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What is an Aura

Updated on January 31, 2017

An aura is a field of light or energy said to emanate from the body of a person or other living being. It is generally considered to be invisible to normal visions and seen only by psychics or clairvoyants. Some people claim to be able to photograph auras.

Paranormal Explanation

The aura is an energy field thought to reflect emotions, health or pretty much any aspect of a person's personality and state of well-being.

There are a number of different schemes that assign specific meaning to the color or pattern of a person's aura.

Indigo Auras

There is particular interest in auras with specific properties. For example it has been suggested that indigo colored auras are a new and significant phenomenon, and that people with indigo auras will be spiritual leaders.

Indigo Aura
Indigo Aura

Skeptical Explanations

There are reasons why people my see aura such as the effects of epilepsy, migraines, impending seizure, drugs or damage or exhaustion of eye muscles. However these are simple optical illusions with no real meaning.

I think this kind of explanation is overly literal and their is no evidence that ;attributes that predispose someone to a visual illusion or hallucination, such as hallucinogen use are related to belief in paranormal phenomena.


  • Gissurarson & Gunnarsson (1997): An experiment asking those who see auras to detect when a person was present (the person was hidden from view but their aura should have been visible) found they were unable to do so.
  • Zingrone et al (2009): Found that people who see auras also experience more synesthesia and are more likely to have dissociative personalities.


The "seeing' of auras is a subjective phenomenon and so hard to speak of objectively. Perhaps it is the way some peoples brains express their intuitions about another person's well-being--perhaps genuinely experienced through vision due to synesthesia (crossing of sensory modalities). People who see auras are more visually imaginative which could equally be interpreted as open to experience, or prone to fantasy.

It seems to be natural to think of a person's life as being energy, somewhat interchangeably movement, heat and light. The exists of aura and energy field ideas, halo and nimbuses and similar concepts across cultures and history may point of the reality of auras, or just the widespread tendency to use a light metaphor. In the absence of compelling proof I tend to assume the latter.

Auraphoto of Jaakko
Auraphoto of Jaakko | Source

A Word on Aura Photography

Commercial aura photography is, on the other hand, a crock. We know what shows up on a photographic plate or its digital equivalent. Commercial aura photography booths and machines deliberately distort, over-expose, blur, superimpose or otherwise distort the image to create the appearance of an aura.

I mean, think about it, if we knew how to photograph an aura and exactly what wavelength or frequency and so how to capture a picture of it, it would be a matter of simple science not the paranormal. You don't have to be a skeptic of real auras to know that aura photography is a complete scam.

Kirlian photography is a somewhat different case, but still does not match the description given of auras such as meaningful changes in color depending on the state of the subject.


Zingrone, N. L., Alvarado, C. S., & Agee, N. (2009). Psychological correlates of aura vision: Psychic experiences, dissociation, absorption, and synaesthesia-like experiences. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 37(2), 131.


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