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Tarot Cards vs. Oracle Cards — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Published on February 27, 2024
Tarot cards follow a structured deck format with 78 cards, used for divination and self-reflection, while Oracle cards are more free-form, with varying numbers of cards and themes, offering guidance and insights.
Tarot Cards vs. Oracle Cards — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Tarot Cards and Oracle Cards


Key Differences

Tarot cards are a specific type of divination tool consisting of 78 cards, divided into the Major Arcana (22 cards) and the Minor Arcana (56 cards). The Major Arcana reflect major life events or lessons, while the Minor Arcana deal with day-to-day issues, categorized into four suits (Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands). Oracle cards, in contrast, do not have a set structure and can vary widely in the number of cards, themes, and imagery. These decks are more flexible and intuitive in use, designed to provide guidance, affirmations, and reflections without the traditional constraints of Tarot.
Tarot readings involve interpreting the cards' symbolic imagery and positions to gain insight into past, present, or future scenarios, often following specific spreads or layouts. Oracle card readings are more open-ended, allowing for a personal interpretation of the cards drawn, and can be used alone or in conjunction with Tarot cards to enhance a reading.
The imagery and symbolism in Tarot cards are deeply rooted in historical, esoteric, and cultural motifs, with each card holding specific meanings that have been interpreted over centuries. Oracle cards, however, are more diverse in their imagery and themes, reflecting the creator's vision and the deck's intended purpose, which can range from angelic guidance to animal spirits and beyond.
Tarot requires a certain level of study and understanding to grasp the complex meanings and traditional interpretations of the cards, whereas Oracle cards are often seen as more accessible, especially for beginners, due to their straightforward messages and the personal intuition involved in their interpretation.
Both Tarot and Oracle cards serve as tools for introspection, decision-making, and guidance. The choice between them depends on the user's preference, with some finding Tarot's structured system helpful for detailed readings, while others prefer the fluid, personalized insights offered by Oracle cards.

Comparison Chart


Fixed: 78 cards, Major/Minor Arcana
Variable: No set number or suits

Imagery and Themes

Traditional, symbolic
Diverse, based on deck theme


Divination, self-reflection
Guidance, affirmation, reflection


Standard meanings with variations
Intuitive, personal


Requires study and practice
More accessible for beginners

Compare with Definitions

Tarot Cards

A divination tool with 78 structured cards.
She spread the tarot cards to perform a detailed reading.

Oracle Cards

A flexible deck of cards for guidance and affirmation.
The Oracle cards offered comfort with their positive affirmations.

Tarot Cards

Cards divided into Major and Minor Arcana for introspection.
The Fool and The Tower are significant cards in the Tarot's Major Arcana.

Oracle Cards

Varying in themes, such as angels or nature spirits.
Her Oracle deck focused on the wisdom of animal totems.

Tarot Cards

Embedded with symbolic imagery for deep analysis.
The imagery on Tarot cards, like the Death card, often symbolizes transformation rather than literal death.

Oracle Cards

Intuitive in use, without a fixed structure.
Oracle cards can be drawn daily for personal insight and motivation.

Tarot Cards

Used in various spreads to interpret life situations.
The three-card spread in Tarot can offer insight into past, present, and future.

Oracle Cards

Designed for personal reflection and guidance.
The Oracle card reading provided a sense of direction during a time of uncertainty.

Tarot Cards

A tool for self-reflection and decision-making.
He used Tarot cards to gain clarity on a personal dilemma.

Oracle Cards

Often featuring direct messages or affirmations.
The Trust Your Path Oracle card reminded her to stay confident in her decisions.

Common Curiosities

Can anyone use Oracle cards?

Yes, Oracle cards are accessible to anyone and can be used for personal insight, guidance, and affirmation.

Is there a right or wrong way to interpret Tarot or Oracle cards?

Interpretations can vary widely; the "correct" interpretation often depends on the context of the question and the intuition of the reader.

Can Tarot and Oracle cards be used together in a reading?

Yes, many practitioners use both to complement the depth and breadth of their readings.

Are Tarot cards only for predicting the future?

No, Tarot cards are also used for self-reflection, understanding complex situations, and personal growth.

How do I care for my Tarot and Oracle cards?

Keep them in a clean, dry place, preferably in a box or wrapped in cloth, to maintain their energy and condition.

Are Tarot card readings more accurate than Oracle card readings?

"Accuracy" in card readings is subjective and depends more on the interpretation and relevance to the individual's life rather than the type of cards used.

How many Oracle cards should I draw in a reading?

The number of cards drawn can vary based on personal preference or the specific question at hand; there's no fixed rule.

Do I need special training to use Oracle or Tarot cards?

Tarot cards may require more study due to their complex symbolism, while Oracle cards are more intuitive and can be used with little to no prior training.

Do Oracle cards have reversed meanings like some Tarot cards?

Typically, Oracle cards do not include reversed meanings, focusing instead on the message of the card as it is presented.

Can I create my own Oracle card deck?

Yes, many people create their own Oracle decks based on personal insights, experiences, and artistic expression.

How do cultural differences influence Tarot and Oracle card readings?

Cultural backgrounds can influence the interpretation of the cards and the themes of Oracle decks, adding richness to the readings.

How do I choose between Tarot and Oracle cards?

The choice depends on personal preference, the type of guidance sought, and the user's comfort level with the structure and symbolism of the cards.

Is it necessary to cleanse my Tarot and Oracle cards?

Many practitioners cleanse their decks regularly to clear energies, using methods like smudging or placing them under moonlight.

Can Tarot or Oracle card readings be done daily?

Yes, both types of readings can be incorporated into a daily practice for guidance, reflection, or as a meditative focus.

What should I do if I receive a negative or confusing card in a reading?

Reflect on the card's message without fear, considering it as guidance or a reflection of possible challenges, and explore different perspectives or solutions.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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