There are very many different kinds of cards in the great family of card divination. Among them, Tarot and Oracle cards are the most widely known. But many people are not sure what is the difference between tarot and oracle cards, and even some people who have been using Oracle cards think they are learning Tarot.
There are differences in the rules of each card, and this is especially true for the oracle cards vs tarot. However, there is no superiority or inferiority between them, and which one you choose depends on your personal preference. For many professional tarot masters, they favor tarot divination, but will also use oracle deck and other cards occasionally in their divination process. Either way, to become an accomplished master of the cards, you will need time and practice to get comfortable with the tools you use and to expand your abilities.
So, let’s take a look at the differences between oracle cards vs tarot cards for some oracle cards questions.
What Are Oracle Cards?
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What is an oracle deck? It is a deck that is drawn to provide the user with an inner examination and a positive outlook on life. At the same time, it is also the most diverse deck in the family of cards. Its contents and themes cover all aspects, such as moonology oracle cards, love oracle cards, energy oracle cards, goddess guidance oracle cards, and various signatures, trigrams, inscriptions, etc. They have their own world and can give the wisdom to untie the knot of thinking and guide the direction of the spiritual path.
Why Use Oracle Cards?
You may be wondering, isn’t the Tarot already perfect? Of course, Tarot is the wisdom and heart of many masters of the occult, and if you use it all the time and become proficient in it, there will indeed be a great kind of creative flow within you. But at the same time, if you use less oracle cards and other cards, there may still be limitations in your world.
When you link to different cards, especially oracle cards, you will find that you can go beyond what you know and see a Brownian curve of energy movement. And when you come back to the Tarot after experiencing the Oracle cards, you can feel that three-dimensional thinking, which is more profound than being in the Tarot all the time.
Detailed Comparison of Oracle Vs Tarot
- What is the similarity between tarot cards and oracle cards?
First, they are both divination systems – a way to communicate with the conscious universe. You are able to explore the answers to your questions from within yourself and improve your intuition through Tarot and Oracle cards. In addition, they both require good practice and experience in order to interpret correctly and accurately.
- What is the difference between oracle cards and tarot cards?
Nowadays, the standard tarot deck is composed of 78 cards. Of course, there are some versions of the Tarot with 80 cards, because some of them are advertising cards or empty cards designed by designers. But the structure of 78 cards is fixed.
Oracle cards are different. Basically, different themes of oracle cards will have different numbers of cards, from 44 cards to 50 cards, etc. Exactly how many cards are in the whole deck depends on its designer.
In general, the Tarot can be divided into 3 different components:
- Major Arcana cards – spiritual subjects, archetypes of collective consciousness
- Little Arcana cards – Divine and everyday subjects at the level of life
- Court Cards – Characters and personalities in the Tarot
Regarding the grouping of the Major Arcana, various academic schools of thought have their own ideas, and each of them has something for us to learn and think about. As for the Minor Arcana cards, they are divided into four groups, namely Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, with 14 cards in each group, consisting of King, Queen, Knight, Pages, and 10 numerals respectively.
What’s more, the Tarot has a special numbering structure. This is reflected in the Major Arcana, Minor Arcana and Court Arcana. In addition to the numbering structure of the sections, each element and the whole structure of the Tarot has a corresponding marching story.
The Fool’s Journey is an example. Because the Fool is numbered 0, it can be seen both as the start of the Major Arcana or as a card that wanders away from the Major Arcana. During the Journey, the Fool encounters and learns from all the rest of the Major Arcana. These subjects are also a mapping of human life.
In contrast to the Tarot, oracle decks do not have a uniform structure. Many oracle cards number their cards usually to make it easier to find the corresponding explanation in the manual. There are some oracle cards that build a structure, but the structure varies from oracle card to oracle card.
The Tarot system is flexible and unified. When you pick up a tarot deck, you may find that each card in the explanatory material has a similar meaning; this is the unity of the tarot. However, as time and systems develop, the meanings of Tarot cards are extended and changed, constantly absorbing new occult nutrients such as astrology, numerology, Kabbalah and depth symbolic symbolism. But these new variations are usually used only for the design of themes and not for the entire framework structure.
The system of oracle deck is independent and unique. No two decks of oracle cards will be exactly the same, because they are arbitrarily designed by the author according to his or her own preferences. When using them, you need to be guided by the author. The authors of many oracle cards are very famous masters in the field of body and mind and have their own specialties, such as soul coaching, animal spirit, angel healing, goddess guidance, shamanic healing and so on.
Studying Tarot is a rigorous and rational discipline. You can read many books published at the master level or refer to the divination techniques accumulated by famous diviners. Of course, you also need to use your own intuition. So learning tarot is a gradual process.
Take the most popular Waite tarot in the world as an example. Although the themes and designs of different tarot suits differ, they always contain the most basic elements and common card meanings. Because there are rules to follow, tarot readers who master the standard Waite tarot are theoretically able to use all the cards in the Waite system.
However, the study of the oracle card is quite the opposite. It requires reference to the manual (note that it is a reference), because the oracle cards are learned mainly from the patterns and aphorisms on the cards, which are very personal. Therefore, learning oracle cards requires not only subjectivity and intuition, but also an understanding of the themes in the cards.
Take angel oracle cards as an example, you need to know about the angels that appear in the cards, and know the origin and symbolism of each of them. It is undeniable that oracle cards often contain design elements “inspired” by tarot cards, and if you are familiar with your own tarot cards, you can also find a little bit shadow in oracle cards.
5) Uses and Feelings
Tarot is one of the cartomancy systems. Because the Tarot is more famous, so the usual sense of speaking of card divination refers to the Tarot. Then the use of Tarot cards is also very obvious, it is used for analysis and prediction of past, present, & future events and people.
Tarot is mainly good at divination of specific events, like a faithful recorder. For example, you can ask the work situation, relationship development, or how to solve difficulties from the practical side. So it is more oriented to the reality of the actual specific problems, more objective and rational.
Besides, tarot cards take longer to understand than oracle cards, testing the user’s knowledge and patience. Some classical tarot cards may be darker and more intimidating, which is related to the 15th-18th centuries when the “Book of Mysteries” was to be protected. The modern tarot cards are more bright and healing in theme.
Different themes of oracle decks are used for different purposes. For example, dream oracle cards are suitable for divining personal dream interpretation, and Phantom Oracle Cards are suitable for divining personal inner emotions that affect external things. You will find that these themes are rather nebulous, macro, materialistic and subjective, and they try to address the deeper meaning of what is happening to the individual, which reaches the psychological and the divine level.
Most oracle cards, have the meaning written directly on the card, so they are easier to interpret. Meanwhile, their meanings are often positive and upbeat, like a blessing from an angel. When you use them, they gently heal you and tell you what state you are in and how you should feel about high frequency energy. It is a positive pull on the energy, prompting you to take the initiative to reach your potential from the inside out.
6) Add: Lenormand Tarot
Some of the very early oracle cards, like the tarot cards, have the basic structure of a divination system, so these oracle cards are also used as “Fortune Telling Packs”. The most representative of these cards is the Lenormand tarot cards, named after the famous diviner “Marie Anne Lenormand”. In fact, this series of cards cannot be called “oracle cards”. They are a set of divination cards with a built-in system and rules similar to those of the Tarot cards.
Traditionally, a Lenormand tarot deck has 38 cards. Some Lenormand will increase the number of cards or add different meanings to their cards, but most have 38 cards.
- Structure and System
Since Lenormand is formed on the basis of game cards, its structure and symbolism are similar to those of the game cards. That is, each card has the same hierarchy and importance, and is closely interacting with other cards. Another special point is that Lenormand can indicate the exact time.
Lenormand has only positive readings (no reversed position). The iconic “Grand Tableau” spread was designed specifically for the Lenormand cards. Also, like the Tarot, the Lenormand has many themes. For instance, the Fairy Tale Lenormand, which keeps the meaning of the original Lenormand, but draws a fairy tale on its card face.
How To Use Oracle Cards?
- Use the oracle card alone
Regardless of what type of oracle cards you prefer, they have the same basic use as the Tarot and the Lenormand: through a process of asking questions, drawing cards, and interpreting them. For a guide on how to read oracle cards, please see this tarot article: https://wjplayingcard.com/most-detailed-answer-to-what-are-tarot-cards/. Of course, some authors will also share the deck-specific interpretation spreads in the manuals for using the cards.
Since oracle cards are highly subjective, when you feel bad about your message reception status, you can draw just one oracle deck every morning and take a picture of it with your phone. Then when you think of it, you can look at the photo of that oracle card and look at it again at night when you go to bed, so that you can get the blessing of the oracle card all day.
When you don’t understand why the oracle card instructs the way it does, take a look at the instruction booklet that comes with the oracle cards, which explains it further.
- Use with Tarot Cards/ how to use tarot and oracle cards together?
The Tarot and the Oracle cards themselves are complementary in their practical readings: the Tarot is better at realistic challenges and answering specific questions; the Oracle cards can go outside the framework of the Tarot and have more inspiration and positive guidance. Therefore, you can use the following 4 recommended methods.
1) Start a tarot reading with an oracle card
Before you begin a tarot reading, draw an oracle card to determine the theme of the tarot reading and set the tone of the whole scene.
You will find that they are beautifully layered: the oracle card likely points out the theme the seeker is experiencing, and then the tarot reading refines the details of what is happening, and what to do next. When you combine the two, you get beautiful connections and new information.
2) End a Tarot reading with an oracle deck
You can do a tarot reading first and then finish with an oracle. Oracle cards are often very concise and will leave the seeker with an uplifting message. It’s like when you finish reading a book and say, “Okay, let’s end it. Get it over with an oracle card.” That’s the wrap-up part.
Especially if you have gone into a lot of detail in your tarot reading, a concluding oracle card at the end can be very helpful and will point the way forward.
3) Draw a tarot card and an oracle card each
This method applies to daily guides. First use the oracle cards to draw the energy guide or key theme for the day, and then use the tarot cards to see exactly how it is expressed.
This method is also very quick and effective for familiarizing yourself with new cards. Find connections between the daily card draws and use a deck of oracle cards that you are already familiar with to drive your understanding of the tarot theme and vice versa.
4) Balance and enhance challenging tarot cards with oracle cards
For example, if you have just drawn the Tower tarot card, it means that the seeker is in an important stage of life. He or she needs to jump out of the old and outdated, to get rid of the shackles, and to break free from the shackles. But almost everyone instinctively resists change.
Then you may think: “How do I deliver this challenging message to the seeker? ” As a reader, you need to help the seeker adjust his or her perspective and transform the anxiety and fear of change into something beneficial to look forward to in the long run.
So next, you can draw an oracle card and ask the question: “How can the seeker get through this time better? ” or “How can the seeker do this in a proactive way? “
If you draw “the Guardian Angel oracle card” – you can tell the seeker that you are not alone and to watch for signals and reminders from your angels and your loved ones, who are right there with you. They are working to guide you through the transformation of the present moment, and when you ask for help, it is available all the time.
How To Distinguish Oracle Cards Vs Tarot Cards?
So, if you are new to divination, how do you know if you have a tarot deck or an oracle card? Sometimes, cards can be deceptive. A deck of cards may have the title “Tarot”, but it is actually a deck of oracle cards.
Some helpful suggestions are listed below:
- Look at the title of the cards
Most Lenormand cards will simply state “Lenormand” in the title. Similarly, most oracle cards will identify themselves as oracle cards. However, you can’t rule out the possibility that the title is wrong.
- Check the number of cards
You can check the product details of the deck. If the number of cards is 78, then the deck is most likely to be a tarot deck.
- Browse the cards
If there are samples you can open and view, or if there are pictures of multiple decks in the product details, you can look at them to see if you can distinguish between the Major Arcana, the Court cards and other familiar signs for a tarot deck.
Finally, let’s conclude on tarot vs oracle cards: tarot cards are fixed systems that will always have the similar even same meaning and can be said to have no surprises. Tarot readings take longer to learn, but a deck of tarot can in principle read any question.
And oracle cards change with the author and the theme, i.e. they are always full of surprises! You can use oracle cards with different themes to get guidance for a particular orientation. You can also use multiple oracle cards together, or with a tarot, to bring a deeper, more flexible, and more moving reading. This is the most popular use of oracle cards!