In religious art a halo around a human head depicts spirituality. This may be because it is what some people have actually seen. In some forms of spiritual practice, an aura is thought to be a luminous field of energy extending a little distance from each living thing. Some healers say that colour in someone’s aura expresses their emotional state and degree of well-being. The aura has also been described as a map of the thoughts and feelings surrounding a person.
Some people report seeing an aura after deep meditation. If you saw such a thing for the first time you might be surprised and wonder whether there is something wrong with your eyes.
Attitude of sceptics regarding an aura
On the other hand, some sceptics contend that seeing an aura is only due to a perceptual disturbance in the brain associated with epilepsy, migraine or psychedelic drugs. Likewise, psychological factors have been hypothesised as responsible including fantasy, vividness of visual imagery, and after-images.
An aura seen by Swedenborg around people on earth
Eighteenth century mystic Emanuel Swedenborg reports psychically seeing auras around people. He describes this in terms of the person being a solid point with a kind of field of spirits existing around him or her whilst at the same time being one among those spirits in that sphere.
An aura seen around things in the spiritual world
Swedenborg is also known as a visionary who describes a hidden realm he called the spiritual world which we become conscious of after death. At times he noticed a visual aura surrounding everything he saw there radiating for example from trees and their fruits, and shrubs and their blossoms.
An aura seen around individual spirits in the spiritual world
Likewise, he reports auras can be seen around spirits of people who once lived on earth with colours which vary according to each individual’s inner state. He maintains that in the next life colours have more brilliance and splendour than those seen on earth because they represent something spiritual.
Whether always seen or not, an aura of life is said to flow out and surround each person according to their individual life of desire and thought. The quality of spirits can be discerned from a distance by their auras by those who have the gift of perception.
Swedenborg contrasts the inner states of different spirits. If during life on earth, a person has been only interested in external things such as possessions, pleasure, and social status, then such things as deceit, envy, and egoism would have been treated lightly and spiritual values of honesty, concern for others and humility would have been neglected.
No matter how well thought of in the world, people’s true inner nature will be revealed because each person is said to take a sphere with them after death which surrounds them and which sometimes is visually seen as their true individual aura.
Those individuals, who have been interested in higher matters – e.g. taking delight in expressing good-will towards others and most of all finding happiness in loving an image of the divine as the source of all that is good – have a pleasing and lovely sphere surrounding them.
“The spheres of the angels are sometimes manifested visually as auras which are so beautiful, so pleasant, and so varied that they defy description” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
Aura of communities of spirits
Swedenborg says that he had fairly often been allowed to see the aura around an angelic or spirit person but that there is also a general aura around groups in community.
” I have also been allowed to see this aura in various guises, sometimes in heaven looking like a faint flame and in hell like a harsh flame, sometimes in heaven looking like a delicate and bright cloud and in hell like a dense black cloud.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)
He also describes the shared aura of angelic spirits in terms of a beautiful rainbow encircling the heavenly sky. Other times he reports seeing an aura of ‘serene light and warmth’ where angelic people are in a heavenly state. On the other hand he says those in a hellish state are in a misty, cold and dirty atmosphere.
Colour of an aura
Various writers associate various personality traits with the colours of different layers of the aura. They claim to know what the colours in your aura reveal. However, one wonders how true their interpretations might be. Swedenborg first experienced seeing an aura before he knew what an aura is. On that occasion he described it as an aura of grace like a golden yellow atmosphere reddening when it was one of mercy. However, when he saw another spirit with a golden coloured aura, he mistaken supposed that it signified something good only to discover it was said by the spirits to show false confidence associated with the illusion of pride. In other words only when seen, in what Swedenborg terms heavenly light, will an aura reveal the inner quality of a spirit even before he or she comes close.
Why an aura is seen and not seen
Swedenborg says that there is a tremendous variety of auras. Although everyone has their own one, it is not always seen in the spiritual world. I can imagine that Providence provides sight of it according to what is good and useful in any particular circumstance whether in this or the next life. Swedenborg does say that what is seen about someone’s particulars by heavenly people is more than what can be seen by others who may only perceive something in general.
Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems