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Occult, Tarot

Tarot Tips: Jumping Cards

So, what does it mean when a card jumps out of the deck? Is it nothing or is it most definitely something? I fall solidly in the latter camp. In this post, I’ll explain why I think jumpers are significant, and give you a few recommendations on how to deal with them.

What falls to the floor comes to the door.

I just love witchy old sayings! They’re part of an oral tradition that was likely born in a time when most country folk were illiterate. Before witches were able to jot down their spells in elaborate grimoire, they came up with rhymes and other catchy phrases to commit their practices to memory.

I’ve never been able to find the origin of the old chestnut, “What falls to the floor comes to the door,” but I think it’s a keeper. Tarot readers assign the saying to cards that fling themselves from the deck when it’s being shuffled; whether they “fall to the floor” or land on the table. If you, like I, value the tarot as an oracle, a gateway to an elevated plane of understanding, then I encourage you to heed every sign, and that most certainly includes jumping cards.

Why Do Cards Jump?

Cards can jump because of the reader’s subconscious energy transference, inexperienced handling, or pure luck.

When experienced tarot practitioners handle their tarot decks, they impart energy and intention into the cards. Empaths are especially skilled at energy transference, and if you fall into this mystical category, you should be mindful of anomalies that occur when you’re shuffling the deck.

Novice tarot readers — and nervous querents who shuffle the deck before a reading — are particularly susceptible to clumsy shuffles that result in cards dropping to the table or floor. That said, it doesn’t mean that their jumpers should be discounted as “accidents.” Every card that makes its way out of the deck — regardless of the prowess of the shuffler — should be made note of.

How Do Cards Jump?

There are several ways a card can work its way out of the deck. I rank jumper cards in the following order of importance (from least to most signficant):

  1. Several cards fall out of the deck to the floor or tabletop. This situation is likely just a miscue caused by a clumsy shuffle.
  2. A single card drops face-down to the tabletop without much flair or fanfare.
  3. A single card drops face-up onto the tabletop.
  4. A single card flips energetically from the deck and lands face-up on the table. Pay attention to this one, Dear Reader. The card is saying, “Hey! Look at me! I’ve got something to tell you!”

6 Methods to Deal with a Jumping Tarot Card

Reading the tarot — especially for others — is an incredibly intimate experience, based on honesty and trust. When a card jumps from the deck during a shuffle, pause and tune into the vibes surrounding your relationship with the querent — even if you’ve just met, and even if you’re reading for yourself.

Here are six ways to handle an escaped card, ordered from the most conservative to the most significant:

  1. Slip the card back into the deck and continue shuffling as though nothing happened.
  2. Make a mental note of the jumper, shuffle it back into the deck, and take notice of it only if it shows up again in the spread you lay.
  3. Place the jumper face up on the table, off to the side, lay your spread separately as you usually would, then conclude the reading by considering if the jumper has any relevance to the cards you laid. Work it into your reading only if it “speaks to you” and makes sense in context.
  4. Use the jumper as the significator. Treat this card as the starting point for the rest of your reading by placing it in the first position — particularly in spreads that have a card intended to represent the querent, such as Card 1 in the Celtic Cross spread.
  5. Consider the jumper to be a reset to the reading. Querents are often shy about asking the real question. They’re afraid to explore their darker, more secret sides. This could be an opportunity to ask your querent (even if that’s you), “Perhaps your original question wasn’t quite right. What do you really want to know?”
  6. Give the jumper its own reading. One-card readings are, arguably, the most difficult, because they lack the context gained from reading them in relation to other cards. But, sometimes the things that are most difficult, are the things that have the most relevance. Study the jumper carefully and completely. Really dig in! Consider everything about this card including traditional keywords, intuitive interpretation of the symbolism, color, numerology… whatever resources and knowledge are at your disposal. If your belief system includes communicating with the spirit world, ask yourself if the jumper card could be a message from beyond.

Reading the tarot is a practice, not a skill that can be mastered. Every reading is different and affected by so many variables. Don’t limit your practice by being too rigid. Open your heart, your mind, and your sixth sense to make every reading the most meaningful and relevant experience possible… and, that includes taking into consideration feisty cards that demand your attention!

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2 thoughts on “Tarot Tips: Jumping Cards”

  1. i watch tarot readers on youtube sometimes when i want a confirmation of something i am led to do or if i am not sure how to go forward. It happens rarely. Yet i see tarot readers online, with 1000s of subscribers, who obviously are experienced readers and do it so much continuously drop cards. Its deeply disturbing to me that they have long fake nails and manicures and are so clumsy with something they do many times a day. One would imagine a serious tarot practitioner would shuffle with care and take his or her job seriously. Dropping cards because you are clumsy should not impact my reading. The trite explanation given is they ‘jumped’ out of the pack, while the truth is you have 1 inch fingernails and cant hold the pack properly, or you are so busy giving me patter about your private readings and how much they cost, or how i should ‘like’ and subscribe that you are not focusing on what you should be doing which is imbuing the cards with your energy and focusing on a reading seriously. it affects me negatively to see people drop cards. i usually skip that video. but it happens so much. Maybe i am wrong to judge. please tell me if i am wrong.

    1. Hi Arun!
      Thanks for your comment. It’s an interesting and insightful observation. I’d like to respond from a couple of different angles:

      1) Clumsy card handling can be a sign of inexperience. You’ve probably noticed that in recent years there’s been a growing interest in tarot and other mystical traditions. For some it’s a fad, and for some, it seems, it’s a path to making a quick buck. It may be that the readers that you see ineptly handling the cards are in the latter category. They buy a deck, set up a YouTube channel and a PayPal account and try to present themselves as experienced readers, but their technique reveals the truth. So does their appearance, which brings me to your other point…

      2) People trying to pose as something they’re not often try to “play a part.” Pretenders might try to look, dress, or act like they think a tarot reader should. That might mean long fingernails, flowing scarves, or dramatic makeup. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things – I believe people should be free to express themselves. However, if someone claims to be an experienced reader, but they can’t shuffle the cards with nails that they’ve presumably always had… that gives me pause.

      3) You’re right to feel suspicious about the “salesy” nature of some readers. To be perfectly clear, I have no objection to one making an honest living from her or his craft. What I do object to is pretenders using this deep, rich tradition as a get-rich-quick scheme.

      4) On the subject of focus, Yes! It’s vitally important. The idea that one could simultaneously do a reading while giving a sales pitch is ridiculous. Out of respect for the practice and the person being read for, the reader must devote his or her complete attention to the task at hand. Now, for YouTube videos, at the end of a video – and after the reader has properly closed out the reading — I see nothing wrong with saying something like, “If you’d like information on how to order a reading, please visit my website.”

      So, no, I don’t think you’re wrong. In fact, whether you’re looking for someone to read for you, or to help teach and guide you in your own practice, you must feel comfortable with that person and confident in their abilities.

      One post-script on #1 above: I have a touch of arthritis in my fingers which can sometimes make shuffling difficult – however, I rarely drop a card in a shuffle. For me, shuffling is such an important part of the reading that I give it my complete attention and intention…. and THAT’S why when a card does jump, you’d better believe I pay attention!

      I hope I’ve answered your question. Good luck in your practice, and thank you again for your comment!

      Holly, Wayfinder Tarot

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