Pile, Riffle, Or Overhand? 3 Strategies For Shuffling Your Tarot Deck

by Nicolai in Spirituality on January 9, 2022

For centuries, people have been using tarot for divination, reflection, and self-inquiry. Reading your tarot cards can be as simple as asking your deck a question, pulling one or more cards, and then interpreting the potential answers they hold. But before you pull your card(s), it’s a good idea to clear the slate from past readings by shuffling your deck. Here’s how to master your shuffle, according to the mystics.

Is there a right way to shuffle tarot cards?

Short answer: “There is literally no right or wrong way,” explains astrologer and tarot reader Bess Matassa.

She explains that as tarot has evolved over the years, more intuitive approaches to reading that emphasize leading with feeling have become popular. So these days, there are lots of ways to shuffle—and all are valid. “My advice on shuffling,” Matassa says, “is to forget preciousness in favor of pulsations. Simply feel the weight of the cards in your hands and navigate from touch and/or sight, if you choose to keep your eyes open while you mix.”

That being said, if you’re someone who craves a more regimented shuffling approach, here are a few to try out.


3 ways to shuffle and “cut” your deck.

Before you shuffle, it’s a good idea to energetically cleanse your deck. (You can do this by either knocking on your deck like a door while stating your intention or smudging your deck using dried sage.) Once your deck is clear and your intention is set, you can start shuffling.

Overhand shuffle

Commonly seen before your standard card game, this shuffling technique involves simply placing the deck in one hand and releasing a section of cards at a time into the opposite hand, until the entire deck has been redistributed and mixed.

Pile shuffle

This is a favorite of Matassa’s for its intuitive approach; you can try shuffling your cards in a pile. “Drop them on the floor and spread them around like fingerpaint,” she explains. Mix ’em up and bring them back together for a freshly shuffled deck.

Riffle shuffle

Another common card game shuffle, the rifle shuffle involves “cutting” the deck in half and fanning the ends together until they are interwoven. You can get fancy and try making a bridge, too, if you’re feeling it.

How long should you shuffle tarot cards?

While poker players will tell you the proper amount of shuffles to achieve a truly random deck is seven, with tarot there really is no right and wrong: One good shuffle may feel like enough to you. It’s really about using the time before you pull a card to get clear on your reason for reaching for the deck that day. Once you do that, you’re ready to dive into the wonderful world of 78 cards—each holding its own important lesson.

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