Cutting Remarks

This post won’t be of much interest to you if you prefer to pull your cards from a “fan,” or don’t bother to cut the deck.

There is an old practice, still popular among tarot mystics, that after shuffling a deck of tarot cards, the pack should be “cut into three piles with your left hand to your left” and then re-stacked for the deal. I get the idea behind the left-hand provision: at least for right-handers, the right hand is the “active” hand (we do stuff with it) and the left hand is the “passive” hand (we hold the stuff we’re working on in it). We might say one is “projective” and the other is “absorptive;” we “righties” throw a ball with our right hand and catch it with our left. Translating this into cartomantic terms, we “catch” the inspiration from the Cosmos with our receptive left hand.  Simple enough.

The main issue I have with the “three-pile-cut” is that, when the deck is reassembled and the cards are then dealt from the top, the majority of them are excluded from the chance to participate in the reading. Some people re-stack the three piles in a random order, mixing things up a bit, but it doesn’t really change the thrust of this step. It still strikes me as an unreasonable constraint on the available depth of the reading; we might just as well not cut the cards at all. I’ve been thinking that there has to be a better way to get a more representative draw short of just using a “fan.”

The easiest way to accomplish this would be to not put the deck back together after the cut, and pull the cards from the top of the three piles instead. If I’m doing a three-card line spread that I normally read left-to-right, I would start with the left-hand pile and work to the right. If I intend to read the series from the center out, I would start from the middle pile and then proceed to the left and right piles. In those cases where I begin the reading with whichever card in the layout is the most prominent (for example, a trump card), I would draw from the piles in random order.

When doing a larger spread (such as the Celtic Cross), I would most likely pull from left-to-right and populate the spread from the piles by repeating that sequence until all of the positions are filled, but there is nothing stopping me from doing so in a completely unstructured way.

If the sensitivity of the left hand in splitting the deck is truly advantageous, working from the as-cut piles seems like a good technique to drill down into the deck rather than just skimming the surface. I doubt that I’m the first person to hit upon this method, but I haven’t come across it in the any of my books. I realize, of course, that the counter-argument is “The cream always rises to the top.” However, in this age of homogenized dairy products (and, I might add, “participation medals”) that might just be a moot point. Why not let the whole deck speak?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s