In response to several questions from readers of my blog about how I shuffle and draw the cards for my readings, I decided to write an article about my process…
I think it’s important to point out that my method works for me, but it may not work for everyone. Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what process works best for you. I also want to mention that what follows is my approach for handling the playing cards specifically. My process varies with other oracle cards.
When I first learned to read the cards I was taught to always cut the deck from left to right using my left hand. I was also instructed to draw cards with my left hand. The rationale is that the left side of the body is the receptive or spiritual side, and that the left hand is closest to the heart. Because I am right-handed, this feels unnatural to me. So before long I switched to using my right hand exclusively for the cut and draw. That was many years ago, and my readings have only improved over time. For this reason, I’m convinced that it’s best to use whichever hand feels most natural to you.
Shuffling the Deck
When I started reading professionally, almost all of my readings were done face-to-face in person. For an in-person reading I always allowed my querent to do the shuffling in whichever way felt most comfortable. I have watched clients riffle the deck like a practiced card shark. Others clumsily mash the cards together, bending the corners, and leaving me thankful that good quality playing cards are reasonably inexpensive. Most clients prefer a smooth over-hand shuffle. A few like to slide and scramble the cards on the table like they’re tossing a big salad. And on more than one occasion I have witnessed a client merely cut the cards once or twice in hand before returning the deck for the reading without shuffling at all. In every case, the quality of the reading did not seem to be affected by the technique used or the time spent on the shuffle. I decided over time that the shuffle is spirit-guided, and always perfect.
Over the last few years my readings have shifted almost exclusively to phone or email, requiring me to do the shuffling for my clients. Prior to beginning a new reading I riffle shuffle the deck because I believe this breaks up any residual energy from the previous reading. If I utilize multiple layouts during a session, I prefer the smooth overhand shuffle between laying out the cards in order to avoid scattering the energies.
Drawing the Cards
I have discovered through trial and error that I get a higher rate of accuracy when I draw the cards randomly for a reading. For this reason, I almost never deal a reading off the top of the shuffled deck. I will spread the cards out face-down on the table, and as I draw each card I focus on the querent’s question. I have the impression that my hand is divinely guided to choose the appropriate cards. This is what works best for me. You might find you get better results drawing from the top of the deck. I suggest you practice both techniques to see which gives you the most reliable results, or “feels right” for you.
I prefer smaller card spreads. In fact, other than the Answer Spread, I rarely use structured spreads any more. Most often, I will draw no more than three or five cards to answer a specific question. For a general reading I use a process for drawing the cards that my grandmother taught me whereby I deal every third card looking for the Aces and other meaningful cards which serve as significators in the reading. This process allows me to fall back on a structure if I need to answer specific questions from the cards already on the table.
I have discovered that I am able to keep focus, and provide a more accurate reading with fewer cards. I never draw more than 12 or 15 cards for a general reading. In my experience, more cards do not necessarily mean more relevant information. So much of the meaning in a card reading is derived from how the cards influence each other. It’s easy to become muddled when having to account for too many cards in a spread– especially when answering a simple question.
When I do use a structured spread, such as the Answer Spread for specific questions, I am not a fan of drawing additional cards for clarification. I find that if I’m not able to piece together the meaning of a small grouping of cards, drawing one or two additional cards is not likely to help, and only serves to further muddy the interpretation. The one instance when I may employ a single clarification card is when a spread or group of cards end in a court card. I sometimes use an additional card to clarify the influence this person will have on the matter in question.