For centuries, people have used tarot cards to gain insights and refine their intuition. Tarot has evolved from a simple card game into a unique form of divination.
There are many, many ways to interpret the cards you pull in a reading. But it also matters how you handle your tarot deck.
I’d say the art of shuffling your tarot cards is just as vital as how you pull and interpret them. So, how should you shuffle your deck before doing a tarot reading?
As with any card deck, shuffling ensures that you’re not left with the order of cards from a previous use. You always want a clean slate, which means the cards will be random.
For tarot, you’ll also want to clear the psychic energy from the deck so there are no remnants of your past reading. Some people smudge the deck with magickal herbs such as sage.
Cleansing the deck of past energies is crucial for a clear reading. You should always feel able to focus your intention on your present question or concern.
In my experience, the act of shuffling is itself a meditative exercise. You’re preparing the deck and your space for your reading by consciously shuffling the cards.
If you’ve spent any time playing cards, you’ll know that some people are very particular about how they cut and shuffle a deck. Some argue that only certain methods create a truly random spread.
While tarot began as a playful game, it has evolved into a symbolic, mystical art form that allows you to harness your intuition. Tarot isn’t about winning or losing — it’s about the discoveries you make as you ponder the cards’ messages.
For that reason, there’s no right or wrong way to shuffle tarot cards. It’s all about your intuition and energy as you do it.
Try grounding yourself and imagining your connectedness to the Universe as you shuffle. Some people like to keep their eyes closed to focus on the tactile experience of the cards
How do you shuffle tarot cards like a pro?
Maintain a slow, steady breath as you mix up the cards. Clear your mind until you are ready to begin the tarot reading.
Is there a correct way to shuffle tarot cards?
If you feel you need something more orderly or ritualistic, here are some structured ways to shuffle your tarot cards.
You’ve likely seen this shuffling method at card games. The overhand shuffle means holding the deck in one hand and pouring cards into the opposite hand, then reversing the motion until the cards are mixed.
This method takes some dexterity but can be a great way to visualize and focus the flow of energy. It’s also helpful if you have limited space for laying out the cards.
This method is one of the fancier ways to shuffle, but it’s fun and if done properly, ensures a truly random shuffle.
To shuffle your cards this way, split the deck in half and hold the ends together. Allow the cards to peel off and progressively pass into the middle.
The cards should fan out of each hand, weaving back together into a single deck. Then simply align the edges and you’re ready to pull and spread your tarot cards.
If you wish to practice mindfulness while shuffling, the handheld shuffle is a simple, repetitive method. Rhythmic movement has been shown to decrease anxiety and boost mindfulness.
Divide the deck into small segments and recombine them. Continue until the entire deck is shuffled.
This method creates a nice rhythm that can relax your mind and open your intuition.
You can create some beautiful patterns and flows of energy with the spread shuffle method. Simply spread your cards across your reading surface, then recombine them.
Some people like to create shapes, such as a circle, fan, or an “S” pattern. This highly aesthetic method can be highly evocative so you can set your intention clearly.
For a truly intuitive shuffling experience, get a little messy. The pile shuffle is just what it sounds like.
You spread out the cards on your reading surface, then mix them up with your hands and reassemble the deck. Imagine that you’re playing with fingerpaint or tilling some rich garden soil.
This method is ideal for truly immersing yourself in the tactile experience of the cards.
Ultimately, choose a method that feels right to you. Don’t let anxiety about doing it “right” or “wrong” cloud your energy and take you out of the moment.
With any of the methods above, there’s always a chance that some cards will remain in the same order as when they were last used. That’s why recreational card players will often shuffle multiple times.
For tarot, though, you can follow your gut. Shuffling your tarot cards is more of a meditative art than an exact science.
If one shuffle feels like enough, it probably is. If you cherish that tactile experience and want to ground yourself that way, you may spend more time shuffling.
Consider shuffling your pre-reading ritual. It is your time to cleanse the deck and your surroundings, then focus your energy on your inquiry.
In many tarot traditions, we’re advised to shuffle with our left hand. Our left represents our intuition, so the idea is that we can better open ourselves up to the Universe.
Other tarot readers recommend using your non-dominant hand — which for most people, is their left. By letting our dominant hand be passive, we’re more likely to set aside our biases and become receptive to wisdom.
As with all things tarot, though, it’s up to you. Some of the shuffling methods I mentioned above require both hands — a balance of energies.
And if one hand seems more dexterous than the other, it’s perfectly fine to shuffle with that hand. The key is to be mindful and focused, not worrying about which hand is correct.
Before any tarot reading, it’s important to cleanse the space and dispel any negative energy. There are several ways to prepare yourself and the deck for a clear reading.
Smudging cleanses the area by inviting positive energies from the Universe. You can achieve this by smudging with sage, rosemary, juniper, or cedar.
Some people pass the deck itself through the smoke. Herbs such as lavender and mugwort are ideal for this purpose as they are traditionally associated with intuition.
Another way to cleanse your deck and your ritual space is to use crystals. Clear quartz, black tourmaline, and selenite are particularly good at channeling your intention and dispelling negative energies.
To further banish negative energies, practice deep breathing before your reading. Allow your breath to pass over the deck to blow off the energetic “dust.”
Some people also make salt rings around the space or set their deck in a bowl of salt. Salt is a classic method for creating ritualistic boundaries and banishing negativity.
However, it’s just as important to nurture your intuition and invite positive energies as it is to remove negative ones. Do what feels right to you to set your intentions and make a connection with your tarot deck.
Tarot is a highly intuitive, meditative practice that does not require a lot of rules and procedures. As it’s no longer just a card game, you cannot “win” or “lose” at tarot.
Rather, you must strive to create a nurturing space where you are relaxed, mindful, and open to receiving wisdom from the Universe. Shuffling your tarot deck is immensely helpful for preparing that space.
There are many shuffling methods to choose from. Make your preferred method part of your pre-reading ritual.
It can be a powerful mindfulness exercise to help ground you and prepare your intuition for the reading. It’s completely up to you how you shuffle your deck and for how long.
Once you find your rhythm, cherish it. Invite your mind and heart to receive the Universe’s wisdom as you shuffle your tarot deck.