AUSTIN OSMAN SPARE AND THE ZOS KIA CULTUS
Taken from THE MAGICAL REVIVAL by Kenneth Grant
H.P. LOVECRAFT, in one of his tales of terror, alludes to certain entities
which have their being "not in the spaces known to us, but between them. They
walk calm and primal, of no dimensions, and to us unseen.
This aptly describes Austin Osman Spare. The circumstances of his birth
emphasize the element of ambivalence and inbetweeness which forms the theme of
his magic. He told me he was not sure whether he was born on the last day of
December 1888, or on New Year's Day, 1889; whether, as he put it, he was Janus
backward-turning, or Janus forward-facing. But whichever aspect of the deity
he more closely represented, it is a fact that his life was a curious blend of
past and future. Despite his inability to remember quite when he was born, the
place was certainly Snowhill, London: he was the only son of a City of London
When barely twenty years of age he began writing The Book of Pleasure, in
which he used art and sex to explore the subconscious mind. The Book of
Pleasure reeks of diabolism to such an extent that Mario Praz in The Romantic
Agony (Oxford, 1933) refers to Spare as an English "satanic occultist", and he
places him in the same category as Aleister Crowley.
Spare's intense interest in the more obscure aspects of sorcery sprang from
his early friendship with an old colonial woman who claimed descent from a
line of Salem witches that Cotton Mather had failed to exterminate. Spare
always alluded to her as Mrs. Paterson, and called her his "second mother".
She had an extremely limited vocabulary composed mainly of the fortune-
teller's argot, yet she was able to define and explain the most abstract ideas
much more clearly than could Spare with his large and unusual vocabulary.
Although penniless, she would accept no payment for her fortune-telling, but
insisted on the odd symbolic coin traditionally exacted as a sacrifice fee.
Apart from her skill in divining, she was the only person Spare ever met who
could materialize thoughts to visible appearance. Aleister Crowley- who met
and attracted all kinds of psychically active individuals- met two only in the
course of his life who had this particular siddhi*(1).
*(1) Allan Bennett was one; the other, Crowley did not name.
Mrs. Paterson, when visited for purposes of fortune-telling, would read a
person's character immediately as a matter of course before going into details
about the future. If she prophesied an event she was unable to describe
verbally, she would objectivize the event in a visual image and the querent
would see, in some dark corner of her room, a clearly defined if fleeting
image of the prophesied event. And this never failed to follow at the
It was undoubtedly Mrs. Paterson's influence that stimulated Spare's innate
interest in the occult, which, allied to his remarkable skill as a draughtsman
enabled him to reproduce through his art the strange entities he encountered
in transmundane spheres. He drew several portraits of Mrs. Paterson, one of
which appeared in The Focus of Life, published by the Morland Press in 1921.
Another drawing of her by Spare recently appeared (1971) in the part-work
encyclopaedia Man, Myth and Magic, where she is shown after having
"exteriorized" herself in the form of a nubile girl.
Spare too was able occasionally to conjure thought-forms to visible
appearance, but whereas in the old witch's case it was an unfailing power, in
his own case it was erratic and uncertain. On one occasion it worked only too
effectively, as two unfortunate persons learnt to their cost. They were of the
dilettante kind, mere dabblers in the occult. They wanted Spare to conjure an
Elemental to visible appearance. They had seen materialized spirits of the
dead in the seance room, but had never seen an Elemental. Spare tried to
dissuade them, explaining that such creatures were subconscious automata
inhabiting the human psyche at levels normally inaccessible to the conscious
mind. As they almost always embodied atavistic urges and propensities, it was
an act of folly to evoke them as their intrusion into waking life could be
extremely dangerous. But the smatterers did not take him seriously.
Using his own method of elemental evocation, Spare set to work. Nothing
happened for some time, then a greenish vapour, resembling fluid seaweed,
gradually invaded the room. Tenuous fingers of mist began to congeal into a
definite, organized shape. It entered their midst, gaining more solidity with
each successive moment. The atmosphere grew miasmic with its presence and an
overpowering stench accompanied it; and in the massive cloud of horror that
enveloped them, two pinpoints of fire glowed like eyes, blinking in an idiot
face which suddenly seemed to fill all space. As it grew in size the couple
panicked and implored Spare to drive the thing away. He banished it
accordingly. It seemed to crinkle and diminish, then it fell apart like a
blanket swiftly disintegrating. But while it had cohered and hung in the room
like a cloud, it was virtually opaque and tangible; and it reeked of evil.
Both the people concerned were fundamentally changed. Within weeks, one died
of no apparent cause; the other had to be committed to an insane asylum.
Although Spare was convinced that an occult Intelligence frequently painted,
drew, or wrote through him, he was unable to discover its identity. He was,
however, in almost daily contact with a familiar, a spirit-guide, known as
Black Eagle whom he had clearly seen and drawn on several occasions. But he
was convinced that Black Eagle was not the sole source of his automatism.
Spare had but to turn his head suddenly and he would sometimes catch a glimpse
of the familiar spirits that constantly surrounded him. Several times he had
"caught" one of them long enough to make a lightning-swift sketch.
Spare's frequent traffic with denizens of invisible realms led to his evolving
a graphic means of conjoining all thoughts- past, present, and future- in the
ever-fluid ether of Consciousness. His graphic symbology represents a definite
language designed to facilitate communication with the psychic and subliminal
It was Spare's opinion that for this language to be truly effective, each
individual should evolve his own, creating his sigils from the material
nearest to hand- his own subconscious. He gave as a reason for so much failure
in divination the fact that, although the operator sometimes succeeded in
annexing traditional symbols to his own subconscious awareness of their true
values, many of the symbols eluded correct interpretation; they therefore
failed of nexus and were consequently sterile.
Not only could Spare "tell fortunes" in the usually accepted sense, he could
also use the cards for influencing the host of subtle entities which swarm in
the astral light, and with their cooperation he accomplished much of his
He designed and used a pack of cards which he called the "Arena of Anon",
each card bearing a magical emblem which was a variation of one of the letters
of the Alphabet of Desire*(2). When vividly visualized, the emblem or sigil
mysteriously stirs the subconscious and a corresponding image, or set of
images, arises in the mind. In proportion to the power of belief in the sigil,
so is the clarity of the image which it evokes. If the sigil taps a layer of
ancient or cosmic memory, some astonishing images surge into the mind and the
skilful sorcerer is able to project them into the astral mind-stuff of other
individuals, so that they imagine the image to be a palpable presence.
*(2) The basis of this Alphabet, together with many early examples of the
letters composing it, is given in Spare's The Book of Pleasure, on which he
began working in 1909 and published (privately on completion, in 1913.
Spare could influence elemental phenomena as well as the minds of other
people. Great danger lies in possession, and Spare wisely refrained from
writing too openly about the processes he employed. What I know about his
methods I learnt from personal contact with him.
Even as a child, Spare employed these curious sigils. One is reminded of
Yeat's words in The Trembling of the Veil: "Mathers described how as a boy he
had drawn over and over again some event that he longed for; and called those
drawings an instinctive magic.
When he was seventeen Spare stayed at the home of the Rev. Robert Hugh Benson,
author of The Necromancers and other occult novels. They went out for a walk
one summer day; a serene and cloudless blue sky shone overhead. It had been
fine all day, and Benson was curious to know whether Spare could, in such
unlikely circumstances, produce rain by magical means. Spare said he could,
proceeded to trace a sigil on the back of a used envelope, and, pausing in his
tracks, concentrated all his attention upon it. Within ten minutes small
clouds began to appear; they massed at a point immediately above their heads
and discharged violently. Both Benson and Spare were drenched to the skin.
A year or two later, Benson introduced Spare to the Hon. Everard Feilding,
Secretary of the Society of Psychic Research. At the time Feilding was
associated with Frederick Bligh Bond, the President of the Archaeological
Society who, by psychic means, had discovered the buried Edgar Chapel at
Glastonbury Abbey. Like Benson, Feilding wanted proof of Spare's magical
powers and, when the latter offered to oblige, proposed the following test:
Spare was to materialize an object which Feilding mentally visualized without
giving any clue as to its nature.
Spare drew one of his magical sigils, which, instead of being symbolic of the
unknown desired object, was the ideograph of a familiar spirit whose services
he frequently employed when any mind-reading was required.
After some time, Spare received a vivid impression of the object in Feilding's
mind. He then drew a second sigil, told Feilding he need no longer
concentrate, and proceeded to do so himself. These proceedings were
interrupted by a knock on the door. Feilding tiptoed to the door, opened it,
and was amazed to find his valet proffering a pair of slippers. Feilding
turned to Spare and asked him how he had done it.
An essential part of Spare's technique lay in deliberate forgetfulness, and
this is the part which a novice finds extremely difficult. One is reminded of
the king who lavished a fortune on an itinerant alchemist who had successfully
manufactured the Philosopher's Stone. After giving the king lengthy and
complicated instructions, which the king repeated by heart, the alchemist
smiled and said approvingly: "Yes, your Highness has remembered every detail
perfectly; there is just one further point to remember. For three minutes
before the Alchemical Substance congeals, you must concentrate your mind upon
its lustre as it seethes in the alembic, but during this time you should on no
account let the thought of greenness cross you mind for even a moment." The
king thanked the alchemist and prepared to make the Stone. Everything went
according to plan until the last few minutes, when the mind of the king was
invaded by an army of green objects which he was powerless to banish.
With Spare's sigils the case is somewhat similar. The reason he gives for
forgetting the desire at the time of invoking it lies in the fact that for the
operation to succeed the conscious mind must have no inkling of the
transaction. Consciously formulated desires take time to materialize;
subconscious desires can be made to materialize very swiftly. Consciousness of
the desire vitiates the entire process, so a method had to be found of
forgetting the desire during the period of magical evocation. Spare called the
process "union through absent-mindedness" and advocated the yogic method of
emptying the mind of all but the sigil. This is not always successful so as an
alternative he suggests the sigillization of perennial desires, desires that
are sure to arise periodically, as for instance the desire for beautiful
women. Several such desires are then sigillized, scrambled together, and laid
aside for several days. On reassembling the cards upon which they have been
drawn, the operator is unable to remember precisely what sigillizes what! The
rite is then comparatively easy to accomplish for it requires only
Spare often supplemented the process by a sexual formula which endowed it
with added efficacy. He derived most of his sex-magical formulae from a
Delphic Pythoness who communed with him during sessions of automatic writing.
This Delphic Oracle was probably the spirit of old Mrs. Paterson, guiding him
One such formula enabled him to "give life to the autistic, by an earthenware
virgin". In view of the present-day predilection for auto-erotic aids to
ecstasy, the resuscitation of the dildo*(3) and the widespread curiosity about
the sorcery of sex, Spare's formula of the Earthenware Virgin is of particular
interest, though for Spare it had an exclusively magical aim.
*(3) At the time of writing, my attention has been drawn to "the first
European sex paper" which reflects the current obsession with purely
mechanistic aspects of self-love. Nevertheless, such methods employed in a
magical manner may place the practitioner in direct contact with his daemon or
Until he received this formula he had, as he put it, "copulated merely with
the atmosphere, or rode whores, witches and bitches of all kinds, there being
In order to translate a specified desire from the level of subjective
consciousness to the material or objective plane, the Pythoness instructed him
to construct an urn in conformity with the dimensions of the erect penis.
Sufficient space- but no more- was to be left at the end of the vessel in
order to form a vacuum when the phallus was inserted. The cavity was to
contain the sigillized wish, which was automatically consecrated at the moment
of orgasm. The greatly enhanced pleasure induced by the suctional power of the
vacuum increased the size of the penis and caused an unusually prolonged
orgasm. At the critical moment, the desire was to be vividly visualized and
held steadily in mind for as long as possible. When the mental image began to
wane and disappear the urn was hermetically sealed and buried in a casket
filled with earth, or in the ground itself.
Spare maintained that this was the formula used by the ancient Greek urnings;
hence the designation. In one of his unpublished writings he give the
following instructions: "Bury the urn at midnight, the moon being quartered.
When the moon wanes, disinter the urn and- while repeating a suitable
incantation- pour its contents as a libation on to the earth. Then re-bury
As the sperm would by that time have congealed, Spare advised a replenishment
before the second "burial". He describes the Earthenware Virgin as "the most
formidable formula known; it never fails and is dangerous. Hence, what is not
written down must be guessed.
"From this formula was derived the legend of the genii of the brazen vessel
associated with Solomon.
Whether this is so, I do not know, but there is a curious illustration in
Payne Knight's celebrated Discourse on the Worship of Priapus (London, 1865)
which is not satisfactorily explained in the text. It is in two parts and
depicts a male figure with sexual organ erect; in his raised right hand he
holds a vase-shaped sheath which he is about to clamp upon the phallus. The
second part of the illustration shows the same image, but with penis drooping
languidly after ejaculation, and the waist of the figure girdled with fruits
symbolic of the rite's fulfilment. There are also one or two illustrations in
Reinach's Repertoire des Vases Peints (Paris, 1899), which suggest a similar
Spare could undoubtedly materialize atavisms from his own subconsciousness
and clothe them fleetingly in the sexual ectoplasm (or astral semen) of his
*(4) See The Hieratic Papyrus of Nesi Amsu, translated by E.A. Wallis Budge,
London 1891, for an account of ancient ritual masturbation.
Occasionally, these entities actually achieved a degree of density sufficient
to make them visible- and even palpable- to other people. He called them
"elemental automata" or "intrusive familiars". They frequently copulated
amongst themselves, engendering offspring simultaneously. Spare has depicted
many of these creatures in their peculiar pursuits and has written several
accounts of the Sabbath which he attended in their company. Old Mrs.
Paterson's influence is here very marked, for he used her likeness as the type
of the ancient witch in many of his drawings.
One of Spare's constantly recurring themes concerns the transmogrification of
age into youth. The first time Mrs. Paterson transformed herself before his
eyes, the sorcery of it left a permanent impression which inspired many of his
later works. One moment she was the lined and wizened old crone, then, in a
flash, she appeared to him as a syren equipped with all the allurements of
sex-appeal, an image that fulfilled his penchant for full voluptuous
contours*(5). How she projected such a glamour he was unable to discover, and
although he never surprised her secret, he tried- with paartial success- to
emulate her example. This he did by a magical induction of ecstasy which
enabled him to function at levels of high emotionalism. He was at such times
creatively active for days on end, needing neither food nor sleep. Enhanced
sexual activity accompanied this condition. On the few occasions when he did
not sublimate this energy and direct it to artistic creation, he regretted it.
Such was his hunger that in one night alone he coupled with eighteen women. He
called these outbursts j"Dionysiac spasms of pan-sexualism", in which he had a
vision of "all things fornicating all the time".
*(5) See p.181.
Spare wrote down his witch-guide's instructions and, over the years, worked
them into several books which he illustrated by some of the best of his
drawings. It was only towards the end of his life, however, that he
concentrated the mass of Mrs. Paterson's teachings into definite form. This
consisted of a series of aphorisms and a magical grimoire which he was working
on at the time of his death in 1956. Both these works survive in manuscript.
He intended calling the Grimoire The Book of the Living Word of Zos, the name
Zos being his magical name in the Witch-Cult.
The Grimoire is not so much a resume of the Witch Tradition as a highly
individualized system of sorcery reflecting his creative genius and aesthetic
theories. He also developed and extended his magical alphabet, the Atavistic
Alphabet about which he had first written in The Book of Pleasure in 1913.
Each letter represents a sex-principle potent to awaken remote atavistic
strata of the psyche. Examples of its use are given in the Grimoire, where he
allies it with Witchcraft. The following is a literal translation of one of
his favourite spells.
O mighty Rehctaw.
Thou who exists in all erogenousness
We evoke Thee!
By the power of the meanings arising from these forms I make
We evoke Thee!
By the Talismans that speak the secret leitmotif of desire
We evoke Thee!
By the sacrifices, abstinences and transvaluations we make
We evoke Thee!
By the sacred inbetweeness concept
Give us the flesh!
By the quadriga sexuali
Give us unvarying desire!
By the conquest of fatigue
Give us eternal resurgence!
By the most sacred Word-graph of Heaven
We invoke Thee!
This prayer or evocation embodies traditional Sabbatic concepts and might be
described as the Alpha and Omega of Spare's doctrine.
Rehctaw (Watcher) is spelt backwards, not for the reason given in connection
with Dee and Kelly's angelic communications but because the "backward"
symbolism conceals the key to the reification of desire, the final absorption
of the ego-current in its source- the Self. Hence Spare's emphasis on Self-
love, or autotelic ecstasy. Rehctaw is the symbol of reaching backwards in
time to infinite remoteness by the mechanism of intense nostalgia. Whether it
is symbolized by the Moon presiding over the nocturnal orgies of the Sabbath,
or by the back-to-back dance of the witches and warlocks (see de L'Ancre), or
by the infamous kiss of the Sabbath which is applied to the anus of the Demon;
all such symbols indicate an infinite regression which causes atavistic
resurgence and the inversion of sex to Self-love.
"Shall I speak of that unique intensity without form? Know ye the ecstasy
within? The pleasure between ego and self? At that time of ecstasy there is no
thought of others; there is no thought."*(6)
*(6) The Anathema of Zos, by A.O. Spare; London, 1927.
The opening line of the evocation resumes the method employed at the Sabbath
for conscious wish-fulfilment through self-pleasure, and it is glossed by the
words: "Except in the sensuous impact of flesh on flesh there are no
meanings." The Self lives in, permeates, and is identical with, Reality- the
enduring and ever present Consciousness- the living flesh compact of endlessly
The second part of the evocation refers to the sigils and letters of the
sacred alphabet wherewith Zos (i.e. the body considered as a whole) produces
its subtle spells by projecting its Self on the mists of matter, without. In
other words, the language of desire and its meanings penetrate the silent
regions of consciously forgotten experiences, evoking by its rebverberant
power the ineluctable memories that abide perpetually in subconsciousness.
"The Talismans that speak the leitmotif of desire" are, primarily, the two
major magical instruments of Spare's system- the Hand and Eye of which the
phallus and the kteis are the secret symbols. They are both used, as in
Crowley's Cult, for evoking or provoking "consciousness in touch; ecstasy in
The fourth clause of the Sabbatic Prayer refers to the occult maxim that
great achievements proceed upon total exhaustion of energy in one great burst
of release, after a period- long or short- of sacrifice or abstention, during
which time the necessary energy is accumulated and intensified. "The Sabbath
is always secret, communal and periodic; an enforced consummation for almost
"Prolonged voluntary abstinence, repression and sacrifice, is released in mass
sexual congress and sublimated to one end: the exteriorization of a wish,
which is thus achieved by a great saving and a total spending."*(7)
*(7) From an unpublished manuscript, Formula of the Witch's Sabbath as first
told me by a Witch, by A.O.S.
The "transvaluations" are effected by the sloughing of conventional ideas and
beliefs, and by the absorption of the energy thus liberated. Spare terms such
energy "free belief". It is this aimless energy that is seized upon at the
Sabbath and directed to given ends.
The fifth clause of the Prayer introduces one of the most important aspects of
Spare's magic, that of inbetweenness.
In everyday life one craze or "belief" follows another. By a process of not-
believing, of emptying the craze, or obsession, of its content, we can
surprise the tendency of belief to appear as one thing rather than another, or
as one thing after another. We can in this way break through into that ecstasy
of communion with the Atmospheric "I" which Spare calls the Kia, the state of
inbetweenness, or Neither-Neither.
The primordial belief is "Self", "God", or Kia (it does not matter what we
call it). It is the only belief that is self-evident because it is experienced
by each one of us at every moment of our existence. It is also the only belief
that is truly free of belief, because to be is to be-live it- as Spare aptly
expresses it. It is void of necessity to become anything else, for it is all
things all the time and can only and always be itself. If we can realize this
we shall not fall into the error of conceptual thought, which constantly
breeds other thoughts with which we temporarily identify ourselves: the
Buddhist cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
In a few words, Spare states the crux of the doctrine: "By hindering belief
and semen from conception, they become simple and cosmic." Only when desire
has become cosmic can the total ecstasy, which characterizes Kia, dawn in the
individual consciousness, because it is then no longer limited or personalized
consciousness, but cosmic in scope and free to enjoy itself eternally.
In other words, one must enlarge belief or desire until it embraces all
things; Spare urges us to will "insatiety of desire, brave self-indulgence and
primaeval sexualism",*(8) for belief freed from conception merges desire with
the Infinite, creates a unity of Self-Knowing (which is also supreme Self-
Love) and transcends the two poles of objectivity and subjectivity,
discovering in between the two, the Real Self, Kia, the Atmospheric "I".
*(8) The Focus of Life, by Austin O. Spare. The Morland Press, London, 1921.
After the Oath which constitutes the fifth stage of evocation, the refrain
changes from "We evoke Thee!" to a demand to the hidden Watcher to 'Give us
the flesh!" The petition is for the material medium whereby the desire will
actually substantiate itself.
From certain historical accounts of Witchcraft we learn that the roasted
flesh or children and animals was sometimes sacrificed to the infernal powers
as a sacrifice potent to achieve realization of the desires of the celebrants
at the Sabbath. The literal performance of this sacrifice was a degeneration
of the original magical act of transubstantiation effected by the sorcerer
when he "sacrificed" the child of his loins, i.e. when he consumed or burnt up
his sigillized wish in the fire of forgetfulness.
The next stage of the rite evokes the "quadriga sexualis" (the four horseman
or powers of sex) which adumbrates the various mystical attitudes (forms of
congress, postures) employed at the Sabbath. Although these are numerous,
there are four main kinds. Firstly, the gesture of constant congress;
secondly, the gesture of abstract creating (a masturbatory gesture) involving
the Hand, the Eye, and the Atmosphere; thirdly, the gesture of simulation or
astral reflection, symbolized by the Formula of the Divine Ape; and fourthly,
the gesture typical of the Witch Cult which involves the sodomitical use of
the female organism.
Comparisons with Crowley's Cult of Sexual Magick will spring to mind, but
Spare elaborates these four great gestures as follows.
In the first instance he interprets "constant congress" as the perpetual
interplay of the Will (symbolized by the Hand) and the Imagination (symbolized
by the Eye), for it is Will and Imagination that cause things to appear. The
Tibetan Yab-yum is the Oriental mode of representing this constant interplay
of the active and passive potencies. The gesture of constant congress,
therefore, resumes the prime function of the Sabbatic Rite, which is "ex-
creation", or evolving from our "innerness" through living contact with "all
otherness"- typified by the world without.
The second gesture- that of abstract creating- is performed by a special kind
of mantric vibration, and the Mouth is the symbol of the magical implement
which performs it. Reverberant evocation, prayer, adoration through song,
incantation or mantra, conveys the energy of desire by tonal nuance to the
necessary stratum of the subconsciousness. The technique of making the
utterance effective, of resounding the depths of cosmic memory and making the
"sacred alignments" is a major arcanum of the Zos Kia Cultus. "What sounds the
depths and conjoins Will and Belief? Some inarticulate hieroglyph, or sigil,
wrought from nascent Desire and rhythmed by unbounded Ego."*(9)
*(9) From The Grimoire of Zos.
The second gesture therefore resumes the formulation of the Great Wish on the
astral plane, prior to its "excreation", projection, and subsequent
The third gesture of the "quadriga sexualis", the concept of simulation,
reveals the means of reifying the Great Wish. The archetype of all such
simulatory techniques is the state of total vacuity which Spare named the
Death Posture. By feint, the means of reification is concentrated through a
simulation of death or annihilation. This posture is explained in the next
The fourth and final gesture, that of re-organization, re-arrangement, or
"abortive congress", implies a magical formula deriving from the ancient
Draconian Cults of Egypt. Either Moon Magic is implied, or the Formula of
Gomorrah, both of which appear in the Crowley Cult as aspects of the IX° and
XI°, O.T.O., respectively. The re-organization of magical power within the
human organism involves consolidation of the reified wish until it exhausts
itself through "non-necessity". Hence the gesture of the "quadriga sexualis"
impregnates the glamour already projected on the astral plane, endowing it
with the energy of the sorcerer himself so that it becomes a living entity,
capable of reverberant copulations through "increative" congress.
Spare explains the Sabbath as "an inverse-reversion for self-seduction;
an undoing for a divertive conation. Sex is used as the technique and medium
of a magical act. It is not only erotic satisfaction; the sensualist is made
detached, controlled, until final sublimation. His whole training is designed
to render him submissive and obedient [to the Witch] until he can control,
transmute, and direct his magical energy wherever desired, by cold and amoral
*(10) From an unpublished manuscript entitled The Zoetic Grimoire of Zos.
Following upon the appeal to the "quadriga sexualis" are the words "Give us
unvarying desire!" Desire, without variation of any kind, undifferentiated and
undifferentiating, leads to the consummation of an unvarying bliss which is
free from all concept, and therefore habitually infinite. "Ecstasy is our
outspan, touching reality: a potent generative instant; its surplus may be
used abstractly [i.e. by mantric vibration; see the Second Gesture] to
incarnate another wish," and so on, endlessly. This is what is meant by
The seventh stage of the rite concerns "the conquest of fatigue" which is
essential to effective Sabbatic functioning; it is (or should be) sustained
somatic, cerebral and psycho-magical energy insuring intense ecstasy when the
Great Exhaustion makes possible the voidness necessary to the projection of
the sigil; the voidness that is the chalice containing the Great Wish. This
recalls Crowley's innumerable sex-magical operations for "Sex-Force and
*(11) See The Magical Record of the Beast 666, edited by John Symonds and
The penultimate petition, "Give us eternal resurgence", is a plea for the
constant return of the primaevally remembered rapture, until a continuum of
bliss is established wherein the Kia is seen, felt, and known to be the
backround of all possibility, the source of creation and the aim of all
pleasure. It is the doctrine of atavistic resurgence.
The Sabbatic prayer concludes with an invocation of "the most sacred Word-
graph of Heaven". The Word-graph of Heaven is a glyph of the Goddess, and it
conceals the true purpose of the Sabbath. It is a secret glyph of Zos Kia
Cultus; it invokes the Goddess, whereas the preceding stages of the rite
evoked Her. Invocation is a call to the Spirit to appear subjectively;
evocation is a calling forth of the Spirit to objective appearance. The hidden
Rehctaw is evoked to visible manifestation "by the power of meanings arising
from these forms I make".
According to Spare, the witch presiding at the Sabbatic rite is "usually old,
grotesque, worldly, and libidinously learned; and is as sexually attractive as
a corpse. Yet she becomes the supreme vehicle of consummation. This is
necessary for the tranmutation of the sorcerer's personal aesthetic culture,
which is thereby destroyed. Perversion is used to overcome moral prejudice or
conformity. By persistence, the mind and desire become amoral, focused, and
entirely acceptive, and the life-force of the Id (the Great Desire) is free of
inhibitions prior to final control.
"Thus, ultimately, the Sabbath becomes a deliberate sex orgy for the purpose
of exteriorization, thus giving reality to the autistic thought by
transference. Sex is for full use, and he who injures none, himself does not
Spare believed that the personal aesthetic culture (that is, the individual's
idea of what constitutes beauty and ugliness) when exalted as the criterion of
value in itself, has destroyed more affective affinity that any other
"belief". "But he who transmutes the traditionally ugly into another aesthetic
value has new pleasures beyond fear.
In Liber Aleph, Crowley enunciated a similar thesis. The magical ecstasy
liberated by union with grotesque or hideous images usually associated with
aversion, repulsion, or horror, is super-abundant compared with that released
by the union of (usually accepted) opposites. One is reminded of Salvador
Dali's observation that the wished-for treasure islands may lie precisely in
those images of horror and dread that are naturally repellent to the conscious
mind. Such a transformation of values, a rebours, improves health and leads to
self-control, tolerance, understanding and compassion. Not only an adjunct to
the rite, it accelerates the fulfilment of the Great Desire.
"Nothing is attained merely by 'wanting'; epistemology, even eschatology will
not help, not Gods; but- spake Zos- the 'as if' simulations have been prolific
as objective realities. Sublimation of all 'reason' to the 'blind' life-force
is the whole of wisdom."*(12)
*(12) From The Grimoire of Zos
Spare's drawings were always inspired by the New Aesthetic, the New Sexuality.
They amount almost to masturbation in line; the line coils and curls upon
itself and mounts the steep incline of ecstasy as the amazing sigils are woven
into a complex web of dream. To follow closely the line of some of his
Sabbatic drawings is to leave earth and dive obliquely between those spaces
that Lovecraft celebrated in his nightmare tales. Such drawings are themselves
the gateway to the Sabbath; one is drawn into a vortex and whirled down the
funnel of consciousness which explodes into unknown worlds. Spare would not
reveal the magical graphs that unsealed the cells of these eldritch
Of the Sabbath itself he said that it was always secret, communal and
periodic; a concentrated consummation for unlimited wish-fulfilment.
"The hyper-eroticism induced by this grand scale hysteria or saturnalia has
no essentially sado-masochistic basis; simulation can and often does replace
it. Before the ceremony, each participant plays his or her allotted part which
usually develops into chaotic promiscuity. The initiates are trained in their
parts individually; they play a passive role, while the witches take the
active part; thus the symbolic levitation by besom handle.
"There is a secret meeting-place and an elaborate ceremony which is an
extensive hypnotic to overwhelm all psychological resistances; thus, the sense
of smell, hearing and sight are seduced by incense, mantric incantation and
ritual, while taste and touch are made more sensitive by the stimuli of wine
and oral sexual acts. After total sexual satiation by every conceivable means,
an affectivity becomes, an exteriorized hallucination of the predetermined
wish which is magical in its reality. No one can say whether certain things
happen or not; each individual may have very different and equally vivid
experiences; but some form of levitation seems common to all. My own
experience of many Sabbaths is that there is consummate exteriorization [of
latent potencies] and that subsequent memories are of reality.
"All excessively sadistic acts are mainly symbolized by the witches, and what
simulation there is follows closely the patterns of all erotic love rites. The
whole ceremony is based mainly on an inversion of orthodox religious
In another writing (also unpublished), Spare declared that "Sorcery is a
deliberate act of causing metamorphoses by the employment of elementals. It
forges a link with the powers of middle nature,*(13) or the ether, the astrals
of great trees and of animals of every kind. Will is our medium, Belief is the
vehicle, and Desire is the force combining with the elemental. Cryptograms are
our talismans and protectors.
*(13) i.e. The astral plane, between the spiritual and physical realms.
The will, or nervous energy, must be suppressed in order to create tension,
and released only at the psychological moment. "At that time, gaze into and
beyond the immediate vista, into the Aeon- the spaciousness beyond your
meannesses, beyond your borrowed precepts, dogmas and beliefs- until you
vibrate in spacious unity. Indraw your breath until the body quivers and then
give a mighty suspiration, releasing all your nervous energy into the focal
point of your wish; and as your urgent desire merges into the ever present
procreative sea, you will feel a tremendous insurge, a self-transformation.
And the Devil himself shall not prevent your will materializing."