Please note this is NOT a ZOOM Lecture but an in person lecture at our museum – tickets include a complimentary glass of Devil’s Botany Absinthe

Doors open at 6:30pm and lecture starts at 7pm

The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare Tarot, with Jonathan Allen – LIVE

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 that included Aleister Crowley, Pamela Colman Smith and 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, hand-painted by the artist c.1906, 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.

Jonathan Allen rediscovered Spare’s forgotten tarot deck in the archives of London’s Magic Circle Museum in the spring of 2013. In his talk, Allen discusses the deck’s provenance, design and iconography, as well as its place within the wider histories of cartomancy.

Austin Osman Spare (1886–1956). Born within the sound of Bow Bells, Austin Spare’s early interests in art and the occult would remain with him throughout his life. After a turbulent career at the Royal College of Art and a pre-War period as a Mayfair enfant terrible, Spare’s star later waned and despite a modest renaissance at the end of his life, he died penniless and largely forgotten. Championed posthumously as an outsider, mystic and the progenitor of Chaos Magic, Spare was above all else a powerful artist whose myth and reputation continue to grow long after his death.

Jonathan Allen

Jonathan Allen is a London-based artist and writer. His book ‘Lost Envoy’ on Austin Spare’s tarot deck was first published by Strange Attractor Press in 2016, and will be republished in 2023 alongside a facsimile of the deck itself. Allen is a curator at the Magic Circle Museum, and an associate fellow at the Warburg Institute. For more information, visit

We are unable to give refunds for in person events with less than seven days notice in any circumstances

Devil’s Botany is London’s first absinthe distillery, founded by Directors of The Last Tuesday Society’s Absinthe Parlour & Cocktail Bar.

Mon 24th Apr 2023 - 7pm - 8.30pm

Tickets include a glass of Devils Botany Absinthe

Early Bird is £15 & full price at £20, only 30 tickets available for this live in person event