How to shuffle tarot cards and connect with your deck.
Shuffling your tarot deck is part of the process of cleansing and clearing the energy of the cards’ previous formation while tuning you into the present moment and reading at hand.
We shuffle the cards well to bring about new formations and randomize the order, thereby bringing out the wisdom of the deck that defies logic and yet, brings deep wisdom. The random nature of pulling cards is precisely what makes it a useful tool.
In Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Rachel Pollack says about shuffling and the randomness of the cards:
Because they are random, because they do offend rational common sense; they bypass the ordinary moment-by-moment way in which people experience life. Like dreams they step outside the normal logic-bound language of conscious humanity. And by stepping outside it, they transcend it.
The act of shuffling creates this random generation of images, lessons, and wisdom that holds more significance than what appears to be playing cards.
Pollack goes on, “Tarot works precisely because it makes no sense. The information exists. Our unconscious selves already know it. What we need is a device to act as a bridge to conscious perception.”
The cards are our tool for accessing this unciousous knowledge and seeing it in new ways. And shuffling is how we surrender to it and allow this knowledge to come through.
Ok, so that covers the WHY, now we talk about the how.
How to shuffle tarot cards
First of all, there’s really no wrong way to shuffle. You might want it to look a certain way, but as long as the cards are getting mixed together in completely new patterns, you’re doing it right.
While there’s no wrong way to shuffle your tarot deck, there are a few different techniques you can try:
The Chaotic shuffle.
Lay the cards out on the floor or flat surface and mix them up like you’re a kid playing in mud.
The Overhand shuffle.
While holding the deck in one hand, you use your other hand to bring cards from the back to the front in small sections.
The Riffle shuffle.
This is probably what you picture when you envision someone shuffling. Holding half the deck in one hand and half in the other and using your thumb and forefinger to alternate the ways the two halves come together. This one takes practice but is easy once you get the hang of it.
The fan out.
While not technically a shuffling technique, after mixing the cards up, you can fan out the entire deck on a flat surface and use your intuition to select cards randomly (or have the querent select their own cards).
You can use a combination of all of these (I do!) or stick to one or two that you’re most comfortable with.
Shuffling is a great time to connect with your deck and tune in to the energy at hand. Whichever methods you choose, it’s important that you feel comfortable so that you can focus on the question(s) at hand and opening your channel to the wisdom the cards are bringing and instead of worrying that you may drop your cards. Practice if you need to to get to a place where your shuffling technique feels natural and correct to you.
Tuning into the reading as you shuffle
Shuffling is a time to focus on opening yourself up to messages and wisdom from the universe and guides via the cards. Creating your own routine and ritual around doing this is helpful. Here’s a basic formula:
- Step 1: Pick up your deck, and begin to shuffle, taking a few deep breaths as you do so.
- Step 2: Open your circle up to guides/the universe/goddess/God and ask for help.
- Step 3: Focus on the question you’re asking, one question at a time. If you’re doing a spread with multiple questions, you can either shuffle briefly in between each card pull or pull them all in order, focusing on each question before pulling the card. Whatever feels right to you.
- Step 4: Select a card when it feels right to you.
How do you decide when it’s time to stop shuffling and select your cards?
This is a frequently asked question that only you can answer for yourself. Let your intuition guide you and complete your shuffling when you feel like it’s right. That’s it. Don’t second guess yourself too much. Practice listening for or noticing this timing if you need to. It will usually just feel like it’s time.
What’s the deal with jumper cards when you’re shuffling your tarot deck?
Jumper cards, or cards that seemingly “jump” right out of the deck while you’re shuffling, are little gems in a reading. I like to think of these as urgent messages that really want to make themselves known. I usually don’t assign them a place in the spread but rather place them above the rest of the cards as a guiding theme for the reading.
If a chunk of cards come out of the deck at once, I will take the top card as a jumper, replace the rest in the deck, and take that as a signal that I can wrap up my shuffling soon.
Ultimately, shuffling your deck and best practices will come from lots of practice and experience. As always, let your own instincts and intuition guide you and you can’t go wrong. This isn’t about tarot rules and dogma, it’s about you finding the right methods for you and your unique tarot practice.