We get this question a lot. Most people have at least heard of tarot cards, but oracle cards are a little more under the radar. Worry not! We’re here to guide you through the differences.

Tarot cards are more structured.

That’s an understatement. Each tarot deck (with a few exceptions) consist of the same 78 cards. There’s 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana, comprised of four suits. They might be represented differently, but they “mean” the same thing. There’s a ton of artistic license that makes each deck different. However, every tarot deck is going to have a Magician, a Fool, and so forth.

It’s a pretty fixed system that’s steeped in tradition.

Oracle cards vary. Like, a lot.

Decks of oracle cards don’t follow the same structure. They’re a lot more fluid than tarot. A card in one deck isn’t going to be in another, and a third will be different from the first two. While tarot decks vary in artistic style, oracle goes a few steps further. Some decks are more similar to others, but they’re all distinct.

Different cards, different meanings, different everything.

Oracle decks tend to have fewer cards.

Like most things about oracle cards, this varies greatly between decks. Some will have more, and some will have less. A typical count hovers around 40, but we’ve seen decks with 12 cards and decks with 100. There certainly aren’t always 78, though.

Oracle cards are energetically “bigger”.

A tarot reading is rarely a one-card affair. Tarot relies much more on spreads, which are specific ways of laying out the cards to obtain different conclusions. This isn’t true for oracle cards, which are more typically standalone. This isn’t to say there are no multi-card oracle readings or spreads, but it’s less common. An oracle reading, depending on the question you’re asking, tends to be more compact and straightforward.

They’re great for a quickie reading to set the tone for the day (or for a different reading)!

There are different “types” of oracle decks.

You might see decks labeled as “oracle”, but you’re also going to see the words “inspiration”, “affirmation”, “angel”, and “astrology”. It doesn’t stop there, but those are some of the more common. It’s essentially the same idea with different descriptions. Noticing a theme? Variety is the name of the game here.

At any rate, there are plenty of commonalities. You’ll be choosing your oracle deck in the same way you chose your tarot deck. You’ll develop the same personal connection with your cards, and you’re bound to use them for similar purposes. You can even use the two together – which probably merits a separate entry.

For now, at least you know the difference.

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