There's a funny scene in one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous. The fifteen year old fledgling Rolling Stone music reporter is on the phone with him mom, trying to convince her he's okay and that she has no reason to worry about him being on the road with a rock band. There's a couple of groupies trying to talk to him at the same time, hydroponic pot is mentioned at alarming volume, and then one of the girls starts talking about how she can see his aura. The kid tells his mom he can't hear her and of course HydroPot Groupie thinks he's talking to her. So she starts yelling, "I CAN SEE YOUR AURA! IT'S REALLY PURPLE!" Or something like that, and the poor kid looks like he wants to crawl under a rock.
This horrifying exchange is pretty representative of the average person's view of people who claim they can see auras: hippies high on hydroponic pot, flaky new-age types with fake names like Raven Granola Moonbeam or Crystal Glitter Dragonrider. I find the idea of being able to read auras a bit disconcerting. First let's talk about what an aura is: an energy field that radiates several inches out from the body, with colors that can represent everything from emotions and personality to physical health and psychological state. I wanted to explore what it would be like for a character who could see the aura and interpret what they mean. How old was she when this "auric vision" started? Did she have any understanding as to what she was seeing, have some idea why her vision began to resemble a hazy Impressionist painting? How does she learn to interpret those colors? Does she base her interpretation on something like chakras, witchcraft color correspondences, pure intuition, or a combination of methods? Is she able to turn it off and on, so to speak? Because turning it off would become very important, not only for her peace of mind but in order to respect the privacy of those around her. Think about it - your aura could act as a giant mood ring and tell the reader what you're feeling, whether you want those feelings known publicly or not. Would you want someone to "read" you like that? Would you want such an intimate glimpse into the emotions of others, including random strangers you're in line with at the grocery store?
And if a character were able to see auric energy, what else can they see? Spectral energy? Ghosts? Deciding the answer was "yes, ghosts!" I had my main character for my upcoming release Mojo Queen. Her name is Roxanne Mathis and she is a paranormal investigator who uses her ability to see auras and spectral energy to help people who are in over their heads with supernatural problems. That's not all she uses, but we'll talk about hoodoo another time. :)