Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tarot Reading: Shufflling the Deck


Review: What is Tarot?

The Tarot is a deck of 78 cards upon which are printed symbolic pictures used in the practice of divination, however they have additional applications as well. A standard deck consist of 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana.  The Major Arcana typically relate to matters of a high significance or a deep purpose whereas the Minor Arcana concerns itself with matters of mundane, every-day living. 

The Minor Arcana can be divided into four suits which correspond to the four elements. They are:
  • Wands, which relate to fire.
  • Cups, which relate to water.
  • Swords, which relate to air.
  • Pentacles, which relate to earth.

Similar to Playing Cards,  each suit consists of ten cards numbered from Ace to 10 and then four court cards which are named as King, Queen, Knight, and Page of each suit. 

To operate the cards, they are often laid out in a Tarot Spread. A Spread is a term used to describe the pattern in which Tarot-Cards are laid out after shuffling them and prior to reading them. Usually, but not always, each position in a spread signifies an area of life, a feeling, one's thoughts, or a specific time period such as the past, present, or future. The meaning of a tarot card is read according to its position in the spread.

A good reader is able to utilize the Tarot to analyze the past and present in order to determine the probability a future event.  The more accurate readers are able to focus on the most probable alternate-futures.  The accuracy of a reader’s ability to foresee a future event decreases in direct proportion to the distance those future events lie ahead in time. Tarot teaches that by active participation in the events occurring in the life of a person, he or she can shift the probabilities towards their desired ends.

Shuffling the Deck Prior to a Reading

Dovetail Shuffle
Part of the process of reading the tarot is shuffling, or randomizing,  the cards. This is typically done while the seeker allows his thoughts to focus on his question or issue. Before I begin reviewing a few methods of shuffling the cards, let's discuss who exactly should or should not shuffle the cards.

There are some readers who do not allow anyone other than themselves to touch or handle their cards. These readers often think of their cards as a very personal tool which should not be handles by others. In these cases, they may have the seeker hold their calling-card (a card which represents the seeker in the reading) and instruct the seeker to think of their question or issue while the reader shuffles the cards. In other cases they may not even allow the seeker to hold a calling card but rather instruct the seeker to think of their question as the reader shuffles the cards. The seeker is usually also told to let the reader know when they should stop shuffling the deck.

Other readers feel that it is necessary for the seeker to shuffle the cards for themselves. Then again, you will have clients who have absolutely no desire to touch or handle the cards in any way, shape, or form. In my experience, such people may feel that it's perfectly okay for you to read the cards for them but by actively participating in the reading they are committing a sin, breaking a social / religious taboo, or that they will otherwise mess up the reading. As the reader, you will have to go over the options with your client and decide how you would like to proceed with the reading. 

The next factor you will have to determine is the number of times to shuffle the cards. In my experience most readers advise that you shuffle the cards until you feel they are ready. However, some readers may direct you to shuffle the cards a specific number of times, three seems to be a common number for example. Again you will have to decide for yourself which method best works for you and your client(s). 

Now as to actually shuffling the cards themselves there are more ways than even I could have imagined, however, I would like to review a few methods here. They are:
  • Overhand-Shuffle  
Also known as the slide-shuffle, the overhand-shuffle is probably the easiest and most common way to shuffle the cards. To perform the overhand shuffle, simply remove a random number of cards from the top of the deck and place them at the bottom of the deck. Repeat as desired. This form of shuffling is sometimes, but not always, easier with larger or over-sized decks than it is with the dovetail-shuffle. It will also be easier for folks who are not accustomed to handling cards or shuffling them in general.
  • Dovetail Shuffle 
The dovetail-shuffle, is accomplished by dividing the deck in half, and then allowing them to cascade together reconstituting the deck. It looks a little more sophisticated but requires a little more dexterity and it may not always be possible with a larger deck especially for clients who are not well-coordinated or who are not used to handling cards in general.
  • The Divide 
The divide is a combination of the over-hand and dovetail-shuffle. To perform the divide, simple cut the deck in half before you and lay the two piles close together with just enough room for a third pile between them. Next place your fingers of your left hand lightly on the top of the left hand pile and the fingers of your right hand on the right hand pile. Now bring the two piles together a few cards at a time forming a new pile in the middle. 

  • Linear Shuffle
Finally, I would like to talk to you about what I call the linear-shuffle.  The linear shuffle is done by simply taking the deck of cards and sliding them across a flat surface so that they all remain face-down in a straight line, although you will sometimes see readers spread the cards out in a horseshoe pattern as well.

Next, the seeker is then instructed to hold their hand a few inches above the cards and then run it up and down over them and pull any cards which call to them or which feel right. The number of cards pulled will depend on the number of cards required for your chosen spread. For example, the celtic-cross always uses a total of 10 cards; astrologically based spreads often used a total of 12 cards (one for each sign). 

In some cases, the number of cards pulled will be based on the reader's intuition. In the end, additional cards may be pulled for clarification. This type of shuffle is great for anyone who has trouble handling the cards due to a lack of dexterity, injuries to the hand or illness such as arthritis or deformity which limits the individual's ability to shuffle the cards, or just any client who wants to take an active role in his or her own reading. However, it may not be appropriate for clients who do not wish to take an active role in their reading. 

In Summation 

These are just a few of the way that you can shuffle, or randomize, your tarot cards prior to reading them for yourself or clients. As a reader, over time you will develop your own method of shuffling the cards prior to a reading and this will become a part of your unique style and process. In effect it will become a ritual and, psychologically speaking, can act as a physical-trigger to put you in the right frame of mind for performing your readings.

My advice for new readers is not to simply do it such and such as way because you read it in a book or even in this blog, but rather because it has meaning for you. To that end, I suggest that you experiment with different methods and learn what best works for you so that you can be the best reader that you can be. 


Carolina Dean

No comments: