Recently Maggie sent me a scanned photo of her aura that was taken 10-15 years ago. She asked for a particular caption when I shared it on my blog: Maggie's Radiant Form. Glad to oblige.
"There are two types, one like mine which shows the colours of your personal energies (everyone's is different) and the second Kirlian photos which is a lot of squiggles and lines. Only experts can read those with any accuracy. The first type you have to have the gift of sight or clairvoyance."
I told her that I didn't know much about aura photography and was skeptical that what is shown has any spiritual or metaphysical significance.
I've seen aura booths at the Oregon State Fair. My wife has had several people tell her that they could see a blue/green aura surrounding her, which happen to be her favorite colors. Freaky! (I asked Laurel, though, if she was wearing blue and green at the time -- she couldn't remember.)
And that's just about the extent of my exposure to auras. So I engaged in some Googling of the subject, which leads me to this admittedly quickly-arrived-at conclusion:
Auras are real. And also not.
I'm speaking here of the kind that can be photographed. Obviously something is producing the halo-like imagery around Maggie. Since we can see it, it's real. The question is, "what is it?"
The Auracam 6000 consists of one or two hand sensors which are connected through cables with the camera. Polaroid instant film is put into the camera and is adjusted and aligned to the customer. Once the customer puts their left and right hand onto hand sensors, the AuraCam 6000 begins to gather standardized biofeedback parameter data through the hand sensors.
The measured points of resonance are connected with certain organs and the electromagnetic field of the person; this information about the energetic and auric qualities of a human being are then delivered to the camera. Through a patented operation, these parameters are projected as a radiant, colorful aura field around the body onto the Polaroid film, along with the image of the person.
Several words caught my attention: "standardized biofeedback," "patented operation," "parameters are projected." And, of course, "customer."
Here's an interesting description of a skeptic's visit to a psychic fair, where he forked out $40 for two aura photographs. They turned out radically different. He says:
Indeed, a look at the actual process employed-described by Coggins [inventor of the Auracam 6000] "intensified Kirlian imaging"-shows it to be not the actual image of the body's unseen image field but the imitation of such a field based primarily on something called skin resistance. That is one of the physiological variables measured by a galvanometer as part of a polygraph or "lie detector," whereby an unfelt electrical current passes through the subject's hands and detects sweat-gland activity associated with nervousness.
Again, something real is happening here.
But what it seems to be is an electronics engineer making a gadget that lets entrepreneurs charge people for having their "aura" photographed. [Note: as the skeptic's article points out, Kirlian photography uses a different technology that doesn't involve a camera.]
Ever the diligent investigator, I invested 14 minutes of my time into watching a You Tube'd video from a Sci-Fi channel program that supposedly showed the validity of aura photography.
Not really. Not even close.
A supposed aura reader told a few people some things about themselves that made them go "why, yes, that's me!" I wasn't impressed, especially since the reader was looking right at the individuals and could gauge their personality from obvious clues (appearance, demeanor, style of dress, etc.)
Some aura readers, such as those my wife encountered, claim to be able to see auras directly, without the aid of any technology.
This article demolishes that notion pretty persuasively. Of course, believers will say that the failure of a few aura readers to demonstrate their ability in a controlled experiment doesn't mean that nobody can.
But until somebody presents demonstrable evidence that auras are a manifestation of a person's subtle etheric body, and not just manipulated electronic imaging or imagination, I'll remain an aura skeptic.