Originally published on A Lighter View’s March 2023 Issue
When I was starting to read tarot for others, I remember feeling clueless and concerned about what kind of rituals and practices I should be performing to open and close readings. Reading rituals come in such a vast variety, it can be hard to feel confident that you are doing enough or doing it competently. Rather than get caught up in whether or not you should be casting a circle or shuffling 11 times under a full moon, you want to make sure your reading rituals contain the following fundamental components: grounding, framing, and shuffling.
Grounding is a necessary part of any spiritual or intuitive practice. Grounding is essential to bringing spiritual energies or, for the more secular readers, your thoughts and ideas down to earth. When ungrounded, you may find yourself stuck like a deer caught in headlights while trying to give a reading. Reading also, in my experience, is significantly more draining without grounding appropriately. Giving tarot readings without grounding first can leave you feeling similarly depleted as pulling an all-nighter – wired and tired, anxious, unable to feel settled. So, how does one ground?
For those who are cautious of metaphysics, grounding is about ensuring that you are mentally present in and aware of your body. This can be achieved through mindful meditation. You may consider introducing sensory experiences such as incense or an ice pack to the back of the neck, which stimulates the vagus nerve to promote relaxation. For those that are more comfortable with energetics, grounding is about one’s connection with the Earth through our energy bodies. You can achieve a grounded state by visualizing roots from your feet or the base of your spine anchoring deep into the ground or the core of the Earth. Consider also visualizing protective shielding around your aura, whether that is a literal shield or a shell of light. There are many ways to accomplish this, and guided meditations for grounding and shielding are abundant on YouTube for free. Do whatever makes you feel centered, aware of your body, and safely connected to Earth and your surroundings.
Now we come to what I’m calling framing. Framing is important for opening and closing readings. The purpose of framing is to set clear boundaries, especially energetic boundaries, around the reading. These boundaries are important for providing yourself containment, which promotes a sense of security and safety. Even for secular folks, framing rituals are powerful and important for preparing the mind to perform a reading and informing the unconscious that a reading is over so one can disengage and move on. Good framing rituals set the stage and mood for a reading and clearly define when the reading has ended.
To frame your reading practice, you’ll want to set aside a sacred space for the reading. This can be accomplished through the use of a reading cloth, but you don’t have to limit yourself to reading cloths. You can create a sacred reading space even if you only have room to spread a clean towel out on the floor of your bedroom – ensure the space is clean, free of dust and clutter. Consider adding candles or arranging crystals to form a boundary around your reading space, whatever helps you feel the magic. A framing ritual should also include clearing your mind with meditation or cleansing energy (in addition to, not instead of, grounding!!), especially at the end of a reading.
Whenever I read tarot at fairs, I start and end my day cleansing myself with sage, but I use an aura spray made of essential oils in between readings. Whenever a reading has ended, I like to visualize sending the person’s energy back to them and my energy returning to myself. You can even say out loud, “The reading has ended, all my energy returns to me now, and all energy that belongs elsewhere now returns home.” The important thing is to remember to concretize the closing of your reading in some way. This ensures that your mind will be able to disengage from the reading and that your energy will be cleared of the other person’s energies, if you are reading for another person or your question involves other people. Even if your reading only involves yourself, it is a good idea to clear your energy.
Finally, consider what shuffling method you would like to use in your tarot practice. To choose a shuffling method, it is important to understand what the purpose of shuffling is. One purpose is to introduce randomness into the order of the cards so that you are not merely pulling the same cards every time. The other purpose of shuffling is to clear any lingering energies from previous readings. Another purpose of shuffling, for me, is to convince the ego that the cards that come out during a reading are not there by mere coincidence. An unconvinced ego is one of the biggest barriers to giving a good reading – accessing our intuition requires bypassing the logical mind. The ego has to surrender in some way for that to happen, so you need to get it on board with the reading.
With that being said, there are many shuffling techniques out there. Most people are familiar with hand-over-hand and riffle shuffling. I prefer the Mongean shuffle method because it keeps my cards from bending and it is very effective for randomizing the cards, especially if you do some hand-over-hand shuffling in between. It doesn’t matter how you shuffle or in what order, as long as you are sufficiently randomizing the cards and you are convinced the cards are sufficiently randomized.
I hope that you feel more confident preparing yourself to read tarot now. As long as your reading rituals fulfill the purposes of grounding, framing, and shuffling, then you can be sure that you are “doing it right.” There are no hard-lined rules for practicing tarot. What matters is that the practices you utilize are creating conditions that support the spiritual dimension of life. Thank you.