What Is the Difference Between Tarot Cards and Oracle Cards?

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A Brief History

Between 1440 and 1450, the first documented tarot packs were recorded in Milan, Ferrara, Florence, and Bologna when additional trump cards with allegorical illustrations were added to the common four-suit pack.  Tarot cards and oracle cards – what is their difference? While both decks offer insights to yourself, your surroundings, and to your journey in life, both tarot cards and oracle cards have key differences that make them unique to each other. Most or some beginners find oracle cards easier to use compared with tarot cards. Why is that?

To help you learn about the differences, we will tackle the key characteristics that make tarot cards and oracle cards unique to each other. We will help you decide in choosing between tarot cards and oracle cards.

Digging Deeper: Structure of the Deck


The traditional tarot deck contains 78 cards. The 78 cards is broken down into the Major Arcana Cards and the Minor Arcana Cards.

The Minor Arcana contains 56 cards and resembles some characteristics of regular playing cards; however, instead of the regular suits, the 56 cards of the Minor Arcana contain four different suits namely the Suit of Pentacles, the Suit of Swords, the Suit of Cups, and the Suit of Wands. Each suit of the Minor Arcana contains cards that are numbering from one to ten. Finally, instead of the King, Queen, and Jack, the Minor Arcana has four court cards namely, Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

On the other hand, Major Arcana contains 22 cards that are numbering from 1 to 21, and one card with no number that is called The Fool; however, unlike the Minor Arcana, the Major Arcana is not associated with any suit and has different kinds of symbols and images that are printed or painted on each one.


Whereas tarot decks have different symbols and images that correspond to a certain meaning, the meaning of the oracle cards will depend on its creator. Oracle cards have no set structure, system, rules or guidelines.  Basically, with oracle cards, anyone can make a deck of their own, choose the number of cards in a deck, what imagery they will use, and what function it will serve. Yes, anyone can make a tarot deck for themselves, but they still have to respect the system of tarot cards.

Digging Deeper: Interpreting the Cards


With regards to its interpretation, tarot decks require a lot of reading, concentration, focus, and insight. Yes, there are guides and books, which state the meaning of each card. However, if you truly want to understand tarot, then you need to go above and beyond the books. What is the feeling you get when you hold the cards?  What are the cards telling you?

To give you a general insight about the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana, the Major Arcana represent the significant events that will happen in our lives. Think of it as events that are life-changing and pivotal at some point in our life. Each of the cards has a meaning of its own, but the connection is meant to tell a story, more specifically, the story of The Fool. Meanwhile, the Minor Arcana represent the events, situations, and trials that will happen in our daily life. Each suit in the Minor Arcana correspond to different elements and has different representations.


As stated, the rules and guidelines of the oracle deck are dependent on its creator. Unlike tarot cards, oracle cards tend to be easier to learn because each card has already a printed or written interpretation on it. The meaning of each oracle card is more straightforward, and do not require more time in interpretation.

Of course, you can choose to buy an oracle deck if you want to. Like buying a tarot deck, it contains a book or guide that helps readers interpret the cards, which is why beginners like to use oracle cards; however, if you want to get more in-depth with oracle reading, then there are complex oracle systems that are available.

Digging Deeper: Is One Better than the Other?

The answer is no. Why? It is because it is a matter of preference.

While the oracle cards offer an easier interpretation, the scope that oracle cards give can be limited. What if you pulled a card, which has a meaning that you cannot relate?  Yes, the oracle cards offer an abundance of positivity, but that is not enough. Life is complicated and full of situations that cannot be covered by the oracle cards. Oracle cards are suited for questions that are short-term or are meant to guide the daily life of the person.

Yes, learning about tarot is complicated. It requires more time, focus, and energy, but the results you will receive can go beyond what oracle cards can offer. Reading tarot cards can offer more insights compared with oracle cards. Unlike the oracle cards where, most of the time, there is an overabundance of positivity, tarot cards show both the positive and negative aspects of one’s journey. Thus, it is safe to assume that compared with tarot cards, oracle cards cannot portray a story as effectively.


Ultimately, it is for you to decide whether you want to buy tarot cards or oracle cards. Oracle cards are suited for daily reading and limited-time readings; however, if you want more depth into your readings, then tarot cards can offer you that.


Like oracle cards, tarot cards can also be used to get quick and simple answers. How? Through the yes or no tarot, you can get fast, decisive, and definite answers. Are you wondering if your career is on the right track? Are you wondering whether to go hiking or not? These are just some of the questions the yes or no tarot can guide you through. For more information, you can click on this link, Yes no tarot. Yes or no tarot is a fun way to get definite answers from your most pressing questions!

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever done tarot or oracle readings?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Place, Robert.  The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination.  TarcherPerigee, 2005.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Roberto Viesi of a deck of 22 cards inspired by the Tarot of Marseilles, but with the author’s graphic style, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


About Author

Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland