It's where all readings start: with a nice shuffle. But how do you do it? This part of reading is so fundamental it often goes unmentioned. And add some tricky elements unique to tarot like the fear of doing it wrong or difficulty maneuvering the larger-than-normal deck and you have a topic that definitely deserves some more attention!
Below I'll go into some techniques for shuffling your deck, but before I do I'd like to focus on the "why" behind shuffling the cards. At its most simple, shuffling is an act that bonds you to the deck and infuses your energy into the reading. By handling the cards we step into their space, allowing the conversation between the tarot cards and the tarot reader to begin.
Shuffling is a special time to contemplate your question or topic, interact physically, emotionally, and spiritually (if that's part of your beliefs) with the cards. I like to use this moment to officially begin my readings, being mindful as I shift from everyday life into the world of tarot through this simple and powerful ritual.
With that being said, let's get to the mechanics! There are many ways to shuffle the cards and, in my opinion, no wrong way to shuffle the deck. We all have our own techniques and methods. I've seen many styles from reading at events (I like to have my clients handle the deck themselves) ranging from gentle rearranging to vigorous pile-making. One client at an event called "Goth Prom" was very forceful, slamming each pile down with a bang after they shuffled. (Unsurprisingly, this was not a favorite approach of mine!)
Experiment with these approaches or invent your own. You'll know what feels best to you. And a quick note: it's completely normal to be slightly awkward at first. Most tarot decks are larger than a standard deck of playing cards. It takes practice to wield them gracefully.
As for disrespecting the cards? We all forge our own special relationships with tarot. It all comes down to intent. Reading tarot with a cavalier, rude attitude? That's disrespectful. Approaching it as a helpful and special tool? You're fine, even if you manage to drop your deck all over the floor, as I've done many times throughout my time as a reader. If your intentions are good, you're golden.
And now for all you need to know about shuffling your tarot cards...
4 Ways to Shuffle Tarot Cards
- The Classic: You know this one. It's the ye-olde shuffle where you divide the deck in two and flick the piles downward so they interweave. You can get fancy and do a complete bridge shuffle here if you'd like. It can take a while to get a hang with this method when using tarot decks, but it's a lovely go-to for quickly integrating the cards.
- Spreading and Regrouping: This method looks nice and evocative. Fan out your cards on the table any way you like. I sometimes do an "S" pattern purely for aesthetics. Why not be fancy about it? Gather up your pile again, making sure to recombine in a different pattern.
- Pile-Style: Divide your deck into a series of small piles. Have fun putting them back together in a different order, either as they are or by shuffling pairs together until the whole deck is integrated.
- Handheld Shuffle: This method is as simple as dividing out segments of the cards in your hands and placing them back in the deck at a different spot. You can really get in the zone while doing this and it's a comforting technique to use when you'd like to meditatively handle the cards before your readings.
I hope this post has been helpful for your tarot-shuffling needs. Remember, finding your own style is an integral part of your tarot journey. Play with these methods and allow yourself to settled into what feels natural. And don't forget to share your method, too!
What about you? What techniques do you use in your practice? What else would you like to know about shuffling the cards? Share in the comments below.