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Are tarot cards the same as oracle cards?

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In today’s increasingly stressful and uncertain world, perhaps it is no surprise that more and more people are turning to spiritual practices for direction, strength, and healing. Everyday life is often so busy and fast-paced that we need to intentionally make time for slowing down, meditating on our experiences, and connecting with our inner selves. Carving out time and space for much-needed quiet and reflection can help any person find renewed hope and a sense of inner peace, no matter their concerns or lifestyle.

The best part is that there are many spiritual tools and practices that you can choose. From divinatory cards to energy medicine to more popular practices like crystals and astrology, the new practitioner can find themselves spoilt for choice. Choosing the right practical magics to experiment with depends on your specific spiritual needs, interests, and personality. It is often fruitful to begin by researching methods that interest you and let your intuition be your guide.

Divination cards are the perfect spiritual tool for people looking for guidance and insight into specific, compelling life questions. Practitioners may use them to predict future possibilities or to perform extensive personal introspection. The imagery and symbols on these cards are meant to evoke deeper themes and messages, which the reader can then intuitively connect to the question at hand.

Tarot cards and oracle cards are two popular kinds of cards used for divination. Although many assume they describe essentially the same type of card deck, oracle decks and tarot decks use different symbols and read very differently. Read on if you are curious about what exactly distinguishes an oracle deck from a tarot deck and how to choose between them:

 

1. Understanding Tarot Cards

Traditionally, Tarot decks are made up of 78 cards, each with a predetermined meaning. The 22 Major Arcana cards tell the story of a person’s journey through life. These powerful, highly meaningful cards typically represent major spiritual experiences or significant opportunities for learning and growth. The 56 minor arcana cards, meanwhile, describe the lessons, trials, and opportunities people encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Tarot artists are generally free to adapt or alter traditional tarot imagery and symbols to fit their chosen theme for a particular deck. Some creators may even distinguish their decks by adding a special card or two, changing the cards’ names, or making other unique changes.

However, the basic structure of the deck and the cards’ underlying themes remain more or less constant across all standard tarot decks. The cards can be read individually or as part of multiple-card spreads, and they often provide highly detailed answers to complex questions or concerns.

 

2. Understanding Oracle Cards

Oracle cards serve essentially the same purpose as tarot cards, in that they can be used for divining the future or for self-exploration. However, oracle decks don’t have a predetermined structure or a traditional set of meanings the way tarot cards do. The overarching theme of the deck, the number of cards included, and what they mean are all up to the deck’s creator. In addition, the meanings of the individual cards are often inscribed on the cards themselves for easier reading.

Similarly, reading oracle cards is often a spontaneous and free-flowing experience, whether you choose to read them singly or in spreads. Individual card meanings are usually quite broad and can be interpreted in multiple ways. As a result, many readers find them most useful for gathering insight into the “big picture” of a particular situation.

 

3. Deciding Which Deck Works for You

As you decide whether you would like to learn how to read tarot cards or oracle cards, it’s important to bear in mind that neither is better than the other. They simply offer different ways of connecting with your intuition and discovering deeper spiritual truths. Most practitioners will experiment with both approaches before determining which speaks to them the most, and some even use both regularly.

On the one hand, the looser structure and simpler symbolism of oracle decks may provide a friendlier, less intimidating starting point for people just beginning their divination journeys. Those who prefer a more free-flowing approach to divination may also appreciate oracle cards’ openness to interpretation over the rigid structure and complicated rules of traditional tarot decks.

On the other hand, those who love working with complex divination systems will likely enjoy learning to read tarot cards. While reading tarot is also a highly intuitive exercise, it does take a lot of practice to interpret tarot spreads proficiently and confidently. Mastering the tarot can thus be immensely fulfilling if you like an element of challenge to your spiritual practices. Tarot cards’ multilayered meanings also often allow you to achieve levels of depth and detail that oracle cards can’t reach on their own.

As previously mentioned, while these two types of divination cards are quite different at the core, there isn’t necessarily a correct choice between them. Often, the best approach and card decks for you will be those that resonate with you. At the end of the day, any deck you love will certainly make a good companion on your spiritual journey.

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