The Subtle Body

Jay Johnston is a senior lecturer in the Department of Studies of Religion at the University of Sydney. A distinguished interdisciplinary researcher, Johnston is known for her scholarly explorations and elucidations in areas of research concerning subtle bodies; embodiment and intersubjectivity; feminist studies; religion and material culture. In her fascinating books Angels of Desire: Esoteric Bodies, Aesthetics and Ethics (Equinox Publishing, 2008) and Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between Mind and Body (Routledge, 2013) co-edited with Geoffrey Samuel, she establishes innovative theoretical and methodological examinations of notions of subtle embodiment as a shared narrative negotiating the ‘self’ and the ‘other’, and how subtle intersubjectivity is a unique experience of the lived human body within both Western and Eastern religious discourses. Other current projects include the ARC Discovery Project: The production and function of art and design elements in ancient texts and artefacts of ritual power from Late Antiquity in the Mediterranean region with Iain Gardner, Julia Kindt (Sydney); Erica Hunter (SOAS) and Helen Whitehouse (Oxford), and Wellbeing Spirituality and Alternative Therapies with Dr Ruth Barcan.

During the annual conference of the European Association for the Study of Religion at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, Damon Lycourinos had the pleasure of interviewing Jay regarding her work on the subtle body and alternative notions of intersubjectivity, addressing both the theoretical and methodological implications for the academic study of subtle embodiment, and what the future might hold for this in the academy and beyond.

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1 reply
  1. Avatar
    Martin L. Williams says:

    There are many areas to this subject, like “energy medicine”, of which James Oschman’s works are recommended
    In science the subject of Biophysics also deals with this recommended is “Bioelectromagnetic & Subtle Energy Medicine” by Paul J. Rosch. I assume you already know about the wonderful work done by ISSSEEM
    Regarding acupuncture, there are at least two system that can image the points “Electrographic Imaging in Medicine & Biology” by Ion Dumetrescru & the Acuvision-04
    Lastly I would recommend “The Subtle Energy Body the Complete Guide” by Maureen Lockhart which deals with a number a systems

    I give you a history of the texts on the human aura


    1. Western
    1. Pythagoreanism
    1. Augoeides (Luminous Body) Pneuma (Breath) Pythagoras, the Pythagoreans & the Neo-
    Platonicists such as Hierocles of Alexandria, 500 B.C. Vital energy perceived as a luminous
    body, the light of which could heal?
    2. Judaism
    1. Joseph & the Coat of Many Colours
    1. “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age
    & he made him a coat of many colours.”, Genesis 37:3
    3. The Colours of the Soul
    1. Middle Platonicism
    1. “On the Delays of Divine Vengeance”, Plutarch, (565ce)
    2. Christianity
    1. “Apocryphal Acts of John”, Pseudo-Prochorus, (650ce?)
    2. “Homily on Genesis”, Origen, (650ce?)
    4. Christian Iconography
    1. Nimbus, Halo, Aureola & Glory
    2. Mandorla / Vesica Piscis
    5. “Rays” Emitted by the Body
    1.Al-Kindi, 801-873 A.D.
    1. Archaeus of Paracelsus, (1493-1541), ‘‘The vital force is not enclosed in man but radiates
    round him like a luminous sphere & it may be made to act at a distance. In these semi-
    natural rays the imagination of Man may produce healthy or morbid effects. It may poison
    the essence of life & cause diseases or it may purify it after it has been made impure &
    restore the health.”, “Paragranum”
    7. Mesmerism
    1. “Researches on Magnetism Electricity Heat Light Crystallization & Chemical Attraction in
    their Relations to the Vital Force”, Karl von Reichenbach, “Odic Flame”, 1850
    8. Spiritualism
    1. “Ten Years with Spiritual Mediums”, Francis Gerry Fairfield, 1874
    1.Earliest Use of the term “Aura”?
    9. Colour Healing
    1. “The Principles of Light & Colour”, Edwin D. Babbitt, 1878
    10. Theosophy
    1. Charles Leadbeater
    1. “The Aura”, Theosophist Magazine, 9pp, 1895
    2. “The Aura an Enquiry into the Nature & Functions of the Luminous Mist Seen About
    Human & Other Beings”, Pamphlet, 1895, 18pp (may be same as 1 above)
    2. “The Human Aura a Study”, Auguste Jean Baptiste Marques, 1896
    3. “Man Visible & Invisible”, Charles Leadbeater, 1903
    11. Anthroposophy
    1. “Thought Forms & the Human Aura“, Rudolf Steiner, 24pp, being Chapter 3, Part 6 of
    “Theosophy an Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World & the Destination of
    Man”, 1904
    12. “The Human Aura & the Significance of Color a Series of Three Lectures”, W.J. Colville, 1909
    13. “The Human Aura Astral Colours & Thought Forms”, Swami Panchadasi / William Walker
    Atkinson, 1912
    14. “The Human Soul its Movements its Lights & the Iconography of the Fluidic Invisible”,
    H. Baraduc, 1913
    15. “The Human Atmosphere, Walter J. Kilner, 1920
    16. “The Story of the Human Aura”, George Starr-White, 1928
    17. “The Dayspring of Youth”, M, 1931
    18. “The Invisible Influence a Story of the Mystic Orient with Great Truths Which Can Never Die”,
    Alexander Cannon, 1933
    19. “The Origin & Properties of the Human Aura”, Oscar Bagnall, 1937
    20. “The Aura”, Erwin C. Krieger Part I & Part II two-part article from the 1946 volume of the
    Round Robin
    21. The Rosicrucian Fellowship
    1. Max Heindel
    1. “The Desire Body”, date?
    2. “The Vital Body”, Max Heindel date?
    3. “Etheric Vision & what it Reveals”, Max Heindel date?
    22. “Auras”, Edgar Cayce, 1945
    23. “Co-operative Healing”, E.E. Eeman, 1947
    24. “The Cancer Biopathy”, Wilhelm Reich, 1948
    25. “The Science of the Aura an Introduction to the Science of the Human Aura”, S.G.J. Ouseley,
    26. “This World & That”, Phoebe D. Payne, 1950
    27. “The Mystery of the Human Aura”, George Winslow Plummer aka Frater KHEI, X, 1950, 32pp
    28. “The Aura & What it Means to You”, Anon, Health Research, 1955
    29. Lobsang Rampa
    1. “The Third Eye”, 1956
    2. “The Cave of the Ancients”, 1963
    3. “You Forever”, 1965
    4. “Wisdom of the Ancients, 1965
    30. “The Science of the Aura an Introduction to the Science of the Human Aura”, S.G.J. Ouseley,
    31. “Matter in the Making”, George de la Warr, 1966, (Nodal Points).
    32. “The Etheric Double”, Arthur E. Powell, 1969
    33.“Researches on the Aura Phenomena”, Metaphysical Research Group, Mahmoud K. Muftic,
    34. “How to Read the Aura”, W.E. Butler
    35. “The Mystery of the Human Aura”, Ursula Roberts, 1972
    36. “Core Energetics Developing the Capacity to Love & Heal”, John C. Pierrakos, 1973
    37. “The Human Aura”/ “Exploring the Human Aura”, Nicholas Regush, 1974
    38. “Human Energy Systems Theory History & New Growth Perspectives”, John C. Pierrakos ,
    39. “Human Energy Systems a Way of Good Health Using Our Auric Fields Including Special Eye
    Exercises a Tarot System & Guide to Medicinal Herbs”, Jack Schwarz, 1980
    40. “The Raiment of Light a Study of the Human Aura”, David Tansley, 1984
    41. “The New Clairvoyance”, Mario Schoenmaker, 1986
    42. “The Human Aura a Study of Human Energy Fields”, Douglas Baker 1986
    43. “You & Your Aura”, Joseph Ostrom, 1987
    44. “Hands of Light a Guide to Healing, Barbara Brennan, 1987
    45. “Light Emerging the Journal of Personal Healing”, Barbara Brennan, 1993
    46. “Pioneers of the Aura”, Karen Mutton, 2007
    47. “Aura Awareness What Your Aura Says About You”, C.E. Lindgren, 2007
    48. “Capturing the Aura Integrating Science Technology & Metaphysics”, ed C.E. Lindgren, 2009
    49. “Your Sacred Anatomy”, Desda Zuckerman, 2012


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