Aura: An emanation of energy that extends beyond the body to interact with the external environment.
On a rainy morning I arrive at the appointed time for a meeting with Kay Simon, a Forest City resident with the uncommon avocation of photographing auras. Thanks to my 1960s-introduction to such an effluence my kids grew up getting not only a good-bye kiss when they left for school but their aunis "fluffed" as well. You can understand, then, why the notion of seeing my own in print was seductive.
One might expect an aura photographer to be adorned with tinkling earrings, flowing hair and toe rings: Simon is a tidy, middle-aged woman with friendly brown eyes and a short, blonde coif.
Nor is she a life-long dabbler in the arcane arts.
"About five years ago I joined a ladies' club and met someone who could see auras. She'd tell us about them over lunch and tried to teach us how to see them."
Simon never did espy an aura, but she did develop an interest in metaphysics and was eager to hear about a friend's trip to Atlanta to see the guru of the New Paradigm, Dr. Depok Chopra, and to check out a souvenir photograph of the friend's aura.
Thus began Simon's quest to buy her own aura camera, a search that finally ended with an $8,000 outlay to a fellow in Tampa looking to sell his Aura 3000, complete with tripod. (Some aura cameras cost upward of 30 grand.)
The snapshot of my shimmering shell of spirit was photo No. 5,001: Simon has been one busy aura paparazzi since January 1994. Fees for the shoot are $15 if done at one of her public mall or private party setups.
Anyway, I sit in a straight-back chair before a black screen, palms pressed against han-drests that feature silver-plated finger pads. These pads are scattered with small knobs that look like screw tops and are aligned with acupuncture points. Kay secures a black drape around my neck to cover my body.
"Look in the camera, think good thoughts, take a deep breath and hold still for 10 seconds," she says and pushes a camera button. In less than a minute a printer connected to the Aura 3000 prints out my aura reading: the color coming toward my left side is the approaching vibration, that is, the future. The closer to my body, the sooner its impact. Today green is moving in: The printout says that's growth. Growth is good. Then there's my blue center, the color that best descnbes me," which, according to the Aura 3000, is a depth-of-feel-ing sort of gal... tender, tranquil, trustworthy, a regular earth mother.
Now the incoming color vibration - again, blue signifies the energy being expressed: seems I'm loyal, contemplative and have a calming effect on people. (The "calming effect" has elicited a wonder-filled response from my family, friends and therapist: "Huh?")
My ego-basking is short-lived, however, when I get a gander at the photo spit from the Polaroid camera that's attached to the 3000.
Simon tells me that the yucky green levitating there on my left side, my incoming channel, means approaching illness. Understandably, I freak and beg for a five-minute meditation break to fend off the invasion.
Sure enough, my second aura photo shows a brilliant white glow in the region of my heart and over my head, verifying that I am, indeed, "spiritually motivated, very loving, intellectually developed with a higher consciousness."
Alas, perversely, when the picture development is complete, there is that pukey green still moving in on my left side.
Quickly, Simon assures the amorphous, icky-colored blob indicates only minor health threat - the flu, a cold. Maybe, but I can't help feeling a bit put off; I came here anticipating a photograph worthy of wall-hanging, a lovely glow of energy pouring from my perimeter. This aura photograph will never see the public light of day.