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Tarot vs Oracle Cards

Updated: Apr 14

Tarot and Oracle cards are both divination tools and have been used as a means to inspire and receive spiritual guidance. Although they are similar but are not the same. Following are some of the main differences between the two systems of divination:

  • Unlike Tarot, oracle cards do no follow a set patter of Major and Minor Arcana, suits and court cards. Instead the messages contained on each card can consist of images or words, or at times art accompanied by singular words or meanings. The number of oracle cards in a deck can also vastly vary in numerical range, with decks generally containing fewer cards than the standard 78 cards of Tarot.

  • Oracle cards presumably began to gain popularity due to the influence of the Tarot in the latter half of the 20th century. The history of oracle cards as a divinatory system can be traced back to the early 19th century in Paris, France. The first oracle card deck is said to have been inspired by renowned author and cartomancer Marie-Anne Adélaïde Le Normand. Although Lenormand did not create her own oracle deck, after her death, her name was given to several cartomancy decks in her honour, some titled the Petit Lenormand or simply Lenormand.

  • Around the late 1700s, Tarot was specifically defined as an individual esoteric practice, with its methodology outlined in numerous philosophical and occult texts of the era. It was during this period that Tarot became considered a universal book of knowledge, a learning tool that transcended letters on a page. Its archetypical imagery could be comprehended by even the illiterate, and its symbology, drawn from a mix of ancient and mythological sources, offered as a highly organised narrative that defined one's relation to the world, to others, and to one's higher self.

Despite the differences, other than divination, oracle cards can be used on its own as an object of focus in meditation as well as in conjunction with Tarot which can offer more profound clarity and deeper insight within a reading. The guidance this combination often offers provides a sense of direction and comfort, a narrative that can be applied to every life.

The resurgence of occult practices and popularity of the archetype of The Witch in modern mainstream media have prompted a surge in the creation of both Tarot and oracle decks. In terms of choosing which form of divination is right for you, trust your intuition and rely on magnetism to guide you to the right deck!


Reference: Essay by Marcella Kroll

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