If you’ve heard of tarot cards, you’ve likely also heard of oracle cards. They are not one in the same, though they do serve a similar purpose. Oracle cards are decks of cards designed for use in divination practices. Decks can vary widely from number of cards, style, imagery, and design, and the messages associated with each card. This differs from tarot because tarot follows a more structured format, with the major and minor arcana, 4 suits, and generally similar meanings for each card.
Oracle card decks can range from having 44-68 cards (that I’ve seen, anyways, I’m sure there’s more variance), the most common being 44, 52, and 68 cards. The cards themselves are typically either numbered or titled with something relevant to the illustrations on the cards. They come in all shapes and sizes, and the imagery on the cards is essentially whatever the creator of the deck wants it to be. There are some decks that will have only a number, and the imagery is to be interpreted prior to consulting the guidebook. There are other oracle decks that will provide a title, key word, and short description on each card, as well as further details in the guidebook. There are oracle cards that are somewhere in the middle.
Oracle cards are great to use on their own, as they may provide more abstract insight to a specific question. Because of the amount of variance between decks, the reader is able to rely a little more on their intuition and gut feelings when reading the cards. Most decks provide a guidebook as well, to give the reader guidance (from the author) on how to interpret the cards they pull. A lot of these guidebooks will also offer some options for consecrating, caring for, shuffling, and creating spreads with the cards in the deck.
Oracle cards can also offer insight when used in tandem with tarot cards. As they tend to focus more on themes and general ideas rather than details, oracle cards can offer insight to the theme of the oracle/tarot reading. Using oracle cards along with tarot cards may allow the reader to have a deeper understanding of their card spread overall.
I personally like to use oracle cards both on their own and alongside tarot cards for readings. On their own, I find that oracle cards can provide messages of guidance and insight of the bigger picture or overall in relation to a specified situation. With tarot, I enjoy relating the oracle card pulled for a specific spread to the tarot cards pulled following - allowing me to make connections I’m not sure I would have made otherwise.
Below are a few example oracles spreads, both on their own and in tandem with tarot cards:
Single Card Spread
A single card spread is a great way to get a simple overview of a situation, the path you are on, or how your day will play out. Single card spreads are fairly easy to interpret, and if you have something specific you are asking the cards about, the answer should be fairly straightforward. Look for connections to your question in the imagery of the card and see what you can pull from your intuition prior to checking out what the guidebook has to say.
3 Card Spread
3 card spreads, much like the single card spread, can offer insight into a variety of situations. However, using 3 cards will (typically) offer you more insight than a single card. This type of spread is great for checking out where you stand, looking into the past and future based on your current path, what the near future has to offer, and receiving advice from the universe. Example spreads could include:
Past | Present | Future
You/Your Situation | Experiences based on Card 1 | Experiences based on Card 2
Understanding | Guidance/Choice | Potential Experience
Blockage | Healing | Outcome
What's rising in you | New Moon Message | Final Outcome
What to Forgive | Full Moon Illumination | What Comes Next
Head | Body | Heart (commonly laid out in a triangle)
1 Oracle + 3 Tarot Spread
Using oracle cards in tandem with tarot cards can offer insight into the overall theme of the reading you're doing. Whether you're looking into a situation, a relationship, or in need of advice, spreads like these offer both the bigger picture and some of the smaller details needed to fully understand and appreciate the messages in the reading. Some ideas for this type of spread include:
O: You Overall Past | Present | Future
O: Relational Vibe You | The Relationship | Your Partner
O: Situational Overview Situation | Action | Outcome
O: A Life Aspect Start | Stop | Continue
O: Theme Focus | Approach | Results
Of course, there are SO many other spreads you can do, or even make up your own! Whatever it is you're called to do, do it with love and with a strong connection to the universe. Happy diving and blessed be!
Baron-Reid, Colette. Oracle of the 7 Energies. 2020.
Baron-Reid, Colette. The Spirit Animal Oracle. 2018.
Boland, Yasmin. Moonology Oracle Cards. 2018.
Campbell, Rebecca. Work Your Light Oracle Cards. 2018.
Linn, Denise. The Sacred Forest Oracle. 2021.