How to Shuffle Your Tarot Cards: A Step-by-Step Guide


How to shuffle tarot cards

When you’re doing a tarot reading, knowing what the cards are trying to tell you is only half the work. Every little aspect of your reading needs to be done properly in order to get the best possible readings.

Along with having a good setting for your reading, knowing how to shuffle tarot cards can improve your overall outcome. How do you shuffle your tarot cards correctly?

How you shuffle them needs to involve a low-damage technique, the right intention, and using your intuition to determine when they’re properly shuffled. 

Believe it or not, there are a lot of different schools of thought when it comes to properly shuffling a deck of tarot cards. Here’s what every tarot student should know about proper shuffling technique. 

Note, At the bottom of this article, I list Related Articles that might be of interest and that will provide additional resources for you.

How To Shuffle Your Tarot Cards

Before you begin any reading, you will need to shuffle your tarot cards. In fact, I’ve had people ask if they even need to shuffle their Tarot deck, I’ve answered that question here.

There’s some good news and bad news when it comes to this. The bad news is that there are restrictions when it comes to what you can do. The good news is that there’s no single, codified way to do it. 

Knowing that a lot of card shuffling is more about the mentality that you have and knowing what to avoid. If you’re ready to start shuffling, you’re going to want to start with these tips below. 

Why Does Your Shuffling Technique Matter In Tarot?

Tarot is a form of divination, and it’s also a way to connect with your energy. If your shuffling hurts the energy flow or distracts you from your question, your reading won’t be as good as it could be. 

Moreover, it’s important to recognize that tarot decks are delicate. 

What Does Shuffling Tarot Cards Accomplish?

If you regularly use tarot cards, you already know that shuffling your cards does a lot of things when it comes to the outcome of a reading. What you might not realize how much of a change it can do. Moving around those cards does several things you should be aware of…

Randomizing Your Draw

The most important thing to remember when you’re shuffling your cards is that they randomize your draw. If you don’t shuffle your cards, your readings are going to be almost identical to one another, which makes them highly unlikely to be accurate.

Tarot is all about using your energy and working with the luck of the draw. By taking away the randomization aspect of tarot, you’re making it very difficult to actually get the full benefits of a reading. 

Lending Your Energy

Tarot readers and other psychics believe that every person has a unique field of energy around them. Psychics and diviners tend to tap into that energy in order to give a good reading. The more energy you give, the more accurate your reading will be. 

A hard(ish) part of doing a reading is figuring out how to access your energy in a way that makes it possible for a psychic to interpret what they feel.

Touching items is one of the best ways to transfer your energy into an item. That’s where the cards come in! 

It’s believed that shuffling cards helps you get your energy into them, which in turn, is what makes the readings work as well as they do.

A quick shuffle is all it takes to get your energy into the card deck and help you get a better reflection of what’s going on with your spiritual side.

Releasing Stagnant Energy

Think back to when you last bit into a piece of bread that was sitting on your counter for a while. It didn’t taste too good, did it? Stale bread is a lot like stale energy. It lacks flavor. It makes things less enjoyable. It also tends to cause things to lose their function over time. 

The easiest way to release energy that’s been left sitting in a single place is to move things around. So, shuffling your cards doesn’t just imprint your energy on them; it also helps release energy that may have been left on them by others.

Helping You Get In The Right Mindset

Most of us had at least one moment where we were supposed to do a task, but couldn’t focus due to the sheer amount of stress we struggled with. It’s rough, isn’t it? Well, that same type of lack of focus can also ruin a perfectly good reading. 

Shuffling your cards is a great way to stay centered and focus on the question you’re thinking of. So, to a point, shuffling can also be an exercise in getting your mind and emotions prepped for a reading. 

As you practice shuffling and working with your cards, you may find that your cards start sticking together. Here is an article I wrote about solving that problem, read about how to cleanse between readings here.

Choosing A Deck

Most people who read tarot have more than one deck, and if you’re brand new, you may need to choose the deck that works with you. 

I wrote an article about how to choose a deck, read my complete guide to choosing a deck.

Setting Up Your Tarot Reading Space

Shuffling your cards is great, but it also is really only part of the equation. Part of getting the best reading possible is making your surroundings great for a reading. To make the most of your read, make a point of doing the following:

  • Drop the volume a bit. Doing a reading in noisy, high traffic areas isn’t advisable. Tarot readings are very personal. Having a lot of people talking around you will harm your ability to focus on your reading and may leak out personal information. 
  • Place a mat on your table or floor. If you want to protect your cards or just make your card surface easier for you, a mat or silk scarf can be an amazing tool to have. 
  • Set the mood. Tarot reading is all about energy, and the atmosphere you create can deeply impact the mood. Many readers find it easier to read when they are in a dimly lit room with scented candles. 

Ready to get your reading on? Awesome! Here’s what you need to know!

Placing Your Intentions While You Shuffle

Remember how I mentioned that tarot reading is often about energy? What you’re thinking and focusing on will change the energy you place into the cards. So, your mentality will play a huge factor in your reading. 

That’s why it’s important to place your intentions for a reading in the cards. You can do this by thinking of the topic you want to ask the cards about. The key here is keep yourself relatively calm while you’re doing this. 

When To Set Your Intentions

Right before you start shuffling your cards, you should start to focus on your question. Think about possible outcomes, about what the question entails, and more. Then, pick up the cards and start shuffling, continuing to mull over the question. 

Why Keeping Calm Is Important

We all have met people who were extremely pessimistic, and always seemed to have bad luck follow them. It’s almost like they have a rain cloud over them. It’s not even a matter of a self-fulfilling prophecy, either. Their negativity and worries tend to influence their lives.

Believe it or not, your moods can influence how the cards come out. Energy is, after all, a matter of will. Thankfully, it’s usually only extreme moods that tend to make people’s readings get thrown off. 

Because we tend to be personally affected by our own life events, many psychics tend to avoid doing their own cards. That being said, if you keep your mind steady and you’re willing to open yourself up to both the good and bad news, you won’t have a problem. 

How To Keep Calm During An Intense Reading

If you or your querent are really in a foul mood, shuffling the cards might not be a good idea right off the bat. These tips will help you (or the querent) get into the right mood:

  • Focus on the scented candles and quiet atmosphere. There’s a reason why so many readers insist on a quiet, intimate atmosphere when they do their thing. The atmosphere you’re in can impact your mood. By keeping things quiet and relaxing, you make it easier to still your mind. 
  • Take three deep, slow breaths before you start to shuffle. Concentrating on your breath and increasing oxygen flow can help you read better and improve your focus. 
  • Remind yourself that most things people worry about never come to fruition. Around 90 percent of all the things we worry about aren’t going to come true. And, even if they do, the worries are generally not that bad. 
  • Guide your querent through a relaxation exercise. If your querent is really frazzled, use a soothing voice and guide them through a quick exercise before you do a reading.

Signs You Should Wait Before You Read

Once in a while, you may end up being so frazzled, relaxation exercises alone will not make you calm down. If you find yourself panicking, in tears, or “hitting the cards” in a near-obsessive manner, it may be better to just take a break for a while. 

Trying to shuffle your cards or trying to get a reading while you’re in a bad state of mind will not lead to a good outcome. The same can be said of trying to read while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Another article I wrote talks about how to cleanse Tarot cards between readings. These techniques can be used to get you into the right frame of mind for you reading. Read, “how do you cleanse Tarot cards between readings“.

What To Avoid When Shuffling

Shuffling tarot cards rarely ever has any guidelines when it comes to technique, but there are still some ground rules you need to follow. The biggest rule that you need to follow is that you need to respect the cards. 

Being respectful of tarot cards is not hard to do. Honestly, it just means that you will need to abide by the general rules of respect towards the reader and the cards. Shuffling tarot cards should always avoid the following things:

  • Bending them. Yeah, don’t try any fancy tricks with your tarot cards. Bending them is considered to be a sign of disrespect for cards and can also wear them out faster. 
  • Defacing them. If you were thinking of shuffling your cards by dragging them around on a rough surface, don’t do it. Rough surfaces can scratch the cards, which, in turn, can harm them. 
  • Making fun of them. You’re not going to get a good or accurate reading if you regularly taunt and insult your cards… Or worse, the reader. 
  • Stonewalling your reader. If you are getting your cards read, refusing to offer any information or refusing to connect with your reader is a great way to wreck a reading. 

Why You Should Never Bend Your Cards

When it comes to shuffling techniques, anything that can potentially bend your cards is a major no-no. You might be wondering why, and truthfully, you’d be right to be curious. There are actually multiple reasons why bending cards isn’t wise:

  • It is considered to be disrespectful to the cards and can warp their energy. Tools, in general, shouldn’t be bent. Whenever you change the shape of a tool in an unintended way, it takes away from its original strength. The same can happen to tarot cards. 
  • It damages the cards. Tarot cards, even the more common decks, are expensive. Some tarot decks are not even in print anymore. You should try to preserve your card for as long as you can. By avoiding bends, you can keep your cards looking pristine for longer than ever before. 
  • It can also make certain cards stand out more than others. Part of getting an accurate tarot reading is making sure that you don’t know which card you’re picking. If you card accidentally gets a little over-bent, it will jut out… and you won’t have that impartiality anymore. 

Why Stonewalling (Or Insulting) People During A Reading Is A Terrible Idea

It’s fairly easy to see why most psychics won’t work with someone who has a negative attitude towards cards or won’t help them connect to them. It’s not just a matter of being rude, though most psychics won’t tolerate rudeness, either. 

When you make an effort to keep your emotions to yourself or try to build up a wall around yourself, it totally blocks the energy that is needed to get a good reading going. Moreover, if you get aggressive or hostile towards the reading, there’s a good chance that you may be unable to pick up anything in the cards. 

Simply put, if you go into something expecting it to fail, the chances of it failing will increase. Every reader and querent needs to go into a tarot reading with an open mind and a willingness to connect. Otherwise, all the shuffling in the world won’t work. 

Three Major Shuffling Techniques

Now that you know what to avoid doing when you start to shuffle your cards, it’s time to talk about what you can do. There are three major shuffling techniques psychics prefer readers use when they’re doing a tarot reading. 

52 Pickup

Some people get their energy into the cards best by just dropping the cards in a large, messy pile, mixing them around, and then stacking them in a neater pile. 52 Pickup is also known as “washing the cards.”

This releases the energy of the cards doesn’t bend them, and also gives it your own energy. That being said, it’s a little messy for many others. 

Cutting And Shuffling

Others prefer to cut the cards and place each stack in different locations in the deck. It’s a very visually pleasing shuffling method and works very well with people who want to keep things tidy during a reading. Doing this is fairly easy, and a lot quicker than you’d expect it to be. Here’s how:

  1. Cut the cards into a bunch of different piles and lay them on the table. The size of the piles won’t matter too much. 
  2. Rearrange the piles, stacking them as you see fit. This helps randomize your cards a little bit. 
  3. Repeat until you feel like you’ve shuffled them enough. Usually, around four passes is enough for most readers. Some may want to spend more time with this method, simply because it can still lead to a *little* repetition. 

The Classic Handheld Shuffle

This shuffling technique is done by simply dividing the cards in your hands and placing each divided group in a different position. It’s a quick technique that gets the job done and also requires minimum cleanup. 

Much like with the “Cutting and Shuffling” technique, this tarot card shuffling method is a lot cleaner than just washing the cards and tends to work well after a couple of passes. It’s a favorite among casual readers and professionals alike. 

Getting A Shuffle “Snapshot”

A lot of readers will cut their card decks mid-shuffle, and look at the faces of the two cards that were parted. This is part of their shuffle technique that offers up an extra dose of insight into the question at hand. 

Most tarot readers who do these “two-card snapshots” tend to use their interpretations as a quick glance at the factors that are at play in your reading. The two cards are often interpreted as:

  • Overarching Issues. Sometimes, these cards get to the jugular of a problem that’s causing you to have issues. For example, if you’re doing a love reading and you get a 3 of Swords in your snapshot, it could be that you feel betrayed by a lover. 
  • Future Events. Wondering what will happen? These cards might show small occurrences in your near future. 
  • Advice/Warnings. If you’re doing an advice layout, these two cards can be important tips to keep in mind while you wander your path.  

How To Choose Your Shuffling Technique

Now that you have a couple of shuffling techniques in mind, you can start to figure out which shuffling technique you want to use. For the most part, it’s really just a matter of personal preference. After all, tarot is about feelings, energy and vibes. So, you want to choose a method that works with your vibes. 

Trying to go with a shuffling technique that feels wrong to you won’t work as well as a technique you feel comfortable doing. So, take a look at the cards. Feel them in your hands, and then figure out what kind of shuffling technique feels the most “right” for that particular deck. 

Don’t be shocked if you end up having different favorite techniques for different cards. It happens. It’s an intuitive thing. It’s not unusual for the same reader to have different shuffling techniques for different cards. 

How Long Should You Shuffle Tarot Cards?

Now that you have an idea of how to shuffle your tarot cards and what to avoid when shuffling, you probably are wondering about the pace of your tarot card shuffling. Since reading tarot isn’t (and never will be) an exact science, how long you should shuffle tarot cards can vary greatly. 

This answer depends on your personal beliefs and your own personal reading style. No two tarot readers ever have an identical practice. So, to help you figure out how long you should shuffle, it’s best to take a look at these reading styles below.

The Intuitive Manner

Remember how the cardinal rule of tarot is to work with energy? Well, it’s worth pointing out that your intuition tends to be in tune with the energy around you and inside you. That’s why many psychics will tell querents to “keep shuffling until you feel it’s enough.”

We can’t always explain why we get feelings or hunches, nor should we try to explain it away. It’s just the way that tarot works. And, if this method works well with your readings, there’s no reason to question it. Just go with your gut. 

The Incantation Method

Though it is very rare, there are some people who say incantations or prayers while they shuffle their tarot cards. With most readers who do this, they continue to shuffle as long as they’re saying their prayer. Once they stop, they shuffling stops. 

The Rule of Seven

A lot of psychics also hold close ties to numbers, especially numbers that are tied to divination. Seven, for example, is one of the most popular numbers to show up in a tarot reading. Readers, as a result, tend to want to incorporate that number into their readings. 

They do this through a variety of different methods:

  • Cutting the deck into seven piles and rearranging them. This method is a great one if you want to read for another person but want to keep the look of your reading a little more structured. 
  • Shuffle the cards seven times. If you’re doing a hand shuffle, sort things around seven times. 
  • You can also count to seven to finish your shuffling time. Seven seconds of shuffling doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really does make a difference. 

Mishaps And Interpretations

Believe it or not, mishaps can happen while you’re shuffling your cards. Sometimes, people drop the deck. Traditionally, these mishaps and accidents are actually signs that can be interpreted as a part of the reading. Here’s what you should do in each common mishap.

A Card Got Dropped

Whenever a card is dropped, it’s considered to be a way of the deck begging you to take the card. So, pick it up and interpret it alongside your other cards. Many psychics will pay particular attention to it or use it as an advice card. 

You Accidentally Pick More Than One Card

Much like dropping a card, this is a sign that you need to gain the messages for both cards. Keep an eye out for what they’re saying, and then continue to read your cards as you normally would. 

A Card Somehow Gets Put Face Up In The Deck

Obviously, this incident is another way of the universe, insisting that you need to add its interpretation into the card. What differs with this situation is that it’s typically seen as a change in fate regarding that card; in other words, fate is stepping in. 

You Dropped The Deck

Yikes! What a mess! This can be interpreted in two different ways:

  • The deck does not want you to know the answer to what you’re asking. If the deck literally slips out of your hands, it’s a sign that you should wait to ask your question later. Think of it as the universe slapping the deck out of your hand. 
  • You need to clear your mind. Feeling stressed out? Sometimes, dropping the cards can be a sign that you need to relax before you do anything tarot-related. 

A Card Got Destroyed During Your Reading

True story: I once accidentally flipped a card into the candle sitting right next to my tarot mat. The card was destroyed, and I was devastated. My reading was immediately cut short!

If a card gets destroyed during your shuffling, two things are abundantly clear.

First off, this card is sending you a message and has something really important for you to know. (read this article about using Tarot decks with missing cards)

Second, it’s probably time to buy a new deck while you take your break.

Free Online Tarot Reading

If you are interested in getting a quick reading, this website will provide you with a couple of free options:

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