As I’ve said many times before, I’m suspicious of any card-reading method that doesn’t involve a querent physically handling the deck. Consequently, I shy away from on-line reading except under very limited circumstances. One of my “work-arounds” is to request that remote clients shuffle and draw from their own deck of cards, then tell me what they pulled so I can reconstruct the spread locally and read it. This works great, but not everyone owns a tarot deck or even an app. I think there may be a way to surmount this obstacle without actually pulling the cards for them myself (which is a philosophical show-stopper for me).
A tarot deck has 78 cards, and it seems reasonable to ask querents to randomly choose a set of numbers between 1 and 78, in ascending order without repeating any of them, with the total to equal the number of cards in the spread I intend to use; a Celtic Cross would require selection of ten numbers. The list of numbers could be sent to me by e-mail.
At my end I would thoroughly randomize a deck in my normal way but I wouldn’t go through the typical shuffle and cut, instead leaving the cards in random order and thereby minimizing my subconscious imprint on the act of choosing. Then I would take the querent’s list and start pulling cards from the deck in that order, with “1” being the top card in the face-down deck and “78” being the bottom one. As I draw the cards I would place them in the spread until all positions are populated. This is very similar to having a face-to-face sitter pull the cards from a “fan,” with the difference that the actual draw is abstracted into a subconsciously-informed numerical exercise. The only disadvantage I can see is one of limited flexibility; it wouldn’t be practical to range freely around the “fan” of numbers and pick them in any order. The cards for the reading have to be drawn from top-to-bottom in the sequence assigned by the querent’s ascending “pull-list” in order for this to work properly. I would also have to be careful to keep track of the numerical progression while pulling, since it would be difficult to restore the original order should I lose my place while removing cards. (I know this because I’ve tried a similar approach in the past; it can become a hopeless mess.)
While I will always prefer to have querents shuffle the deck to put it in order for the reading, this alternate approach would still rely on their active engagement in card selection by having them intuitively pick a set of numbers, much like selecting the numbers when buying a lottery ticket at the corner store. Up to a point, the querent’s intention is paramount, not the mechanics of the process; I would draw the line only if required to play an active role that supersedes and therefore invalidates the querent’s choices through my own actions. Beyond that point it would become my reading and no longer the querent’s; in other words, a situation that offends my innate sense of “how tarot works.”