Tarot

Tarot vs Oracle: What is the Difference?

Tarot Oracle Decks

The use of tarot/oracle decks has grown in popularity recently as more people are looking for guidance in their lives, but aren’t interested in traditional spiritual practices. You might have noticed that there are many versions of the 78-cad tarot deck as well as other cards known as oracle cards. So, how do they differ?

Structure vs Anything Goes

The primary difference between tarot and oracle cards is that tarot cards have a more rigid structure. In general, tarot decks follow the pattern of the original Rider-Waite deck with 78 cards. This includes the major and minor arcanas. There may be some slight differences such as coins instead of pentacles, but the meanings remain the same.

Tarot Card Success

Oracle card decks are much less rigid. Generally speaking, anything goes with oracle cards. Depending on the creator of the card deck, each oracle deck is different in looks and imagery, as well as the meaning of each oracle card. Also, the number of cards is likely fewer than the traditional 78 cards of the tarot deck.

Size and Shape Tarot/Oracle Decks

This can be another major variation between tarot and oracle cards. While some are slightly larger or smaller, most tarot cards are rectangle-shaped and roughly the same size. Some decks are smaller which is nice if you’re traveling.

Empathetic OracleWith oracle cards, there is a ton of variety. You can often find different shapes–square, round, or heart-shaped cards. A deck can be based on a poem or a particular animal so there is a lot of variation which also means you’re likely to find something you vibe with.

This is why people often use both tarot and oracle decks. The tarot is good for reading the spread, and oracles can be used to get more information or to clarify the tarot cards.

Reading the Cards Intuitively

A similarity between tarot and oracle cards is that you can read based on the original meaning in the book or guide included with the cards, or by using your own intuition. More often than not, you will do a combination of both.


This might also differ based on the type of spread you are doing. If you are doing a love reading and get a King of Pentacles, you might read it as meeting a new love that is good with their money and stable, or someone that is an earth sign as it is related to the pentacle cards.

When to Use Them

Lastly, a difference between oracle and tarot cards can be in how and when you choose to use them. People who do large spreads of tarot often use multiple decks of oracle cards along with their tarot cards.

The more you use, the more you can start painting a picture and putting a story together. Tarot alone is enough for a reading, but oracle cards often give unique insight and help you intuitively read for someone or yourself.

Whether you use traditional tarot cards or oracle cards is a personal choice. You may start with tarot, but come across an oracle deck that really calls to you. Or perhaps you just want to try something new to see if you get a clearer reading. Go for it. Many people have collections of decks and use them interchangeably.

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