What’s the Difference Between Oracle Cards & Tarot Cards

Many years ago when I first started out on my path, I called cards. Most were Tarot and the others were Oracle. At the time I thought that they were all Tarot cards, but that isn’t true. I mean you can use both kinds of cards in the same layouts, but the cards themselves are different.

Tarot cards are more structured. There are 78 cards in each deck—22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana.

The Major Arcana are as follows:

0- The Fool
1- The Magician
2- The High Priestess
3- The Empress
4- The Emperor
5- The Hierophant
6- The Lovers
7- The Chariot
8- Strength
9- The Hermit
10- Wheel of Fortune
11- Justice
12- The Hanged Man
13- Death
14- Temperance
15- The Devil
16- The Tower
17- The Star
18- The Moon
19- The Sun
20- Judgement
21- The World

The Minor Arcana is set up a lot like a deck of playing cards in that there are 4 separate suits, plus court cards.

Ace through 10 + Page, Knight, Queen & King of Cups
Ace through 10 + Page, Knight, Queen & King of Wands
Ace through 10 + Page, Knight, Queen & King of Swords
Ace through 10 + Page, Knight, Queen & King of Pentacles

Keep in mind that these cards will sometimes have different names. The Universe instead of The World for the 21st Major Arcana card. In the Minor Atcana, the Pentacles are sometimes called Coins or Discs and the Wands are sometimes called Rods or Staves. Rest assured, the symbolism is the same regardless of the terminology… and deck for that matter.

For the most part, even the books used to describe the meaning of each card don’t waver from each other too terribly much.

The Oracle cards aren’t as structured. There’s no set number in a deck, no Major/Minor Arcana and no suits. There are no limits to the kinds of cards that can be in an Oracle deck- Deities of all kinds, the Elements, Colors, Numbers, Crystals, Animals, Herbs, and many others. These decks can be just Deities, Animals, etc. or a mixture of some or all.

Just as with the types of cards you can have, the meanings can be vastly different as well, depending on what the author believes each symbol to represent.

For example, if I were to make an Oracle deck for crystals, I would see Malachite as a symbol of protection, whereas a good friend of mine sees Malachite as a symbol for prosperity.

Personally, I like the Oracle decks better. I find them to be far more versatile. I will say that for my purposes, the Tarot cards are best used when you’re trying to figure something out about a person. The Court Cards can represent people in your life and most of the Oracle cards I’ve seen don’t have a set up like that.

I can’t tell you which is the better deck to get, Tarot or Oracle. That’s something you should try out for yourself. I’d actually recommend getting one of each and trying them out for yourself.

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