Suzanne Treister’s Hexen 2.0 Tarot

Ambitious, innovative — and incredibly original

Cynthia Giles
6 min readSep 1, 2021


Hexen 2.0 Tarot, in a public reading about global futures.

I’m still trying to fathom the extent (and intent) of Suzanne Treister’s Hexen 2.0 project, but I’ll tell you what I’ve figured out so far. Beginning with — these comments from a 2013 New York Times review of the Hexen installation, then showing at a New York gallery:

The British artist Suzanne Treister has a unifying theory about everything that would concern anyone worried about the current state of global affairs.

[Her] main theme is control — social, mental, technological and otherwise — exerted most powerfully and pervasively by means of feedback mechanisms. The stock market’s feedback-induced ups and downs would be an example.

Ms. Treister delivers her thinking not in a footnote-larded treatise but in the form of a set of tarot cards, each illustrating in cartoon drawings and handwritten text a person, idea or event that changed the course of 20th-century history.

The connections drawn within and among the cards are so mind-boggling to contemplate that it seems entirely appropriate to comprehend them within a magical system like the tarot.

Treister’s original drawings for the Hexen Tarot — which comprises both arcanas — are displayed in a complex installation that also includes a video “seance,” and elaborate historical diagrams like this one:

But in addition — the Hexen Tarot itself was reproduced as a usable deck, and sold at various galleries where the show was installed.

I really wish I had one. They are long gone, of course, except for those acquired by wise collectors.

“Hexen,” by the way, is derived from the ancient Greek term hexis, which apparently is very difficult to define in modern terms. However, for Tarot purposes, we can go with Aristotle’s use of hexis to indicate a relatively stable arrangement of parts.

Why Tarot?

There was an accompanying Hexen 2.0 book — similarly long gone. But a key essay, by art historian Lars Bang Larsen, is still…



Cynthia Giles

Writer at large, Ph.D. in interdisciplinary humanities. Persistently curious! Launching Complexity Press, Spring 2023.