What is the Difference Between Tarot and Oracle Cards?


When it comes to card decks used for divination, the main two people use are tarot decks, and oracle decks. Either one is similar in some ways and different in others. But, if you’re confused about the difference or which you should get, leave it to us to explain.


The similarity in short: they’re both used in divination.

Answering questions, predicting the future – though remember fate is always in your own hands – or helping you work through inner thoughts, both tarot and oracle decks are used for these purposes.


But the differences…

Let’s talk about structure.

Tarot cards all follow the same structure. They have the same number of cards, the same types of cards, and same archetypes. Though the imagery and art style may vary from deck to deck, the traditional storyline and archetypes still exist and carry through.

Oracle however, has little structure. Each deck can be a different number of cards, follow a storyline or not, or have whatever archetypes suit the theme of that deck. For example, an astrology oracle deck might only have 34 cards based on the signs, houses, and planets. But, another deck could focus on the entire Greek pantheon, and have a larger number of cards.


How long does it take to learn either?

Since tarot has more tradition and structure, all 78 cards have a prescribed meaning. It can be really overwhelming to learn the traditional meaning of all these cards and have them locked in and ready for readings.

However, oracle is way more intuitive. You could pick up an affirmation oracle deck and know the meanings right away.


Both have traditional and non-traditional ways of reading.

Tarot, as mentioned above, has traditional meanings. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow them word for word. It’s common for readers to use their own intuition and for card meanings to vary slightly from reader to reader.

Most or all oracle decks come with a guidebook. You could read from that, or you could follow what your intuition is telling you.

Either way, it’s really up to you.


How specific can either deck get?

Tarot is known for being on the nose. It can describe specific events, people, and sometimes even timing. This is because of how specific imagery and meanings are after centuries of people using them.

It’s been said that oracle cards are more general, and give overviews and themes to focus on rather than talking about specifics.

But in my personal opinion, I think it depends on the question, and the reader. I’ve had oracle readings done that get specific at Cosmic Corner, which you can book here.


Was that a lot of information? We’ve got a cheat sheet for you over on Pinterest and Instagram for you to save.

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