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Shuffling and cutting the deck

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 18 Oct 2002, and now archived in the Forum Library.

neptune  18 Oct 2002 
I'm just curious. When you begin a reading, do you shuffle the cards, fan them out and let the querent choose the cards or do you let them cut the deck in 2 piles or 3? What else do you guys suggest? 

Sinta  18 Oct 2002 
Well what I do is i take my deck out, shuffle them in two ways. One is to divide it into two and with each hand holding it into an angle, i make the cards of one deck go between cards of the other deck. Then I simply slide cards from the middle and then place them on top... i do this until i feel that the deck is fresh... i sometimes even fan it over incense, to help me trust that the deck is fresh.

Then i offer it the querent and tell him/her to shuffle, til the cards feel right in their hands.. and then i give them their reading ;) 

Kiama  18 Oct 2002 
It differs from reader to reader. This is what I do though...

I shuffle the cards myself first, and ask the question the querent has asked, then hand the deck to the querent and let them cut the pack twice, thinking of their question.

Then I deal however many cards I need, from the top of the deck, and always the card which is one tbe bottom of the deck aswell, cuz I find that gives extra clarification/advice/general overview to the reading.

I'm not sure why I do any of this: It just feels comfortable! And it helps me focus and get my mind into gear for the reading, aswell as the querent's.


Talisman  18 Oct 2002 

Try this. You shuffle/mix the Tarot deck however you want. Present the squared-up deck to the person you are reading for and tell them to cut it into three stacks -- with their left hand. Then you re-stack the deck in whatever order you want, and proceed with the reading.


(That was the way the woman did it in the only real Tarot reading I've ever had. After midnight, at a costume party, when there was a lot of wine around. It made such an impression on me that I went out and bought a Tarot deck of my very own.

Years later, I told this story to a friend and asked her, "Why the left hand?"

She said, " 'Cause that's the hand closest to your heart."

And I asked her, "Why three stacks?"

And she gave me an intelligent answer. Can't remember what it was.) 

HudsonGray  18 Oct 2002 
I shuffle till it 'feels' right to stop, then lay the cards out from the top of the deck, turning them over as they go down on the table.

Everyone does it the way that feels right to them, so if you like the 3 stacks method, use that. Or try a bunch of different ways & see which works best for you. 

Maan  19 Oct 2002 
I shuffle...let the querent the cards and let the querent pick the cards

When i do a reading for myselfi shuffle and fan too:)

There are soooo many ways to of the first things i learned here ;) 

wavebreaker  19 Oct 2002 
I shuffle until I feel it's enough, then I cut the deck into three piles. I restack the piles, always with the middle pile on top. I don't know why, that's just become a habit and since it's working well, I'll stick to it... ;) Then I start dealing from the top. 

FoolHardy  19 Oct 2002 
I generally spread the cards out on the table/couch/etc and do a random shuffle to clear any auras. Then I'll have the Q (or myself) shuffle them in whatever fashion they feel lead to do until they feel "done" (the whole time thinking about their question, situation, etc). At this point, I'll have them cut it into three sections and place them back together in however they feel led. Then they'll hand it back to me and I'll draw from the top.

My question is, when you're placing them from the deck to the surface, do you flip it horizontally or vertically? (As it can totally affect the outcome being upright or reversed) I'm still working on what feels right and want to keep it consistent. 

Zhritza  19 Oct 2002 
I shuffle the heck out of the deck until it feels right to stop. Then I deal from the top; I don't cut it because it feels like what's at the top of the pile is the right stuff, I guess. I've tried the triple cutting thing, since it seems the most popular way, but the way I usually do it appears to work better for me. 

Teranar  19 Oct 2002 
I tell the person I'm reading to shuffle, or if the person is not physically there I tell them to send their energys at me when I shuffle, and then I have them cut the deck in any order they feel like, or I cut it for them in the order their energys feel. 

mirja crimson  21 Oct 2002 
I cut the deck in half and sift them back together ten times. Then i cut the deck in ten piles with my left hand and ask the querant to pick a pile (if I'm reading for myself then obviously I pick the pile). The pile picked goes on top and the rest goes in order from left to right with my left hand. Then I deal out the cards, making sure I flip them over sideways, so that way if they were upright in the deck, they're upright in the spread. I use the number ten because that's the number of perfection, completion, wholeness, faith, and power. I use my left hand because I read somewhere that it's the hand of spiritual and intuitive qualities... I may be a bit off on that part. 

StargazerLily  29 Oct 2002 
When you have a brand new deck, how do you get some of the cards to be reversed? 

Trogon  30 Oct 2002 
Hi Neptune... welcome to Aeclectic Tarot!

As for the shuffle/cut/deal question; I shuffle the deck 3 or 4 times (sometimes more, occasionally less), as others have said, until it "feels right". I tend to repeat the question to myself (if there is a specific question) while shuffling - if I'm reading for someone else I ask them to repeat their question to themselves while I'm shuffling. If I'm doing a reading for myself I either the deck once or don't - again, depending on how it "feels", or maybe just on how I feel. If the reading is for someone else, I allow them to cut the deck whichever way they want to, then pick up the piles and hand the deck back to me. Then I deal the cards from the top of the deck, silently repeating to myself the key words for each position I lay them in (for example, "the past, the present, the future").

I've found that most people I do readings for do a single cut then hand the deck back. But I had one person who cut the deck into about 8 to 10 piles before randomly picking them up and handing the deck back. Interestingly, this turned out to be (according to the querrent) an extremely accurate reading. In other words, I'm not sure that it matters a great deal - "you just do it till it feels good." })

Originally posted by StargazerLily
When you have a brand new deck, how do you get some of the cards to be reversed?

StargazerLily; There's a couple of ways that I've used to achieve this. With the first (which I usually use with a new deck) you can lay the deck face down on a clean table, then just scatter the cards over the surface, swishing them around to mix them and add the reversals. The other way (which I use almost every time I shuffle my cards) is to simply rotate half the deck to reverse that half. I do this with every shuffle. At least that's what I do... 

Myrrha  31 Oct 2002 
When I don't "swoosh" the cards I usually hold the deck so that one edge is against my thumb and the other edge against my last four fingers then I drop the cards little by little into my other hand in such a way that they are shuffled, sometimes in front of the pile and sometimes behind. I am wondering if others use this method and what it is called.


Umbrae  31 Oct 2002 
I hand the deck to the sitter and have them do whatever feels right to them – shuffle until they want to stop. Cut until it feels ‘right’. Some folks will ask, “Cut into three piles, right?” Alternatively, “How many piles do you want me to cut these into?” Wow, they have been to a reader before and are testing me…

It is not my reading – I let them do what ever it is they want to do.

Over the phone, they tell me what they want me to do…

Neither the cards, nor me are an issue – the sitter, or client – it is all about them.

What? You do not read for others? That is like having an auto and a license to drive, and never leaving the garage.

Get out there and help others! 

fairyhedgehog  31 Oct 2002 
Originally posted by Umbrae
What? You do not read for others? That is like having an auto and a license to drive, and never leaving the garage.

Get out there and help others!

That presupposes several things Umbrae. It presupposes that reading for myself is not a valid way to use the cards. (Is driving when I'm alone not a valid use of the car?)

It also presuppposes that my circle of friends and family would welcome the use of Tarot cards, as opposed to holding up their hands at this work of the devil. That would be nice. 

Umbrae  31 Oct 2002 
neither was the point of the post…I presuppose nothing.

It is about shuffling and cutting, and helping others. If you want only to help yourself – like – there is no point…only you would shuffle and cut – not an issue.

However to read for others – They often have an idea about the correct way to shuffle and cut…now there is an issue! 

Talisman  31 Oct 2002 
'Lo all,

I think Umbrae is waffling around here. I agree with Fairyhedgehog.

(For this post to make any kind of sense at all, you must read Umbrae's toothpicks post, which is located somewhere below the line. I think it is brilliant. Please, look it up.)

For one, many threads here start out heading towards Zandu, and take a left turn at the Mystic Mountains and end up in your own backyard. That's what makes reading these forums so interesting. You end up finding treasures in the least likely places.

For two, I never read for anyone, and I've driven cars over thousands of miles of highway. And picked up hitchhikers and been a hitchhiker.

Let me try to explain.

Other day I sitting at a table outside on the sidewalk at a cafe, drinking coffee, and staring at three Tarot cards in front of me. This is not usual, 'cause I usually stop there to read the free newspaper, or to write.

A woman from a nearby table gets up and walks over to me and says, "Oh, you read Tarot cards. Would you read them for me?"

And I said, "No. I won't."

And she heard, "Buzz off."

But that wasn't what I meant at all. I meant, I can't. I really can't. I looked up at the woman, a woman with a pretty smile and carmel eyes -- but behind her eyes was a look of trapped desperation, and I looked over at the table she'd been sitting at and there was some dork -- actually just a guy in the same position the woman was -- and I saw the wreckage of a relationship impending and tears and heartbreak and sleepless nights and I knew this wasn't the first smash-up in her life or wouldn't be the last because the next relationship would be just like this one, and that no matter what I read or said, it would just go on and on --

And this without looking at a Tarot card. Suppose I'd layed out a spread for her, what would I have seen and what could I tell her?

So, I said no.

Maybe I should practice this. Honesty ain't always bad. Suppose I said, "Look, I'm just a beginner, and don't really have any idea what I'm doing. It's all a mystery to me."

Anyway, I think Umbrae is wrong about this one. Help people my unprintable . . .


Umbrae  31 Oct 2002 
Ahh Talisman, I have missed you. But when you started the car, you took a left on the Spiritual Highway and missed the Enlightenment cutoff.

Golly, I would have been all over that one…to give her a glimmer of hope for a future with or without a dork. A glimmer of hope in a sea of despair…

But let’s back up. We began discussing shuffling and cutting. If you read for yourself and yourself only, does it matter? Really deep down and truly…does it matter?

Do not misunderstand me – I think that reading for yourself is fine and dandy.

So is driving alone…you can pick up hitchhikers…and help them.

I see so many talented folks here – that do not take their talents outside the house. They box it up and refuse to share – they talk about family, friends, and being ostracized from their immediate community…

For kraps sake, there are a couple billion people on this planet all feeling a little lost…that lost woman in the coffee shop! She was lost…you do not have to find her, just provide a signpost.

I am not waffling – I am providing an unpopular opinion.

The world is a huge place. Filled with people who need each one of us – as we are – and we have much to share – and do not share enough.

We worry…what will they think…what if I’m wrong. Did I shuffle the deck enough? Did I have them cut with the correct hand? What if it’s the wrong deck?

Just a glimmer of hope – a small beacon in the night for lost souls in the tumultuous sea of today’s chaotic world.

After all if ANY of you feel lost I expect a PM…you all know that I am here for each one of you…but the cost is steep – you’d have to help another… 

Umbrae  01 Nov 2002 
I had to come back and finish my thought.

Here is a question. You need to think about the answer very carefully.

Why do you read Tarot?

Is it to be cool, different, witchy, and strange – pick up girls, boys, have something to talk about in a group?

Alternatively, is it because you have a calling to a more spiritual path in life, and Tarot is a thing in of and upon that path? A tool that helps point the way whilst upon that spiritual path.

If you are upon the latter, than look deep within. Sometimes we get too busy, and forget to ‘really see’. We never lose the magic; we instead turn our backs to it.

We all need each others help, that is why we are here, to preserve and rekindle, the harmony. Needing help and accepting it does not make you weak. Turning your back on who you are is weakness.

If we really wish to follow a spiritual path – then we have to do for others.

So, you feel deep inside that you cannot read for that lost woman…buy her a cup of coffee and offer to talk…just talk.

Two things – and then you have my permission tear me apart…

Do good and do not worry to whom.

The world will seem brighter when you do things for others, instead of just ourselves. 

Alex  01 Nov 2002 
it's a good moment to come a bit more in contact with that other person and it's better if done in silence. Quite amazing to notice how silence can be threatening and revealing. We live in a busy world such as we cannot come in deep contact with anything or anyone. Shuffling in silence can be quite therapeutic, for all involved.


lawguy51  01 Nov 2002 
I asked a similar question recently. Here's the thread:

When I shuffle for myself I hold the cards horizontally if you know what I mean, i.e. not end to end like you would during a poker game! I always make one cut with my left hand before I decide that I'm ready. If I am doing a reading for someone who is present, I let them shuffle although I find that a lot of people find larger cards awkward and don't ripple them (is that the right word) but hand shuffle them. When I do readings for others who are present, I fan the cards and let them draw them. In the above thread, you'll see that it's a bit of a cultural thing. Americans tend to flip cards and Europeans and Austrailians tend to fan. When I do readings for myself, sometimes I cut and flip but for a Celtic Cross reading, I tend to fan. Clear as mud. Moral of this lesson, do whatever feels right for you, an answer you will encounter time and time again. 

jmd  01 Nov 2002 
I suppose that I do not always do exactly the same, but the following is probably my most consistent sequence of shuffling-&-cutting when reading for 'strangers'.

I tend to either sit opposite or at right angles to the 'readee', and shuffle the cards myself to draw inwards. I then hand the deck over and ask it to be shuffled, asking them to either allow the issue to be focussed on to 'move' to their hands, or to just focus on the shuffling.

Then, I usually ask them to cut the pack into three piles (a querent with a persistent & wicked sense of humour, asked where the scissors were!), and then ask them to re-place these into one pile (which they wouldn't have the skill to do had they used scissors!). The order these are replaced already indicates, for me, whether the focus of the reading will be on the past in connection with the present or the future, the present in light of the past or the future, or the future given the present or past circumstances - all by the order of 'replacement'.

When dealing, I then either flip the cards from the top, or fan them and ask the querent to select either a specified or unspecified number of cards...

and given this has come up before, I usually leave the reversed cards reversed. 

dragontwin  03 Nov 2002 
I'm a novice reader and I have not done a reading without having to refer to my notes.

If I were doing a reading for myself, I would shuffle the deck ten or more times. I stop shuffling when I feel it's the right time. Then I pause and concentrate on the question and proceed with reading the spread.

If it were a reading for someone else I would go through the "motions", i.e. letting them shuffle ten times, cutting with the left hand into three piles, ... etc., people expect this from a tarot reading and I would not want to disappoint them. It serves as a ritual of initiation to the world of the tarot. What I find important is to ask them to concentrate and elaborate on their question and during the shuffling and cutting of the cards, it's interesting how the question becomes more refined and focused. I would (then refer to my notes and) use the spread depending on the final shape of the question. I would then fan the deck on the table face down and ask them to draw the number of cards needed for the spread, one card at a time with their left hand, which i arrange first card on the bottom and last card on top and deal the spread face down from the top. I would expose each card one at a time, preserving the reversed or upright orientation of the card and summarize when all cards are shown. If there is a follow up question related to the original question, I would ask them to draw more cards with their left hand without re-shuffling.


mystic  04 Nov 2002 
As an explorer in tarot and taoism, all of the above makes so much sense to the individual that no one answer could ever begin to be correct.

The inner being guides us when it feels it needs too. Everyone will learn a little and then modify it, conforming to your inner sight and feeling........For me the number 9 has always held a certain fasination. Thus I will shuffle the deck 9 times in any way I feel is appropiate. Then I hand the deck to the quarent and ask them to shuffle the deck until they feel it's right. (again a very common theme here).

Then to lay the "vision" out, I take my left hand thumb and place it on the lower right hand corner of the first card. I move the card slowly off of the pile to the left. When enough of the card clears the deck I place my 4 fingers under the card (on the symbolic side) and flip it over in a clockwise direction and lay the card down in it's position. This way it is consistant every time and it feels right...... 

Celtic_Dragon  26 Nov 2002 
I'm with you mystic. I've always had a special feeling about the number 9. For as long as I can remember, then one day I find out from my mom that I was born two days early. On the 7th instead of the 9th, perhaps I felt that I was cheated out of my two days of incubation? lol :D

Anyways, I was wondering if anyone shuffled their deck after placing a card down. I mean I know everyone shuffles at the begining but is there a time during the reading or layout that you feel the deck wasn't shuffled quite right? do you shuffle for a 2nd *clear* card?

It just has been bugging be about that because I've read on this board that some place a second card to further understand the first one. But shouldn't that card be in the next position? 

The Shuffling and cutting the deck thread was originally posted on 18 Oct 2002 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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