We get a lot of questions at the shop about how to choose a tarot or oracle deck. The simple answer is there is no right or wrong way to choose a deck. We encourage our customers to pick a deck based on the images that speak to them. The deck you love to look at will be the deck that you love to read.
Tarot Deck or Oracle Deck
One type of deck is not better than the other they are simply different. Tarot cards are a form of divination that have ancient origins while Oracle Decks are a modern form of divination.
Tarot cards are said to be first designed in 15th century Italy. The oldest complete tarot deck is the Sola Busca printed in 1491, 50 years after the Visconti-Sforza tarot was created for the Duke of Milan’s family around 1440. Many historians speculate there origins are even older.
If you choose a deck titled “tarot” you are picking a deck that has a historically specific structure, common meanings, and usually 78 cards.
Major Arcana has 22 cards relating to major events, life lessons and archetypal themes.
Minor Arcana has 56 cards Page, Knight, Queen, and King (known as the Court Cards) and Ace through 10 (known as the Pip Cards).
The Tarot is divided into four different suits named Cups (Chalice), Pentacles (Coins), Wands and Swords.
Modern card decks are the descendants of tarot cards. Court Cards are King, Queen, and Jack, Hearts are cups, Pentacles are spades, Wands are clubs and Swords are diamonds.
Tarot cards are associated with specific traditional spreads, a method that the reader uses to physically place the cards on the table and the order they use to read the cards meanings. There are many different spreads such as the 10 card Celtic Cross, the 7-card horseshoe, 5 card, 3 card etc.
Tarot cards are associated with specific meanings for each card and are similar in all tarot decks with variations that can be unique to the author and artist that created the deck. We tell our customers if you learn to read the Rider-Waite deck then you will be able to read any other tarot deck.
Tarot Cards are a good choice if you like details and really want to learn a historical form of divination.
Oracle cards became popular in the 1900's with the creation of the Lenormand Oracle Cards in Europe. Oracle cards returned to popularity in the 1970’s with the “new age” spiritual movement.
When you choose a deck titled Oracle you are picking a deck that has an “interpretive” structure where themes and meanings are created by the author of the deck and are open to your own personal interpretation.
Oracle cards may have any number of cards in a deck ,typically most decks have between 36 to 64 cards.
Oracle cards do not usually have suits, may have the meaning of the card printed onto the card, and have a guidebook to offer the author’s interpretation of that deck of cards. Interpretations may vary with each deck.
Oracle cards can be used in a variety of ways such as pulling a card a day, week, or a month for personal guidance, to receive personal affirmations, or as a divination system for readings for yourself and others.
Oracle cards are usually easier to learn and are a good choice for beginners who want a quick and simple way to give themselves a reading that does not require the practice and mastery of Tarot cards.
Follow your intuition when choosing a deck, try both because you can never have too many decks of cards, and have fun with your divination.