Charles Webster Leadbeater
An aura, also known as a human energy field is, according to New Age beliefs, a colored emanation said to enclose a human body or any animal or object. Psychics and holistic medicine practitioners often claim to have the ability to see the size, color and type of vibration of an aura.
The concept of auras was first popularized by Charles Webster Leadbeater, a former priest of the Church of England and a member of the mystic Theosophical Society. Leadbeater had studied Theosophy in India, and believed he had the capacity to use his clairvoyant powers to make scientific investigations. He claimed that he had discovered that most men come from Mars but the more advanced men come from the Moon, and that hydrogen atoms are made of six bodies contained in an egg-like form.
In his book Man Visible and Invisible published in 1903, Leadbeater illustrated the aura of man at various stages of his moral evolution, from the “savage” to the saint. In 1910, Leadbeater introduced the modern conception of auras by incorporating the Tantric notion of chakrasin his book The Inner Life. Leadbeater didn’t simply present the Tantric beliefs to the West, he reconstructed and reinterpreted them by mixing them with his own ideas, without acknowledging the sources of these innovations. Some of Leadbeater’s innovations are describing chakras as energy vortexes, and associating each of them with a gland, an organ and other body parts.
In the following years, Leadbeater’s ideas on the aura and chakras where adopted and reinterpreted by other Theosophists such as Rudolph Steiner and Edgar Cayce but his occult anatomy remained of minor interest within the esoteric counterculture until the 1980’s, when it was picked up by the New Age movement.
In 1977, American esotericist Christopher Hills published the book Nuclear Evolution: The Rainbow Body, which presented a modified version of Leadbeater’s occult anatomy. Whereas Leadbeater had drawn each chakras with intricately detailed shapes and multiple colors, Hills presented them as a sequence of centers, each one being associated with a color of the rainbow. Most of the subsequent New Age writers will base their representations of the aura on Hill’s interpretation of Leadbeater’s ideas. Chakras became a part of mainstream esoteric speculations in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Many New Age techniques that aim to clear blockages of the chakras were developed during those years, such as crystal healing and aura-soma Chakras were, by the late 1990s, less connected with their theosophical and Hinduist root, and more infused with New Age ideas. A variety of New Age books proposed different links between each chakras and colors, personality traits, illnesses, Christian sacraments, etc Various type of holistic healing within the New Age movement claim to use aura reading techniques, such as bioenergetics, energy spirtuality, energy psychology and energy medicine.
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