Having My Aura Photographed Was Cheaper Than Therapy

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

In this new column, I put my hopes in something from the spiritual, wellness, or magical worlds to see if it will cure my mind, body, and/or spirit. Because everyone wants a quick fix, and the only thing holding them back is the mission of finding the right one. Probably.

What is it? Aura photography.

Where did it come from? Having your “aura photo” taken has been a popular activity at psychic fairs and spiritual gatherings for the past 30 years. Your aura is an energy, invisible to the average eye, radiating from every person. The concept shows up in religions, like Buddhism, as well as New Age philosophies. You can trace the pseudoscience of the photography back to Russian scientist Semyon Kirlian, who, in 1939, accidentally discovered that an object on a photographic plate connected to a voltage produced an image of the object surrounded by a strange glowing contour. In the New Age 1980s, Dr. Guy Coggins brought aura cameras to the wealthy few, introducing his “AuraCam 3000” to the market.

Who’s into it now? Fast-forward to our modern obsession with spirituality, coupled with a universal love of selfies, and aura photographs are in once again. Find them on Instagram accounts, sandwiched between West Coast desert shots, gazelle skulls against white bedroom walls, and two-line poems about delicate bodies and quiet revolutions. They’ve been featured in Goop (yes), Diane Von Furstenberg is apparently a fan (and one of my favorite artists), and Miranda July has had her aura photo done. There are a few major cities where you’ll find someone providing this service—New York, LA, Mumbai—and some Insta-famous pop-ups that travel around the globe, announcing their arrival via the app.

What happened when I had it done? After eight months of spreading myself thin enough to feel like human jam, my internal energy was running out. Underneath, my mental health had been playing a new trick, and I was angry—at everything…

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