I had my aura photographed recently.
It was a peaceful experience, actually, considering I was sitting in an electrified chair just off Canal Street in Chinatown. Canal Street, of course, is where in-the-know New Yorkers turn for all their authentic luxury goods. When it comes to aura photography, I demand nothing but the best.
The studio is actually a small jewelry store, called Magic Jewelry. They have the aforementioned electrified chair/camera apparatus in the corner, next to several chakra charts which are taped to the wall. Although the display cases were filled with jewelry and crystals and such, based on our conversation with the clerk, it seems they're making most of their bank these days in the aura game.
Now, I've never had my aura photographed. I don't know chakras from shock absorbers. Related, perhaps: I also don't do horoscopes. I'm not religious. I've never had my fortune, my palm, nor my tea leaves read.
It wasn't always this way. As a kid, I was a believer. Specifically (and exclusively) I believed in the power of the Magic 8 Ball. There was simply no question it couldn't answer. But then one night, in a bedtime fit, I threw it at my babysitter. I don't know if it was the babysitter's head, or the fireplace behind him, that caused the Magic 8 Ball to crack open. But crack open it did. Inside I found a baby food jar full of blue water and that little floating polyhedron whatsit.
For years, I had trusted the Magic 8 Ball to guide me through life's toughest decisions. But then, just like that, I saw it for what it was: the crass invention of some marketing wonk at Mattel.
My mind reeled. Was it all complete bullshit? Signs point to yes.
And just like that, a skeptic was born.
Skeptics, I should note, aren't necessarily without a spiritual side. In my post-M8B years, I've come to root my spirituality in nature. It's an understanding grounded in the natural runnings of the world: in weather systems and seasons and all the living quivering machinery spinning around us. I'm a part of it, and you, et al.
Mine is still a belief in a master plan, I suppose, just sans the master planner. Rivers reroute themselves because that's what rivers do. And then beavers and bass and birch trees adjusting accordingly, because that's what they do too. And so on.
It's from these natural systems that I draw strength and solace. It proves helpful when I'm going through hard times in life or, say, visiting Orlando. Mine is definitely a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of spirituality.
Obviously, auras ain't that. You can't watch auras in action like you can the cycling of the sea. You don't see auras all around you like so many Starbucks. Your aura is not available to be photographed, run through a flattering hefe filter, and then posted for all your thirsty fans on Instagram.
Aura photography! Step right up! 20 bucks! Everybody's a winner!
I think that's what I was expecting as we entered the shop – a chance to take home the cosmic equivalent of a giant bear in the top row.
But in reality, the place was quiet. Serene even, given the clamor right outside the door. The man behind the counter couldn't have been nicer. During the course of our conversation, he shared with us that prior to working at Magic Jewelry he was a hardcore computer programmer. Eventually, he realized he wasn't on a healthy path and changed course accordingly. Rivers reroute themselves, that's what rivers do.
I was there with Katie, a co-worker and the discoverer of this shop. We had time to kill that evening before a photo shoot and so there we were. We each sat down in the chair and placed our hands on these hand-shaped chrome thingamabobs. There were wires all over. We stared into this giant box of a camera. The shutter flips open. Stare. 5 seconds pass. Maybe 10. The shutter flips shut. Aura captured.
This part of the process took less than a minute. On an excitement scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate it a "meh." But then, while we waited for the Polaroid-style film to process, our trusted photographer began explaining chakras. Regions and colors and the nature of energy. I have to say, it sounded pretty good!
Finally it was time for the big unveiling. Katie's image was peeled back first: a brilliant sunburst of a thing! In the center, there was Katie exuding all this color and light. By now I've probably made it clear that I don't know shit about chakras. But I'll be damned if that camera didn't capture Katie to a T.
Then came the best part which I don't think either of us was expecting: a solid 10-minute reading of her aura as revealed in the photo. Her incoming energy. Her outgoing energy. Her opportunities, ambitions, and regrets.
Could Katie's reading have applied to me (the way all horoscopes seem to hit the mark, regardless of your birth date)? Well, sure I suppose so. But it seemed to especially apply to her. It really did.
And then it was time for mine. He pulled back the paper to reveal... So Much Purple. It looked like Prince parking his purple motorcycle in his purple bedroom in Purple Rain. There was also a splash of blue (the waters of Lake Minnetonka, perhaps?). And some incoming green.
I'll paraphrase here, but based on what he saw, he told me that my prior week wasn't a great one. True! It was not an ass kicker! He told me that I was currently in a transitional week. Yup! He told me that I worry about whether I'm communicating clearly. For good reason! Have you read any of this convoluted gibberish? He also mentioned that I have magical qualities and that I might have some intestinal distress.
His analysis went deeper too, only some of which I recall now (regretfully). But I walked out of there feeling... good. Like, really good.
I'm still not ready to hitch my happiness to any electrified contraptions. Ditto any theological ones. But an opportunity to reflect on who I am? A chance to purposefully accept or reject an alternative understanding of what I am? A moment to think that maybe, just maybe, I haven't seen it all just yet? I'll take that any day.
Of course, ultimately, we hear what we want to hear. And so it goes with my aura photo experience. The two key takeaways that stuck with me since my reading are these:
- I am magical.
- I should poop more.
They're useful points both. Uncanny even. Just next time? Tell me something I don't know buddy!