If you are looking to get a deck and are wondering what kind of deck you want, knowing the difference between a tarot deck and an oracle cards might be very helpful.
The most important thing I can tell you right off the bat is that you Do Not need to be psychic to read cards! Yes tapping into your intuition (which Everyone has!) would help you to read the cards faster (Bc you don't have to look up the meaning). But it is still nothing to worry about if you want to start reading cards now. Your intuition will take over the more you practice.
Now lets talk about the differences between Tarot and Oracle.
At a really high level, Tarot cards come as a traditionally structured deck. There are a few more rules when it comes to Tarot than there are with Oracle cards. Oracle cards are really free-flowing – and they can feature almost any kind of content.
Tarot Deck are studied and interpreted by expert readers, primarily to speak to a person's life story.
The tarot structure is predictable. If you learn the Rider-Waite, then you will most likely be able to read any other tarot deck.
Tarot always has 78 cards
Major Arcana = 22 cards relating to major events and life pivoting events
Minor Arcana = 56 cards Page, Knight, Queen, and King (Ace through 10 are known as the Pip Cards, the Page, Knight, Queen and King as the Court Cards)
The Tarot is divided into suits; Wands, Swords, Cups (Chalice) and Pentacles (Coins)
The modern deck of playing cards is a descendant of the Tarot; Hearts are cups Pentacles are diamonds, Wands are clubs and Swords are spades. The Joker and the Fool are nowhere and everywhere and the Court Cards that remain are the King, Queen, and Jack.
Tarot cards have a traditional structure to the deck and common meanings. Most decks are Rider-Waite (the original deck) derivatives, and they share common themes across those different decks. The images and the pictures might be completely different, but often the messaging behind that card is very similar. So with Tarot cards, there is a common theme that runs through most cards, whereas Oracle cards have no common theme.
Oracle cards, on the other hand, are more free-wheeling from the set structure of tarot. An oracle deck can essentially be whatever the creator of the deck wants it to be — they pick how many cards are in it, what sorts of imagery it'll use, and what purpose it's supposed to serve. There are many different types of oracle decks that come in all shapes, sizes, and functions. The basic set-up is that they have images and words, along with a book that explains ways in which a reader should interpret them.
Oracle decks are structured independently and each follows it’s own set of rules
They may have any number of cards usually between 36 and 64.
Rarely have suits, although they are often numbered for guidebook reference.
Some have a bit of a tarot theme while others do not.
Some have the meaning of the card printed on them.
Novices refer to guidebooks for information and in many cases; it is acceptable for professional readers as well.
Because tarot takes time to study and is a more rigidly set deck, oracle decks could be maybe more accessible for more people. Oracle cards can be a variety of things, from affirmations to work with the elements to spiritual guides. Oracle cards are like tarot in that they are directive tools, so they offer guidance, clarity, and a new perspective — often pointing you toward something you already knew, but needed an outside vision on. It's helped me to get a little more clear and connected to an answer I'm seeking and remembering that the answers are in me, and these cards really help direct that.
You could image Oracle cards as the main meal and Tarot cards as the ingredients. You wouldn't have more than one main meal (it's very filling), but you could certainly have lots of ingredients.
Energetically, Oracle cards hold a lot of ‘big' energy. They give insight into the greater sense of what is going on, but Tarot cards can provide more detailed interpretations.
I like to think of Tarot cards as the pages inside a book. When you're doing a reading with Tarot cards, it's like a storybook, and each of those cards is like a page in that storybook. With the Oracle cards, on the other hand, it's more like the whole book or a chapter of the book.
But you by no means need to stick to that as a way of pulling cards. I still pull oracle cards like they are a tarot card spread because they can still reveal a story or message, It is up to the interpreter and how you connect, or on the type of oracle deck.
Oracle cards aren't structured in their meanings, and there aren't any rules (usually) to how you use them. Know why that's cool? You can pick up a deck and tap into your intuition without knowing a thing! However, you can count on the fact that most oracle card decks do come with a booklet from the author, where they will give you a bit of insight if you want more clarification. So you do not need to be psychic to read oracle cards, the author does that for you, you just need to read the meaning that author put on that card.
Is One Better Than The Other?
No – ultimately it's up to the reader to choose what feels right.
One Way to Use Tarot & Oracle Cards Together 1. At the start of a reading, draw an Oracle card to understand the general theme or feeling that is influencing the situation. What's the surrounding energy? Then, do the Tarot reading with multiple cards to get the full picture. Also, look for the Oracle card's theme in the Tarot reading – you'll often find the Tarot cards explain in more detail what's going on. 2. At the end of a Tarot reading, draw an Oracle card to understand the underlying theme, or to give advice and recommendations, a parting message, to the client. It adds closure to the Tarot reading, which will have multiple messages in it.
What do you want to gain from your readings?
This is a biggie, because the different types of divination decks offer different outcomes.
With tarot decks, you will receive a detailed and personal reading, depending on the tarot reader, it can also be extremely personal.
Oracle cards are more generalised, they are limited in how much detail they can give you and actually work best when they are giving you guidance rather than telling your fortune or reflecting your subconscious.
I like to have a few tarot and oracle decks, it means I can pick the deck that best suits what I need then and there. For example, I may wake up and think ‘What should I focus on today?’ so I’ll grab an oracle deck that's drawing me in. However, I like to do a tarot reading for myself every weekend to help "check-in", reflect on what I’ve worked through, take note of where I am and plan for where I’m going.
Best Questions to ask which deck?
Oracle decks are great for short term types of questions that require you to do some inner reflection and soul searching.
What should I focus on today?
I’m stuck between two choices.
How do I figure out my purpose?
Tarot cards are great for long term type of questions that speak to your overall life journey.
How should I prepare for a specific situation?
What do I think about before quitting the job I hate?
WTF am I doing with my life?
What To Know Before You Start Reading Tarot Cards.
Tarot is about your intuition!
If you're an overachiever and want to understand everything there is to know about tarot in one day, you will quickly find yourself frustrated. You need to be gentle with yourself and know that learning tarot is a lifelong journey. The more you practice tarot, the more you'll learn.
*Cleanse your deck before you use it. You can either smudge it or use selenite to clear it.
You can spend hours reading and researching tarot card meanings, but you will find that everyone has different meanings and keywords that they associate with each card. And they may not resonate with you, and that is okay.
There is not one person that knows everything that there is to know about tarot, so you are allowed to assign your meanings to the cards.
When you get your first tarot card deck, go through each card (without the guidebook) and see what you feel and intuitively feel about the card. You may even want to jot down what comes to mind.
For instance, every time I see the "Magician" card, I think of Harry Potter, and it carries that meaning for me. It's silly, it's fun, and it is how I connect with the card.
There is a lot of information that you will naturally get by just looking at the card, tuning in to what you see and feel, and figure out what the meaning is and that will genuinely help you before you dig into any research that will probably confuse you.
Lastly, do not close yourself off and only see what you want to see. Sometimes you need tough love, so be open to that.
Tarot tells the future. Nope, they don't. You have free will, and the only thing tarot can help you with when it comes to the future is awakening the ideas within the possibilities that maybe you didn't think about. Short story? You control your destiny.