Art and Magick of Austin Osman Spare

The soul is the ancestral animals. The body is their knowledge.

– Austin Osman Spare

Austin Osman Spare was a magician and artist whose work and theories are very interesting to me because of the way he blends the two and finds a certain power there. He is definitely attracted to and influenced by the Symbolist painters of the ninteenth century, but Spare takes it to an even more personal level. He was born in Yorkshire, but moved to London at a young age. Trained as a painter and draftsman, he also worked as an illustrator and book-plate designer. Like a lot of his contemporaries, Spare became interested in Theosophy, and that was probably where his quest for occult knowledge began. He had a number of exhibitions in England, which were all well received, up to a point. There was a backlash, and some people thought his artwork was just too bizarre and unhealthy, as some people always do. Spare also began to publish his own books and grimoires. I first became familiar with Spare’s work through my interest in Surrealism, because there is a very strong and profound overlap, although I think that his theories and ideas developed independently.

Although I won’t go into it much here I am very interested in his ideas, philosophy, and writings. Artistically, his line work can’t be beat. I like most of his work, but am especially drawn to his automatic drawings and sigils. The way he blends text with imagery is very interesting, and his bookplates are exceptional.

The means used and the way it happens are simple, the inverse of scientific. I use a formula, created by instinctive guess and *arbitrarily* formed, not evolved by hypothesis and experiment. The law of sorcery is its own law, using sympathetic symbols.

– Austin Osman Spare

hermetic.com/spare

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