Tarot cards are a popular tool for divination, meditation, and self-reflection. Learning how to properly shuffle tarot cards is an important skill that allows you to connect with the cards on a deeper level. With some practice and the right techniques, shuffling tarot cards can become second nature. This article outlines easy methods for effectively shuffling a tarot deck.

Overhand Shuffle

Overhand Shuffle
Overhand Shuffle

The overhand shuffle is a common way to mix the cards that many beginners start with. To perform an overhand shuffle:

Holding the Cards

  • Grasp the deck firmly in one hand with your palm flat against the bottom of the cards and your thumb on one long edge. Keep your grip secure but not too tight.
  • Allow the cards to fan out a bit so you can see the indices or edges. But don’t let them spread out completely or individual cards may drop.

Executing the Shuffle

  • With your free hand, use your fingers to pull up a portion from the middle of the fanned deck.
  • Let these cards drop onto the rest of the deck.
  • Repeat this motion continuously in a flowing movement, taking different sized portions from all parts of the fanned deck each time.
  • Complete as many of these “drops” as needed to mix up the order thoroughly. 7-10 usually suffices.

The key is to allow the cards to cascade in an uncontrolled way so they land in random positions. Avoid deliberately placing the packets of cards into any ordered piles.

Riffle or Dovetail Shuffle

Riffle or Dovetail Shuffle
Riffle or Dovetail Shuffle

The riffle or dovetail shuffle is a more advanced technique that interleaves cards for smooth mixing. To riffle shuffle:

Separating the Deck

  • First, divide the tarot deck roughly in half by grasping the short ends with both hands.
  • Allow a few cards to fan out in the middle as a gap forms between both stacks.

Interleaving the Cards

  • Release your grip slightly and bend both stacks backward to arch them upwards until tension builds.
  • Then let go of the strain simultaneously so the two stacks crash back together, mixing the uneven edges.
  • The cards should now be interleaved into each other in no particular order.
  • Straighten the shuffled cards and square off the deck.

Perform 2-3 of these crisscross shuffles in succession to randomize your tarot deck.

Pile Shuffle

Pile Shuffle
Pile Shuffle

The pile shuffle is performed by dealing the tarot cards into a number of stacks before recombining them. To pile shuffle:

Creating the Piles

  • Deal cards off the top of your tarot deck into 3 or 5 separate piles in a row formation.
  • Try to distribute the cards as evenly as possible between all piles.

Assembling the Deck

  • Now randomly pick up a portion of cards from different piles in no set order to reassemble your tarot deck.
  • Avoid taking all the cards from any single pile at once.

Switch up the number or sequence of piles with each attempt for best results. Repeat this dividing and recombining process several times.

Incorporating Reverses

Some tarot readers also like mixing in reversed cards when shuffling. To intentionally include reverses:

  • After shuffling, go through the deck and manually flip 1/4 to 1/3 of the cards face down.
  • Then shuffle once more time to disperse the reversed cards randomly throughout right-side-up cards.

Be sure to cut or split the deck after shuffling to allow your energetic imprint or a question to influence the tarot reading.

Shuffling Tips

  • Shuffle the tarot cards as you focus calmly on an intention or question to help guide the reading.
  • Periodically cleanse your cards energetically with crystal gems, incense, sound, or moonlight to clear built-up energies.
  • Over time card edges may become uneven or damaged which can affect shuffles. Check condition periodically and replace deck if needed.
  • Label card decks used for different purposes to avoid mixing energies. Keep all decks in proper tarot bags or boxes for protection when not in use.

With practice makes perfect, so continue working on your shuffle until it feels smooth, natural, and flows easily. Patiently stick to the techniques and your skills will improve over time. Soon you’ll be adeptly shuffling cards for beautiful tarot readings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest shuffle for beginners?

The overhand shuffle is the easiest technique for tarot card beginners to start with. It involves cascading portions of the fanned deck into one another to mix up the card order. Beginners can grasp and perform this basic shuffle quickly.

How many times should you shuffle tarot cards?

It’s best to shuffle your tarot deck 3 to 7 times per reading depending on which shuffle techniques you use. For example, do about 7 overhand shuffles or 3 riffle shuffles. Just avoid excessive shuffling which can damage card edges. The goal is to randomize cards sufficiently.

Should reversed cards be used?

Using reversed cards when shuffling tarot decks is optional based on personal reading style. Including some deliberately reversed cards can bring an extra dimension. But keeping all cards upright is fine too. Do what feels right for your tarot practice.

Can tarot cards be damaged from shuffling?

Yes, excessive shuffling or using certain techniques harshly can eventually damage tarot card edges. Gentle overhand and riffle shuffles are ideal. Check card condition routinely when doing readings. Replace decks with uneven, marked, or broken edges.

How do you prepare new tarot decks?

It’s best to spiritually cleanse and “break in” new decks before use with three easy steps: 1) Pass cards through incense or sage smoke 2) Sprinkle cards with blessed salt or moonwater 3) Shuffle brand new deck thoroughly before first reading while focusing on your intention.


Shuffling tarot cards efficiently takes some skill development, but useful techniques like the overhand, riffle and pile shuffle can help anyone learn to properly mix cards. Avoid shuffling recklessly or too excessively. Be sure to check card condition regularly as edges may wear over time with handling during readings. Overall, regular practice makes handling and shuffling cards simple over time.

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