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Review of the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival, 2019 edition - Easter Island. What if Magic really existed?


I recently had the opportunity to visit Easter Island and to attend the incredible Tapati cultural festival that takes place during the first two weeks of February. If you are looking for tradtional Magic on one of the most magical places you could imagine, look no further!

What will strike you when walking around this incredible island is the evrlasting presence of Magic and magical thinking. The Rapa Nui peoples are animists with deeply ingrained divine and religious beliefs, Far from being a simple folklore aimed at entertaining tourists, their beliefs drive their everyday life. The Rapa Nui peoples explain their very own existence via ancestral and traditional stories of Gods travelling from the center of the Earth to their island. 

And what is real magic if not believing in supernatural powers that can influence our existence via appropriate rituals and spells? Consider, for example, a simple deck of cards. Cards were originally created to communicate with divine entities and to anticipate the future, not to play Texas Hold'em or to perform four ace assemblies!  If you do not believe me, have you ever noticed all the "coincidences" between a deck of cards and our surrounding universe?  There are 52 cards split into 4 suits, much like there are 52 weeks split in 4 seasons;  add all the values of these 52 cards and your total will be 364, the number of days in a solar year; and so on. 

As far as the Tapati Rapa Nui festival is concerned, all activities and competitions have a direct connection to gods and myths.  This unique occasion relives and preserves the cultural identity of this fascinating corner of the planet. For two weeks, all of the Rapa Nui clans and families compete in events including dance, sports, body paintings, sculptures, elaborations of vegetable fiber fabrics, and more.  Each of these activities has a direct and obvious link to a deep religious belief. Take the Tau'a for instance. It might appear to be an exotic triathlon, but it goes beyond that.  Participants, wearing traditional clothing, carry pounds of bananas on their backs while running, and the swimming segment is done with bulrush floats as a direct remembrance of the traditional Bird Man ritual.  By the way, the theme of this year’s festival was pure magic too – “He Ono Tepuna”, literally "symbols, vestiges and cultural treasures of a past time that will be left as inheritance  for the future of our children".

I am sure by now you got the idea.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit this small and isolated island, do not hesitate. You will not regret it!