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This post was written by Barbara Moore
on October 8, 2009 | Comments (17)

Over at the Aeclectic Tarot forum, there was a conversation about shuffling. Well, it started off as about asking the question, but wandered over into shuffling.

Shuffling is something those of us who have been doing it forever don’t really think about. But those who are new to tarot sometimes have concerns about doing everything just right. They have an idea that tarot is this magic formula that unless you do everything just so, then it won’t work. There may be tarot readers who believe that. However, among my tarot friends and colleagues, the common belief is that there is no magic formula and that every practitioner has their own methods.

I like the idea of making the shuffling part of the ritual of a reading. Shuffle a certain number of times, cut a certain way, then start flipping over the cards.

Some people in the Aeclectic conversation pointed out that they found counting the number of times they shuffled distracted them. They either preferred to focus on the question or to be in the moment, paying attention to the flow of the reading. There were similar comments when I discussed the importance of setting up a reading space. Some people said that focusing on accessories, cloths, candles, etc. was distracting and took their attention away from the flow of reading.

I’ve always thought that ritual actions (such as shuffling in a certain way) or adding candles, stones, incense, etc. added to the flow and the experience. But I do understand this other point view.

A few questions for you then: how do you shuffle? do you shuffle the same every time? Do you use ritual or do you find it distracting?

Don’t forget, the contest for a vintage 2002 Tarot Calendar ends tomorrow! Click!

Reader Comments

Written By Catherine
on October 8th, 2009 @ 8:38 am

Hi Barbara,

Shuffling is one of those little rituals that every Tarot reader has an opinion on and a ‘right’ way to do it!

I’ve heard some pretty crazy methods and ways to shuffle and cut, but like most things in Tarot, I don’t believe there’s a right or a wrong way – just a lot of talking points!

Perhaps one of the only things I really agree with is allowing the client to shuffle the cards as I feel this provides them with a sense of ownership over the reading, making it more pertinent to them – they shuffled after all! I don’t believe they put their energy or essence into the cards, the Tarot reader is the channel, but I believe it can be beneficial to their experience of the reading .

Of course the client shuffling the deck isn’t possible during phone readings, but the usual, ‘concentrate on your question and tell me to stop shuffling when you feel ready’, does apply; though I have to admit to very often feeling the need to stop the shuffle myself because we’re ‘at the right’ spot with the cards.

There are lots of ways to shuffle and cut, and I look forward to hearing how other readers perform theirs.

Thank you for sharing this post today 🙂

Warm wishes,


Written By Douglas Gibb
on October 8th, 2009 @ 8:47 am

Hi Barbara,

I usually let the client shuffle the cards so I kind of side step that whole issue 😀

However, I do have a set way of explaining how I want them to shuffle and cut the cards – a type of ritual if you like.

I tend to be more concerned with how they cut the cards more than how they shuffle. As strange as this sounds, I’ve found that the “cut” can help the client feel more connected with the process.

The shuffle does that as well – but the shuffle seems to produce a “feeling of relaxation” and the cut a “focus” in the people I read for.

Both are linked together; and although the shuffle does create a focus of sorts, it’s my experience that it’s more of a “relaxation” process.

Relaxation itself is vital for the client to be open to the flow of the reading; but it’s also a very important stage when you consider that focus is more achievable when relaxed.

I guess what I’m trying to say is:

The shuffle helps them relax, and the relaxation helps them focus. I use the cut as a way for them to reconnect with their question – to focus on it – then cut.

It marks a definitive stage in how receptive and comfortable the client will feel during a Tarot reading.

In terms of Ritual use – I’ve never really used obvious ritual objects so I can’t really comment on that. However, the way I communicate with the client before a reading; the manner in which I demonstrate the shuffle and cut, is highly ritualised. In other words, I use the same (occasionally I have to adjust my style) methods of communication each time, to achieve a certain method of “shuffle and cut”.

Great post 🙂

Written By Rose Vanden Eynden
on October 8th, 2009 @ 8:56 am

When I teach Tarot classes, I find my students are anxious about this question, too. I tell them to find their own style that meets their needs and feels right to them. There are so many ways, including mixing the cards in a big pile and choosing cards from it, that seem less formal but can be more intuitive ways to allow Spirit to infuse the reading.

As a reader, I don’t allow my clients to shuffle the cards. Often, it’s awkward for them because their hands are used to shuffling a playing card deck rather than larger-sized Tarot cards. I start by shuffling the cards myself, then I usually ask them to place their hand on the deck after I lay it on the table in front of them (and yes, I usually ask for left hand–I still follow a ritual from when I was 16 and started reading) as they think of their question or situation. I then ask them to cut the cards into three piles and then pile them into one any way they like. I then pick up the cards and deal the throw or spread off the top. I use this method for myself as well.

Isn’t it interesting how we really are all creatures of ritual and habit, and we fall into patterns?

Thanks for this great post, Barbara! Many blessings to you and to all your readers!

Written By James Wells
on October 8th, 2009 @ 9:17 am

I don’t impose any manner of mixing on my clients. Just because I do it one way doesn’t mean they have to. For me, there’s nothing “magical” in the way one shuffles/mixes the cards; it’s simply a way of bringing in another sense – touch – so that the client will feel more engaged in the consultation.

Written By Nancy Antenucci
on October 8th, 2009 @ 9:35 am

I think alot of folks have a phobia about shuffling properly…just shuffling…nothin to do with Tarot. Add to that insecurity, some decks are mighty large so anyone would have a hard time doing a traditional shuffle.

I tell my clients to change the order of the deck in any way they feel…that could be shuffling, cutting the deck, spreading them all over the place, etc.

Written By TarotByArwen
on October 8th, 2009 @ 9:36 am

Shuffle every time? I was going to say ABSOLUTELY but then I remembered that there are times I will just reach into my purse and pull a card from whatever deck is within my reach (I tend to have 1-2 decks at all times.)

But I shuffle until it feels right. No counting. No set way of doing it. I would tell you I shuffle until the cards feel like they are pushing back, but I might sound like a flake.

Oh wait…LOL! I am a bit of a flake some times!

Written By Zanna
on October 8th, 2009 @ 9:42 am

I feel that the traditional style of shuffling (the poker shuffle, if you will) is much to hard on the cards. I do a push-pull type of shuffle while meditating on the question and focusing on tuning in to the client. I generally close my eyes while I shuffle and cut the cards. I then use what Norma Cowie calls the Ninth Card Method, where I count down to the ninth card, turn it up in the first position, then count down to the next ninth card, etc. Why? Because I tried it a few times and liked the results. It’s that simple.

Written By Annie
on October 8th, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

Although I ask clients to shuffle and cut the cards for their reading I always shuffle them thoroughly myself before handing them over. This is partly because I find it soothing and it gets me ready to connect with the client, but also takes the pressure off for people who find shuffling difficult, especially with the big cards. I want them to be relaxed and just shuffle as they wish before cutting into three and stacking the cards back up however feels right for them. I then lay the cards out from the top of the deck. It works for me, tho’ whether as my personal magic formula or just a pleasant routine, I’m not sure!

Written By Theresa
on October 8th, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

I could care less about how the client shuffles the cards as to me, they are putting their energy or “vibe” into the cards and they need to find the right timing and rhythm for this. I am always concerned that if I am too stodgy about how they are shuffled, the client tends to be rather stiff and inhibited as they shuffle – and then the reading also seems rather flat.

The one ritual I do favor is more related to the cutting of the cards – after shuffling, I have the client put the deck face down. With their left hand, they cut the cards into three piles and then put them back together any way they want.

The left hand is closest to the heart, so I feel this way the reading comes from the heart. If a client is hell bent on using the right hand, I don’t stop them as I feel it is them following their own instincts.

A little structure is necessary – rigidity is not.

Written By Barbara Moore
on October 10th, 2009 @ 9:23 am

Wow! What a lot of great comments about shuffling. I love that I’m part of a community that can have a discussion about shuffling.

@Catherine: I like how you called such things “talking points.” Makes it so much more approachable and takes the idea of right/wrong out of the picture.
@Douglas: I love the idea of shuffling being about relaxation and cutting about focus. It makes perfect sense; don’t know why I didn’t realize it before.
@Rose: if Douglas is right and shuffling is for relaxing and a client feels awkward, as they sometimes do, then it wouldn’t be relaxing…a good reason to not have them shuffle. Interesting.
@James: we could discuss what we mean by “magical” 🙂 But I think we agree on the importance of touch. Have you used fanning powder on your cards. Now that’s magic.
@Nancy: “change the order” — nice phrase 🙂
@Arwen: I am also a flake and know what you mean by “pushing back.”
@Zanna: I like the 9th card idea and will have to try it sometime.
@Annie: perhaps a “magic formula” and “pleasant routine” are the same thing 🙂
@Theresa: I agree with you. When structure or ritual provides a sense of comfort and safety and other benefits, then it’s fantastic. When it become oppressively rigid, then it’s best to do without. I also have my clients cut with their left hand.

Written By Barbara Moore
on October 11th, 2009 @ 10:27 am

Theresa, I listened to your latest radio show this morning and really enjoyed it!

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on October 11th, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

Hi, Barbara!

When I shuffle the cards for myself, I focus on the question. Then I cut the cards a specific number of times.

When I give the cards to a person to shuffle, I have all the cards in order and facing the same way. I give them the cards sideways and tell them to “mix” the cards any way they like while focusing on the question, and continue until they get a feeling it’s time to stop. This way they have complete control over whether cards will be mixed end for end to produce some upright and some reversed. Also, some people have a predetermined idea of what shuffling is, and by saying “mix” instead of shuffle, they aren’t limited to one form of shuffling the cards.

When they give the cards back to me, they almost always give them to me short-end first rather than sideways. I interpret the cards that way. When someone does, on occasion, return them sideways, I use my intuition on which was to turn the cards. I give them explicit directions on how to cut the cards.

Written By lada
on October 12th, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

by the way….
I can’t seem to find the tarot a day option on this site any longer…

Written By lada
on October 12th, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

and then, I got lost in that gorgeous “Legacy” website..

Written By Jean
on October 13th, 2009 @ 8:26 am

I have been considering using the rituals. My reasoning is that they have been in place for years, that they have been handed down and that they were put in place for a reason. Currently I ask the querrent to shuffle and cut, using the left hand. I do not charge for a reading, though when considering the properties of silver, there may be something to having a ‘little silver cross the palm” from the client to the reader.

Written By bleve
on November 5th, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

I believe that as long as the energy of the querent is collected into the cards, the reading will be informing and quite accurate.

Written By Kim
on November 17th, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

I do shuffle with each reading, but I don’t count. I just focus on the questions or what I need from the reading.

This is where you may think I’m strange…If I use a deck for a large spread during the day, I will spend a half hour shuffling and remixing the deck while watching tv that night!

There is just something very calming and soothing about having a deck in my hands. It’s almost hypnotic!

I ‘set the scene’, as well…Spread cloth, crystals, candles, and good music!

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