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belief that the human personality continues to exist after death and can communicate with the living through the agency of a medium or psychic.
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aurathe distinctive quality of a thing, e.g. a particular work of art, and (as defined by BENJAMIN, Charles Baudelaire, 1983) also ‘a unique manifestation of distance’. Benjamins reading is dependent on a quasi-religious understanding of society. Thus social order requires certain objects in society to be popularly regarded as sacred. For example, objects like the Emerald Buddha in Thailand or Stonehenge possess an aura. They are socially distant from us in the sense of occupying the symbolic apex of culture; and they also require us to make an inner journey away from the surface preoccupations of everyday life to a posited deeper, immemorial reality. In his troubled paper on the effects of mechanical reproduction, Benjamin (Illuminations, 1955) argued that the duplication of these objects as artefacts and symbols within mass culture weakens their auratic power. They become clichéd and hackneyed. Authenticity and the sacred are lost, and the social integration of society falters. See also SIMULATION, POSTMODERNISM.
Aura(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
The aura is an emanation that surrounds all living things, especially human beings, which many believers in the Western Esoteric tradition, including the modern New Age community, claim to see and to be able to document. Many psychics, for example, claim to be able to see this emanation, completely invisible to the average person, and derive information from it, especially relative to the health of the person. Contemporary advocates of the existence of auras relate them historically to the lights said to shine around biblical and other holy figures, often pictured in Western art as halos. The aura is often said to be part of the invisible anatomy of the individual, which includes, among other invisible elements, the gchakras.
Of particular interest have been the various attempts throughout the twentieth century to scientifically document the existence of the aura and create instruments that will make it visible to everyone. Such efforts began in earnest with the work of Walter J. Kilner (1847–1920), a British physician who in 1911 published an account of his research in The Human Atmosphere. He created a dicynin screen consisting of a layer of coal-tar dye sealed between two pieces of glass. He suggested that the aura became visible after looking through the screen in bright daylight and then immediately turning to look at a person in a dimly lit room. This process made three layers of emanation. The first, a dark layer, surrounded the body for about a half an inch. The next two layers extended from the body for about three inches and a foot, respectively. He related these layers to the invisible body doubles described in Esoteric literature. Kilner’s research built upon some nineteenth-century speculations and led some colleagues to attempt to substantiate his conclusions.
Kilner’s research was largely dismissed by later researchers on light and perception, and the results he reported were seen as artifacts of the observer’s own optic process rather than reflective of any emanation being produced by the subject being observed. These findings did not prevent the marketing of Kilner goggles, advertisements for which appeared in Esoteric periodicals as late as the 1970s.
Interest in the aura was revived in the last decades of the twentieth century by the development of a new photographic technique, kirlian photography. Discovered in the 1950s by two Russian scientists, Valentina and Semyon Davidovich Kirlian, this form of photography claimed to produce photographs of an energy field around and emanating from living objects. Kirlian photographs were made by placing the object directly on a photographic plate and using a small amount of electricity rather than light to imprint the image. Kirlian pictures produced on color film proved to be both intriguing and beautiful, and for a few decades a spectrum of scientists sought to find meaning in the pictures.
Kirlian photography ultimately proved a dead end. The most intriguing pictures, reputedly the very distinct images of people produced while they claimed to be in various altered states of consciousness, were determined to be artifacts of a badly controlled process. When the pressure placed on the film was controlled, the earlier produced differences disappeared. By the end of the 1980s, interest in the process had also disappeared.
Belief in auras continues within the Esoteric community, and many psychics still claim to be able to see them. No controlled experiments that would offer support to the meaningfulness of the aura as seen by psychics exist. Among recent claims largely based upon auras as seen by psychics are those related to the existence of indigo children, special children born in the last generation whose aura has a prominent indigo component.
Aura(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
For centuries it has been believed that certain persons, perhaps through their deep spirituality, emanate colored lights from the head ("nimbus") or even the entire body ("aureole"). In early Christian and other religious art, these lights are depicted as "halos," or "glorias," but they are more generally known as the aura. Crowns and the headdresses of priests symbolize this aura emanating from the head.
Auras are not restricted to especially holy people but can be seen by sensitives, under the right circumstances, around all living things, animate and inanimate. In the sixteenth century, Paracelsus described the aura as "The vital force (which) is not enclosed in man but radiates round him like a luminous sphere." Nandor Fodor says it is a "permanent radiation around the human body," and goes on to say that "mystics distinguish four different types of aura; the Nimbus, the Halo, the Aureola and the Glory. The first two stream from the head, the aureola from the whole body, the glory is a combination of the two. Theosophists speak of five divisions: the health aura, the vital aura, the Karmic aura, the aura of character and the aura of spiritual nature."
Although immediately obvious to sensitives, almost anyone can be trained to see and even to feel the aura. Many Witches are able to see and feel it and use the knowledge obtained in different ways. It is believed that the aura may reflect the general health of the person from whom it emanates. It can therefore be used to diagnose illness, by viewing the colors present and their relative brilliance. It is also said that colors change dependent upon mood: red for anger, lilac or purple for spirituality, pink for love, or green for deceit. Much about a person can be determined just from looking at their emanations. By projecting—either by light or simply by thought—appropriate therapeutic colors, healings can occur.
In 1858, industrial chemist Baron Karl von Reichanbach discovered radiation emanating from crystals, magnets, plants and animals. In 1911, Dr. Walter Kilner of St. Thomas' Hospital, London, devised screens through which this radiation could be seen.
Aura(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
According to metaphysics, the human body is composed of seven distinct elements. The first three—solid, liquid, and gas—form the physical body. The fourth is the etheric body and interpenetrates the physical body. Then there is the astral body, the mental body, and finally the spiritual body. The last two are virtually impossible to see because they vibrate at rates too high for normal detection by the physical eye, but the others can be seen by sensitives. These energy patterns are termed the aura.
The etheric body, or inner aura, extends slightly beyond the physical, appearing to the adept as a thin, dark line no more than an inch thick. Beyond it extends the astral body, which may be several inches in thickness. The aura extends around the whole body, but is most easily seen around the head, where it is termed the nimbus. The aura around the whole body is the aureola. The nimbus is what is shown in Christian art—especially from the fifth to the sixteenth centuries—as “halos” or “glorias.” In paintings of Moslem prophets, the aura is often shown as a ring of flames. Crowns and priests’ headdresses symbolize the aura. Some art of Ceylon, Mexico, Peru, and of Japanese Buddhism show light extending around the whole body of a holy person. Paracelsus, in the sixteenth century, said “The vital force is not enclosed in Man, but radiates round him like a luminous sphere.”
The aura changes color with the person’s health, mood, etc., and so can be used by the sensitive as an instrument of divination. A person with a blue or lavender aura, for example, will be in a deeply spiritual state. Love shows as a pink aura, and anger as a vibrant red. Vortexes and holes in the aura or the aureola may indicate health problems and a need for attention. Seeing a change of color, for example from dark pink to vibrant red, would indicate that the person’s anger was increasing and could explode in the near future.