H.P. Lovecraft, in one of his tales of terror, alludes to certain entities which have their being "not in the spaces known to us, but between them. They walk calm and primal, of no dimensions, and to us unseen." This aptly describes Austin Osman Spare. The circumstances of his birth emphasize the element of ambivalence and inbetweeness which forms the theme of his magic. He told me he was not sure whether he was born on the last day of December 1888, or on New Year's Day, 1889; whether, as he put it, he was Janus backward-turning, or Janus forward- facing. But whichever aspect of the deity he more closely represented, it is a fact that his life was a curious blend of past and future. Despite his inability to remember quite when he was born, the place was certainly Snowhill, London: he was the only son of a City of London policeman. When barely twenty years of age he began writing The Book of Pleasure, in which he used art and sex to explore the subconscious mind. The Book of Pleasure reeks of diabolism to such an extent that Mario Praz in The Romantic Agony (Oxford, 1933) refers to Spare as an English "satanic occultist", and he places him in the same category as Aleister Crowley. Spare's intense interest in the more obscure aspects of sorcery. Spare's intense interest in the more obscure aspects of sorcerysprang from his early friendship with an old colonial womanwho claimed descent from a line of Salem witches that Cotton Mather had failed to exterminate.

 

 

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Austin Osman Spare and the Zos Kia - Kenneth Grant

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