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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Off we're gonna shuffle, shuffle off to Buffalo!

You wouldn't think people would get hung up on something as simple as how to randomize the order of tarot cards before drawing them -- but when it comes to tarot, details seem to matter. A lot.

There are so many myths, legends, superstitions and just plain misinformation out there about tarot, and one them is the 'correct' way to shuffle the cards. Some people have it in their heads that there is an acceptable or proper way to shuffle the cards, but there really isn't. People actually have asked me how I shuffle -- here's how I do it. 

Riffle and Bridge 
This is my absolute favourite shuffle, and I use it for every deck that I can fit into my hands and has card stock that is flexible enough to bend. You've probably seen this shuffle before. You divide the pack into two halves, then bend the card slightly and allow them to 'riffle' from your thumbs so that they interlace:

Riffle shuffle
Then you can either 'smoosh' the cards together and tap them on the table to even them up, or you can bridge, which is to pick them up, bend them the other way, and place slight pressure on the outer edges, allowing the shower or fall back into place: 

To me, the act of riffling and bridging a deck is wonderfully soothing. I love the way the cards feel and I love the sounds they make as I put them through these motions. Some people object because they say it damages the cards, but I find it helps me develop a rapport with a deck. It's a very tactile thing.

Hand over Hand
This is the shuffling method that I use with cards that are either too large for me to get my hands around, or that are too stiff to bend. You just hold the cards in one hand, hold the other hand beneath it, and let a few of the cards at a time drop into your hand. You can alternate dropping the cards in front and back of the stack in the receiving hand. 

Hand over Hand

'Washing' the Cards 
Sometimes there's a deck you can't riffle and you can't do hand over hand -- like a round deck! For these cards, I push them out across a flat surface face down, and then carefully and lightly start moving them around to mix them up, in a 'washing' motion. A lot of people prefer the washing shuffle to the riffle, saying it does less damage to the cards, but it's been my experience that the edges of my cards seem more in peril of nicks from washing than riffling. I guess it's all in the technique. 


After the shuffle, whichever method used, I stack the deck and cut it once, restack it, and the cards on top are the cards in the draw.

If I'm giving a reading in person, I do all the shuffling. I might ask the client to put their hands on the deck before I start, and I always ask them to make the cut. But the shuffling I do myself. It is an important part of how I connect to the energies of the question, the cards and the customer.

How many times to shuffle
Personally, I tend to shuffle in sets of 3. I'll either shuffle 3 times, or 6 times or 9 times...I have no idea why. It just feels right. Sometimes I shuffle so many times I lose count. I just keep going until something inside tells me to stop. :) 

What shuffling methods do you use?


  1. Mainly hand over hand, but I like the rifle and bridge too. It mixes them up nicely and clients seem to like it too.

    Great new photo in the corner too!

    1. It's so much fun to riffle! Actually I tend to do a few hand over hands, then numerous riffles, then a few more hand over hands, then cut and draw. :)

  2. I mainly shuffle hand over hand. Probable because I am afraid to damage my cards (which I've done some time ago) I do riffle my RW deck because it is so flexible and so easy to replace :D

    1. I understand. I rather like the soft, worn look that riffling gives a deck. :)

  3. I'm another riffler :) When I first shuffle a deck, I tend to riffle and bridge it 13 times, then do some hand over hand, before doing my first draw. Funny how we tend to develop these quirky habits :D

  4. I riffle/bridge all my decks, including the round ones (oracle of the dreamtime and songs for the journey home)
    I shuffle quite a few times with a new deck of course, but for whatever deck I'm currently using I riffle/bridge twice then cut in third and fan. That buries the ones that stayed in the front and the back.