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What’s the difference between Tarot Cards and Oracle Cards?

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

I have been asked this question by a lot of clients and friends, I have worked with both Tarot and Oracle Cards and here are a couple of differences with these two cards of divination. Oracle cards and Tarot cards are similar in that they are both used for the same purpose – doing readings, exploring oneself and divining the future.


Tarot card reading


1) Structure of the cards


A) Oracle cards

An oracle card deck is more free-form or fluid in structure, every oracle deck will differ from the other. Oracle decks can use animals, angels, trees, gods or goddesses or chakra and each is completely different from the other. They have their own little universe and is generally distinct from the others by their art, author, and themes.

Oracle cards have no set of rules or divisions (no major or minor arcana), they can have any number of cards. Most of them tend to be less cards than a Tarot deck, but some can have more. Some Oracle cards will have phrases on it but some decks might only have images and no words. Majority of the Oracle cards that I have come across have Tarot- inspired cards in them. Angel cards are the most popular form of Oracle cards – these are basically Oracle cards with an angelic theme. Most Angel cards have uplifting phrases written on them, making them easy to use for beginners and gentle enough for everyday use.


B) Tarot Cards

Tarot on the other hand has very strong tradition and the deck must follow a particular structure. For a deck of cards to qualify as a Tarot deck, it must have 78 cards split into five suits – the four minor arcana suits and the major arcana. It will always be split into 22 major arcana cards, and 56 minor arcana cards. The major arcana cards must be numbered 0 through 21, some decks will have an extra card that is unique to that deck or get crafty with the names of the cards but the general meaning of the card stays the same. The minor arcana consists of cups, swords, wands and pentacles. This can vary depending on the deck as some decks get creative with renaming the minors. There might be Sticks instead of wands or shafts instead of swords. But essentially, the character, meaning and number of each suit is the same. The visuals, artwork and imagery of each deck would depend on the artists but they do need to follow the above mentioned template and structure.



2) Origin of the cards


A) Oracle cards

It is believed that oracle cards began to develop out of tarot and they are fairly new forms of divination. Their origin can be traced back to the 19th century in France, the first oracle card deck is said to have been developed by Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand (Madame Lenormand). Then in the latter half of the 20th century Oracle cards began to spread and become quite popular.


B) Tarot cards

The ancestors of what we today know as Tarot cards can be traced back to the late 14th century. Tarot was first created by European artists and were used for games, it appears that divination with playing cards started to become popular in the late 16th century. As interest in Tarot grew, it became more associated with the Kabbalah and the secrets of hermetic mysticism.


C) Energy of the cards


A) Oracle cards

Energetically, Oracle cards hold a lot of ‘big-picture’ energy, they can give the querent insight into the greater sense of what is going on, the Oracle cards are easier to read right off the bat for most people since the meanings are usually written on the cards. The reading can tend to be one-dimensional and the reader would have to depend a lot on his/her own intuition. 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.


B) Tarot Cards

Energetically, Tarot cards are uniquely designed for divination, each one of the 22 Major Arcana cards represent major life changes or phase. They are based on metaphysical concepts such as alchemy, esoteric symbols, and numerology. Tarot, in my personal 18 odd years of working with the cards has a certain depth to it that Oracle cards often lack. When you are doing a Tarot card Reading, it’s definitely more challenging and forces you to flex your intuitive muscles. Some find Tarot cards intimidating and scary with their dramatic images of crumbling towers and scythe wielding skeletons, especially tarot beginners. The readings tend to be multi-dimensional as they provide more detailed interpretations. Tarot cards also combine the knowledge of numerology, astrology, symbols and signs.


Tarot card readings by Tarot mamta

C) Ease of reading the cards

A) Oracle cards

Relatively, learning to read Oracle cards are easier to read and mostly rely on channeled information from the etheric realms. The reading is produced by the interaction of energies of the seeker and the response of the angels to the querent's questions. These cards are also used for divination, inspiration, inner guidance, and intuition. It is first and foremost a method for exploring the images, feelings, metaphors, and symbols that we experience in everyday life.


B) Tarot cards

Learning to read tarot requires more time and energy as reading tarot cards is both an art and a science. It is a science because magic is a precision science, so all procedures need to be duplicatable and have reliable results. At the same time, reading tarot cards is an art form that both requires and enhances the development of intuitive and psychic abilities. Having said this anyone can pick up the art and science of reading these cards, one easy way to learn is to sign up for our Basic tarot reading classes.


When to Choose Oracle Cards vs. Tarot Cards?

Oracle cards are used as a stepping stone by many readers to improve their intuition and to gain confidence. Oracle messages are profound and very important, so it would benefit anyone to get an oracle reading. Oracle messages are messages that you need to fulfill a purpose, not whether you should buy a house or return to an ex, though these messages are important to true enough, these are not the messages you will get in an oracle card or energy reading. Tarot cards are thought to have hard-hitting information and to predict, whereby the oracle cards have smaller, more digestible messages and can improve your own intuition. Click here to find out the kind of questions you can ask tarot.


So which is better? Tarot or Oracle cards?

This totally depends on you, some people find Tarot cards intimidating and scary with their dramatic images and messages. In that case, it’s best to start with a gentle Oracle or Angel card deck. To find out more, call +6597499287 to book a Tarot card reading session today.


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