Sat, May 17, 2003 - Page 16 News List

What color are you today?

Not a pill for hearing, Aura-Soma is the latest in holistic therapies to arrive on these shores. But is it serious medicine, or snake oil?

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Aura-Soma therapist Khushbu.

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

Wednesday was a bad-aura day for me. I didn't know as much until my afternoon appointment with Khushbu (陳潔慧), a certified Aura-Soma therapist who opened her Tienmu salon in January. I didn't even really know what an aura was before then and I'm still not certain. But, now I know that if I can release my repressed feelings of guilt and sort out my priorities, no power on earth can stop me from achieving my goals. All I need to do is get in touch with my pre-civilization Atlantean incarnation.

What is Aura-Soma?

Depending on how you see it, Aura-Soma is either a holistic approach to spiritual awakening and individuation based on the power of plants, crystals and color -- or a 90-minute parlor game.

To have your aura "read," you select your four favorite colors from 103 two-color bottles that sit on a white back-lit shelf. Each bottle is a half-oil, half-water combination tinctured with various colors using plant and mineral essences.

Believers call them "Balance Bottles" and the first you choose -- the one your psyche is drawn to more than any other -- is your spirit bottle. It represents your true nature. The second bottle represents the obstacles and difficulties in your life. The third and fourth are, respectively, your present circumstances and future situation.

An Aura-Soma therapist, such as Khushbu, who has been trained to "clear and harmonize the aura and subtle bodies," interprets your selections. Once your therapist explains the specific colors you chose, you can literally absorb the power of these aromatic extracts by rubbing them onto your corresponding body parts; violet combinations for the head, blues and greens for the throat and chest, and orange and red combinations for below the navel.

Certified spiritualism

Getting certified isn't for those with only a parlor-game passing interest. For her part, Khushbu spent several months at England's Aura-Soma International Academy of Color Therapeutics. The academy is the world's only institute capable of certifying students to become Aura-Soma therapists.

There are over 300 certified therapists in South America, South Africa, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and throughout Europe and North America. Khushbu is the only certified therapist in Taiwan. The institute also holds the registration for the Aura-Soma trademark and its extensive line of products -- a fact that has skeptics screaming "snake oil!"

Such naysayers doubts are reinforced by the fact that the institute -- based on the healing power of light and color -- was founded by a blind herbalist, pharmacist and podiatrist named Vicky Wall, the "chosen custodian of Aura-Soma knowledge on Earth," according to the school's literature.

One night in 1984, she suddenly and for no apparent reason went to her laboratory and concocted what would become the first of the colorful herbal extracts. "She could neither `see' the beautiful jewels she had spontaneously and inspirationally created, or their possible intended purpose," the literature says. "Even more bewildering was the resonant power she felt emanating from them as they basked in the sunlight of the following morning."

"Other hands moved my own," Wall herself would later say of the episode. Practitioners of Aura-Soma therapy now consider the Balance Bottles to be born, rather than engineered and they're given names such as Metatron and The Archangel Tzadkiel.

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