekers of spiritual enlightenment, physical and mental health and cool crystals, gems and jewelry poured into the Scottish Rite Masonic Center Sunday for Sacramento’s Healing Arts Festival.

Some left with more than they’d bargained for, including insights into how to deal with difficult relatives, financial problems and life challenges.

Psychics, mediums and clairvoyants. Astrologists, numerologists, acupuncturists and iridologists. Tarot readers, light healers, shamans and bohemian mystics joined dozens of other holistic and new age practitioners in “offering a place for healing of body, mind and soul,” said festival owner Prasanna Hankins. “We embrace all spiritual paths and expressions of unity.”

There was a time when healing arts festivals, which started in Sacramento in 1999, were far from the mainstream. But now they happen every few months, offering fresh takes on ancient practices, said Hankins, a yoga teacher. “With all of the uncertainty and polarity in the world right now, everyone feels like a family here. It’s about healing body, mind and soul.”

Some festivalgoers explored “the healing therapy of belly dance,” others “tranquility massage.”

Christian Toren von Lahr, a self-described “celebrity psychic, clairvoyant and medium,” offered his services to Sacramentans Carol Crisp and Colleen Fernandez, each of whom paid $175 for half-hour readings. Crisp, a retired real estate developer, said the experience taught her “how to handle certain areas of my life, including family dynamics. I felt like I had to fix everything, and now I can step back and let other people take responsibility.”

Fernandez, who watched the session with Crisp, said von Lahr knew specific details about Crisp’s late father “nobody would know, specific real estate projects, etc.”

When it was her turn for a reading, Fernandez said von Lahr picked up on some of the health challenges facing her family. Both women got a videotape of their psychic sessions.

At a nearby table, Wendy Cook of Sacramento and her children, Gabby Sanchez, 16, and Ami Sanchez, 10, received a 15-minute reading for $60 from psychic Sharon Sampsel.

“I got answers to some of my questions about loved ones – a couple who have passed” were channeled, Cook said, and Sampsel “told me I’m going to write at least four colorful, fun, quirky books!”

“She said to me, ‘Play ball!’ ” added Ami. “Baseball, soccer, any ball!”

“And she said I was really good at science and would be a doctor,” said Gabby, who is indeed planning on becoming a nurse.

Cook said if psychics help heal your heart, “it’s cost-effective.”

Around the corner from Psychic Row, Michele Mukri, a Sacramento nurse, and her partner Bill Pentz, a retired biomedical engineer, received some body work from Hugh Hall, who said he’s practiced the nearly lost art of shamanic “healing touch” for 50 years and said it dates back to the Egyptians.

Pentz and Mukri both endorsed Hall’s healing hands, which didn’t cost anything to experience.

“This is a mix of some people who are truly extremely talented and some who are here to make a buck,” Pentz said. “I can tell this gentleman (Hall) has amazing empathy for people. Everybody who sat down with him was more relaxed and left with a smile.”

Hankins noted that personal transformation “usually involves the shedding of old ways, especially those that have become burdens … no matter who you are, no matter what has already happened to you, no matter what you have done, it is still possible to be and do something new.”

Stephen Magagnini: 916-321-1072, @SteveMagagnini

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