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The Difference Between Tarot Cards and Oracle Cards?

Image from wix
Card Spread for a reading with crystal pendulum

When beginning to search for a card reader or even to learn the art of card reading, we see so many options. One of those options is: what kind of carding do you want, Oracle or Tarot?

As a professional card reader, I read both Oracle and Tarot: and there is a difference. Both Oracle and Tarot cards are wonderful ways to develop your intuition as well as to develop your spiritual practice whether you are a professional medium, spiritual healer, practice divination, etc., or just want to get in touch with your spiritual self.

Card meanings are written on each of these Oracle Cards
Oracle Reading using the Sacred Geometry Activations Oracle by LON
Using the Number that is on each Oracle Card you can look up the Card meanings in this guide book
Guide Book That comes with the Oracle Deck: Sacred Geometry Activations by LON
This card 41 use the number reference to look up the card meaning in the Guide Book that comes with the deck
A card from the Sacred Geometry Oracle Deck by LON

What are Oracle Cards?

Oracle cards are more modern than Tarot and were created for fortune-telling and parlor games; an example would be the

Lenormand Oracle deck was created in the nineteenth century. However Oracle cards became very popular during the late eighties and nineties, or the "New Age Movement". Oracle decks are a wonderful tool to help you work on your intuition. Each card has its message to help with inspiration, intuitiveness, and self-awareness. There isn't a defined Oracle structure; unlike the Tarot deck where we have 78 cards that include Major and Minor arcana, suits, and court cards and there is a system and language that is followed for reading them. Oracle Decks don't follow a system or a set of rules like Tarot cards do.

Oracle cards are more free-flowing and the "rules" of reading them are set by the creator of the deck. An Oracle deck can have any number of cards. Some Oracle decks have 24 and others can have 50 or more. There are no rules to how many cards a deck can have. Each Oracle card has a number that is referenced to the card's description in a guidebook. The guidebook will contain the card's message and how to read the imagery. There are also Oracle decks that do not have a guidebook, instead, each card will have the message written on it.

Using the Number on each card you can look up the card meanings in the Guide Book that comes with this deck
The beautiful Energy Oracle Cards by Sandra Anne Taylor

Oracle decks have themes that are chosen by the creator of the deck. For instance, Oracle

deck themes can be fairies, alchemy, astrology, botany, etc., My favorite Oracle deck is called the Energy Oracle Cards deck by Sandra Anne Taylor. There are 53 cards in this deck and each card has beautiful artwork with the theme of energy. Each card is referenced with a number which I can look up in the guidebook to retrieve the message. For example: the number 22 card is called Yin/Yang. The card has beautiful artwork of the Ying/Yang energy. If I look up card #22 in the guidebook. I will find out what the Oracle deck creator wants us to know about this card. We will find the meaning of the card and a positive affirmation to use to ignite our intuition. The Energy Oracle Card deck is one of many examples of Oracle decks. I like to work with energy so I was drawn to this type of deck. If you are interested in astrology, you may be drawn to Oracle decks with the theme of Astrology. Choose a deck with the theme that you are interested in and that way the Oracle deck is meaningful for you. Each Oracle deck has its structure so you will need time to learn a new deck.

Using the guide book to learn the meaning of the Yin/Yang card
Looking up the #22 Card in the Energy Oracle Yin/Yang

Oracle cards connect you to yourself. The cards mirror your energy and help you become more self-aware. Oracle cards can help you understand how you are showing up in the world and how you are handling your situation.

Oracle cards are great for those who are beginning:

  • help beginners work on using intuition

  • positive messages with beautiful imagery

  • positive affirmations are often included with Oracle decks that will help you gain more connection with your spiritual self

  • great for anyone who has fears with Tarot readings

  • easy to find a deck that appeals to your interests

Tarot Vieville , Paris 1750 - Marseille Tarot  system
Tarot Vieville -Reproduction of the Jacque Vieville

What are Tarot Cards?

Tarot cards have been around a lot longer than Oracles decks. The tarot cards that we mainly use today have been around since the 15th century and were developed from a playing card game, Tarocchi in Northern Italy. There are 4 suits of cards: wands/batons, swords/spades, cups/hearts, and coins/diamonds. People began using these cards for divination and the Trump cards were added to the deck which is now referred to as the Major Arcana. Affluent families would commission an artist to design a deck for their use, for example, the Visconti deck

Tarot card decks are decks of 78 cards. This tarot system became known as the Marseilles Tarot Deck because many of the card printers were from the port city of Marseilles. For a deck to be a Tarot deck there has to be:

  • 78 cards in the deck

  • Major Arcana- the first 22 cards of the deck These cards have many mythic, astrology, and religious symbolism

  • Minor Arcana- 56 suit cards: Coins or Pentacles, Swords, Cups or Chalices, and Wands or Batons The Minor Arcana includes 4 suits. Each suit with cards numbered Aced to ten and four court cards: Page/Valet, Knight/Chavlier, Queen, King

  • meanings of each card are generally the same no matter what deck you use. So if you learn to read one Tarot deck you can read the others

The Journey Tarot, Rider Waite, Tarot Jean Dodal, Deviant Moon Tarot, Tarot Vieville
Different Tarot decks - Older and modern variations

Over the centuries there have been some variations to the Tarot deck such as the Rider Waite Tarot deck (c. 1909) which became referred to as the English Tarot system. This deck was designed with many references to the zodiac. However, like the Marseille Tarot, the Rider Waite has the same basic structure: 78 cards with 22 Major arcana and 56 minor arcana. Many Tarot decks have different imagery from the older Marseilles and Rider Waite tarot, but the meanings are generally the same. Tarot card meanings are universal.

This spread indicates disappointment
Three Card Reading using the Vintage Rider Waite Tarot from Lo Scarabeo

Unlike Oracle cards where messages are positive, Tarot can give messages from the dark side of oneself as well as the positive. Tarot readings give the good and bad news. Tarot pinpoints a situation and can give details such as:

  • past, present, and future information

  • people in and surrounding your situation

  • Things that you may be doing wrong

  • Information about what is blocking you

  • Messages of warnings

  • Information about how other people see you or how you are showing up in the situation

  • Fears that you have that may be holding you back

  • How successful you will be in achieving your goal

Knowing how to read Tarot cards takes time and practice. It can be cumbersome for some individuals to start their card-reading journey with Tarot cards. If you are uncomfortable with the dark side of human nature and find images i.e. the Devil and Death scary, then Tarot cards may not be the best place to start your card reading journey. try Oracle cards first and develop your intuition and after a bit of time, try learning Tarot. However, if you are a beginner and are drawn to Tarot cards then go ahead!

The Difference Between Tarot Cards and Oracle Cards?

Image from WIX
Image of a Card Reader

Oracle vs. Tarot - Is one better than the other?

For me, I love tarot! I have been reading tarot cards for about 27 years and with each reading I find surprises. I love the structure and the detail that you can get from a tarot reading. I find tarot readings helpful because there is so much discovery in Tarot. Oracle is great for the short readings and an Oracle card reading is great to do for someone who needs healing and positive messages. If I am doing a crystal healing session for someone, I use Oracle cards to "seal in" the healing session. Some clients are afraid of the imagery in Tarot i.e. the Devil and Death so I use Oracle. Oracle is a much "lighter" card reading than Tarot which can give you information that may be "darker" such as a not-so-nice part of your personality i.e. bad habits getting in the way of achieving goals.

Can you use both?

Of course! Both are wonderful. I will do an Oracle card reading for a client after I have given a very detailed Tarot reading as a way of wrapping up a session. Some clients, however, do not want the extra reading with Oracle cards.

Where to buy Oracle Cards and Tarot Cards?

Local Metaphysical shops are my favourite places to look for Tarot and Oracle Cards
Getting my Tarot and Oracles deck ready for readings at the beautiful Happy Soul Crystals shop in Toronto, Jul 2023

You can buy Tarot and Oracles decks in many places: stores and online. My first suggestion will always be your local metaphysical shop. I like to support local businesses since they are the backbone of the community. The owners love their products and usually have staff that know Oracle and Tarot. They would be great to help when choosing a deck. If you do buy online, my suggestion would buy from a small shop close to where you live. Most shops nowadays have a website where you can buy their decks and have the extra personal touch!

If you you like to have a reading from me you can request it from this link:


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