An Introduction To Oracle Cards and How to Use Them

Oracle cards are decks of cards that can be referred to for spiritual guidance. The definition is as simple and as broad as that. There are no set rules when it comes to what a pack of oracle cards must contain, though most of the decks I have ever used have followed a similar structure.

Usually, decks will contain a set of cards each displaying an image and a short piece of guidance, wisdom or instruction. Also in the box you’ll likely find a book that includes information on ways to approach using the decks for various purposes, like fortune telling or seeking answers to particular questions, as well as detailed information on how to interpret each card.

How To Choose a Deck Of Oracle Cards

Personally I use angel cards and sacred geometry cards the most often. I use these decks because I can see the answers I am looking for in the cards. When you begin using a deck you’ll understand what I mean by this. You’ll ask questions and find that you resonate with what you get back from some packs of cards more than others. Over time I have found that cards that are less prescriptive in terms of their text and have detailed images, open to interpretation, work for me. You may feel the opposite. Let whatever works for you, work for you.

In terms of deciding which one to pick, browse the themes available and see what fits with you. There are spirit animal decks, law of attraction decks and many, many more besides. Hay House does just about the biggest range, so is a great place to start your research.

Also, there’s a clue is in the title – listen to the oracle! Let the decks speak to you. I prefer to buy these cards from a physical shop (or a metaphysical shop!) where I can stand in front of lots of different decks and see which one calls to me, then select a pack based on gut feeling. Come to think of it, this is exactly the same way that I select the individual cards on a daily basis in order to receive guidance!

Also be open to receiving decks of cards as presents. If a deck of oracle cards finds you, as opposed to you finding it, that’s powerful. It probably has something to tell you.

The Difference Between Oracle Cards and Tarot

Contrary to popular belief, oracle cards are not the same as tarot cards. Tarot cards could be described as one type of oracle card deck, or as the forerunner of oracle cards. Tarot cards contain 4 decks, in much the same way as playing cards – these are what is known minor arcana. They also contain 22 major arcana cards that depict a set of archetypes. They don’t usually come with the same level of instruction as oracle cards and there are many books on the subject of tarot that will give you no end of rules and instructions, so if you’re new to oracle cards, particularly if you’d like some simple guidance, this old ‘classic’ may not be the easiest to go for. Tarot cards began life as a card game before they were used for divination purposes, so there are certain things that a tarot set must have, to make it such.

These days there are many types of tarot deck but though they can vary almost as vastly as oracle cards do, in terms of theme and illustration style, they will always contain 78 cards – 22 major arcana and 56 minor. Oracle cards, as I’ve said, play it more fast and loose.

How To Use Oracle Cards

There are loads of articles out there addressing this and every set you buy will probably come with its own guidance notes as well but remember that it’s all just guidance – when it comes to oracle cards there are no rules.

Like meditation, automatic writing, shamanic journeying and many other spiritual practices besides, oracle cards are an aid to allow you to tap into your wisdom. Whether you see that wisdom as coming via angels, spirits or any other source it is coming through you. You have to see, own it and it and trust it in order to act on it. You are selecting the cards. You are interpreting the cards. It can be helpful, at least when you first start, to use the guidance and suggested layouts but ultimately if you’re following your intuition and trusting the information you receive that is what’s important.

The reason there are words and pictures is to allow for multiple layers of meaning. What you see when you look at a card is your subconscious sending you messages. You may draw a card and instantly see something in the image that gives you some insight, then read the words and realise they say something completely different. In that case, trust your gut, trust your angels – use whatever metaphor, method or channel you wish to help you feel connected and in flow with the cards. You will always see what you need to see.

If you don’t have cards to hand you can even use books in the same way. Ask a question. Pick up a book from your shelf and open it to a page at random. Now read the first sentence you see, without hesitating.

The key to this practice is simple but powerful. The oracle in oracle cards is you. The pieces of card in front of you are simply a means of you finding your own guidance. To trust the cards is to trust yourself and it is a powerful thing to practice.

by Gillian Torres






Gillian Torres is a writer and intuitive, who advocates acts of ‘radical everyday creativity’. She supports people to reconnect with their intuition, unbridle their imagination and liberate themselves creatively. She is also the creator of the Soul Scripting meditative writing process. Find more about Gillian’s work at

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