Q&A: Do The Shuffle

Q: Is how you shuffle the cards important in a reading? Some readers have me shuffle or cut the deck, others won’t let people touch their cards at all, and you do them by e-mail. I’ve been told that shuffling the deck puts my “energy into the cards”. If that’s true, why won’t some people let you touch the cards?

A. Let me answer this by peppering you with a bunch of analogies.

You know that old saying that “all roads lead to Rome” or that “there are many paths to the Enlightenment”? There are many roads to Tarot too. Some people learned from others and do things as they were taught according to tradition – either because it feels right to them or because they were told it was the “right” way. Others learn more informally and come to their own way of doing things that might be very different. As I see it, it’s all good. Whatever works best for situation is the way to go & here’s why…

The cards aren’t all that – they are just a tool. Imagine a hammer and saw. Imagine a talented carpenter. The hammer and saw (and all the other gizmos they use) are just tools of the trade. Cards are a tool to help the reader access their intuition to do the reading for you. Handling the cards a certain way helps them do that job better, just like having good tools and handling them a certain way helps the carpenter build a more beautiful, higher quality house. In that sense, how the cards are handled and shuffled can make a difference to an individual reading, but not how readings are done as a whole.

We’ve talked about this at times on Menage A Tarot, the podcast I’m privileged to do with David and Kate. I can’t begin to distill and paraphrase their wisdom and insight about this, so if you can, please do take a listen. Old episodes are archived on www.menageatarot.com and on iTunes.

Your question has made me do a little thinking, beyond just answering this question. Thanks for that.

When it comes to shuffling, I’m a creature of intuition in the beginning of a reading and a creature of habit at the end of one. Here’s how I do it. If I’m at a party or an in-person reading, I’ll ask the learner (sitter) how many shuffles they want. To my mind, it is a great deal about starting the conversation, about making a simple person-to-person connection and building rapport as much anything to do with energy or cards. True enough, Sometimes I’ll ask them to choose from 3, 5, or 7 shuffles. Sometimes I’ll shuffle until it feels right and then have them cut the deck. Or I’ll shuffle, cut the deck, and have them choose which portion of the deck we deal from. MOST of the time, the thing that seems to feel best is asking them to choose the number of shuffles, lightly spreading the cards on the table and letting them pick their cards at random from anywhere in the pile of cards. Whatever instinct hints is the way to go is how I roll at the start. With experience, you get a sense of whether a learner is more hands-on or more reticent.

However it starts, I like to finish a reading with shuffling the cards with the intent to “release” and giving the deck a bit of Reiki.  That gives a sense of closure and healthy boundaries to the psychology of the reading. It also clears any unintended energetic (dare I say quantum?) entanglements. That leaves mind and intentions clear to build new connections in the next reading. It’s just easier to think of it in terms of “clearing energies” as a sort of intuitive shorthand.

Which begs the question of e-mail readings, and those readers who never allow anyone to touch their cards. That isn’t in any way wrong or lesser than readings where you touch the cards. Your “energy” is added in other ways. For some readers, just a minute or two asking about your concerns of a few sentences of “patter” explaining how our readings proceed is enough. Just those few sentences of conversation makes the important human connection and builds that human rapport just as well as shared handling of the Tarot cards. Making a connection to intuition and in turn making a connection to the sitter / learner is what a reader does. It doesn’t matter whether we use cards, runes, palm lines or a deep breath to do it. When I’m doing an e-mail reading, that connection, that “putting your energy into it” comes from communication…from reading your e-mail note.

But thanks to you (and Menage A Tarot) getting me to thinking, I’m bringing a new feature here to the website. I’ll be adding a choose-your-number-of-shuffles feature to the contact forms for e-mail readings. E-mail sitters don’t get the chance to handle the cards like in-person reading folks do. I know the connection is locked in with e-mail, but you may not experience that. Choosing your number of shuffles connects you to your reading, hopefully in a stronger, more tangible way than just reading e-mails.

Is the way we shuffle cards important to a reading? Shuffling itself, not really. The way shuffling routines, and rituals and speeches help build connections between reader and sitter? Yes, then the fact that you DO shuffle matters, but the minute details about HOW you shuffle are secondary.

To read more about how e-mail readings work, and how they are equal to in-person readings – please CLICK HERE

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Please click HERE