Oracle Cards vs. Tarot Cards: A Beginner’s Guide

Shuffling the beautiful, glossy cards in your hand, you close your eyes and whisper a question to the universe: Is this the right decision? As the cards come falling out, you are surprised by their quick accuracy: “Trust the path,” “let go,” and “new career.”

This is what it looks like to give yourself a card reading with oracle cards. This is my morning ritual. Oracle cards have become a huge part of my spiritual journey.

Oracle and tarot cards have become insanely popular over the past few years, sweeping into the mainstream and showing up in bookstores, spiritual shops, and online retailers. If you’ve always been curious about oracle and tarot cards, but wondered which deck to purchase, the first thing to know is the difference between oracle cards vs. tarot cards.

Both are used as tools of divination, or ways to communicate with the spiritual realms. Tarot cards are considered mystic, magical, and rooted deeply in the earthly realms. They are consistently 78-card decks and always include a similar imagery and grouping of cards. Oracle cards, on the other hand, are unrestrained in quantity and are filled with imaginative themes, topics, artwork, and messages. They are tied to the creative energy of the oracle deck creator and are channeled works, each unique and divine.

What Are Tarot Cards?

I was first introduced to tarot cards when I received a deck at 13 years old. They came in a plush, blue velvet bag with a golden string. I took great care of them and was fascinated with the idea of reading the future. It felt powerful and sacred; surely sent from the divine. I always say the cards choose you, so at this time in my life, as I was venturing into my teenage years, I know I needed this guidance and assurance. I found that within this deck of cards.

Tarot cards are some of the oldest divination tools with a history dating back to the 1400s. Once used as a card game for the elite, “triumph” was a game that involved four suits and 22 special picture cards that did not belong to any particular suit. Later those 22 cards were added to more cards and the game “tarocchi,” which is Italian for “tarot,” began circulating around Europe.

Today, one of the most popular tarot decks is the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, which was first produced in the 1900s. This 78-card deck involves images, archetypes, and symbolism that are classically synonymous with the word “tarot.” The decks are organized into two groupings: the Major Arcana, which involves the High Priestess, the Magician, the Lovers, and other archetypes; and the Minor Arcana, which involve cups, wands, swords, and pentacles.

According to Jeff Burr, a spiritual life consultant, certified hypnotherapist, and creator of Tattood Spirit, “The archetypes and images portrayed within the traditional 78-card tarot deck are organized and structured to communicate wisdom, support, and guidance to those who seek it.”

Burr runs a YouTube channel to help individuals better understand tarot, numerology, and other divination tools. “Each grouping of the deck can tell you a lot about what you are being influenced by, what you are thinking, feeling, and doing that is propelling you in a particular path into the future,” he says.

Tarot is not a way to read the future, Burr stresses. Instead (quoting one of his favorite quotes): “Tarot doesn’t tell you ‘what’s going to happen to you.’ It offers insights to where you’re headed. It’s up to you to change your course.”

What Are Oracle Cards?

A bridge to the fifth dimension, Angelic realm, Shamanism, ancient wisdom, mermaids, fairies, or simply the messages of your soul, oracle cards tune the reader into the energetic body and the universe. Each deck is as unique as its creator, and you can feel the synergy between the deck creator and the deck artist (sometimes they are the same person).

The word “oracle” is defined as “a priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods in classical antiquity.” Also, “a response or message given by an oracle, typically one that is ambiguous or obscure.” So the oracle is the messenger (in this case: the card reader) but also the message (in this case: the cards).

Oracles are tools of divination and channeling. They are sacred, honest, and divine. I have been using oracle cards for many years and have over 20 oracle card decks. Each one is unique and delightful, and each one serves its own divine purpose when I give a card reading. There are so many types of oracle decks: affirmation decks, law of attraction decks, self-care decks, Shamanic decks, Angel decks, fairy decks, Archangel decks, chakra decks, and many, many more.

But just because tarot and oracle are two different streams of energy, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be used together. “Over the last decade, the lines between tarot and oracle have been merging and blending,” Burr says. “More and more professional readers are using their tarot and oracle decks together in the same reading.”

Oracle Cards vs. Tarot Cards: How to Choose

When looking for an oracle or tarot deck, you should ask yourself, “What kind of guidance do I seek?” I truly believe the oracle deck will come to you once you are clear with your intention. You must be attracted to the deck, the colors, the artwork, and the messages. You might even want to research the creator of the deck and just feel their energies or presence. Do they feel trustworthy? Do you feel uplifted watching them or reading their words?

If you can browse for an oracle or tarot card deck at your local bookstore or spiritual store, I recommend starting there. Take the deck in your hands. How does it feel? If you can open up the sample deck, take a look at the cards within. Do you feel drawn to them? Your intuition guides you! You will know exactly which deck is yours.

Do you buy online? If online shopping is more your thing, consider a few factors before you throw one of these decks in your shopping cart: Firstly, get to know the creator of the deck. Take a look at the other items, books, or cards they have created. Secondly, Can you view some of the cards online? Are you in love with the artwork? Do the messages sound intriguing? And lastly, spend some time reading the reviews of the deck. What are other people saying? Are there pictures from their reading spread?

Intuition is your greatest gift. I call it your inner GPS—you always know the way. If you are feeling lost or uncertain, slow down, breathe, and tune in. What does your soul say? When picking a card deck, it is necessary to listen to your intuition and feel out what is the best deck for you at this particular point in your life. You may also allow yourself to receive and let your friends and family know that you’d be interested in receiving a tarot or oracle deck for an upcoming birthday or holiday. See what the universe delivers to you!

If you’re buying for yourself, listen to your soul. Line up a few decks in front of you or open a few tabs on your desktop. Close your eyes and visualize which deck is drawing closer to you. You will know which one to choose, and it will be undeniable once you open it and dive into the beautiful cards inside.

As for me, I am so grateful for my divination tools. I keep them in my cabinet and every time I pass by them, they give me a spark of joy. My practice grows deeper every day as I read the oracle cards for myself and for others. Their divine guidance will always hold a special place in my heart.

Do you feel ready to choose a tarot or oracle deck? What is your intuition telling you? Let us know in the comments!

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