SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) - If psychic diva Marcia Fernandes is proven right, millions of Brazilians will be sorely disappointed next July as she forecast a German victory in the final of the World Cup.
"Germany is going to prevail," the popular medium said in a highly anticipated prediction at Mystic Fair, an esoteric fest that drew more than 40,000 people at an exhibition center in suburban Sao Paulo.
Prominent Brazilian astrologist Serena Salgado softened the blow somewhat by telling the crowd that hosts Brazil had a good chance of winning the tournament, but she was not as categorical.
"I think that Brazil can conquer the Cup... this is a possibility," she said, noting that the Selecao were likely to face traditional adversaries such as Italy, Germany or Argentina.
Brazil will be bidding for a sixth World Cup success when they host the high-profile event for the first time since 1950.
For Germany, victory in the final at Rio's iconic Maracana stadium would avenge their defeat to Spain in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Although the World Cup forecast was the climax of the two-day Mystic Fair, it was not the main concern of the predominantly female crowd who thronged stands offering free classes on tarot reading, numerology, reiki and a variety of other esoteric practices.
Fernandes, a medium who hosts a wildly popular radio show, delighted the audience by insisting that 2014 would be "a very good year for business, especially April and May, a year of love, a year of marriaqe" after a tumultuous 2013.
For fellow psychic Marcia Pugliesi, "2014 will be ruled by the number 7, which evokes positive energy... a year to strengthen one's faith.".
Organiser Claudiney Prieto described the event, now in its fourth edition, as "the biggest esoteric fair on the planet", with more than 400 exhibitors, mostly from Brazil, but also from Italy, Spain and Peru.
The fair's popularity speaks to Brazilians' fascination with things spiritual in a country that remains officially predominantly Catholic (64 per cent) despite the growing strength of evangelical Christians, who now represent 22.2 per cent of the 200-million-strong population.
"Mystic Fair is the celebration of the plurality of Brazilian spirituality, of what makes us different and one of the most spiritual people on earth," Prieto told AFP.
"All forms of spirituality converge here, from Afro-Brazilian religions such as Umbanda and Candomble, to Hare Krishna, Buddhism, Shamanism and witchcraft," he added. "People are eager to get accurate and reliable information on these different aspects of spirituality." Teresina Paolo, a 66-year-old visitor, was thrilled.
"I love to feel and absorb all the positive energies," she told AFP. "I am a big fan of esoterism and of Marcia Fernandes. I come every year.
"I came looking for new products, new books on esoterism. I am a believer.
It has helped transform my life for the better," said 33-year-old Karina Rufino.
Efigenia Maria Vergueiro de Deus manned a stand offering oracles for US$13 (S$16).
"It's my first time at the fair and a great opportunity to connect with so many people," she told AFP. She sells a broad range of esoteric products linked to the "sacred feminine".
At the incensed-filled Mystic Mall adorned with statues of Buddha and the Hindu God Ganesh, red-clad Gypsy ladies performed elaborate belly dancing while across the hall the Cyda Gooy stand shed light on the benefits of numerology, crystals, reiki, cowry reading or energy cleaning.
Saturday, popular Brazilian esoteric author Monica Buonfiglio, an authority on angels, was a big draw, said Prieto.
Claudio Duarte, a professor of Hatha Yoga, said his mission was "to bring awareness of the benefits of yoga for emotional, psychological and physical health." "There is a hunger for spiritual health and we are responding to that," he added.
Prieto said he expects the fair, which is held annually in Sao Paulo and Rio, to generate more than US$450,000.