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Stephanie Gunther Twelve Month Aura Photography Project

The Metaphysical Practice of Aura Photography

By Nixa De Bellis | May 23, 2023

Aura Photography is a metaphysical practice of producing durable energetic images of a person in vivid color, reflecting aspects of their personality, mindset, and emotional state, including blockages of physical or mental energies. Stephanie Gunther of Twelve Month Aura Project is an aura photo interpreter who makes these portraits and expertly translates the colors and intensity of the energy photograph into words. Ritualist, a shop in New Paltz, hosts the magical photo booth on a regular basis for Upstaters.

The Oxford Dictionary defines an aura as “an emanation surrounding the body of a living creature that is regarded as an essential part of the individual.”

When we asked her to tell us three cool things about auras, Stephanie explained:

  1. Auras can be unpredictable. Sometimes we may notice drastic changes in our energy, and other times our energy may remain very consistent. It all depends on what is going on in our lives and where our energy is moving.
  2. There is no such thing as a “bad aura”. Sometimes people get a little nervous about what their energy is going to show them. The binary of good/bad does not exist here! We are simply seeing a reflection of what is going on with our energy. We can use that information to serve us in any way we choose.
  3. We believe that energy enters our bodies from left to right. Because of this, we look at your aura and see incoming, current, and outgoing energy.

Aura Photography in New Platz NY

Ritualist in New Paltz – a witchy plant and spiritual shop is hosting Stephanie Gunther’s Aura Photography + Interpretations on Saturday, June 17th.
Find out about Dana Cooper’s plant apothecary and community space as well as more about Stephanie’s Aura Project here…

Aura Photography in New Platz NY

Stephanie Gunther first learned about aura photography in 2015. “I started getting my aura photographed and decided to start a personal project. I made the decision to get my aura photographed once a month for a year to see how my energy shifted over time. I created the Instagram handle @twelvemonthaura to keep track of my findings. One year of that turned into three years of monthly documentation. In 2018, I partnered with my friend Eileen of Aura Aura in Detroit on the Twelve Month Aura Project. She took people’s aura photos every month for a year and I wrote about their auras on Instagram. I purchased my own aura camera in 2019 but was stalled by the pandemic. In October of 2021, I gave my first public aura readings at Ritualist!”

“I learned a lot from getting my own aura photographed. I started researching colors, reading books about auras and took a class on chakras. The more aura photos I take, the more patterns I begin to notice. It feels like an ever-evolving study of energy, which I absolutely love. Aura photography is extremely validating. We sense more about our own energy than we give ourselves credit for. When you get to physically see your energy and have an understanding of what your aura reflects, it can help open doors into deeper self-awareness and understanding.”


Dana Cooper, the owner and plant witch at Ritualist, said she has a total of eight aura photographs of herself, “One from each of the pop-ups we’ve hosted with Twelve Month Aura over the past two years, plus a couple of older ones that I had taken in NYC a few years ago. I keep them all on a bulletin board in my office, and it’s been really fun to see them all together and to see what’s changed and what stayed the same over time. I’ve also learned that I consistently have a significant amount of violet in my aura! Violet is associated with the crown chakra and is a deeply spiritual color, so it feels validating to see. While spirituality is a huge part of my life (and my business), it’s also where I experience the most impostor syndrome. As someone who is business-minded and often focused on making plans, working towards goals and using the logical side of my brain, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m neglecting the softer, more intuitive parts of myself or letting my spiritual practice go by the wayside. Seeing so much violet in my photos acts as a helpful reminder that I’m inherently spiritual and that my inner wisdom and deep connection with the universe spills over into everything that I do.”

The Ritualist shop is a priority stop on Stephanie’s tour around the region.

Stephanie and Dana Aura Photography in New Platz NY

Is an aura photo a Kirlian photo?

Stephanie Gunther: No, Kirlian photography is a technique for creating contact print photographs using a high voltage that paved the way for modern aura photography. Named after Semyon Kirlian who, “In 1939, accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is connected to a high-voltage source, an image is produced on the photographic plate.” The camera used by the Twelve Month Aura Project was created by an engineer, Guy Coggins, in the 1980s. He took Kirlian methods and modernized the process using hand plates with sensors and instant film.

According to, “What Kirlian photography actually depicts and what it can be used for is uncertain. Many acupuncturists, chi-channelers and even a few doctors believe in its diagnostic potential, while doubters point out that these “auras” do not show up in a vacuum and therefore are simply interactions between electricity and particles on the skin and in the air. Insofar as our emotions are manifested as condensation on our skin, perhaps there is some common ground between the two camps.”

Aura photography has been difficult to prove scientifically, leading to some skepticism of its claims to offer insight into the ‘unseen.’ Still, like readings of tarot and horoscopes, such “refutable” pathways can offer up plenty of fodder for self-awareness and growth. clarifies that “the AuraCam does not photograph the actual aura. There’s nothing that exists which can do this. Our technology is not designed to reveal physical or mental sickness. Our camera is to be used for viewing the spiritual aura state only and to learn about the unique splendor of your own energy.”

Stephanie and Dana Aura Photography in New Platz NY

What should one expect during a session?

Stephanie Gunther: The subject will be seated and asked to rest their hands on hand plates with sensors for their photograph. Because the camera uses Instax Wide film, sort of like an instant Polaroid, we get to watch your aura photo come to life right before our eyes! Once developed, I explain the color meanings and interpret their aura. I typically work in smaller, intimate settings so that I can offer a full interpretation.

Come visit Ritualist in New Paltz on Saturday, June 17th.
Photo + Reading appointments are available between 11 am – 6 pm.
Spots are limited. Reserve your spot HERE.


The Ritualist

The owner of Ritualist, Dana, grew up in New Paltz on the unceded territory of the Munsee Lenape. She opened her shop to provide a place to find goods and supplies for magic, attend sacred circle events, usher in healing and find a unique selection of plants! The shop has a gorgeous supply of crystals, oracle decks, books, skincare, aromatics and lots of unique and beautiful house plants and succulents.

Ritualist Store in New Platz NY

Why plants?

“Because plants are our allies in healing.” Dana says, “I always intended for Ritualist to be a source for both spiritually-focused goods and houseplants—in part because those are two of my biggest passions, but also because I think they complement each other really well. Taking care of my plants and tending to my garden was what first got me thinking about everyday actions as rituals: I think that any action done with intention and presence can become a powerful way to unplug from the distractions of modern life and reconnect with our intuition and inner power. I also think that plants mirror our needs and our natural cycles in a lot of ways, which makes them amazing teachers. Observing plants can teach us about patience, resiliency and the importance of holding space for both periods of growth and phases of dormancy or rest. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is!”

Ritualist is a one-woman show right now, so Dana is very much involved in the events at the shop. Plants contribute so much to the overall vibe of the store. It would be so fascinating to see some aura photos of the ‘personality’ of the plants!

Ritualist also hosts moon circles, tarot and astrology workshops, a plant care class and witch-themed movie nights, among other things! While in-person offerings are always shifting and evolving, Dana hopes to collaborate with more local and like-minded businesses this year on fun pop-ups and seasonal events at the shop. Twelve Month Aura is in-house at least every other month so stay tuned. The next one-on-one astrology reading day will be on Saturday, June 24th. Dana loves a great excuse to gather people together at the shop, so go on over to celebrate.

Aura Photography in New Platz NY

In the age of online shopping, Dana says “Having a storefront here in my hometown has really made me feel like a part of the local community, which is so important to me. The shop feels like my way of contributing to the culture of New Paltz, and I love that it’s become a go-to spot for so many local witches and plant enthusiasts! It’s truly my second home, and I love when friends and neighbors stop by to chat, see what’s new in the shop, or update me on how much their plants have grown.”

“Ritualist is a reflection of all of my favorite things—the small brands and makers I love, the products I use in my own practice, and a collection of plants that I’ve hand-picked—so it means the world when people have kind things to say about the shop. Every time someone steps inside and comments on how the space feels welcoming and inviting, it reminds me why I do what I do. I’ve also heard from so many locals about how the plants in our windows liven up Main Street. Someone recently said that my windows, ‘Even make sitting in traffic on Main Street so much more enjoyable!’ That makes me so happy!”

Ritualist Store in New Platz NY

We hope you’ll go visit and say hello to homegrown local people, plants and their energetic auras—and tell us what you discover!

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 Connect with Dana at Ritualist

website | Facebook | Instagram 

Pragmatic Alchemy Podcast

Follow Stephanie at Twelve Month Aura

website | Instagram

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