When people consult the oracle of the internet (otherwise known as Google), one of the top questions is ‘how to shuffle tarot cards’. While a lot of people struggle with shuffling cards, thankfully there is no special technique that will make your reading any more accurate. There are however a lot of different ways to go about it. So let’s explore some of them.
A quick shout out before I get started. The wonderful Avalon Cameron also just released a video on shuffling tarot cards (we are on the same witchy wavelength), so you might want to check that out too since this is not an exhaustive list.
Tarot Card Shuffling Techniques
I’ve seen many people get uncomfortable when I ask them to shuffle the cards. It can be intimidating, especially when someone is watching you. They worry they are going to do it wrong.
The important thing to remember is that the message of the reading will come through even if your shuffling is not great. It’s not about how good a shuffler you are anyway. I only really know how to riffle shuffle and sometimes, even after all these years, the cards go everywhere! It happens.
In the video for this blog post, I show the examples for each technique (minus the card shuffling machine as I don’t own one) so I recommend having a watch. Here are some common ones:
Take half the deck in each hand, angle the corners towards each other and then release the cards so they land overlapping.
While this is my personal favorite, it can take a toll overtime on the cards because of the tension that created. It’s a great way to shuffle oversized tarot decks, square, and round decks. You can also get super fancy (I wish I could, but my way works for me) in your technique that can be very impressive.
Over and under
Hold the deck in your non-dominant hand, then take some cards from the back with your dominant hand and release a few to the front or back of the deck at a time.
This is the common way most people shuffle if they haven’t learned anything else. It works well for most decks.
Put all the cards on the table and mix them around. Easy, and fun.
It seems simple, but it’s a legit way to shuffle and a great way to get your energy into the cards. It might also be the only way to shuffle some unusual decks.
Deal the deck out into a random number of piles and then recombine. Repeat as desired.
This technique can be an effective way to separate a new deck, but also works well for anyone who feels drawn to it, or like shuffling isn’t their strong suit.
Card shuffling machine
For Tarot readers with arthritis or who are unable to shuffle with their hands, card shuffling machines are a game-changer. (Or, you can use them if you want to feel like you are a dealer at an underground high stakes poker game).
Selecting Tarot Cards for Readings
Not all Tarot readers like their clients to touch their cards, but whether you are the reader or a client, trust that no matter technique is used, it will be a great reading.
Here are some ways you can select cards for a reading…
Fan, Scan and Pick
This technique can be done either face to face or over video:
You or the querent shuffle the deck until ready to stop.
The deck is then fanned out in front of the reader (which can look super cool and all mysterious like).
If you are completing an in-person reading, ask the querent to scan their hand over the cards and then select however many you need for your layout (3 for example). They pick the card that feels right (cold/warm) to them. Closing their eyes and random pointing works too.
The cards are placed in the reading layout in the order the querent selected them.
Selecting Tarot cards via image
Some readings require the client or querent to see the images on the cards, for example, when using the Bush Flower Essence deck. Another is the Aura-Soma Tarot where the client selects the bottles they are most drawn to on the card backs.
Outside a specific modality, I have discovered that this way is great for tarot counseling, creative endeavors, and healing with the cards.
The client actively looks at the card images with the assistance, prompt or intention in mind and selects what they feel represents their need, themselves, the situation or what they are really drawn to or not drawn to. It can be very revealing when people are asked to interact with the archetypes and art and choose their cards that way.
Once the cards have been selected by the querent the reading takes place from there.
Roll the dice
This is a fun way of selecting cards. You just need a single die.
Decide how many cards you will use for the reading. Or, you can use the die to decide.
Shuffle the cards however you like and place them face down.
Roll your die.
Count out the number of cards on the dice roll and select the card that the number is rolled on.
Place the other cards at the bottom of the pile.
Repeat the process until you have all of the cards you need for your tarot spread
Carry out the reading.
Should you choose the cards from the top or bottom?
Usually, if a card is pulled from the bottom of the deck the reader is called to do so for a reason or the tarot spread that they are working with calls for it. However, it’s really a personal preference.
Another common practice is to pull one card from the bottom to see what is unknown, underlying, something else to consider, or a message from your guides.
All Upright VS One at a Time
Some Tarot Readers will place all of the Tarot cards upright in their spread right from the very beginning. Some will turn over one card at a time focusing on the individual meaning before moving on to the next.
My preference has always been all upright from the beginning so I can see the whole story. But I have for sure tried the other way in the past. I can help you focus on the card meaning and the position it is in and how they relate to each other without getting overwhelmed.
I recommend trying both!
My Personal Tarot Card Reading Preferences and Processes
Face-to-face Tarot readings
While not every reader likes their cards being touched, I want my client to shuffle the cards when I do face to face readings. It allows them to be involved, add their energy and it can be very centering for them – even if they are ‘bad’ at it.
This is what I do:
I ask my client to shuffle the tarot deck until they feel it’s time to stop while they focus on the question they want to be answered. I give them permission to shuffle however they like.
While they are doing this I check in with my spirit guides.
Next, I ask my client to take their left hand and cut the deck into three piles with the card backs facing up.
I then ask them to choose the pile they feel the most drawn to.
I use that pile and lay out the cards from the top of that pile in spread I have chosen for the reading.
Further Questions and Clarifying Cards
It’s common for a client to want to go into more detail about a certain aspect of a tarot reading or is looking for a new option or point of view.
In this case I shuffle the cards, cut the deck myself, and lay out the cards from the top of the two piles I cut. For me, having the client having shuffle the cards once at the beginning is enough. Also once “the tap is turned on” to the messages of the reading I like to keep hold of the deck as it flows better. This, of course, is personal preference I’ve created after years of tarot reading for others.
Tarot Readings via Video Recording, Skype or Email
I give the majority of my tarot readings online. I’m blessed to have international clients and as a single mum it gives me the flexibility I need.
To manage this, my clients provide me with the information I need for the reading after booking. Then, I custom design a tarot spread for each question they have. The only times I don’t do a custom spread are for past life reading or soul and spiritual purpose readings as they use specific operations, designated decks, and layouts.
I also select a new tarot deck every question, often using two decks or more per tarot reading.
These are my steps from there:
Once I have connected with my guides I hold my client’s energy and their first question and shuffle.
I then hold the cards in between my hands and take a deep breath and open them.
The cards will fold open like a book at the place they are meant to.
I take the pile in my right hand and select the cards from the top in order and place them in the reading layout I designed.
I then repeat the process for each question in the tarot reading.
I hope you’ve found this helpful.
How do you shuffle tarot cards? What’s your favorite selection technique? On a scale of one to ten how in love with Vanessa Ives’s Tarot game from Penny Dreadful are you? (I am like at 15 here it was masterful).