Aura (paranormal)

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For other uses, see Aura (disambiguation).
The Human Aura in a healthy woman after a diagram by Walter John Kilner (1847–1920). The picture depicts Kilner's "inner and outer auras." Colours have been added for illustrative purposes and have no other significance.

In parapsychology and spiritual practice, an aura is a field of subtle, luminous radiation surrounding a person or object like the halo or aureola in religious art. The depiction of such an aura often connotes a person of particular power or holiness.[citation needed] It is said[by whom?] that all objects and all living things manifest such an aura. Often it is held to be perceptible, whether spontaneously or with practice: such perception is at times linked with the third eye of Indian spirituality.[1][page needed][2] Various writers associate various personality traits with the colors of different layers of the aura.[3][page needed][4][page needed][5] It has also been described as a map of the thoughts and feelings surrounding a person.[6][7]

Skeptics such as Robert Todd Carroll contend that people may perceive auras because of effects within the brain: synesthesia,[8] epilepsy, migraines, or the influence of psychedelic drugs such as LSD.[9][10] Other causes may include disorders within the visual system provoking optical effects. Eye fatigue can also produce an aura, sometimes referred to as eye burn.

Attempts to prove the existence of auras scientifically have repeatedly met with failure; for example people are unable to see auras in the dark, and auras have never been successfully used to identify people when their identifying features are otherwise obscured in controlled tests.[11][12][13][14]

Spiritual traditions[edit]

An old Iranian Muslim impression of Jesus and Mary shows an aura after the style of the farr

In Iran the aura is known as farr or "glory": it is depicted in association with Zoroastrian kings.[15]

Ideas of the aura are well represented in Indian religions. In tantric tradition of Hinduism, aura represents the subtle body of seven colours.[citation needed] In many Hindu paintings of gods and goddesses, aura is marked on their backhead. The Buddhist flag represents the colours seen around the enlightened Buddha.[16] In Jainism the concept of Lesya relates colours to mental and emotional dispositions. To the Indian teacher Meher Baba the aura is of seven colours, associated with the subtle body and its store of mental and emotional impressions. Spiritual practice gradually transforms this aura into a spiritual halo.[17] Hindu and Buddhist sources often link these colours to Kundalini energy and the chakras.[18][page needed]

Statue depicting Shiva as Nataraja with auras

In the classical western mysticism of neoplatonism and Kabbalah the aura is associated with the lustre of the astral body, a subtle body identified with the planetary heavens, which were in turn associated with various mental faculties in an elaborate system of correspondences with colours, shapes, sounds, perfumes etc.[19]

A 1531 depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe, often said to represent an aura

The symbolism of light found in the Bible is at times associated with the idea of the aura or "body of light":[20] similar interpretations are found in Islamic traditions.[21][page needed]

According to the literature of Theosophy, Anthroposophy, and Archeosophy also, each colour of the aura has a meaning, indicating a precise emotional state. A complete description of the aura and its colours was provided by Charles Leadbeater, a theosophist of the 19th century.[22] The works of Leadbeater were later developed by Palamidessi[23] and others.

The British occultist W.E. Butler connected auras with clairvoyance and etheric, mental and emotional emanations. He classified the aura into two main types: etheric and spiritual. Auras are thought to serve as a visual measure of the state of the health of the physical body.[24] Robert Bruce classifies auras into three types: etheric, main, and spiritual.[25]:301-309 According to Bruce auras are not actual light but a translation of other unknown sensory readings that is added to our visual processing. They are not seen in complete darkness and cannot be seen unless some portion of the person or object emitting the aura can also be seen.[25]:293-296 The British Healer, clairvoyant and author Paul Lambillion in his book "Auras and Colours" writes of three visible bodies or layers in the auric field that can be observed whether or not in the physical presence of the individual subject since the aura is not a three dimensional phenomenon and limited to such parameters.[citation needed]

Glenn Morris, grandmaster of the Hoshin Roshi Ryu lineage, included perception of the aura in his training of advanced martial artists. His experience was that it consisted of multiple layers. He described the most easily visible of these as being "light and denser than the air in which the body is immersed", typically half to quarter of an inch thick and correlating with the etheric body of an individual. Around this he described a yard thick egg-shaped layer reflecting hormonal state that he linked to the emotional body, and outside this, other barely perceptible layers corresponding to the mental body and beyond.[26]:111-112 Recalling the aura of another sōke, he wrote, "The first time I saw Hatsumi, he was running continuous bright, lime, neon green a foot wide and was so easy to see he would flash in bright sunlight".[26]:118

For holistic healers, aura reading is the art of investigating the human energy field, or the energy fields of other sentient beings. It is a basis for using techniques of holistic healing, and includes such practices as bioenergetics, energy medicine, energy spirituality, and energy psychology.


Tests of psychic abilities to observe alleged aura emanations have repeatedly met with failure.[11]

One test involved placing people in a dark room and asking the psychic to state how many auras she could observe. Only chance results were obtained.[12]

Recognition of auras has occasionally been tested on television. One test involved an aura reader standing on one side of a room with an opaque partition separating her from a number of slots which might contain either actual people or mannequins. The aura reader failed to identify the slots containing people, incorrectly stating that all contained people.[13]

In another televised test another aura reader was placed before a partition where five people were standing. He claimed that he could see their auras from behind the partition. As each person moved out, the reader was asked to identify where that person was standing behind the slot. He identified 2 out of 5 correctly.[14]


Bridgette Perez in a review for the Skeptical Inquirer has written "perceptual distortions, illusions, and hallucinations might promote belief in auras... Psychological factors, including absorption, fantasy proneness, vividness of visual imagery, and after-images, might also be responsible for the phenomena of the aura."[27]

Perez goes on to acknowledge four classes of explanation: scientific, clinical, psychical, and aura imagery.[27] However, a 2012 study discovered no link concluding "the discrepancies found suggest that both phenomena are phenomenologically and behaviourally dissimilar."[28] Clinical neurologist Steven Novella has written "Given the weight of the evidence it seems that the connection between auras and synaesthesia is speculative and based on superficial similarities that are likely coincidental."[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jack, Alex (1990). The New Age Dictionary: A Guide to Planetary Family Consciousness (1st ed.). Tokyo: Japan Publications. ISBN 0870407872. 
  2. ^ "Glossary of Psi (Parapsychological) Terms (A-D)". Archived from the original on 2010-11-20. Retrieved 2015-03-05. 
  3. ^ Oslie, Pamala (2000). Life Colors: What the Colors in Your Aura Reveal (Revised ed.). Novato, California: New World Library. ISBN 1577311698. 
  4. ^ Bowers, Barbara (1999). What Color Is Your Aura?: Personality Spectrums for Understanding and Growth. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0671707639. 
  5. ^ Swami Panchadasi The Human Aura: Astral Colors and Thought Forms Des Plaines, Illinois, USA:1912--Yogi Publications Society. Available: here [1][permanent dead link] (accessed 4 March 2010)
  6. ^ Painter, Sally (2011-10-08). "Aura Colors and Their Meaning". Retrieved 2016-10-21. 
  7. ^ Brennan, Barbara Ann (1988). Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field (Paperback ed.). New York: Bantam Books. pp. 109–110. ISBN 0553345397. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "auras - The Skeptic's Dictionary". Retrieved 2015-03-05. 
  9. ^ Deprez, L.; et al. "Familial occipitotemporal lobe epilepsy and migraine with visual aura <Internet>". Retrieved 16 July 2007. 
  10. ^ Hill, Donna L.; et al. "Most Cases Labeled as "Retinal Migraine" Are Not Migraine <Internet>". Retrieved 16 July 2007. 
  11. ^ a b Joe Nickell. "Aura Photography: A Candid Shot - CSI". Retrieved 2016-10-21. 
  12. ^ a b Loftin, Robert W. (1990). "Auras: Searching for the Light". The Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. 24: 403–409. 
  13. ^ a b "Auras". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Archived from the original on 5 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-15. 
  14. ^ a b "James Randi tests an aura reader". Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  15. ^ Soudavar, Abolala (2003). The Aura of Kings: Legitimacy and Divine Sanction in Iranian Kingship. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishing. ISBN 9781568591094. 
  16. ^ "Buddhist Studies: Primary Unit 7. Vesak Festival or Buddha Day". Retrieved 2015-03-05. 
  17. ^ "Meher Baba: The Aura And The Halo". Retrieved 2016-10-21. 
  18. ^ Breaux, Charles (1998). Journey Into Consciousness: The Chakras, Tantra and Jungian Psychology (1st ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 8120814541. 
  19. ^ "The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin: 1910-1940. - Free Online Library". Retrieved 2016-10-21. 
  20. ^ J Damon, The Mystical Shroud the Images and The Resurrection an Ecumenical Perspective, 2002 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  21. ^ Corbin, Henry; Pearson, Nancy (1978). The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism. Boulder: Shambhala. ISBN 0394734416. 
  22. ^ Leadbeater, C.W. (1975). Man Visible and Invisible: Examples of Different Types of Men as Seen by Means of Trained Clairvoyance (2nd ed.). Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House. ISBN 0835603113. 
  23. ^ Palamidessi, Tommaso (1979). The Occult Constitution of the Man and the Woman. ISBN 9781105410666. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  24. ^ Butler, W.E. (1998). How to Read the Aura and Practice Psychometry, Telepathy, and Clairvoyance. Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books. pp. 181–183. ISBN 0892817054. 
  25. ^ a b Lindgren, C.E. (2000). Capturing the Aura: Integrating Science, Technology, and Metaphysics (1st ed.). Nevada City, California: Blue Dolphin Publishing. ISBN 0965249069. 
  26. ^ a b Morris, Glenn J. (1993). Path Notes of an American Ninja Master. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1556431570. 
  27. ^ a b Bridgette M. Perez. "The Aura: A Brief Review - CSI". Retrieved 2015-03-05. 
  28. ^ Milán, E.G.; Iborra, O.; Hochel, M.; Rodríguez Artacho, M.A.; Delgado-Pastor, L.C.; Salazar, E.; González-Hernández, A. (March 2012). "Auras in Mysticism and Synaesthesia: A Comparison". Consciousness and Cognition. 21 (1): 258–268. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.11.010. 
  29. ^ Novella, Steven (2012-05-07). "Is Aura Reading Synaesthesia? Probably Not". Skepticblog. Retrieved 2016-10-21. 

External links[edit]