The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare

A Lecture with Jonathan Allen


Sep 12th 2017 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm



The Last Tuesday Society invites you to our September lecture as we explore English occultist Austin Osman Spare's Tarot Deck with author Jonathan Allen.

The tradition of divination using the 78 cards of the Tarot deck dates back to Protestant and Masonic sects in the 18th century. It later became an important part of the philosophy of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the 19th Century occult organisation which included Aleister Crowley, the so-called “wickedest man in the world”, as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among its members. Golden Dawn had its own Tarot deck, apparently designed by one of its founders, S.L. MacGregor Mathers. Austin Spare’s life-long interest in cartomancy is well documented, yet very few of his own fortune- telling cards were thought to have survived. This compelling new example of the artist’s early work demonstrates his precocious involvement with the currents that shaped the British Occult Revival at the beginning of 20th century, and his interactions with some of the period’s lesser-known protagonists

In the Spring of 2013, artist and curator Jonathan Allen rediscovered the long lost, hand-painted tarot deck created c.1906 by the mystic and artist Austin Osman Spare.

In his talk, Allen discusses the deck's provenance, its place in Spare's oeuvre and within the wider histories of cartomancy.

Austin Osman Spare: Draughtsman and occultist Austin Osman Spare – the progenitor of Chaos Magic – was a one-time collaborator with Crowley and a member of his mystical order Argenteum Astrum. Spare’s illustrative style was known for its use of monstrous and sexual imagery. 

Jonathan Allen is a London-based artist and writer interested in the politics of enchantment and various magics at play within late modernity. His work has been featured in many exhibitions, live projects and publications, most recently at STUK, Ryan Lee Gallery, Stanley Picker Gallery, MassMoCA and Frankfurter Kunstverein. Allen is a curator at The Magic Circle Museum, London, and his recent book 'Lost Envoy' on Austin Spare’s tarot deck was published by Strange Attractor in 2016, and is distributed by MIT Press.

7:00pm: Bar opens for pre-lecture drinks
7:30pm - 8:30pm: Lecture follwed by brief Q&A
8:30pm-9:00pm: Bar will remain open for a post-lecture drink & discussion
Please note: Guests will not be allowed entry after 7:45pm to avoid interrupting the lecture. If you are running late, please let us know asap