The main difference between the two is that a tarot deck is based on a fixed system and typically includes a set of 78 cards, each with its traditional meaning. Oracle decks, which are also used as an intuitive divination tool, don't necessarily follow a set structure.
The creator and artist of each oracle deck selects all the details, including the theme, imagery, number of cards, and the meanings of each of the cards. There are decks featuring archetypes, spirit animals, angels, and affirmations, such as Gabrielle Bernstein's The Universe Has Your Back deck. While the artwork and meaning options are essentially endless, the best part is that these meanings are usually written out for you right there are on the card, which makes extracting wisdom so much simpler.
"Oracle decks support emotional and spiritual health by attuning the user to their intuition and a deeper inner knowing." —Aarona Lea Pichinson, founder of The Moon Deck
Oracle cards can be just as effective as tarot cards at providing guidance and clarity; easing fear and anxiety, and helping you tap into your intuition and the answers already within you. "Oracle decks support emotional and spiritual health by attuning the user to their intuition and a deeper inner knowing that we can sometimes forget during the busyness or transitions of life," says Aarona Lea Pichinson, author, ritual wellness teacher, and founder of oracle card set The Moon Deck.
In other words, think of oracle cards as your always-available mystical council that can answer whatever question you have. Ready to give oracle cards a try? Keep reading for tips and a step-by-step guide on how to use oracle cards to tap into your intuition.
3 tips on reading oracle cards
1. Store your cards in a sacred place
Oracle cards are sacred intuitive tools, so Pichinson advises you treat them as such and keep them on an altar or designated shelf in your home, alongside your other spiritual toolkit replete with crystals and white sage.
2. Don't overthink it
While intuitive messages may not always make a ton of sense, trusting them anyway is kind of the point. "When you receive your intuitive hits, try your best not to overthink them," says Rebecca Campbell, creator of the Work Your Light Oracle and co-creator of the Starseed Oracle decks. "Instead, thank your soul for the information and request some more. Following your intuition takes trust, faith, and an openness and a willingness to be surprised."
3. Create card reading rituals
To step up your oracle-card-reading game, Pichinson recommends incorporating small rituals into your day where you take a moment to pause, connect with yourself, and pull some cards for just a couple of minutes. She also suggests bringing the cards out to play on special occasions, such as when you're hanging out with friends or for a new moon ritual.
7 steps for using oracle cards to tap into your intuition
1. Infuse the cards with your energy
To create a strong relationship with your oracle cards, Pichinson recommends first infusing them with your energy by playing with them or even carrying them around with you. "The more you use your decks and touch them, the more they work for you and with you," she says.
2. Be clear about what you want guidance on
Like with tarot cards, the power of the intel you receive will depend on how good the question is. That's why Campbell recommends first getting really clear on what, specifically, you want to receive guidance on and form a question around it.
3. Give your oracle cards a good shuffle
Shuffle the cards, Pichinson says, until you feel complete, which will typically be about seven shuffles or more. Then, cut the deck into three piles and restack them into a single pile. Remember to breathe and be present as you do this, and allow your energy to merge with the energy of the cards.
4. Spread out the cards
"Spread out your cards and hover your hand over them until you feel a magnetic pull and choose that card," Pichinson says. "You can do a single card spread, or select several cards, depending on what spread you choose to do and how deep you want to go with this reading." Many oracle decks often come with a booklet with tips on how to use different spreads. But, if you want to keep it super simple, just pull one card.
5. Sit with the card(s)
Once you've pulled a card or multiple cards, Pichinson suggests not diving into the guide book right away to search for a meaning. "Let your intuition guide the meaning for a few minutes," she says. "This will allow your intuition to lead the way while inviting your deeper subconscious to receive some medicine from this process as well."
Notice any themes, words, phrases, or symbols in the cards, Campbell says. Did any images, words, sounds, or feelings come up as you read them? Or, was there an inner knowing about something?
6. Look in the guide book
Once you've considered the cards for a bit on your own and picked up on the intuitive messages, Pichinson says you can then read the description in the guidebook (if the deck comes with one) to note any parallels you notice and gather additional insight.
7. Sum up the main message
Lastly, summarize the main message you received from the oracle cards based on what came up intuitively, and what you learned in the guidebook. You can meditate or journal on what came up for you.
Finally, Campbell says, identify what action steps you can take based on that guidance because, what good is the universal guidance if we don’t put it into action?
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