THE GHOST OF AUSTIN OSMAN SPARE (II)

Art, Occult, Witchcraft

The first time I met the ghost of Austin Osman Spare was in the Summer of 1988, not long before my eighteenth birthday. I was boarding at my grandmother’s, in her witchy town cottage. As friends, relatives, and readers of Accidental Antichrist will know, she was a ‘spiritualist medium’, which Spare might have frowned on, and also a hereditary East Anglian witch, which he would have respected. Not that I knew either of these things at the time. Although I had recently acquired a badly photocopied collection of his written works, accompanied by some vaguely discernible illustrations, I had yet to learn much about him. Nowhere in the collected works did it say anything about his connection to Essex witchcraft.

One day during the summer I broke into a terrifying fever, my stomach a swelling ball of poison, and passed out. My grandmother rang round every doctor in Colchester before she finally got through to one who did not fob her off.

________________

Watching from the ruins of a monastery stronghold, a glassless stone crossed window arch overlooking a lush grassy valley, where naked witches circled in a Sabbat Dance, skinshifting into animal forms and back again. It is neither night nor day. Austin Spare is there beside me, having appeared suddenly to my left, smiling. He wears a velvet jacket and cravat, his hair wild and curly, as he did at around my own age, when alive. He wouldn’t have been out of place on a Saturday night at The Three Cups, or playing guitar in our local goth band. He tells me secret things known only by those neither living or dead.

___________

A fever dream. I had passed into unconsciousness from the pain. I’m not stupid or crazy. I’m not making an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof. Not yet.

I returned to consciousness in hospital, post-operation. The dream had been so very real it confused me that I had gone from talking with Austin Spare to this strange and frightening place. I was in a ward where people were dying. I learned that a surgeon had cut me open, hurriedly pulled out my intestines, removing my appendix just seconds before it exploded. If my insides hadn’t been in a pile next to my unconscious almost flatlining body I would have died a truly horrible death. I wasn’t out of trouble yet, and had attained an infection, causing a different agony that kept me awake, crying to the nurses for stronger painkillers.

All my friends came to visit, and my arch-goth girlfriends pulled round the blinds. Perhaps it was my joy at seeing them all again that helped me recover in record time – so quickly it raised the doctor’s eyebrows.

By the time I left the hospital, I had been in the same room as three men had passed to.. wherever it is they were off to.

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