Two Tracts on Cartomancy, by Austin Osman Spare

By Psyche | August 22, 2004

Two Tracts on Cartomancy, by Austin Osman Spare, with an introductory essay by Gavin W. Semple
Fulgur Limited, 1558183442, 38 pp. (incl. list of illustrations), 1997

Gavin Semple’s introductory essay makes up the main portion of this booklet. It, rather helpfully, gives an account of Spare’s introduction to cartomancy, and subsequently, his understanding and use of forecasting cards, placing it in context.

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Semple describes Spare’s fondness for gambling on the horse races, and how this lead to the creation of his own ‘Surrealist Racing Forecast Cards’ (among others); explaining that that ‘Spare was not about to swallow anyone else’s gnosis wholesale – the challenge for him was to formulate a symbolic arcanum which would elucidate the most abstract principles of magic in terms uniquely his own’.1

The first of the two brief articles written by Spare is merely the instructions initially included with the ‘Surrealist Forecasting Cards’; which describes the general purpose of the cards, and methods for using them. In the second essay, ‘Mind to Mind and How’, Spare offers a method for creating one’s own deck from a pack of ordinary playing cards.

Though perhaps more interesting than the short treatises are the pictures that accompany the texts; self-portrait, photographs, and reproductions of Spare’s divination cards. However, it seems unlikely this will appeal to any but the die-hard Spare collector.

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  1. pg 20 []