Oracle Vs. Tarot — What’s The Difference?

Sara Grace Stasi
3 min readFeb 22, 2023
Photo by petr sidorov on Unsplash

There is a great deal of confusion for beginners about the differences in divination card systems. Tarot and oracle cards are both used for divination and providing insight into the future. However, they have key differences that distinguish one from the other. Tarot cards are a specific type of deck with a structure and established meanings, while oracle cards are more diverse and flexible.

Structure and History

Tarot cards are a deck of 78 cards, divided into two main groups: the Major Arcana (22 cards) and the Minor Arcana (56 cards). Each card has a specific meaning, and the entire deck is designed to be used in a specific way, with a particular layout or spread. Tarot cards have a rich history, with roots dating back to medieval Europe. They were originally used for playing games, but over time, they became associated with divination and mysticism.

Oracle cards, on the other hand, do not have a set structure or number of cards. There are countless types of oracle decks, each with its own set of themes, symbols, and meanings. Oracle cards can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the deck and the reader’s preference. Oracle cards have a more recent history, emerging in the 19th century as a way to access spiritual guidance and wisdom.

Symbolism and Meaning

Tarot cards are known for their intricate symbolism and established meanings. Each card has a specific image and name, and those images are intended to convey certain messages or insights. For example, The Fool card represents new beginnings, while The Tower card represents sudden change or upheaval. The meanings of the cards are often complex and multi-layered, requiring a level of expertise and study to fully understand.

Oracle cards, on the other hand, have more diverse symbolism and a broader range of meanings. There are oracle decks with animal themes, angel themes, and even decks that use abstract art. The meanings of oracle cards are often more straightforward and easier to grasp. While some decks may require interpretation or deeper analysis, many are designed to be more intuitive and accessible to a wider range of people.

Use and Interpretation

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Sara Grace Stasi

Poems, short fiction, photography, musings on life. Santa Cruz, California. BA American Lit | BA Anthropology | MA Education. Patreon: sgstasi