Comparing Oracle and Tarot Cards: How Do You Choose?

Compare Oracle and Tarot cards

Maybe you’re interested in Tarot cards but have also heard about the Oracle cards.  Or, maybe you’ve worked with Oracle cards and are wondering about the Tarot ones.  Which one is better? Which one should I use?

These are probably all questions you’ve asked yourself. How do you choose between Oracle and tarot cards?

It depends on you and what deck feels right for you.

Different Oracle card creators will have different imagery, and number of cards in a deck and will include a guide for interpretation. Tarot has a long-standing tradition, decks include the same number of cards with slightly different imagery but similar interpretations.

If you’ve caught the oracle and tarot cards bug, you’re in the right place! We’ve got a complete breakdown and comparison of Oracle and tarot cards. Not only that, but we’ll walk you through how to choose between oracle and tarot cards and how to conduct an easy reading with your cards.

Let’s get into it.

Table of Contents

Oracle Cards vs. Tarot Cards: The Breakdown

If you’ve considered buying your own deck of oracle cards or tarot cards, you may have been overwhelmed with all the options: decks with different authors; decks adorned with animals, mantras, geometry, and chakras; decks that are “mini-sized” and decks that are large – really, we could go on and on.

Choosing between oracle and tarot cards doesn’t have to be a difficult or daunting task. In fact, it should be the opposite!

When it comes down to deciphering the different options of oracle and tarot decks and choosing the right one for you, all you need to do is know some information about each of the types of cards.

Put simply, both Oracle and tarot cards are tools that help you receive intuitive information. When messages are received from the cards, our intuition, or “inner-knowing,” helps interpret them.

Desiree Lanz, a medium, channeler, and intuitive reader based in Los Angeles expertly explained the primary use of oracle and tarot cards in her interview with Well and Good:

“‘Our intuition interprets the messages and images we receive from the cards, determining which parts are relevant to us, whether the messages are metaphorical or literal, and what area of life they are referring to. [Pulling cards] is like giving our intuition a really wide vocabulary with which to express itself.’”

So, in short, oracle and tarot cards allow us to receive and interpret messages about ourselves, our lives, our relationships, and even the world around us.

We can break it down even more than this, though; although both oracle and tarot cards have the same broad, general purpose, the two can have a lot of other differences. Let’s take a look at the specifics of oracle cards and tarot cards.

The Must Tarot Deck

Here are some examples of Different Tarot Card Decks

Here are some examples of Different Oracle Card Decks.

All About Oracle Cards

You read in our introduction that oracle cards are generally easier to use and interpret than tarot cards, and that oracle cards are great for beginners. Why is that?

First things first, oracle card decks vary widely. There are a few different reasons for this. The biggest reason is that Oracle card decks don’t have a set number of cards.

The user and owner of Oracle cards get to choose just how many cards they want in their deck – decks could consist of 10 cards to 100 cards to anything in between. Oracle card users and owners also get to choose what imagery they want on their cards.

Additionally, oracle cards come in all different sizes and shapes.

When it comes to oracle cards, you can essentially create your own deck, cards, imagery, and meanings. Oracle cards are entirely customizable and variable.

Colette Baron Reid, an Oracle expert, spiritual medium, and spiritual teacher, notes

“Each oracle card deck is its own little universe and is generally distinct from the others by their art, author, and themes.”

Reid also notes that oracle cards can also be created for different purposes. Some of the goals that Oracle cards can be created for are:

  • To use for affirmations
  • To reflect upon for emotional wisdom
  • To pull one card per day
  • As true divination systems to do readings for yourself and others

Oracle cards are great for giving you insight on the more important and broader things in life, and are good at pointing you towards something you already knew the answer to, but needed an affirmation or a push on.

Oracle card decks are often used in tandem with other Oracle card decks. Many users collect a large number of oracle card decks; some use all or some of their decks together.

Additional oracle card decks can be used in readings in order to get a different take on a specific subject or get a second opinion on a matter.

All About Tarot Cards

Again, you read in our introduction that tarot cards take a bit more practice and mastery to use and interpret than oracle cards. The main reason for this is that tarot cards have set rules and directions.

Tarot card decks are comprised of exactly 78 cards. Of those 78 cards, 22 are Major Arcana cards, and 56 are Minor Arcana cards.

Wait, wait, wait – this is new vocabulary. What are Major Arcana cards, and what are Minor Arcana cards in a tarot deck?

The 22 major arcana cards are the most impactful and recognizable cards in a tarot card deck. These cards carry specific information and guidance about situations we all face in life.

The Major Arcana cards each have their own name and meaning; the first five of the Major Arcana cards include:

  • The Fool – he who hasn’t yet experienced the ups and downs of life
  • The Magician – a reminder of the unique and powerful gifts you hold that others do not
  • The High Priestess – an encouragement to follow your instincts and listen to your inner voice
  • The Empress – the feminine in the Major Arcana card encouraging compassion, love, and beauty
  • The Emperor – a reminder that you hold power over your own life and what happens to it

The remaining 56 cards in the tarot deck are Minor Arcana cards. The Minor Arcana cards in the tarot deck have to do with the minor trials we face on a daily basis as we go throughout life.

The Minor Arcana cards are divided into four different tarot suits:

  • The Suit of Cups – representing emotions, feelings, creativity and intuition
  • The Suit of Wands – representing your energy, passions, and motivations
  • The Suit of Pentacles – representing work, material possessions, and money
  • The Suit of Swords – representing your words, actions, and thoughts

When it comes to tarot cards, the decks, imagery, and meaning aren’t as customizable and variable as oracle cards. Tarot cards generally have meanings that are broadly consistent across all decks.

Tarot cards, unlike oracle cards, give insight into the finer details in life. This is often advice on specific situations, insight into relationships, and insight into what’s going on within us.

Because Tarot cards have generally consistent meanings, and because they have specific “rules” and guidelines, they’re great for expert readers or those who have learned the card meanings and interpretations.

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Main Differences Between Oracle Cards and Tarot Cards

That was kind of a lot of information, right? A lot of information is great and all, but it sometimes helps to make things more simplified.

So you can get a quick glimpse at the main differences between oracle cards and tarot cards, we’ve compiled a table comparing the two.

  Oracle CardsTarot Cards
Number of CardsVariable number of cards per deck78 cards in a deck
Structure or ThemeNo standard structure or theme; purpose and meanings varyTraditional structure and shared meanings, generally with a common theme
Card MeaningsCards and meanings per deck vary and are up to user/owner22 Major Arcana cards, &
56 Minor Arcana cards per deck
InsightGive insight into the broader things in lifeGive insight into the finer details of life
Use With Other Card DecksOften used with other oracle card decksCan be used with other decks, but isn’t as common
Ease of UseRegarded as easier to use and interpret than tarot cardsA bit more difficult to learn, use and interpret than oracle card due to set rules
Who Should UseGreat for beginners or those less experienced with cardsGreat for those who know the meanings and interpretations of tarot cards

With all the differences, there are things that are the same… For example all of these articles could relate to both Oracle and Tarot cards:

Choosing Between Oracle Cards and Tarot Cards

Now that you know more about oracle cards and tarot cards, we can discuss how to choose between the two. With all those options, where do you start?

First things first, you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can have a deck of oracle cards and a deck of tarot cards or any number of the two that you please.

However, if you really want to begin practicing with only one type and want to make a decision, there are some things you can take into consideration.

Examples of Oracle Card

Examples of Tarot Cards

What Are Your Intended Uses?

This is a big one when it comes to choosing between oracle and tarot cards. What do you intend to do with them?

If you intend to get insight into broader, grander-scale things in life, oracle cards are likely the right choice for you. Additionally, if you want to have more leeway with your intended uses and be able to use your cards for more things you see fit, oracle cards will be great. They’re variable!

On the other hand, if you intend to get insight to more specific, finer details in life, your best bet is probably going to be tarot cards.

How Much Detail Are You Looking For?

How much detail you’re looking for in your cards and their answers and/or interpretations is another factor in choosing what type of deck to get. This can also play into your intended uses.

Since oracle cards are intended to help guide us with the broader, more significant aspects in life, they tend to be less detailed. Sure, this can differ, as owners and users can create their own variations and meanings. But generally, oracle cards have less detail than tarot cards.

Tarot cards, the tellers of the smaller aspects in life, have more detail to offer. If you’re looking for specific answers to the more difficult things in life, you may just want to go with tarot cards over oracle cards.

How Much Are You Willing to Learn?

As we mentioned, oracle cards tend to be easier to use for those without much experience with cards and those who may be considered beginners. Generally, since you can assign your own meaning to and variations of your oracle cards, you don’t have to learn much in order to use them.

If you don’t want to have to learn much or are a beginner starting out, oracle cards will likely be a good choice.

Tarot cards are great for those who are looking to learn the specific meanings and guidelines of the practice. If you are game to do some learning, practice, and mastery, tarot cards will be a good choice.

I’ve found that there is more information available for the Rider Waite Smith style Tarot decks that most other decks. Check out these 2 different Rider Waite decks: Traditional Style, and Unique Rider Waite Smith deck.

What Calls to You?

Those experienced with both oracle cards and tarot cards will tell you to pay attention to what calls to you. Do you connect with the deck author’s values and message?

Do you feel as if one particular deck (oracle or tarot) really appeals to you over the others? What deck are you called to?

These can be signs of your intuition working and guiding you to your deck of cards – and you should follow it. After all, as we mentioned, oracle cards and tarot cards help you receive intuitive information!

I also wrote a fun article you might like… “Can anyone read Tarot cards?

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How to Conduct an Easy Reading With Oracle Cards or Tarot Cards

If you’ve decided whether to go with oracle cards or tarot cards (or both), this section is for you! We’re going to take a brief look at how to conduct an easy reading with oracle cards or tarot cards.

Also read, How to do a reading without Tarot cards

First, the information we’re going to discuss applies to both oracle cards and tarot cards, although use is subjective (especially with oracle cards). These methods are examples of very simple readings for those who are just starting out with their cards.

Conducting a reading with oracle cards or tarot cards actually isn’t hard, and doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, a reading can be as simple as pulling one card.

It’s important to regularly conduct readings and work with your oracle cards or tarot cards to establish and build a personal relationship with all your cards and their meanings and purposes.

This will help you figure out what works for you and your cards, and ultimately get in the flow of how you want to use your cards.

You can complete simple yes or no style readings, read this article: How to use Tarot for Yes or No Answers.

Step-by-Step: Conducting an Easy Reading With Your Oracle Cards or Tarot Cards

Now, let’s look at conducting an easy reading step-by-step!

  1. Read through the booklet that comes with your cards for advice on beginning use, OR
  2. Use your intuition to begin using your cards. See what feels right and what comes to you.
  3. Take a moment to yourself. Take a few deep breaths and try to get in the present moment.
  4. Form a question in your mind that you’d like an answer to or guidance on. These questions can be anything, but examples are “How can I overcome this obstacle?” or  “What should I focus on today/this week/this month?”
  5. Grab your deck and begin to shuffle it.
  6. If a card (or cards) jumps or falls out, reach for it. This is likely the answer you’re seeking.
  7. If no card jumps or falls out, you can pull out three cards that speak to you and put them in a line. The line will add up to the answer to your question.

I’ve written a number or articles about different Tarot spreads that you can use:

Final Thoughts

Oracle cards and tarot cards are a great metaphysical tool for helping us receive intuitive information and getting intuitive answers to our questions in life. No wonder so many people are interested in them!

If you’re interested in picking up your own set(s) of oracle cards and tarot cards but aren’t sure which one to go with, it’s important to know about the main differences between the two. You can find the Sandra Anne Taylor Oracle Cards and others on Amazon, check for pricing here. You can also find a variety of different tarot cards, including the Rider Tarot Deck on Amazon as well, check for current pricing.

Remember, oracle cards don’t have set rules, functions, or meanings. Oracle card decks are often different from one another and customizable. On the other hand, tarot cards follow set rules and have set meanings; they have 78 cards per deck with different types and suits.

When you are looking to choose between oracle cards and tarot cards, consider some details like what you intend to use the cards for, how much you’re willing to learn, and what calls to you.

Conducting readings with your oracle or tarot cards doesn’t have to be difficult, and can actually be really simple.

Learn about the cards, decide what type you’d like, and begin to use them in whatever way you see fit – it’s as simple as that! Your intuition’s got you.

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