Friday, November 09, 2007
(The man in the above photo is a Vedic astrologer (from India) whom I met in Boulder. Behind him is the image of Buddha, who (like Christ and other holy figures East and West) is traditionally depicted surrounded by a large halo or full body aura of radiance.)
When I attended the symphony concert in Detroit, I saw lights around various performers and also above the heads of the audience. The latter were glowing blue horizontal discs located just above the crown of each listener. On stage, I saw lights flickering around the various performers and--even more interesting--blue light ascending up the spine of the conductor right from his base or root chakra. (He was very animated.)
Once again, I wonder what these "lights" or auras are, and how they originate. I always seem to see some shade of blue or purple (or a mixture of the two). I have mentioned before seeing such purple light flash across the entire stage when Alice Walker was speaking and again a kind of brilliant purplish pink when the author Isabel Allende was giving a talk in San Francisco. And, I think once more of the time I saw purplish light extend from the diaphram of a solo singer in concert, then subside when she sat down.
Sometimes these lights appear when someone is describing a crisis moment in their lives, as when one woman was describing her experience of being held up and then shot in a city street. Sometimes I see such lights when poets are reading their poems in public with intense concentration.
So--I am left to wonder--what were the glowing purple discs above the heads of the concert audience? Perhaps their energies were dramatically awakened by the dynamic piece being played by the orchestra. Perhaps the energies of those I observe are neutral (clear) as to color and I view them through a purple screen (my own aura?) so that what I see is bright or dull, pink or dark purple according to the energies of the subject.
In search of some answers, I looked up entries on "aura" and "nimbus" in Wikipedia, and found some interesting information.
Though we often think of the halo as associated with Christian or Eastern holy figures, the presence of the halo or nimbus is documented even as far back as Homer, appearing on heroes and demons as well as gods and goddesses.
nimbus, glory or gloriole (light around the whole body)
Homer describes a more-than-natural light around the heads of heroes in battle, and in Aristophanes's (satiric comedy) "Birds" the founder of Cloud-Cuckoo-Land is extravagantly said to outshine stars and sun. Depictions of Perseus in the act of slaying Medusa, with lines radiating from his head, appear on a white-ground toiletry box in the Louvre and on a slightly later red-figured vase in the style of Polygnotos, ca. 450-30 BC, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On painted wares from south Italy radiant lines or simple haloes appear on a range of mythic figures: Lyssa, a personification of madness; a sphinx, a sea demon, and Thetis, the sea-nymph who was mother to Achilles.
Sometimes the image depicts a whole body radiance, the full aura as we might term it:
The whole-body image of radiance is sometimes called the 'aureole' or glory; it is shown radiating from all round the body, most often of Christ or Mary. Where gold is used as a background in miniatures, mosaics and panel paintings, the halo is just lines inscribed in the gold, often decorated in patterns within the outer radius, and becomes much less prominent. When gold is not being used, Byzantine haloes are usually just a circular line, sometimes dotted. Christ's halo is often inscribed with text or letters.
The writer, a modern skeptic, dismisses the possibility that such aureoles or haloes could be real, an actual phenomenon seen by the observer:
In popular piety, this practice has led to the literal belief that saints have visible halos around their heads, rather than it be understood as a metaphorical representation. Some faithful believe the halo to be equivalent to the Eastern religion aura, and as with the latter, believe that halos are visible to those with perception. Of the many stories about saints, some reports claimed that a saint was literally glowing.
I strongly suspect that the "saint" was indeed glowing, and that someone with "perception" could see the glow--hence the depiction in art. And, of additional interest, we find that the halo or total bodily radiance was not limited to saints and heroes. The fact that these phenomena are associated with "demons" as well as saints, mythological animals as well as humans, suggests that such effects manifest when the subject is someone of great energetic power, for good or evil, and that ordinary humans can also display such visible energies in special circumstances.