Tarot vs. Oracle

For centuries, tarot has remained the most widely-used form of divination. The imagery in tarot is symbolic of the phases we experience throughout our journey as human beings. So, what are oracle cards and how do they fit into this equation? In this post, I will discuss the differences and similarities between the two.

Tarot defined.

Tarot decks consist of 78 cards. The first 22 of these are known as the Major Arcana, the remaining 56 are known as the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana is made up of more universal cards – these depict the major milestones we hit as we journey through life. For the Minor Arcana, there are four suits: cups, swords, pentacles, and wands. In each suit, there are 14 cards – 4 face cards, and the rest ace through 10.

All tarot decks are created this way. They all use the same Major and Minor Arcana cards and themes. However, the artwork obviously changes, and sometimes the suits have slightly different names. For example, sometimes wands are called staves, and so on. It depends on the artist and creator of the individual deck. But for the most part, if you learn how to read one tarot deck, you will most likely be able to read any tarot deck.

Oracle cards explained.

Oracle cards are very different from tarot, in that they do not have a set of “rules,” so to speak. Oracle cards are not the same from one deck to the next. You may find similar cards in different decks, but they are not intended to contain the same cards in every single deck, like the tarot.

Oracle cards do not have an over-arching story, either. They are usually completely random. You may come across a deck that is themed. For example, the Archangel Michael Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue are based on Archangel Michael. This means that she connected with him to share messages he wanted to share. All of the artwork on the cards has pictures of the archangel, and each card has a message from him. So, there is not one major theme that transitions throughout every oracle card deck. However, there are many different themed oracle decks.

Oracle decks also differ in the number of cards. I have a few decks that contain 44 cards. I have some that contain 48, and so on. It is up to the artist to decide how many cards they want to have in their deck.

Another thing that differs wildly from the tarot is that oracle cards have their messages right on the card itself. For instance, from tarot, you might pull a card from the suit of swords, and it would have only the number and the artwork on it (i.e. 10 of swords).

Oracle cards actually say a word or short phrase such as: child, new romantic partner, travel, etc. This makes oracle card reading much simpler than tarot, in my opinion. Having the keyword right on the card will help anyone understand its meaning, whereas with tarot, you must understand the meaning of the suits, the numerology, the imagery, etc.


The most prominent similarity between the two is that they are meant to connect you with your intuition. Both types of cards help you to delve within yourself and your subconscious mind. They bring out themes and ideas related to where you are on your journey. Both can bring things that seem hidden into the light, showing you areas in your life that need to be brought to your awareness.

Both can also be used to show you what your future might hold. However, you must keep in mind that you are the sole creator of your reality. So, if something comes up in a reading that does not please you, know that you have the power to change the course of your path. On the other hand, if something comes up in a reading that does please you, you can gain from the other cards what you need to do to ensure that this happens.

Card reading is all about utilizing your intuition and your inner knowing. That is why they are such powerful divination tools to use as a guide as you go throughout life.

Which is better?

I do not feel that either is better than the other. I love tarot and I love oracle cards. When I first started reading cards at the age of 15, I began using a traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck. I was not introduced to oracle cards until a few years later.

I remember being shocked by how simple oracle cards seemed after learning the tarot. So, I think if you are debating which kind of deck you want to start with, think about how much you want to delve into it right now. With tarot, this is A LOT to learn. But it becomes easier as you keep practicing.

With oracle, it starts out very easy. But that does not mean that oracle cards are not as magical or powerful. I kind of prefer using oracle cards with my clients, because they are so much more direct than tarot. So, it is really all a matter of preference, whether you are new to card reading or not. I intuitively feel when I should use tarot or oracle cards. I also use them both together sometimes, and that produces very accurate and detailed readings. Just remember to always use your intuition – that is the point of using the cards, anyway!

If you are ready to learn more about tarot, while learning more about yourself at the same time, check out my eBook, Transformational Tarot: Journal Prompts to Navigate Your Journey Using the Magic of Tarot – available NOW on Amazon.

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