Oracle cards are a tool that can be used for divination, introspection or confirmation. Unlike tarot, which adheres to a specific structure, oracle cards are more free-flowing, open to interpretation, and can have as many - or as little - cards as the creator felt called to include. They generally come with a guide book that describes the creator's intended message for each card, although there are some exceptions to this.
In my opinion, oracle cards - along with tarot cards - are a great starting point for anyone wanting to start exploring the world of card reading and divination, as they're easily picked up and are less reliant on an in-depth understanding of card meanings. There are also a wider range of "styles" and vibes, so there's bound to be a deck that resonates for everyone and anyone!
Tarot cards are also a divination + introspection tool, however as mentioned earlier, all tarot decks are based around the same structure; two overarching arcanas (Major and Minor). The Minor Arcana is then split into four suits - similar to a deck of playing cards - complete with both court cards (Page through to King), and numbered cards (Ace through to ten). Traditionally, tarot decks have 78 cards (22 in the Major Arcana, 56 in the Minor Arcana) although a few modern decks have started to pop up with up to 80, where the creator has felt drawn to add in additional cards.
The Major Arcana represents the various aspects of the human consciousness; think of these cards as guides leading you towards vital life lessons, broad themes, universal understandings, etc - big picture kind of cards. These cards can also set the tone for your reading itself, and can be an influencing factor upon the meaning of other cards drawn within the same spread. When multiple Major Arcana cards are drawn in a reading, this can be an indication that there are important lessons, decisions or events at hand.
The Minor Arcana, on the other hand, generally represent day-to-day, temporary, passing situations, people, relationships or influences that occur within the grand scheme of things. These cards can bring insight to your daily circumstances, and can suggest where the smaller paths (choices) you have in front of you may lead you, should you choose to take them. In most tarot decks, the suits will be made up of Wands, Cups, Swords + Pentacles, although the title may vary slightly. Each suit represents a different element of life; Wands represent passion, purpose and motivation, Cups represent emotions, creativity, intuition and connections, Swords represent action, decision-making, communication and personal power, and Pentacles represent tangible possessions, occupation/career matters, transactional energy and physical belongings.
I personally feel that Tarot requires a little more conscious and intentional knowledge in order to read and understand how the cards interact with each other; but others may disagree with me on this (which is ok!). In my opinion, oracle cards are a bit "easier" or open, and tarot isn't something to be taken lightly or messed around with; not in an "it's dangerous or evil" kind of way - it most certainly isn't - but due to the way that tarot card meanings hold more influence over each other in a reading, and can therefore be trickier to interpret. In saying that, card reading is a deeply personal practice, and if you're drawn to tarot, then fantastic! Absolutely feel free to give it a go. It's an amazing tool, and can provide insight like no other. Tarot cards will always come with a guidebook, and there is often useful information from the creator around how to use the deck (including suggested spreads) to help you if you're just starting out.
Affirmation cards are exactly that - cards with affirmations on them. These are a fun, easy, simple way to add a bit of magic and inspiration to your day. Affirmation decks can have as many or as few cards as the creator wishes, and can be along any theme. They generally do not come with additional guide books, as the cards are the message in themselves.
How To Read Cards
There are many ways to read cards; my favourite, and I think a good place to start is a single card draw:
Find a quiet, calm space; some people like to cleanse themselves and the area first. Take a few deep breaths to centre + ground yourself. Think about what guidance you're hoping to receive or what area in your life you're unsure about. Affirm to yourself, your deck and your space, that this practice is for your highest good only.
Shuffle your deck a few times, until you feel your intuition say "stop". If you'd like, you can also cut your deck into three groups with your dominant hand, then stack them together in a new order with your non-dominant hand.
Pick a card - the first you're drawn to. Don't over think it! Turn your card over and look at it. Look at the words and imagery given - where do they take you? What emotions or thoughts do they evoke? Do they relate to what you were asking about, or perhaps something unexpected? It can be helpful to journal this part, to refer back to later.
Read the attached meaning in the guidebook for further clarity (and sometimes further questions!).
There are many different spreads that can be used instead of a single card, in order to gain a deeper understanding or confirmation. I'll write a post with some of these later, or you can do a Google search, seek inspiration in books about card reading, or find suggestions in the beginning of your deck's guidebook. You don't have to use a spread created by someone else - you can absolutely create your own spread if you wish!
What To Do If Your Cards Don't Make Sense
If you feel the cards you've drawn resonate with you, great! Carry the insight with you and know that you are supported. If you're unsure how or where it fits in, that's OK too! Perhaps there is a situation or scenario coming up where this guidance or thinking point will be helpful, or you may be given this knowledge to discuss with a loved one. Introspection is such a wonderful gift, so keep pondering your card throughout the day. You can even meditate or journal about it to refer back to later.
It's totally OK to take what resonates, and leave what doesn't.
What To Do If You Don't Like What The Cards Suggest
It's important to note two things:
1. Our paths are forever changing, and our future is a manifestation of our current actions. If you either don't like where you are headed, or don't like what the cards have told you is in store for you, then you absolutely have the power to shift direction. Take it as a sign to change things up, and to start focusing your energy in the areas that you want to grow into.
2. Personal growth is uncomfortable. Oracle and tarot cards act as a mirror, reflecting our most inner, subconscious selves to us; and this won't always be what we want or expect. If you feel triggered or called out by the cards, use this to delve into why you're feeling this way. What wounds have been poked? Where do you need to heal? Think of these occurrences as opportunities to grow, to show yourself love and kindness, and embrace this chance to understand yourself better.
I hope this has been helpful for you
Reading cards really is a wonderful, fulfilling, beneficial practice; and it is exactly that, a practice. It's a skill to develop, to build, one that you'll find more and more meaningful the more you do it.
If you need help choosing a deck, please feel free to reach out - I'm more than happy to help with suggestions!