88 books like Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare

By Kenneth Grant,

Here are 88 books that Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare fans have personally recommended if you like Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Michelangelo in a Teacup

Phil Baker Author Of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

From my list on Austin Osman Spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first encountered Spare in my early teens, when I was reading books about the occult, and then forgot about him for a few years. As time went by, I grew more interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, but I never quite abandoned magic, and I came to see it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library classification system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about exploring the mind and inner experience. And Austin Osman Spare, like Crowley and the surrealists, is among its most interesting figures.  

Phil's book list on Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

A warm, down-to-earth amateur biography of Spare, which is also a memoir of the author’s friendship with him. A mildly eccentric man who went on to run a secondhand bookshop in Hastings, Letchford sought Spare out in 1937, when he was a twenty-one-year-old shop assistant, after reading about him in a newspaper, and went on to become his most loyal friend.

At the opposite pole to Grant (they only met at Spare’s deathbed), this is Spare the canny, opinionated Cockney and South Londoner, but there is not much magic in it. Spare valued both Grant and Letchford, although he had a couple of rows with Grant. In the end, he might have felt closer to Letchford, leaving him “first choice” of pictures in his will and Grant second.

By Frank Letchford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Michelangelo in a Teacup as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Letchford, Frank


Book cover of Zos Speaks!: Encounters With Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Author Of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

From my list on Austin Osman Spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first encountered Spare in my early teens, when I was reading books about the occult, and then forgot about him for a few years. As time went by, I grew more interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, but I never quite abandoned magic, and I came to see it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library classification system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about exploring the mind and inner experience. And Austin Osman Spare, like Crowley and the surrealists, is among its most interesting figures.  

Phil's book list on Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

Grant met Spare in 1949 through his wife Steffi, who had read a ‘human interest’ feature about him in a magazine. Based on Grant’s diary, this book records the real Spare in the pubs of South London and the West End before Grant semi-fictionalized him.

Grant had a sense of humour, and after introducing Spare to witchcraft revivalist Gerald Gardner, he watched him try to outdo Gardner in boasting about witchcraft, then went home and wrote that it was “screamingly funny.”

This is a substantial tome, beautifully produced and illustrated, with plenty of time-travelling period detail. Steffi remembers when pubs had live pianists, often playing ‘The Harry Lime Theme’ from The Third Man: “It seemed the signature tune of Spare at that period, and hearing it now fills me with nostalgia.”

By Kenneth Grant, Steffi Grant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zos Speaks! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The long awaited volume with Spare s lost writings. Illustrated with superb plates; many in color. Includes The Logomachy; Zoetic Grimoire. Quarto.


Book cover of The Exhibition Catalogues of Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Author Of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

From my list on Austin Osman Spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first encountered Spare in my early teens, when I was reading books about the occult, and then forgot about him for a few years. As time went by, I grew more interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, but I never quite abandoned magic, and I came to see it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library classification system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about exploring the mind and inner experience. And Austin Osman Spare, like Crowley and the surrealists, is among its most interesting figures.  

Phil's book list on Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

This complete compendium of Spare’s exhibition catalogues has been put together by the great Robert Ansell, a pioneering figure in Spare research. Running from 1907 to 1955, complete with their catalogue essays and some related bits of ephemera, the facsimile catalogues slowly change in their period feel and give the real trajectory of Spare’s career, all the way through to his late shows in pubs.

The book has a generous additional colour section of pictures, and it is all surprisingly readable and even vivid: “Not long now!” says the flyer for an upcoming exhibition in the Mansion House Tavern pub in south London: “The show you’ve been waiting for!” 

Book cover of Two Tracts on Cartomancy

Phil Baker Author Of Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist

From my list on Austin Osman Spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first encountered Spare in my early teens, when I was reading books about the occult, and then forgot about him for a few years. As time went by, I grew more interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, but I never quite abandoned magic, and I came to see it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library classification system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about exploring the mind and inner experience. And Austin Osman Spare, like Crowley and the surrealists, is among its most interesting figures.  

Phil's book list on Austin Osman Spare

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

This is a marvellous little book that delves into Spare’s engagement with fortune-telling by cards, particularly the story of his 1930s ‘Surrealist Racing Forecast Cards,’ which he sold through a small ad in the Exchange and Mart magazine.

They are quintessentially Spare, perhaps more than the recently discovered Spare tarot (juvenilia, in comparison, from before he went beyond conventional occultism). Along with previously unseen photos and Spare’s own essay "Mind to Mind and How" (“By a Sorcerer”), the heart of the book is Gavin’s "A Few Leaves from the Devil’s Picture Book." 

This was a milestone in Spare research, back when what little was known about him was unreliable, and it is also a beautiful piece of writing–I borrowed a line from it to close my own book on him. 

By Austin O Spare, Gavin Semple (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two Tracts on Cartomancy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edited by Gavin Semple. Previously unpublished writing and very important for Spare studies.


Book cover of Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley

Phil Baker Author Of City of the Beast: The London of Aleister Crowley

From my list on the beast.

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to love Dennis Wheatley’s Satanic pulp fiction when I was about twelve—like a gateway drugand graduated on to read my first Crowley biography a year or two later. I was gripped. As the years went by I developed what might seem like more serious interests in reading about psychoanalysis, Buddhism, and surrealism, but it’s really the same area. I used to think it was funny that the Dewey library system puts Freud and the occult next to each other, but now I see it makes perfect sense. It’s all about the mind, and inner experience, and Crowley remains one of its towering figures. 

Phil's book list on the beast

Phil Baker Why did Phil love this book?

Weighing in at somewhere over 300,00 words across over 700 pages, this is the most comprehensive Crowley biography. Stylistically is it no great treat for the reader, but it was obviously a staggering amount of work and demands respect: assembling this much material is an achievement. The effect—with generous backup detail on minor figuresis often like a gigantic Wikipedia entry. Kaczynski is one of the Crowley faithful, and he tends to look on the bright side. Consequently the book can be rather pious, as well as occasionally naive (Kaczynski quotes Freud’s supposed lauding of occult artist Austin Osman Spare, for exampleone of Spare’s tall talesas if he really said it, to which you can only say “As if…”). Still a very useful work of reference. 

By Richard Kaczynski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Perdurabo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rigorously researched biography of the founder of modern magick, as well as a study of the occult, sexuality, Eastern religion, and more
 
The name “Aleister Crowley” instantly conjures visions of diabolic ceremonies and orgiastic indulgences—and while the sardonic Crowley would perhaps be the last to challenge such a view, he was also much more than “the Beast,” as this authoritative biography shows. 

Perdurabo—entitled after the magical name Crowley chose when inducted into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—traces Crowley’s remarkable journey from his birth as the only son of a wealthy lay preacher to his death in a…


Book cover of The Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft

Eve Lestrange Author Of Widdershins

From my list on occult, witchcraft, and a little mystery.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the time I was very young, Witchcraft and the supernatural have always fascinated me. I can remember staying up late to watch horror movies or reading an Edgar Allen Poe book under the sheets with a flashlight when I was supposed to be asleep. I knew this was never a phase or something I would “outgrow”; the spell had been cast and I was forever in its power. I’ve tried to read everything I could on Witchcraft, its history and practice and anything regarding the occult. It was all of this reading and research that really helped me to write Widdershins and everything that came after. Enjoy the list!

Eve's book list on occult, witchcraft, and a little mystery

Eve Lestrange Why did Eve love this book?

This was the first occult book I ever bought, so it holds a special place in my heart. The title alone, drew me to it and I was not disappointed. The book is full of all kinds of spells and information on herbs, amulets and talismans, ceremonial magic, Satanism & Witchcraft, potions, and many other wicked goodies. I love old occult books and this one, first published in 1970, started my occult library which has continued to grow. 

By Kathryn Paulsen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Complete Book of Black Magic and Witchcraft is a mainstay for both beginners and advanced seekers into genuine occult methods because it is the first instruction manual to systematise the techniques and aims of Ritual Magic. Including how to prepare for rituals of exorcism and purging, and the rites and mysteries of sorcery, and Infernal Necromancy. This was achieved this by years of research pooling information from rare manuscripts on these subjects and comparing the various sub-sections of each to find the central methods of Ceremonial Magic. While crucially informing the readers of the differences so they can experiment…


Book cover of Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle

Allan Combs Author Of Synchronicity: Through the Eyes of Science, Myth, and the Trickster

From my list on synchronicity and the power of the unconscious.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a teacher and writer, drawn to the topic of synchronicity because I have experienced so many remarkable coincidences during my life that it seems I have no choice but to study them. As a young man, I spent much time working with dreams, coming to understand them especially through Carl Jung’s explorations of archetypes, myths, and the deep unconscious. This led naturally to the study of synchronicity. I am also interested in the related topic of consciousness and have written several books about it. Out of all this I have come to see the cosmos as a strangely mysterious and wonderfully orchestrated community of beings and events.

Allan's book list on synchronicity and the power of the unconscious

Allan Combs Why did Allan love this book?

Carl Jung is the person who actually coined the term “synchronicity” and was the first to recognize it as an important connecting principle between the unconscious and the outer world. He observed that such events occur when the archetypal processes of the collective and personal unconscious correspond to objective events in the real world. Here, for example, he reports the now-famous case of the patient who dreamed of a scarab beetle, a creature that represented transformation to the ancient Egyptians, only to find a similar beetle tapping on Jung’s consultation room window the next day, as the patient described the dream to him.

For Jung, virtually all authentic instances of synchronicity involve the archetypal unconscious and reflect mythic themes. This book includes a number of the first and best examples in synchronicity literature.

By C.G. Jung, R.F.C. Hull (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Synchronicity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jung was intrigued from early in his career with coincidences, especially those surprising juxtapositions that scientific rationality could not adequately explain. He discussed these ideas with Albert Einstein before World War I, but first used the term 'synchronicity' in a 1930 lecture, in reference to the unusual psychological insights generated from consulting the I Ching. A long correspondence and friendship with the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli stimulated a final, mature statement of Jung's thinking on synchronicity, originally published in 1952 and reproduced here. Together with a wealth of historical and contemporary material, this essay describes an astrological experiment Jung…


Book cover of Creatures of Will and Temper

Kater Cheek Author Of Mulberry Wands

From my list on real-world fantasy with a unique and creative premise.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started writing urban fantasy because that’s what I wanted to read more of, and at the time there wasn’t much on offer. I started the Kit Melbourne series with the aim of creating a world in which magic was real, but most people don’t believe in it. I aim for believable, realistic characters with plausible relationships. I’m not a fan of prophets, noble bloodlines, or destiny; magic in my worlds are much more egalitarian. Vampires are not sexy superheroes. Faeries are more like aliens than pinup girls. My inspirations are mystery, true crime, anthropology, psychology, history, natural sciences, ecology, and neo-Paganism—and books like those on this list!

Kater's book list on real-world fantasy with a unique and creative premise

Kater Cheek Why did Kater love this book?

Molly Tanzer came up with one of the cleverest “magic” tropes ever and I wish I’d thought of it myself. Her Victorian London “diabolists” engage with demons in a way that felt so logical that it seemed 100% plausible. It involves specific plants, for example, ginger. These demons are more like sentient aliens that enter into a (permanent) symbiotic relationship with a human host, upon which they confer benefits.

It made me go, “I mean, getting into devil worship like this may not be my thing, but yeah, I get why people could be into it.” It’s not all gushing balls and gaslit concerts either, since our protagonists are much more middle class. There’s danger here, because not all of these diabolists are harmless. I craved ginger for months after this book.

By Molly Tanzer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creatures of Will and Temper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Victorian London is a place of fluid social roles, vibrant arts culture, fin-de-siecle wonders ... and dangerous underground diabolic cults. Fencer Evadne Gray cares for none of the former and knows nothing of the latter when she's sent to London to chaperone her younger sister, aspiring art critic Dorina. Unfortunately for Evadne, she soon learns too much about all of it when Dorina meets their uncle's friend, Lady Henrietta "Henry" Wotton. A semi-respectable aristocrat in public, in private she is secretly in the thrall of a demon obsessed with beauty and pleasure. When Lady Henry and Dorina immediately hit it…


Book cover of The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained

Joshua Cutchin Author Of Thieves in the Night: A Brief History of Supernatural Child Abductions

From my list on rethinking UFOs and the paranormal.

Why am I passionate about this?

Joshua Cutchin has written seven books. If you find yourself beside him on an airplane and ask what he writes about, he’ll say, “Speculative non-fiction.” If he warms up, he’ll explain that he writes about supernatural mysteries—UFOs, Bigfoot, ghosts, etc.—all through the lens of folklore. A suspicion that all these phenomena are connected undergirds his writing. In addition to his books, Joshua regularly contributes to essay collections and, in 2019, appeared on the hit History Channel series Ancient Aliens. Joshua has appeared on countless paranormal programs, including Coast to Coast AM. He regularly speaks at events nationwide, most recently Rice University’s 2023 Archives of the Impossible conference.

Joshua's book list on rethinking UFOs and the paranormal

Joshua Cutchin Why did Joshua love this book?

1987’s Communion made Whitley Strieber the world’s most famous alien abductee. Since then, many have derided him as a fantasist or even a charlatan.

Most attacks stem from his critics’ insistence on viewing Strieber’s experiences literally. Few stop to consider whether or not that approach may be misguided. In this collaboration with Rice University professor Dr. Jeffrey Kripal, Strieber’s firsthand accounts are placed in dialogue with religious scholarship, providing a useful framework for navigating the treacherous waters between the objective and subjective.

The Super Natural acknowledges that these things are—at least partially—"real" in a sense that modern culture would recognize. Their meaning, however, may well be something else entirely, best apprehended through our never-ending attempt to make sense of our place in the cosmos.

By Whitley Strieber, Jeffrey J. Kripal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Super Natural as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two of today's maverick authors on anomalous experience present a perception-altering and intellectually thrilling analysis of why the paranormal is real, but radically different from what is conventionally
understood.

Whitley Strieber (Communion) and Jeffrey J. Kripal (J. Newton Rayzor professor of religion at Rice University) team up on this unprecedented and intellectually vibrant new framing of inexplicable events and experiences.

Rather than merely document the anomalous, these authors--one the man who popularized alien abduction and the other a renowned scholar and "renegade advocate for including the paranormal in religious studies" (The New York Times)--deliver a fast-paced and exhilarating study of…


Book cover of Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil

D.J. Butler Author Of The Cunning Man

From my list on fantasy full of real-world magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love fantasy literature, because it's the what-if literature of the human spirit. Magic animates fantasy, and in the real world, magic is difficult to define; it lies somewhere on the border of the unconscious mind, the lore of our grandparents, scientific hypothesis, what the priest tells us, and what we see in social groups other than our own. In recent decades, much fantasy literature has walked away from portrayals of real-world magic, replacing it with synthetic and sterile creations euphemistically called “hard magic.” Hard magic has the form of magic, but lacks the power thereof. These books are all strong inoculations against the scourge of hard magic.

D.J.'s book list on fantasy full of real-world magic

D.J. Butler Why did D.J. love this book?

If you know Hellboy only from the movies, you’re seeing a very limited image of the character and his adventures. Hellboy has many roots (pulp sci fi and crimefighter stories, superhero tales, Lovecraft’s mythos), but one of his earliest is in real world magic and folktale. We see this in his encounters with Baba Yaga, Hecate, and others, but also in his battle fairy creatures that are vulnerable to unforged iron.

By Mike Mignola, John Byrne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since Mike Mignola's Hellboy first hit the stands in 1993, it has become a cultural sensation, racking up a dozen Eisner Awards and inspiring numerous spinoffs, from a novel line, to video games, to feature films. Now, Dark Horse is pleased to present the comics that started it all, collected in deluxe hardcover editions. Sized at 9" by 12", and handsomely bound to match The Art of Hellboy hardcover, each volume contains two full story-arcs - the equivalent of two trade-paperbacks. Each volume of the Hellboy Library Editions also includes extensive supplemental materials, including previously unreleased sketches and designs.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in occult, ceremonial magic, and witchcraft?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about occult, ceremonial magic, and witchcraft.

Occult Explore 85 books about occult
Ceremonial Magic Explore 13 books about ceremonial magic
Witchcraft Explore 315 books about witchcraft