Some of us make a big deal of ensuring that our reading deck is thoroughly “randomized” before we set out to do a reading, so we don’t wind up with predetermined card sequences in our spreads – for example, a residue of card combinations left over from a previous layout or, with a brand-new deck, appearance of many of the cards in their original “out-of-the-box” order. While the ultimate goal is for the shuffle and cut to align the cards in the proper way to reveal the story, we ideally want to begin with a “clean slate” that discourages clumping together. However, there hasn’t been much discussion about how to do an effective randomization. The method I learned from an on-line forum mate works quite well, and I’ve tweaked it to include randomizing for reversals as well as for card sequence. (If you don’t use reversals, you can ignore that part.)
The first step is to randomly deal out all 78 cards into several roughly equal piles. I use seven. Since I don’t put my decks back in order after a reading, this serves to increase the random factor over time.
Next, I reverse the top-to-bottom orientation of approximately half of the piles to introduce reversals into the distribution. The reversed piles are shown canted in this photograph, which I do to keep track of the ones I turn around. Once again, not restoring the deck between readings allows this dispersal to change organically with use. I don’t want the same reversals showing up all the time any more than I want the same sequence of cards recurring.
Then I gather up the deck in a random order, alternating between upright and reversed piles to interleave the two variables.
Finally, I shuffle the deck overhand a few times before cutting and dealing. (I don’t riffle-shuffle, but many people do.) If I’m feeling particularly energetic, I may cut the cards end-for-end a couple of times as I shuffle, but that isn’t common.
When I’m doing a series of back-to-back readings in a professional setting, I bring several randomized decks with me to the session so I don’t have to do it on the fly. If I get a break between readings, I will perform this process since it takes only a couple of minutes per deck.