Journey into the Neither-Neither: Austin Osman Spare and the Construction of a Shamanic Identity


  • Christopher J. Miles Eastern Mediterranean University, Turkey



Austin Osman Spare, shamanism, amerindian sorcery


The English artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare (1886–1956) created a dense and fecund body of work that is built upon a foundation of automa¬tism, the pursuit of a state of Vacuity, and the reification of what Spare termed “Self-Love.” Although a one-time student of Aleister Crowley and clearly influenced by some aspects of Western European esoteric currents, Spare has remained on the margins of the twentieth-century occult revival due both to the complexity of his language and idiosyncratic nature of his system of magical theory and practice. A number of voices have, however, sought to locate Spare and his system within a “shamanic” framework linked to perceptions/constructions of “witchcraft” and “Amerindian sorcery.” This article seeks to examine what this might mean through a discussion of the dual influence of Michael Harner’s core-shamanism and Kenneth Grant’s mediation of Spare, while also providing an overview of Spare’s writings on “trance” techniques designed to address the apparent evidence for his “shamanic” identity.

Author Biography

Christopher J. Miles, Eastern Mediterranean University, Turkey

Christopher Miles is a visiting assistant professor in the Faculty of Communication & Media Studies, Eastern Mediterranean University, an English-medium university in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. His research focuses on paradoxes of communication and applications of second-order cybernetics to literature, commercial persuasion and esoteric discourse.


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How to Cite

Miles, C. J. (2007). Journey into the Neither-Neither: Austin Osman Spare and the Construction of a Shamanic Identity. Pomegranate, 8(1), 54–83.