London Alchemy
MIRROR OF THE SOUL - The Tarot Decks of Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare
A salon in the cemetery with Danny Nemu & Jonathan Allen
Sunday 5th June from 1:00 to 3:00 pm

London June 1943: Aleister Crowley publishes the Tarot deck of Thoth. Simultaneously, the deck of artist Austin Osman Spare is placed in the private archive of the Magic Circle where it lies forgotten.

London June 2016: Speakers Jonathan Allen and Danny Nemu celebrate the London lives and occult legends of Crowley and Spare in the year the latter’s deck has been rediscovered.

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.

The creation of Crowley’s Thoth Tarot was planned as a six month collaboration with illustrator Lady Frieda Harris. In his talk Danny Nemu investigates how the project grew into a five-year exploration and integration of the symbolism of different strands of ancient wisdom. Crowley wrote The Book of Thoth as an accompaniment to his Tarot deck and a guide to its interpretation.

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. In the Spring of 2013, artist and curator Jonathan Allen rediscovered a unique hand-painted tarot deck created c.1906 by the artist. In his talk, Allen discusses the deck's provenance, its place in Spare's oeuvre and within the wider histories of cartomancy.

Tickets £12 including a Hendrick's Gin Cocktail. Please click here to buy.

Jonathan Allen
is a London-based artist and writer whose work addresses the various magics at play within secular modernity. His work has been featured in many exhibitions, live projects, and publications, most recently at MassMoCA, Frankfurter Kunstverein, and David Risley Gallery. He is an associate curator at The Magic Circle Museum, London.

Danny Nemu has been a student of tarot for over fifteen years. He now reads professionally and teaches at the Psychic College of London. Tarot is both his passion and his pleasure and he never leaves the house without a deck in his pocket. He believes that "tarot teaches the reader that nothing is random, that chaos is alive and abundant."

courtoy mausoleum