The aura is an electrical field that surrounds every living organism. Auras may be freely manipulated by experienced individuals to power magic; however, using the aura consumes considerable amounts of energy and strength. Using too much auric energy drains the life force of its owner, resulting in rapid and dramatic ageing (sometimes eroding years or decades within seconds). If the aura is completely exhausted, the magic will continue to drain energy from host's body in a process known as spontaneous combustion.
Auras are usually invisible unless they are being actively used by their owner. (Some rare individuals can see auras at all times; auras may even be photographed under certain circumstances.) Auras appear as a glow around the body, though the strength and color vary considerably between individuals. As Nicholas Flamel notes, "Some glow solidly, others pulse. Some appear around the edge of the body like an envelope."
- Main article: Auras/List of characters by aura
Every individual has a uniquely colored aura - though the overwhelming majority of auras are multicolored. Pure auras are exceptionally rare, and come in many colors and hues: the series includes examples of individuals with blue, green, red, yellow, brown, gray, white, gold, and silver auras.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no significant correlation between magical strength and aura color or rarity. Instead, raw magical potential seems to be largely determined by aura purity: Sophie and Josh Newman's remarkable strength is frequently attributed to their auras' astonishing purity rather than their color. Conversely, some individuals with common colors wield great strength (such as Zephaniah, who has a brown aura).
Pure auras are very rare in Humani. Aura color seems to be determined somewhat randomly at birth, though there is evidence to suggest that bloodline contribute in some way. (For example, Scathach and Aoife both have gray auras, and Abraham the Mage alludes that Josh Newman is part of a line of men with gold auras. Species is likely a major factor, since most known Elders have some kind of chromatic aura.
A hierarchy of aura rarity is not discussed in depth. Silver auras are extremely rare (appearing every few centuries in Humani), though they are slightly less rare than gold ones (which appear every few millennia). Dagon alludes that black auras are rarer still, though he does not name any individuals with black auras, nor does he ascribe any exceptional characteristics to them.
Changes in Aura Color
Though an individual cannot usually change the color of their aura on their own, rare circumstances illustrate that it is possible. For example, the Swords of Power gradually corrupt the aura of the wielder.
It is also possible to color the aura using magic, though the results are only superficial. Perenelle Flamel conceals her white aura using red, green, and blue layers because her natural aura attracts ghosts which she finds distracting. The true color of her aura is not modified.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, the use of auric energy is almost universally accompanied by the release of a scent that is characteristic of its owner. The scent also changes slightly according to the mood of its user - for instance, Sophie Newman's trademark vanilla scent can take on sour or rotten notes during periods of extreme distress.
Most magic users may choose the scent of their aura (though the means by which one chooses the scent of their aura are never clearly stated). However, those with gold and silver auras will always have orange- and vanilla-scented auras respectively.
Some auras have no scent at all. Perenelle Flamel's white aura is an example of this.
- Main article: Magic
- Main article: Awakening
Life Without an Aura
Marethyu's case is more straightforward. Marethyu is not technically alive, as he lost his aura during the creation of his hook. He has no pulse, does not breathe, and is uniquely both immortal and invulnerable (though there are limits to how much he can heal). The hook effectively replaced his aura as the source of his life-force, which allows him to "live" without an aura.
Gilgamesh's case is not as clear-cut. Gilgamesh was made immortal using an early version of the immortality spell contained in the Codex - this had the unfortunate side-effect of stripping the King of his aura. Like Marethyu, Gilgamesh seems to be invulnerable, though unlike Marethyu, there is no obvious alternative life-force that keeps him alive.
When two powerful auras of similar color are brought together, they may "short circuit", overloading the aura of one or both individuals. One or both people will receive a large shock (which may result in a loss of consciousness). It is unlikely that short circuiting results in permanent harm. This happens in The Magician when Sophie Newman meets Joan of Arc; Joan escapes unharmed, and later informs Sophie that short circuiting can be avoided with proper instruction.
- It is stated that those with gold auras always have an orange scent, and that those with silver auras always have a vanilla odor. However, Joan of Arc has a silver aura with a lavender scent. It is possible that Joan has control over its scent as her aura is not pure silver, but it is probably an oversight on the part of the author.
- There are some creatures, like the Sphinx and the Lotan, who can absorb the auras of others.
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