Author Akron (pseudonym of C. F. Frey) is the occultist chiefly responsible for the H. R. Giger Tarot, according to the turn-of-the-millennium account he gives in this book. Giger had certainly been working with tarot themes and motifs on his own, but he produced the tarot-centric volume Baphomet (1992) in collaboration with Frey, as a “tarot cycle” to manifest the ambitions that Frey had nurtured separately for a “Shadow Tarot.” The trump images in Baphomet were largely drawn from Giger’s existing oeuvre.
When publisher Taschen was contemplating an abridged softcover reprint of the Baphomet material for a wider audience to accompany a popular printing of the tarot deck, Akron supplied this text that was superficially more in keeping with typical manuals of tarot. (He was already the author of a successful book on the Crowley tarot.) I do not have the deck, just the book. In particular, the book is limited to the trumps and does not show the small cards, if any exist.
The philosophical introduction and the preliminary chapters on the “spread systems” are applicable to any divinatory tarot, and they are thoughtful and innovative. I was especially intrigued by Akron’s use of fiction for allegories that he uses to structure the spreads. In one case, he draws on Gustav Myerink’s Angel of the West Window and in another he seems to be referencing the cometary apocalypse from Lucifer’s Hammer by Niven and Pournelle.
The bulk of the book consists of chapters for each of the trumps. These begin with two images in each case, the Giger tarot trump itself and an original sketch by Giger for each trump. Sometimes these are closely aligned, and sometimes they differ widely. All the art reproductions are in greyscale and black and white, which is largely sufficient for Giger’s minimally chromatic, gloomy palette.
Akron supplies a little cluster of psychoanalytic sermons for each trump, and these are divided into “The Card” and “The Interpretation” in each case. “The Card” discusses symbolism, and also helps the reader to parse some of the densely clustered imagery of the trump paintings. Despite the collaborative relationship of the writer and artist, it is not clear that Akron is always transmitting Giger’s compositional intent. In fact, it seems likely that there is creative misprision in play.
“The Interpretation” is addressed to the (tarot) reader/querent and is four-fold for each card, divided first by the querent’s sex (“Woman” followed by “Man”) and then by the orientation of the card in a spread–a “Reversed” section follows and complements each main interpretation. Each of the four sections consists of two paragraphs, the second of which is italicized. I was never able to figure out what was supposed to distinguish these two voices from one another.
The book ends with short biographical chronologies for the two Swiss creators Giger and Akron.