How to Shuffle Tarot Cards


How to shuffle a tarot deck might seem like a silly question. After all, cards are cards, and if you can shuffle a regular deck of playing cards you should be good to go…right?

Need answers? Schedule a reading with one of our expert tarot readers to get the immediate insight you seek.

Not necessarily. While they are basically the same in that they’re both made out of cardstock with pictures printed on it, there are major differences between a tarot deck and standard playing cards.

When it comes to working with tarot cards, much of the importance dwells on the transfer of energy. You, the cards, and the client must be open to the surroundings. Shuffling tarot cards helps to reset the energy in the deck and “clear” any energies that may still be lingering from a previous reading.

When to Stop Shuffling Tarot Cards

The shuffling process is an elemental step in any reading. This simple, soothing physical act can also promote relaxation and it helps you focus on the reading while transferring your energy to the cards. Reading tarot is based on intuition. Your own intuition will help you choose and use the best tarot cards for your purposes. As you shuffle the cards, close your eyes. You may choose to stop when a card flies out of the deck. You could also listen for the pull from the cards – you may feel it in the pit of your stomach or your heart may flutter. If you have your cards laid out in front of you, hover your hands above them slowly until you feel a warmth radiating from a particular card.

If you prefer to be guided through the process, a psychic advisor on Keen can also help you unearth the best tarot reading method for you.

Before Shuffling Tarot Cards

The preparation process to do a tarot reading will be different for everyone but a few ways you can best prepare is by meditating beforehand. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Smudge the space, yourself, and the cards with sage. Get in a comfortable position and meditate to help ground yourself and activate your third eye. After, hold the tarot deck in your hand to tune into their vibrations. When ready, begin shuffling.

Shuffling Tarot Cards

Is there one right way to shuffle? No, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to shuffle your tarot deck. The best method is the one that works for you personally. The important thing is that you’re comfortable with it and that the cards are indeed well-mixed. Here are a few techniques for how to shuffle tarot cards.

The “playing card” method, also known as the “Faro shuffle”

This is the classic card-shuffling technique most people are familiar with. Hold roughly half of the deck in each hand, with the fronts of the cards facing each other. Grip the cards with a thumb along the top edge of the cards and your first two fingers along the bottom edge. Bend the cards, then fan them together and let them intermingle. If your hands are large enough, or your deck is small enough, this may be the ideal shuffle. This method is quick and easy, but it can cause the cards to fold in the middle or tear at the edges over time.

The “cut the deck” method

Another common method, which is a bit easier on the cards, is to cut the deck. While you might think of cutting the deck as something to do after you shuffle, it’s also an effective way to shuffle an oversized tarot deck. Cutting the deck involves repeatedly and randomly inserting small stacks of cards into the main deck. Simply divide the cards into several smaller piles, then re-stack them into one large deck in a different order. For the best reading, do this several times. If you like to work with reversed cards, this method makes it simple to reverse as many or as few cards as you see fit.

The “messy pile” method

It’s not the most elegant way to shuffle, but it works no matter what size your deck is and it gives you the most physical contact with the cards…which is a good thing. Much like the old “52 pickup” game, this method simply involves laying the cards face down and “mixing” them up before re-stacking the deck. Simply spread the cards out face down on a table or other flat surface in a big, messy pile. “Stir” them around until you feel they’re well-mixed then gather them all back together, taking care to keep them all face down. You may want to cut the deck after this shuffle.

The “running shuffle” method

For those that like a little showmanship, the running shuffle is a favorite at the casino and can be adapted for shuffling tarot cards. Bring all the cards together horizontally. Grasp a small section of cards, pull them out and then place them on the top. Repeat 4-5 times. When cards are grasped from the sides and this is performed with speed, this method is safe for the deck and impressive to watch.

The “one at a time” method

A very methodical way of shuffling tarot cards is to place each one right side up, face down, and then pick them back up one at a time. This method is wonderful when you need to ground yourself. Perhaps the last reading was turbulent. Perhaps you have had a rough morning. Whatever the case may be, reset your energy and the energy of the cards by moving methodically, going one at a time. Breathe in and out with each card, letting thoughts, feelings, and emotions simply flow through you.

There are no rules or follow when manipulating tarot cards. Each card offers a unique meaning and interpretation, so as you shuffle, focus on the question for which you’re seeking answers.

In addition, the history of tarot is always worth knowing. It gives you a basis and understanding of the tarot as you start to develop a relationship with the cards. Each card’s beautiful illustration should convey a special message to you. Even though many tarot myths aren’t based on fact, they still have an impact on tarot’s meanings and interpretations.

How to Cleanse Your Tarot Cards

Before and after a tarot reading, you should cleanse your cards to remove any negative energy that they may have attracted. You can do this by smudging them with sage, incense, or palo santo. You can also charge your deck with crystals and place them under direct moonlight to purify their energy. For more practices, consult our guide on how to cleanse tarot cards.

Looking to expand your knowledge of the tarot practice? Learn about symbolism in tarot and how to predict time in your tarot readings. 

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