Illustration by Pablo Lobato
Illustration: Pablo Lobato

Cindy Luffred welcomes me into her Gold Coast apartment with a giant smile and a bounce in her step. The 30-something Luffred recently left her decade-long sales job at the stationery chain Papyrus to read auras full time. Her goal for our session is not to predict my future (“We all have free will,” she says) but to reveal what is swirling around in my energy field. That is, she’ll see what thoughts are consuming me, what changes I’m attracting, and how I can best harness that energy. “I help people connect to their soul to rediscover or discover their purpose,” she says. “Aura photography helps them have more clarity and insight and guidance in their lives.”

In Luffred’s living room is a giant camera, and in front of the camera is a bench with two small metal plates. She instructs me to sit with my hands flat on the plates while she takes my photo. What results looks like a Polaroid with bright splotches of color on top — almost like an overexposed image, but it’s actually a double exposure. The first exposure is a photo of me; the second, the colorful part, is of the electrical currents in my hands, detected by the plates and converted into colors.

My aura looks like a blue-green arc around my head. Luffred tells me I’m an old soul but young at heart. The rainbow shape, she explains, indicates that my energy is swirling around a huge transition, the blue means that transition is probably career-related, and the lime says I need to focus on doing what I love. The “dips” in my energy field — areas where the color fades — indicate I need to take more time for myself.

She’s not wrong. I’m stressed. I’m overworked. And I was just complaining to my mom this morning that I need a break. Basically, Luffred’s got my number.

On the other hand, I know exactly zero people who don’t need a break. It’s hard to say whether this take is about reading my energy or being aware of the modern-day human condition.

As we continue to chat, she says I worry too much (yes), I’m innately intuitive (maybe), and I’m a great advice giver (I hope?). I should meditate, she says, and trust my gut more. My next nine months are going to be about making long-term life decisions: Where do I want to live? What do I want to do? I have no idea whether that’s true, but I like the idea of it. So sure, I’ll take it.

That seems to be the gist of this whole meeting. I can take the bits that reaffirm what I already know — I need a vacation! — and forget the parts that I don’t. Is that worth $75 for 20 minutes, Luffred’s going rate? I guess that depends on how much you value external validation.

When I get home, I settle in for a quiet night of TV. I need more time for self-care … my aura said so!