You’ve just sat down to do a tarot spread. You have your space set up just the way you like it and you’re sitting in a comfortable position. You pick up your cards. You’re ready to begin but you find yourself wondering: should I shuffle my cards before I start pulling cards for my spread?
Yes. You should shuffle your tarot cards before each reading. Shuffling your cards gives you the opportunity to focus your energy on your reading and connect with your cards.
Taking the time to shuffle your deck well will also ensure that you get an accurate reading because the cards in your deck have been well mixed up.
If you’re just starting out with a brand-new deck you should take the time to give it an extra good shuffle because manufacturers tend to package cards un-shuffled.
This means that your new deck will come out of the box with all Major Arcana first with the Minor Arcana following in numerical order. Brand-new cards sometimes stick together too, so giving them a good shuffle will help get everything unstuck.
Before we get into details about shuffling your tarot cards, I wanted to point out the Related Articles section at the bottom of this post. You will find a number of articles related to this subject!
Table of Contents
Why do I have to shuffle?
No two tarot readers will read their cards in exactly the same way, but most will be able to agree that you should always shuffle your cards before starting a new spread. Aside from the “new deck” situation mentioned above, there are a few different reasons for this.
The first reason you want to shuffle your cards is quite technical: you don’t want to be getting the same cards every time you read.
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If you just put your pulled cards back on top of the deck when you’ve finished reading, then don’t shuffle before you start your next one, you’re going to keep getting the same cards every time.
Situations change and you’re not always asking your deck the same question, so you don’t want to be pulling the same cards each time.
The next reason you should shuffle your cards is that depending on your beliefs and practices, shuffling time is the perfect time to invite energy to join you.
If you are doing your reading as a means of seeking guidance from a spirit or deity, you can invite them to be with you and guide you as you shuffle. If the purpose of your reading is to contact a deceased person, you can use this time to call upon them and invite them to speak to you through the cards.
The third, and possibly most important reason you should shuffle your cards is that the act of shuffling your cards allows you to connect with the cards, match your energy with the cards’ energy, and focus on the question that you are looking to answer.
A tarot reading is not the time to think about the email you need to write later or wonder whether you remembered to feed the cat.
The best readings happen when you are wholly focused on the task at hand. Shuffling allows you time to put everything out of your mind except your current reading, your cards, and your question.
Shuffling when reading for others
It is also worth noting that when reading for other people, shuffling can be one of the most important parts of the reading. While some readers prefer to not let others handle their deck, many do ask their guests to shuffle the deck before the reading.
The readers who do this often find that having the guest shuffle the deck will allow the cards to pick up on the guest’s energy and intentions, which will help produce the most accurate reading possible.
Allowing your guest to shuffle the cards will also help your guest get into a good mindset for reading, the same way you would if you were shuffling for yourself.
Here’s an article that I wrote as a guide to different shuffling techniques: How to shuffle your Tarot cards. A step-by-step guide. Let’s review some of these here…
Methods of shuffling.
So now that you know why you should shuffle your cards, let’s talk about how to do it.
There are many possible methods of shuffling your deck. You can pick one that works for you, or you could try a couple of different methods in a row to really mix things up. You could even pick different methods of shuffling for different themed readings or types of spreads.
Here are a few common methods of shuffling (methods labeled “Tabletop” require a surface to lay your cards on):
Cutting the Deck –(Tabletop)
This is probably the easiest way to shuffle your cards. Cut the deck into three separate stacks then put them back together in a different order. Repeat until you are satisfied that your cards have been well-shuffled.
The Scramble Method—(Tabletop)
This one isn’t particularly pretty, but it gets the job done. Lay your deck faces down on a table and scramble the cards around. Then stack them back together into one deck.
Pushing from Side to Side
Start with the deck in your dominant hand and use your thumb to push a few cards into your other hand. Now push a few more cards over and place them below the first cards. Place the next few cards on the top.
The next ones are on the bottom. Continue until you’ve gone through the whole deck and repeat until you’re satisfied.
The Drop Method
A lot like the side-to-side method, but instead of pushing cards from side to side, you’re dropping them down into your hand and they’re landing in a new order.
For more control, guide the incoming cards with the thumb of your “catching” hand.
The Casino Method –(Tabletop)
This one is harder, but it might be the most impressive to look at. Just like you would see in a casino. Split your deck in two and hold both sides facing each other. Slowly let the cards flap together back into one deck.
Are these descriptions difficult to visualize? Check out this YouTube video by Melanie Beckler that shows these methods in action.
You could ask seven different readers how to shuffle a tarot deck and you might get seven different answers. You also aren’t confined to just these methods of shuffling.
If you know of a different way to shuffle that you’re comfortable with, you should absolutely do it that way. At the end of the day as long as your cards are being mixed around without getting bent or damaged, you’re doing it right!
How long do I shuffle?
Now that you’ve determined how to shuffle your cards and you’ve chosen your preferred shuffling method you may be wondering how long you’ll need to shuffle your cards to get them properly mixed up.
The right amount of time to shuffle is the amount of time that it takes you to achieve the things that you need to achieve while shuffling.
If it takes only one cycle of your preferred shuffling method to get focused and be satisfied that your cards are well mixed up, that’s all the time you need to take to shuffle.
If it takes you five or more minutes to mix up your cards that allow you to get connected to the tarot cards, that is completely normal too.
Many readers determine the proper amount of time to shuffle their cards by shuffling “until they’re done” and the time feels right to start pulling cards. You may find that different types of spreads feel like they take different amounts of time to shuffle.
This is normal since different spreads require different levels of focus. For example, you may not shuffle nearly as long for a quick “card of the day” pull as you would for a Celtic Cross spread with the intention of seeking guidance from a deceased loved one.
Read more about the Celtic Cross Spread here:
Shuffling after a reading
Some readers like to shuffle when a reading is finished as well. Shuffling your cards post-reading gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you’ve learned from your cards while still staying connected with your deck.
This time can also be an opportunity to thank your deck for its service and thank any entity you may have been in contact with for their guidance during your reading.
Shuffling after reading also helps you make extra sure that your cards will be well mixed up by the time you’re ready to begin pulling cards for your next reading.
Since you should always be shuffling your cards before each reading, it is not necessary to shuffle your cards after every reading if you don’t want to.
If you only feel compelled to shuffle after reading sometimes, that is fine too. As with any aspect of tarot reading, the most important thing is that you are comfortable and happy with your own practices.
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