Tarot Cards vs Oracle Cards: What is The Difference?

So what’s the difference between oracle cards and tarot cards ? Is a question many people who have professional  tarot readings, or learn tarot may ask. Oracle cards vs tarot cards what’s better? You may also ask.  In my honest opinion as a professional tarot reader neither is better. The differences between oracle cards and tarot cards are simply the messages they deliver, how the messages are delivered, and the major difference is structure and systems. One has the latter and the other does not.


What is Tarot?

The history of tarot goes a long, long way back! I cover this ground the the book I’m currently writing A Guide to Tarot Wisdom, and cover it in my Intuitive Tarot Reading courses which I hope to launch on the next full Moon at the end of February 2021. However simply put tarot is a system that originated from the playing deck of cards. Then  evolved into a form of divination via seventy-eight different cards. The cards themselves have a ‘system’ within the seventy-eight. Major and Minor Arcana cards. The Majors being ‘big’ energy life changing things, and minors being more everyday energies. Within that the structure is made up for suits just like a playing deck of cards: cups, wands, pentacles, and swords. Each suit vibrates to an energy of: emotions (cups), stability or finances ( pentacles sometimes called coins), challenges and the spirit of a person or their mind set (swords), and creativity, drive passion and the ego ( wands).

To go deeper within this structure we have cards from Ace- number ten, then court cards of King, Queen, Knight, and Page for each suit. These can relate to people, energies of people, and the Ace- ten numbers can relate to energies in life, people, situations and places. So as you can see already the tarot is very structured, has a clear system of relevance, and is designed to give messages on very board every day things.

How to Read Tarot Cards?

How to read tarot in my personal opinion does not start with just simply remembering the meanings of the cards. It comes from intuition, however that said to be straight with how to read tarot, it’s very different from how we read oracle cards. How you would read tarot is based on the universal meanings of the seventy-eight cards, of course using your intuition in a holistic way also. So combined what’s the message Spirit has put in front of you based on the universal meanings in a holistic way. Also, keep in mind that how you would read tarot in an advanced way would be to incorporate or look for messages that resonate with things like astrology and numerology too! So Tarot cards are read using a lot of intuition, holistically ,and depending on the skill level of the reader by incorporating other esoterics also.

How To Read Tarot Cards Intuitively?

Intuitive tarot card reading is done by using various different ‘spreads’ or layouts of the cards to gain specific messages and insight into a situation. For example you can have spreads that answer love, money, life, work, or ‘what’s happening’ questions. Also to read tarot cards intuitively it takes a lot of moving away from ‘ this card means that according to the book’ or ‘ this means that’ you need to really learn 1. what the energy of each card means universally, but then also what it means to you intuitively when that card comes up- you must connect with it and become connected with it via your own internal guidance (intuition), or even those of us who have additional ‘clair’ abilities and psychic abilities must tune into those.

What are Oracle Cards

Oracle cards are a set of cards used for divination with no system or structure compared to tarot cards. This is because often oracle cards are based on delivering messages in a different way. Each card has a ‘message’ linked to it normally–with no universal meaning. In addition oracle cards come in many different sizes in terms of how many there are in the deck. You can have as little as twelve and as many as hundreds! It really depends on the creator of the deck. Oracle cards in my opinion are designed to give a different type of reading– one card can give you a whole ‘message.’ Meaning there may be no need to pull any more. Oracle cards also often come with set ‘themes’ eg., goddess, mermaids, love oracle deck, every day question oracle, ‘yes or no’ decks. Where as the tarot is universal and not ‘themed’ in their meanings behind the cards, like oracle decks. Tarot can be themed in the design and pictures on the cards like mermaids, witches, or move away from the standard Rider Wait images of the tarot that are universal but, not the theme of who is delivering the message eg messages from Goddess etc. which you can get in oracle cards.

How To Read Oracle Cards

They will all have their own set of instructions, which again is a big difference from the tarot. Usually you will pull one card for a message and that’s your guidance on the matter you are querying. Or you can pull three for past, present, and future. Oracle card reading is what I refer to as more ‘stand alone’ not in a holistic sense, like tarot. Oracle is more isolated via the card pulled.

Oracle Cards vs Tarot Cards: What’s The Difference?

  • Size of deck: tarot has a standard seventy- eight cards, there is no standard with oracle cards.
  • Messages delivered: each tarot card has a ‘universal’ meaning e.g the 5 cups can indicate a loss no matter the deck tarot deck it is pulled from or the picture on the 5 of cups from one deck to another. Oracle cards don’t have this ‘universal’ meaning each card will mean something different, from deck to deck, and two decks most likely will never have the same cards! The beauty of oracle it’s not so standard, you can get a deck based on what you wish to use it for for example love readings= grab a love oracle deck for love specific answers.
  • How the messages are delivered: tarot is read or should be read if the reader is skilled holistically, rather than cards isolated. Tarot tells a story and gives a picture of energy. Oracle messages are delivered not so holistically, and more stand-alone and isolated. This card’s message is x,y,z for example.
  • Structure and system: tarot has a clear universal structure and system for readers to learn and understand then connect with intuitively, to give accurate readings and predictions. Oracle cards don’t have this at all in any shape or form. There is nothing to learn in the sense that all tarot readers must learn. In fact for each oracle deck you have you will need to learn and understand that deck’s actual cards.
  • How they are read: tarot has many different spreads to place cards to gain certain answers and bring together a holistic overview of a situation, person, place, or thing. Oracle cards don’t use this way of reading, it’s much more stand-alone and pull a card for one answer.
  • Level of esoteric collaboration: tarot is designed and I as a professional reader and teacher of tarot highly encourage readers, to use other methods of divination such as linking astrology and numerology in with the cards that present themselves, that are linked to astrology and numerology. Oracle is very rarely and in my experience used like this, or I would argue in some ways can’t be read like this. So the level of collaboration with other esoteric practices is very rare, hard, and I would go as far as to say non-existent with oracle cards. Unless the  oracle deck is an astrology themed or numerology themed one. This is because for example if the Emperor Major Arcana tarot card comes up in a reading, this can be read as what the card’s universal energy is control, structure, foundations and also linked to the astrological sign Aries ( or any of the fire signs but mainly Aries), the number four in numerology, or the planet Mars’ energy and what Mars brings. Clearly this is because these are universal things linked to the tarot. Where as you would not find this in oracle the link is harder to make, because this no structure or universal flow– unless as mentioned it’s an astrology themed deck.
  • Time predictions:  tarot cards can most definitely be used to give time predictions! Oracle cards in my experience less so, and are not designed to do this unless there are cards that show time in the deck. Then if there are you will need to pull that card from the deck to get the timing! With tarot cards you can simply look at suits, numbers, and gain a good idea of timing from the reading itself.

These are just a few of the main difference you could call out, when it comes to the difference between oracle cards and tarot cards. As a learner of either of these cards it’s very important to understand this, and know how to use them both effectively. That said they can complement each other, and I as a professional tarot reader do use both in my readings! You should too! And if you would like to learn more or how then do check out my courses on Intuitive Tarot Reading or grab a copy of A Guide to Tarot Wisdom which is on pre-order and will be released in Summer 2021  available on Amazon.





4 Replies to “Tarot Cards vs Oracle Cards: What is The Difference?”

  1. Hello there! I just finished reading your article about Tarot and Oracle cards. I just thought I would post you a quick comment to say thanks and to share my experience. My grandmother was actually a professional tarot reader and worked for years touring round many fairgrounds and such like. It was this that got me into tarot although I have never thought of taking it up myself. I didn’t know the difference between Tarot and Oracle cards, so this has been an education for me.  

    1. Oh wow was she, I like the idea of working in fairgrounds I’ve never actually done it only via private clients but i’d love to. Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, there is a clear and very distinct difference between tarot and oracle cards and to understand them makes readings clearer for readers and for those they read for. 

  2. My aunt was a tarot card reader but not a professional one, though she had a side business. I never engaged in readings with her because I feared the evil, my parents associated with them. 

    Many times tarot cards have appeared in movies on TV. Though I am not sure how accurate their way of reading is in the media. But this post on the difference between both was very informative I thoroughly enjoyed it!!!  

    1. Aww, have no fear at all there’s no ‘evil’ in the cards themselves. In fact I’d go as far to say that no kind of esoteric work is ‘evil’ alone. Things become ‘evil’ due to the practitioner or the way the esoterics are used, not the actual workings themselves. But thank’s for your insight!

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