I have been asked about Oracle Cards a few times now because unlike their cousin, Tarot, Oracle Cards are not as well known. That's a shame since they are great for divination, and they are easy to use! I hope this post can answer some of the questions you may have.
Disclaimer: This post and all my blog posts are merely my opinion. If it helps you, great. If you don't agree, no worries.
What are Oracle Cards? Are they better or worse than Tarot?
Oracle Cards is also form of cartomancy (card reading), much like Tarot. They can be great self-reflection tools, and they can also be used for divination. Tarot and Oracle Cards are really "same same but different", and I don't think one is better than the other. I love both, and I let my intuition guide me to decide which to use (or use both!)
What's the difference between Oracle Cards and Tarot?
Tarot has a very specific structure. They are 78 cards (22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana). Each of these card has a specific name and meaning, which are pretty much the same across different decks. There are very minor exceptions to this, so for the purpose of this post, I won't go into details about that.
Oracle Cards, on the other hand, does not follow any specific structure. Some decks may have 40 cards, others may have 56, or any other number of cards. There are no standard names and meanings, so it really is up to the creator to assign names and meanings to the cards in order to come up with a holistic deck. Oracle decks can appear in many different themes as well: some are affirmations statements; some are based on power animals or animal spirits; some are based on angels or deities, and some have a fairy theme... you get the idea... basically anything goes. Since there is no universal meaning for the cards, Oracle decks usually come with a guidebook that gives you information on each card. In the guidebook, you will usually also find several spreads that the creator recommends, so you can read them as a single card draw, or in the form of a spread, similar to Tarot.
How do I use Oracle Cards?
Use them however way you want to! Personally, I love pulling single Oracle Cards for guidance. This is a very easy and straight forward way to get a message for the day. After pulling the card, I will then read the message in the book and keep the advice in mind as I go about my day, and then reflect on it at the end of the day.
I also like to supplement my Tarot readings with Oracle Cards. I find that Oracle Cards can help give more clarity to Tarot readings as well as provide added advice.
Why do I recommend Oracle Cards for people who are new to cartomancy or divination?
You don't need to know meanings of the cards in advance, so they are really easy to pick up. Just read the message from the book and see how it may apply to you!
Some people who are new to Tarot are really put off by certain cards such as Death, Tower, Hanged Man. While these cards really are not scary (e.g. Death card means transformation), I can understand how nerve-racking it could be if you are not used to them or do not fully understand them. Some Oracle Cards are extremely gentle and positive, so it can be a good starting point if you are unsure or scared to use Tarot (even if you shouldn't be!)
How to choose an Oracle Deck?
Use your intuition. Do you feel drawn to the deck? How do the artwork make you feel? Do you feel positive when you look at them?
Get one with a good guidebook where there are a lot of information on each card. This is usually the first thing I check when I come across a deck I like. While I do try to interpret the card intuitively sometimes, I think a good guidebook can really elevate a deck. Detailed descriptions of the card can help you apply the meaning to your life easier. Although, you can also read the cards intuitively and apply your meanings without using the guidebook.
Artwork, card stock and printing. Do you like the artwork? Are the cards well made? Will they withstand lots of shuffling or are they going to fall apart quite quickly? How's the print quality? Personally, I prefer matte finished cards that are slightly thicker. I like my cards to look pristine, so I don't like thin cards that are uncoated. I also find that some glossy decks have tendency to get stuck together and doesn't shuffle as well.
Do you have any pet-peeves or preference? Sometimes you may not know your preference until you have used a deck though. For me, I don't like tuck boxes, and I don't like it when the guidebook is not the same size as the deck. I also prefer decks that can be read reversed (check to see if the guidebook provides reversed card meanings)
Watch unboxing videos and reviews on YouTube to get more information on the deck. See the artwork on all the cards and guidebook content before you commit to a deck. Usually these videos will also talk about the card stock quality.
Remember that everyone has a different preference and they connect with different decks. Don't worry too much about other people's preference. Just take their reviews into consideration, and decide for yourself whether the cards are right for you or not.
OK, I get that deck preference is personal... but still, I want a recommendation
Fine... but this is such a tough choice! Why? Because I like to have decks in different themes and use different decks depending on my mood and which deck I feel like using at the moment. If you want something easy to read and really want me to recommend one, then I would say Wisdom of the Oracle by Colette Baron-Reid is a good option. This recommendation is by no means sponsored! While it's not guaranteed that you will like it (you should go for a deck that you're drawn to), there are a few reasons why I would recommend this deck for beginners to cartomancy and divination:
I love the artwork. It's whimsical and the messages are easy to relate to
The guidebook is very detailed. Each card has a key message, an oracle message, a career/prosperity message, a love/relationships message, a protection message (for reading reversals - which you can choose not to do). The categorised meanings per card makes it easier to integrate the card meaning into the situation of your reading.
Protection message for reversals are framed in an empowering format, so that even when reversed, it's not so negative. This point can be a pro or a con. Some people don't like the deck because they find it overly positive. I personally don't quite mind that. This is my go-to deck when reading for others because the "negative" message are empowering. You never know how people will react to readings results that are on the more negative end of the spectrum, right?
There goes my post on Oracle 101. I hope you found it helpful!