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How to Mix or Shuffle Tarot Cards for a Reading

Updated on May 31, 2012

You’ll notice that I didn’t call this article, “shuffling the cards,” instead I added the word, “mix.” There’s a reason for that—a standard-sized Tarot card is bigger than a playing card, plus Tarot cards—unlike playing cards—aren’t discarded as soon as they start showing signs of wear. In fact, most readers tend to keep their decks—and use them—even after they’ve become rather dog-eared and tattered. In addition, new decks are startlingly slick and slippery. Because of these physical differences between Tarot cards and playing cards, shuffling them in the normal manner—or in some fancy Los Vegas casino way—often results in cards flying all over the room. I encourage Seekers to pile the cards loosely on the table and stir them with both hands for a while. After that, if they want to shuffle them in some more conventional way, I let them go for it. By then they will have realized that Tarot cards handle differently than playing cards and only the most confident (and big-handed!) will attempt any but the simplest type of shuffling.

The classic Celtic Cross Tarot layout, which is explained in full in The Language of Tarot


Buy my book 452 page The Language of Tarot:

As for when mixing the cards is “done,” the best response is “you’ll know.” The limiting factor is the length of time a person can focus on the question being asked (see the section below on focusing). Once the Seeker’s thoughts start to stray to other matters, the mixing is finished.

What you want to encourage the Seeker to do is handle each and every card—however briefly—while also allowing the cards to move around in all directions, aligning themselves as upright or reversed. Again, traditional methods of shuffling often avoid getting the cards “wrong way up,” but for a Tarot reading, you want to invite exactly that possibility. So be sure to explain that to the Seeker and ask her to take her time and mix the cards up thoroughly.

The Ace of Wands - The 1st Card in the Tarot Deck


Here's an excerpt from The Language of Tarot, my interpretation of the first card in the deck, The Ace of Wands:

Ace of Wands

Keywords: Fresh start, news, enthusiasm; optimistic, creative, new

The Ace of Wands, the first card in the deck, represents a fresh start and indicates creative energy being applied to the question being asked. This energy can take the shape of enthusiasm or plans about a new project, relationship or venture of any type, or may refer to the re-birth of an existing situation. The beginning of a new phase, job, pregnancy or romance is indicated. This card can also foretell good news or a birth announcement.

As always, take surrounding and following cards into account when interpreting this and every card.

The Fool, Reversed


For example, in combination with The Fool, reversed, this could be a new project that looks “too good to be true” . . . because it is. In other words, this Ace only shows the start of something. Other cards will show how it turns out. Still, this is a very positive card to get in any spread, and even if things don’t turn out great, at the very least it shows that the initial enthusiasm and hopefulness is a healthy, positive thing.

Followed by cards of defeat or failure, then this Ace signifies a project that starts out with a bang only to fizzle out with a whimper. Surrounding cards may show why this promising start fails to live up to expectations.

As advice, the Ace of Wands is telling the Seeker to move forward with hopeful enthusiasm.

In business readings, this card marks the beginning of a new project, business, marketing concept or a fresh approach to problem solving. If a reading concerns investments, this can be an IPO.

In romantic readings, the Ace of Wands signifies the start of a new relationship or the re-birth of an existing one. The Seeker has the opportunity for a fresh start in her love life.

Specifically referring to sex, the Ace of Wands is the card of erections—and of sexual arousal for either gender. If referring to a male, he feels like he’s 22 and definitely good to go. For a woman, she’s got it goin’ on. Either way, this Ace predicts great sex!

As an Outcome card, this is a very positive omen, showing something new arriving in the Seeker’s life as a result of the matter at hand, probably with a nice big bang!

The Ace of Wands, Reversed


Reversed Ace of Wands

Keywords: Delay, annoyance, minor setback; delayed, temporary, pending

Reversed, the Ace of Wands shows delays in a new venture. This can be anything from lots of minor, irritating stuff that crops up at the last minute to some fundamental block—but whatever it is, it will not be able to hold back the Wands enthusiasm forever; it may simply be that the timing is off. If things are stuck, the advice is, “don’t give up. Try again later.” This card can also denote churning, nervous energy, “much ado about nothing”‘, where someone is running around frantically but getting little accomplished, or one of those annoying hurry-up-and-wait situations.

As advice, the Ace of Wands reversed tells us to slow down, expect some delays but do not let them destroy our enthusiasm.

In a business reading, this Ace when reversed shows delays in getting a new project off the ground or hindrances to someone seeking a job they will enjoy.

In romantic readings, this card when reversed speaks of frustration in getting a new romance off the ground. Lots of delays and problems in getting physically together hinder the growth of romance.

Sexually, the Ace of Wands reversed shows someone not getting sex. Tread carefully, because the problem here is distinctly male: he can’t get it up. Erectile Dysfunction is nobody’s favorite subject or condition. Surrounding cards, however, may show why this problem exists: look for indications of an unresolved medical or emotional issue.

In the Outcome position the Ace of Wands, when reversed, shows a hindrance that must be resolved before things can progress. Selfish interests block new ventures. In my experience, however, the energy of the Ace of Wands cannot be held back! There may be an obstacle on the Seeker’s current path, but it will prove over time to have been a temporary delay.

For a great deal more on this subject, as well as clear instructions on laying Tarot cards out for readings and detailed interpretations of each card in a deck, please visit my website or find my book, The Language of Tarot, on Amazon.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

A 3 Card Past-Present-Future Tarot Reading


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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Are you new to Tarot, or an experienced reader or seeker? Let me know, I'm interested in your Tarot journey!