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  • Tarot Cards vs. Oracle Cards

    I'm sorry if this is a real newbie question, but it is something I've been wondering. What is the difference between tarot cards and oracle cards? I saw some oracle cards at Barnes and Noble that I really liked, but I didn't buy them because I had no idea what to do with them. Does anyone have any insights?

    Thanks!

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  • #2
    Well, actually Tarot cards are an oracle, as is any system of divination. However, Tarot cards have a very rigid structure - 78 cards divided into Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. There are four suits in the Minor Arcana, each with 14 cards. The Major Arcana has 22 cards. To me, any deviation from that structure classifies it as an Oracle deck. Now this doesn't make Oracle decks any less valid than the Tarot, just different. I have two Oracle decks, the Faeries' Oracle and the Fairy Pack and both of them work wonderfully. But they are different from the Tarot. Hope this answer helped!

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    • #3
      Aine pretty much hit the nail on the head. HOwever there are several tarot decks that do have "extra" major Arcana like Shapeshifter Tarot and Osho Zen Tarot. When I'm shopping for tarot/oracle decks and usually I look for the magic number of 78 (number of cards in a traditional tarot deck) If you see something that has 48, or 66 it's an oracle deck.
      <p>"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up looking for the circumstances that they want, and if they can't find them make them." - George Bernard Shaw </p>

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      • #4
        I have the Osha Zen tarot deck and didn't realize it was different than other tarot decks.

        So most tarot decks have more cards that oracle cards? So I guess I'm still a little confused as to what you do with the oracle cards? Do you do readings with them like you do with tarot cards? Somehow I'm still a little confused here.

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        • #5
          Yup, you read them sort of like Tarot cards, lay them out in spreads and interpret them according to the meaning of the card.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Michie
            ...Do you do readings with them like you do with tarot cards? ...
            Hi Michie, I don't blame you for your confusion. It gets a little tricky sometimes.

            The main difference has already been stated, 78 cards versus any other number.

            Tarot has been around practically forever so the meanings of the cards deviate very little from deck to deck, no matter who the artist or author is. You pretty much know that the 3 of Swords is the 3 of Swords no matter what deck you are using, as long as it's tarot. (Others may argue with me here, especially on the differences between tarot "schools", such as Rider-Waite and Thoth... but that's a bit much for this question. )

            Oracle decks are a completely different animal. They have their own unique structures. A card can mean anything the author wants it to mean. They can have their own spreads (tarot can to, but that's getting a bit far afield) and you can't use oracle decks interchangeably. One is an entity completely unto itself.

            The answer I'm getting to (and I know it's taking me a long time) is that once you learn tarot, you can use any tarot deck. But oracle decks can't be used in the same way. They can still give very valid readings, however. Many readers like to use oracle decks in conjunction with tarot, to augment their readings. Drawing a card from a tarot deck and an oracle deck, and comparing the cards with the question asked. This can be a great way to learn, and to expand your horizons and understanding of divination.

            Um, have I totally confused you? :D

            Lisa
            :fpraise: All hail the mighty SEARCH function! :fpraiseyo

            See the completed cards from the MW Tarot Project @ the link below:


            If "a gentle touch speaks volumes" imagine what a bitch-slap can do! ~ me

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            • #7
              Not totally confused, Lisa, just a little. I think I'll have to read your post a few times and give it some thought.

              So if I buy oracle cards, do they come with spreads that are specific for oracle cards? I'm taking it that you read the cards similar to the tarot cards, just using different spreads, and as you said, the cards have different types of meanings?

              The deck I saw at Barnes and Noble had artwork that I really liked...and I almost bought it...but I put it back because I just wasn't sure about it. Hmm....maybe I'll have to go back and buy them to check them out.

              By the way, I just noticed you had a quote from Gregory McGuire in your signature. I got the book Wicked for Christmas, but haven't started it.
              Last edited by Michie; January 12th, 2004, 01:02 AM.

              Thank you Faeawyn for the banner!
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Michie
                So if I buy oracle cards, do they come with spreads that are specific for oracle cards? I'm taking it that you read the cards similar to the tarot cards, just using different spreads, and as you said, the cards have different types of meanings?
                Yes! That's what I mean. The meanings are the really important thing. Like I said the 3 of Swords is the 3 of Swords in tarot, no matter what. But you can have 2 different Oracle decks with the 2 of Fairies (or something) and they will both mean something different.

                Spreads are interchangeable with just about any deck. I like to use spreads from Oracle decks with tarot cards just to see if they work any better for me that way. I also make up spreads alot, so it's not really the spread that's the important part. As long as the meanings of the positions in the spread are clear, you can use any kind of cards (or runes or whatever) that you want.

                Which deck was it at B&N that you saw?

                Wicked was a great book, the first one of his that I read. I hope you like it!

                Lisa
                :fpraise: All hail the mighty SEARCH function! :fpraiseyo

                See the completed cards from the MW Tarot Project @ the link below:


                If "a gentle touch speaks volumes" imagine what a bitch-slap can do! ~ me

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                • #9
                  I really love my Oracle decks. They are especially useful if you like to do a single card draw. Each deck is very, very unique; a reflection of the designer's ideas or belief system about whatever "theme" the deck is designed around. Some of the decks are fairly straightforward, others are pretty obtuse. Actually, depending on the deck, there can be some carry over in card "meanings"...most of your animal oracle decks will have similar meanings for the various animals.....Raven means pretty much the same thing in any animal oracle decks.
                  The two things that make life worthwhile are love and joy. If you find one, the other is sure to follow.

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                  • #10
                    Good point, zak! I wasn't even thinking about animal oracles when the question was asked. I was thinking more like the Moon Oracle or Faerie's Oracle. Probably because I have those. I've only had one animal oracle, The Medicine Cards. I did like them though.

                    Do you ever use your oracle with tarot to add to your readings? I did that the other night with the Fairy Ring Oracle to add to my yearly reading. I'm not quite sure of the results yet, though. I have to sit down and really compare and contrast and I haven't had much time for that.

                    Lisa
                    :fpraise: All hail the mighty SEARCH function! :fpraiseyo

                    See the completed cards from the MW Tarot Project @ the link below:


                    If "a gentle touch speaks volumes" imagine what a bitch-slap can do! ~ me

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                    • #11
                      I've known people who would use an Oracle deck to add to tarot readings, and I even knew one person who had worked out a system to use a the Doreen Virtue Fairy Oracle and Angel Oracle decks together for a reading. I'm not quite that creative. I usually will read with one deck--either Tarot or Oracle--for a while and then when the "urge" hits pick up another deck and read with it for a while. I've been using Ted Andrews Animal Tarot the last few days and have gotten some really interesting readings.
                      The two things that make life worthwhile are love and joy. If you find one, the other is sure to follow.

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                      • #12
                        Lisa, thanks for your patience helping me understand the difference in the cards. Sometimes it takes me a little while before I suddenly say, "Oh..." and it all just clicks into place.

                        The deck I saw at B&N was Dolphins & Mermaids. I'm not sure if that was the name of the deck though. However, as I'm obsessed with both the ocean and dolphins, I was very tempted to get it, but didn't because I didn't know what to do with it.

                        Thank you Faeawyn for the banner!
                        <a href="http://lilypie.com"><img src="http://lilypie.com/days/050215/3/0/1/-5" alt="Lilypie Baby Days" border="0" /></a>
                        Come visit me at www.chattersanon.com

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                        • #13
                          No problem, Michie, I don't have patience very often... but occasionally I can be a "nice guy", LOL. The kids take it all out of me. :D

                          I've seen the dolphins and mermaids deck you're talking about. It's by Doreen Virtue, who also did Healing with the Fairies and Healing with the Angels. Here's a link to it on amazon with some customer reviews: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846

                          If the angels and fairies decks are any indication, then it probably comes with a LWB (little white book) that will explain how to use those cards. And if you decided to keep working with them, I'm sure you'll come up with some interesting ways of using them on your own.

                          Lisa
                          :fpraise: All hail the mighty SEARCH function! :fpraiseyo

                          See the completed cards from the MW Tarot Project @ the link below:


                          If "a gentle touch speaks volumes" imagine what a bitch-slap can do! ~ me

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