I often joke that Tarot cards sometimes feel like 15th-century psychotherapy, because they ask more questions than they offer answers. When you’re trying to tap into your intuition about a particular issue, a confusing Tarot reading can be frustrating.
That’s where Oracle cards come in. Oracle cards can be combined with your Tarot cards in a reading. They help enhance Tarot readings by providing more concrete observations. I use them to tie together the overall theme of my Tarot readings, to confirm my instincts when I’m struggling to access my intuition or to add more meaning and details.
The difference between Tarot and Oracle cards
When you understand the difference between Tarot and Oracle cards, you’ll know how to use them effectively for your readings. Overall, Tarot hones in on specific details while Oracle cards cover major themes.
Tarot has a traditional, organized structure of 78 cards — with 22 Major Arcana for major life issues and karmic energies and 56 Minor Arcana for everyday situations, people or area of your life. Tarot cards typically have detailed meanings. Each Tarot card has a positive side and a negative side. The cards are designed to ignite your intuition because it’s up to you to interpret the malleable meanings of each card in a spread.
Oracle cards, on the other hand, don’t have a set structure. There are typically less cards in an Oracle deck than a Tarot deck. Oracle cards often contain more positive or inspirational messages. The meanings behind the cards don’t focus on the minutiae of life but rather bigger, broader themes. Oracle cards come with a thorough guidebook with detailed explanations on the meanings behind each card. Some guidebooks include journal prompts with questions to enhance your understanding, as well as meditations or affirmations to integrate the lessons you learn from the Oracle cards.
How Oracle cards work with Tarot cards
How you use Oracle cards depends on your personal preference. I like to mix up how I do Tarot readings based on how I feel at the moment. In my daily readings, I prefer to pull a single Oracle card at the end of a reading to clarify my entire Tarot reading and other times I like to pull one or two Oracle cards before the reading. I have found that pulling too many Oracle cards can create confusion.
When I pull an Oracle card at the beginning of a reading, the Oracle card is used as the significator to represent a situation or person. This puts my mind in gear to concentrate on how Tarot can fill in the details of the Oracle card’s message.
I pull the Oracle card at the end of a reading when my Tarot readings leave me scratching my head or when I need internal validation for how I interpreted the Tarot reading. I also use Oracle cards to bring positivity to a negative Tarot reading.
There aren’t any rules for how to use Oracle cards in your Tarot readings. Some Tarot readers pull an Oracle card for each Tarot card they pull while others only use a single Oracle card in a reading. I have used The Wild Unknown’s Animal Spirit Oracle cards to pull a card for each day of the week, asking “What animal spirit do I need to be?”
Not sure what your preferred method will be? Here are some suggestions on using Oracle cards:
- Set your intentions for how you want to use the Oracle card. What do you hope to accomplish? What kind of answers are you hoping for? What type of reading am I doing?
- Consider how much time you have for readings. Oracle cards help you dive deeper into a reading, but it’s important to give yourself enough time to contemplate the reading.
- Keep a journal of your readings and observations. When you write down your feelings and observations on readings, it creates an opportunity for empowerment. What new insights does the Oracle card bring to the Tarot reading? How can you integrate the lessons you have learned from your readings into your life?
Download the Daily Tarot Journal with Oracle Cards
Tarot spreads you can use with Oracle cards
If you need some ideas to use Oracle cards with your Tarot spreads, here are four spreads that will help get you started. I designed these spreads to be flexible for unique inquiries and to help you gain greater insight.
The Daily Spread
This is a great spread for the beginning of a day, because it can be motivating and inspiring. Conversely, you can use this spread to reflect on your day. Change the first two Tarot questions to:
- What challenges did I encounter today?
- What opportunities do I need to stay open to?
The overarching question “What do I need to know today?” can be used as a general energy reading or you can expand on the question to something like:
- What do I need to know today about my business?
- What do I need to know today about my friendship?
- What do I need to know today about meeting my in-laws for the first time?
- What do I need to know today about closing on my house?
- What do I need to know today about firing this client?
The Oracle card — in red — is a significator that will bring clarity to the overall situation or person. Before you do this spread, set the intention for what you want the Oracle card to represent — a problem, a person, a situation, work, etc.
The Alignment Spread
I love doing this spread when I feel blocked about a project, a situation or a relationship. This is a great spread to use regularly as a general check-in with yourself.
The red cards are Oracle cards that represent the big themes of your query. Depending on the type of Oracle cards you’re using, you might not get the specific details about the current situation and what you need to manifest. Instead, you’ll derive a deeper understanding — sometimes subconscious motivations or energies that you might not be aware of.
The Relationship Spread
Whether you need guidance with a romantic love relationship, friendship or family, this spread is great for seeing things from the other person’s point of view — expanding your awareness with compassion and empathy.
A word of warning: Don’t use relationship Tarot spreads to “spy” on people. It robs you of your personal power because you become motivated by what the other person needs. Instead, go into spreads like this with the intention of finding out more about yourself, what you need and how to empower yourself.
If you read through my website, you’ll know that I believe in free will. Tarot sheds light on a situation but its messages are never set in stone, because you have the power to make choices.
The Self-Love Spread
The most important relationship you have is with yourself. What I love about Tarot is how it develops a strong sense of self-trust and self-awareness. That’s the beauty behind the self-love spread.
The red Oracle cards represent the energy you need to accept and to understand — even if it’s negative energy — for your own personal and spiritual development. The second Oracle card — how to bring myself into alignment — is intended to tie together the entire reading’s lesson.
It starts by understanding how you feel about yourself in the moment, the aspects of your life or behaviors that you need to release and the aspects you need to nurture and grow.
The best Oracle cards to get started using with Tarot
It’s safe to say that I have about 20 decks of Oracle cards. I love their bite-sized wisdom, the artwork and their different personalities. I use each Oracle deck differently depending on my inquiry or how I feel.
For this blog, I chose four of my favorite Oracle decks that are great when you’re just getting started.
The Soul’s Journey Lesson Cards by James Van Praagh
Hands down, this 44-card deck is my favorite. Sometimes, I use these cards without Tarot. I just like to pull one card and soak in its message. What I love most about The Soul’s Journey is how the messages are rooted in unconditional love from the universe with the understanding that we have all been influenced by our culture and our past experiences. Each card features a beautiful colorful mandala with an affirmation to help you set empowering intentions.
The Sacred Rebels Oracle: Guidance for Living A Unique & Authentic Life by Alana Fairchild
When you have time for a longer Tarot reading, the Sacred Rebels Oracle provides detailed insight with a healing process at the end that typically includes a meditation and an affirmation. I love how Alana Fairchild has written the guidebook for people who always question how things are done, who are always trying to find a better way and who are sometimes misunderstood.
“This oracle is dedicated to those who aren’t afraid to rattle cages, ruffle feathers and rock boats, from a place of loving service to the spiritual evolution of humanity,” reads the book’s dedication.
The guidebook’s messages have left me gobsmacked at its accuracy for how I am feeling.
The Sacred Destiny by Denise Linn
Sacred Destiny’s 52-card deck is filled with beautiful images from nature. Denise Linn does an excellent job at connecting the energy of the earth into universal themes with poignant messages of guidance to help you release the energies that hold you back from experiencing true happiness.
I often use these cards with my daily Tarot reading. They do a great job of clarifying a Tarot reading. Of all the Oracle cards I have, this deck can be used to pull more than one Oracle card without giving confusing readings.
The Spirit Animal Oracle by Colette Baron-Reid
I recently started using The Spirit Animal Oracle. At first, I wasn’t sure I would be able to connect with its messages after a few confusing Tarot readings. So, I let it sit on my shelf with my altar so the cards would soak up my energy. When I picked the Oracle deck back up, the cards enriched my Tarot readings. If you pull a card in reverse, don’t be afraid to read the protection messages. The messages are uplifting and give some great advice.
Final words of wisdom about using Oracle Cards with Tarot
When you’re using Oracle cards with Tarot, follow what feels right for you. Try not to have any expectations — trying to control the outcomes. Instead, keep your mind open to new perspectives. Set the intentions of what you hope to achieve and how you want to use the Oracle cards for deeper understanding with your Tarot reading.