OK, so what's an aura?

Susanna Heller/INSIDERAn example of an aura photograph.
  • You’ve probably heard people talk about auras.
  • Auras are energy fields that provide information about your life, experts told INSIDER.
  • Some psychics say they can read them just by looking at a person.
  • Other aura experts say they can capture a person’s energy by taking pictures of them.
  • Now you know!
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

There are some things that you’re too scared to ask about, or can’t be bothered to research on your own. One of those things might be auras. You’ve probably heard people talk about them. Or maybe you’ve seen colourful photos on Instagram. Sure, that’s fine. But what are they all about, anyway?

It’s actually pretty simple, according to one psychic.

“An aura, as I see it, is an energy field that radiates off of everything,” Pamala Oslie of Aura Colours in California, said.

Auras are referenced throughout history in a number of cultures – from ancient Egyptian art to a number of Eastern religions. In a 1945 essay, psychic healer Edgar Cayce wrote that he believed all things – animate and inanimate – give off energy, and in turn have an aura.

“An aura is an effect, not a cause,” Cayce wrote. “Every atom, every molecule, every group of atoms and molecules, however, simple or complex, however large or small, tells the story of itself, its pattern, its purpose, through the vibrations which emanate from it. Colours are the perceptions of these vibrations by the human eye. “

Read more: People are turning to astrology memes to cope with the stress of day-to-day life – and it’s taking over Instagram

Plenty of psychics read auras, Oslie said, and there’s no one correct way to interpret them.

“I’ve run into people who see the same things that I do. I’ve run into people that different colours than I do,” she said. “That doesn’t mean that someones wrong or someone’s right. It just means that we taste food differently.”

Psychic signBusà Photography/Getty ImagesEveryone has the latent ability to read auras — not just psychics.

The California-based psychic compared what she sees to a warm glow emanating around and off a person.

“I see them as a glow that comes off of a soft light bulb,” she told INSIDER. “I see different-coloured bands. The one or two bands closest to the body are the two bands that show your life colours, or your life purpose for being here.”

One thing to keep in mind if you’re getting your aura read is that each aura reader interprets that colours they see differently. According to aura reader Eileen Lee, for instance, people with red auras tend to be passionate, those with yellow radiate confidence and happiness, and those with purple auras have charismatic and powerful personalities. But every aura reader will have their particular take on what the colours mean.

Based on the colours she senses, Oslie gives her clients insight on things like love, career aspirations, and health. Just, like, small, unimportant things, really.

Aura photography is totally different

But just as there’s more than one way to interpret colour, there’s more than one way to read auras.

Christina Lonsdale, the artist behind the Radiant Human photography project, works with aura photography.

That practice that can be traced back to the Kirlian Photography, a scientific photograph developed by scientist Semyon Kirlian in 1939 that captures auras, or energy fields around peoples’ bodies. In the ’80s, an inventor named Guy Coggin took that technology and created the AuraCam 6000, an aura-reading instant camera for the masses. (Those who are so inclined can still buy those cameras today!)

Lonsdale, who is in the midst of a four-month residency at the Whitney Museum, is feeding what seems an insatiable desire for those custom energy Polaroids. The aura photography procedure she offers clients is pretty straight-forward.

“The camera works on the principle that we all have electricity in our body, and that electricity radiates past our skin’s surface in what is called an electromagnetic field,” the artist said of her process. “This camera uses hand sensors that pick up this electricity, or biofeedback, determines a vibrational frequency, and then, through an algorithm, matches that to a vibrational frequency of colour. That colour comes out as a second exposure.”

After a 10-second long exposure followed by a minute-long development period, the pictures are ready. If clients are interested, she will walk them through the colours on the photograph and what they mean.

So basically, think of it like a Polaroid picture – with a supernatural or scientific twist. Lonsdale said that pictures capture a person’s aura at a particular moment in time based on their feelings and energy. You can read the colours of an aura photo just like you might read the text of a book.

Those oh-so-Instagram-worthy photos are highly covetable. They’re why I once dragged my roommate to Magic Jewellery in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighbourhood on a particularly sweaty Saturday last August.

Magic Jewellery offers aura photographs for $US30 a pop, and usually, there’s a line out the door for the photos.

The aura photos are pretty – if vague – ways to learn about yourself

Both Oslie and Lonsdale told INSIDER, that any kind of aura reading can tell you Great Truths about yourself, in the same way, that monthly horoscopes or personality tests do.

Lonsdale likened her work to selfies, but with a super personal element.

“Selfies are great at telling the world, ‘This is me at this moment,’ and this project takes this statement one step further and says, ‘This is me at this moment and this is how I am responding to it,'” Lonsdale explained.

AuraSusanna Heller/INSIDERI got my aura read one summer afternoon.

After my aura photograph was taken I felt validated – if only for a week or so. The vibrant pops of colour over my torso reminded me of the things I like about myself: my work ethic, how others view me as a leader, my independence.

But if I got my aura taken again today it would look totally different. That’s because the energies captured in an aura photograph change from day to day depending on the circumstances. Aura cameras capture the energy of a moment, not a lifetime, Oslie, who does not work with aura photography, told INSIDER.

You don’t need equipment, or even psychic powers, to sense an aura, Oslie said. She believes that anyone – even laypeople like me or you – has the ability to detect one. And they’re useful tools for sussing out who to let in and who to keep out.

“We’ve all felt [auras.] That’s why you can meet someone for the first time and instantly feel comfortable with them and be fine being really close to them,” she said. “And other people you meet them and feel like you want to get out of the room really fast. That’s because you’re feeling their energy field.”

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