Regardless of what messages a Tarot reading delivers, shuffling and picking the cards always comes first. Because shuffling the cards is such a natural, seamless part of any Tarot readings, it is easy to overlook it and not give it a second thought.
But the shuffling of the cards is an important part of the reading. When you, as a Tarot reader, shuffle Tarot cards ahead of a reading, it becomes part of the ritual, part of the magic of the reading. Shuffling the Tarot deck before, after or in-between readings is also how you reset the energy of the cards and touch base with them before diving into the next reading, or before retiring the cards to their bag after a completed reading.
As a querent, the shuffling of the cards is part of the experience of receiving a reading. Watching the reader shuffling the cards – preferably with a sure hand that shows they have been doing this hundreds of times before – puts you at ease and helps you focus on the questions you would like the cards to answer.
Commonly asked questions about how to shuffle Tarot cards
Why do Tarot decks need to be shuffled?
There is no law dictating that you must shuffle your cards. But there are many great reasons why you should:
- Watching the reader shuffling the cards is part of the experience of having a Tarot reading. It builds the excitement and is part of the Tarot reading ritual.
- Shuffling the cards is a great way for you as a reader to touch base and (re)connect with the cards
- Shuffling the Tarot cards in-between readings helps you refocus your energy and attention. Shuffling all the cards can work as a palette cleanser – this is particularly useful if you are doing many readings back to back.
- The shuffling process is a way to clear energy debris from the cards, for example after a querent has touched them.
- A thorough shuffle shakes up the entire deck, and ensures that the same cards don’t keep reappearing. A shuffle is a reset button for your Tarot cards.
When should you shuffle your Tarot deck?
You can, of course, shuffle your Tarot cards whenever you like, but here are some obvious times when it is usually a good idea to give your Tarot deck a shuffle to refresh and reconnect with its energy. Shuffle your cards:
- Just before doing a Tarot reading
- Just after completing a Tarot reading
- When someone else has touched your cards
- When you want to connect with a new Tarot deck
- When you have not used your Tarot deck in a while and feel like its energy has become dormant, or you feel disconnected from the cards
How many times should you shuffle your Tarot deck?
There are no rules in Tarot – including rules about how many times you should shuffle your cards. As so often when it comes to questions related to the Tarot, the best answer is to use your intuition and trust it to let you know. Start shuffling, and only stop when your intuition ‘clicks.’
Some Tarot readers do brief shuffles, while others take their time. As for me, I feel like every reading is different. I like to shuffle the cards for whatever amount of time the querent is talking, telling me about themselves and their situation, before we dive into the reading.
Which hand should you use for shuffling?
Traditionally, Tarot readers would shuffle the cards using their left hand only.
Reading Tarot cards is highly intuitive, and Tarot readers knew that in order to deliver the best readings, they would try to bypass their logical, critical mind and lean into their creative, intuitive and receptive side while doing the reading.
The dominant hand (the right hand for most people) is associate with the logical side of the brain, while the non-dominant hand is connected to the receptive, intuitive side of the brain.
Is there a right or wrong way of shuffling Tarot cards?
The short answer is no, there is no right or wrong way of shuffling Tarot cards. There are, however, many different ways and methods for you to try.
Seven different ways to shuffle Tarot cards
There are endless different techniques and methods for shuffling cards, some more elaborate than others.
If you don’t want to practice your shuffle skills on your beloved Tarot deck right away, you can practice using playing cards that you don’t have feel too precious about. And, it has to be said, don’t worry about not being able to do it fast or with flair initially – the only way to get there is through practice, practice, practice.
Here are seven interesting and mostly easy ideas for how to shuffle Tarot cards. You might want to try you hand at a number of different shuffling techniques before you find your ultimate shuffling process.
The overhand shuffle is one of the simplest and easiest to learn. If you are not too confident in your skills, this is a good, safe place to start.
The technique is completely straightforward. Simply pick up the entire deck in one hand and gradually transfer the cards from your right hand to your left hand, or vice versa, by using your thumb to slide unevenly sized packets of cards off the top of the pile.
Repeat the process several times, or until your intuition clicks. The randomness of the deck is turned up with each repeated shuffle.
The riffle shuffle is a popular technique, and is relatively easy to get to grips with. You will have seen it in movies several times where the characters are playing poker.
To try your hand at the riffle, cut the deck in two. Hold half of the deck in each hand, with your thumbs turned inward. Then release the cards with your thumbs, so that they fall on the table interleaved.
After the initial riffle, you can chose to pick the cards up again to form a bridge, a card formation that puts the deck back into place, and then repeat the riffle.
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This is another relatively simple technique.
Simply cut deal the cards out into a number of smaller piles at random interval. Although this method doesn’t randomise the cards as you are simply splitting the deck into different piles, then reassembling it, it refreshes the energy and ensures that the the same cards don’t remain next to each other in the deck.
The Faro shuffle method is a little harder to pull off – but remember, practice makes better. The technique relies on ‘weaving’ two different card piles together, so that the cards become interleaved.
First, cut the deck into two piles that are roughly the same size. Hold the cards in your right hand from above, and the cards in your left hand from below. You might cross and slam the two packets of cards into each other, as if to align them, and then press the two packets together. The idea is to do it so densely that the two packets naturally intertwine.
The Mexican spiral shuffle looks impressive, but is not simple to master. The trick here is to start slow and then build up your speed.
You don’t need to cut the deck in order to shuffle cards Mexican spiral style. Start by holding all the cards in one hand. Use cycling motions to move the top card from the main deck down onto the table, and then then move the card from the bottom of the deck down onto the table in the same way.
Allegedly, the Mexican Spiral technique rose to prominence in 19th Century Mexico, and was used specifically to keep American gamblers and con men from being able to cheat in card games.
Also called the Indian or Kutti (meaning ‘scissors’) shuffle, the Hindi method is an impressive technique, but not easy to master.
Start by holding the deck face down, with your middle finger on one long edge and with your thumb on the other on the bottom half of the deck. Use your other hand to draw off a packet from the top of the deck and drop it into the palm of your hand. Repeat over and over, letting more and more packets drop into your palm, until the whole deck is in your other hand.
The messy pile shuffle
Flet us back down from flaunt-worthy techniques for a moment and get back to the basics. Ultimately, all we really need to achieve here is changing up and refreshing the energy of the cards, while changing up their order.
The messy pile method is an easy way of achieving this. Simply pour all of your cards onto the table in random order and move them around, perhaps using your non dominant hand. When your intuition clicks and lets you know you are done, you are done. Simply put the pile back into the main dreck.
Organizing the deck
Not really a shuffle at all, but a truly effective way of touching base with the cards and resetting their energy.
As the name suggests, simply go through the entire Tarot deck while putting each card back in order. You might, at the same time, want to place any reversed cards back into their upright positions, to keep the same reversed cards from coming up in the next Tarot spread. This is the metaphysical equivalent of restoring your Tarot deck to factory settings.