Consider the Source
In various places around this site, you will hear me throw around the words divination and cartomancy as if they were interchangeable. They aren't. In my opinion, before you trust any advice you receive from the cards, you should be very careful to decide where you think that information is coming from.
It all depends on the shuffle. At the moment that you are shuffling, or the computer is shuffling for you, what are you doing? So far as I can tell, there are two basic ways of seeing this central question: Whose advice do you seek when you get a reading? Materialists would say that the cards' position at every point during a shuffle is random and in no way related to the reader or the querent. There could still be some point in reading cards, even for the staunchest of materialists, because they provide an opportunity to cold-read the querent and perform a number of rorschach tests on him. A skilled cold reader or seer (even just a person who possessed wisdom that approached clairvoyance) could use that information to perform a passable fortune telling, even without contacting anyone via the cards. Metaphysical minds will often ascribe some kind of inspiration to the cards, particularly the process of shuffling. Something or someone is breathing meaning into the cards, stacking the deck. But who are we talking about here? Who is doing the inspiring? In my opinion, it matters a great deal. Whoever you mean to contact, if there is some risk you will succeed, you had best know whom you're reaching. Is it God, or gods who breath life into the cards to provide you with the answers you seek? On the other hand, is it the spirits of the dead? Your guardian spirits? A will and power built into the cards themselves? Whoever it is that you believe you are contacting, even if it is only the random number generator of the cosmos, I suggest you arrange your mind to keep that fact clear as you shuffle the cards. And for goodness sake, keep it in mind as you're trying to decipher them, too! Some sources are omniscient and some are not. And moreover, some sources might even mean you harm! So please, try to be safe. Remember that even genies and leprechauns are not necessarily good guys. I believe that if a reading works, it will work no matter what meaning you assign to it. The only reason I bring it up is that whether you should take the advice you receive or not depends a great deal on whether you trust the source. It is also important to remember that if you are trying to contact someone with the cards, that faculty is something we are born with and it is built into us, so you don't need any fancy equipment to perform a reading. All you really need are a randomization tool (like an ordinary deck of cards, or a free web-based tarot reading tool), and a system of meanings of the cards. In any case, we are going to proceed as if the lay of the cards was sheerly random, because if our methods work they should work with psychology, cold reading, and second sight alone. It's not to say I know for sure that's the case, it's just a failsafe to avoid trusting the cards too much before you know what you are doing. So, for the sake of argument, we will take up the position that the advice of the cards comes from the fortune teller, and from no deeper source.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Who am I asking questions of when I deal the cards?
- Do I trust that this entity knows what they are talking about?
- Do they have my best interests at heart?
- Do they have a sense of humor, i.e. could they be having fun at your expense?
- Or are the cards just random, and the interpretations our own?