Austin Osman Spare
Austin Osman Spare was an English artist and occultist who worked as both a draughtsman and a painter. Influenced by symbolism and art nouveau, his art was known for its clear use of line, and its depiction of monstrous and sexual imagery. In an occult capacity, he developed idiosyncratic magical techniques including automatic writing, automatic drawing and sigilization based on his theories of the relationship between the conscious and unconscious self.
Born into a working-class family in Snow Hill in London, Spare grew up in Smithfield and then Kennington, taking an early interest in art. Gaining a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington, he trained as a draughtsman, while also taking a personal interest in Theosophy and Occultism, becoming briefly involved with Aleister Crowley and his A∴A∴.
Developing his own personal occult philosophy, he authored a series of occult grimoires, namely Earth Inferno (1905), The Book of Pleasure (1913) and The Focus of Life (1921). Alongside a string of personal exhibitions, he also achieved much press attention for being the youngest entrant at the 1904 Royal Academy summer exhibition.
One of those attracted to Spare's work was Aleister Crowley who had founded the religion of Thelema in 1904, taking as its basis Crowley's The Book of the Law. Crowley introduced himself to Spare, becoming a patron and champion of his art, which he proclaimed to be a message from the Divine. Spare subsequently submitted several drawings for publication in Crowley's Thelemite journal, The Equinox, receiving payment in the form of an expensive ritual robe. Spare would also be invited to join Crowley's new Thelemite magical order, the A∴A∴ or Argenteum Astrum, which had been co-founded with George Cecil Jones in 1907. Becoming the seventh member of the order in July 1907, where he used the magical name of Yihovaeum, it was through doing so that he befriended the occultist Victor Neuburg, but although he remained in A∴A∴ until 1912, ultimately Spare never became a full member, disliking Crowley's emphasis on strict hierarchy and organisation and becoming heavily critical of the practice of ceremonial magic. Spare would grow to dislike Crowley, in turn, Crowley would claim that Spare was only interested in "black magic" and for that reason had kept him back from fully entering the Order.
After publishing two short-lived art magazines, Form and The Golden Hind, during the First World War he was conscripted into the armed forces and worked as an official war artist.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Knowledge (Art) d8, Notice d6, Shooting d6, Occult d8, Climbing d6, Spellcasting d8
Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Edges & Hindrances: Curious, poverty, outsider, Arcane background (magic), Ceremonial casting
Powers: Stun, boost/lower trait, grave speak (all of Spare’s trappings for his powers are sigil based)
Power points: 10
Gear: Notebook, Sketchpad, pencils, inks