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4 Things You Should Know Before Getting Into Oracle Cards

When I brought my oracle deck to school following winter break, I’m not sure what I was expecting. I had just gotten my first deck and, as with every beginner, I was inexperienced and a bit confused. I felt like I could hardly do a reading for myself, let alone for other people. Little did I know, I would officially start pulling oracle cards for my friends a couple weeks after that.

Sounds a little crazy, I know, especially considering I’m new to this whole world. I originally started using oracle cards because I felt out-of-touch with myself and was hoping they’d help me explore my mind and provide clarity. Soon, my suitemates joined in, and the questions we were exploring went from “what mindset would be most beneficial to me during this school year?” to more intense topics like romantic conflicts and family issues.

After having a handful of solid experiences with my oracle cards, I’ve come to these realizations:
There’s a Difference Between Tarot and Oracle Cards

Like many people, I always assumed tarot and oracle cards were basically the same thing. After getting a pack of my own cards, I quickly realized there’s actually a pretty significant difference.

Tarot cards are more structured in nature; they’re normally used for specific readings on your life story and future. They almost always include 78 cards that are divided into subgroups: major and minor arcana. The major arcana subcategory consists of 22 stand-alone cards (usually archetypes) and the minor arcana includes the four tarot suits (cups, pentacles, swords, and wands).

On the other hand, oracle cards branch off of the “tarot” concept, with the main difference being that there is no set type or number of cards in each deck. Many of my cards focus on themes and archetypes such as “love” and “the healer,” meanwhile my suitemate has a set that entertains both positive and negative ideas like “abundance” and “deception.” Because these concepts are a lot broader, oracle cards are more open to interpretation. Surprisingly, I think that is what I like about them the most; the meaning of each card largely depends on your perspective, which can tell you a lot more about yourself than tarot cards can.

Oracle Cards Aren’t Meant to Control Your Life…Unless That’s How You Use Them

I remember always viewing oracle/tarot cards in a negative light. They seem to take on a “dark magic” vibe in the eyes of society (think Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog and you’ll understand what I mean). Like honestly, how could cards “predict” your future? It never seemed logical to me. I wouldn’t want to make decisions based on what pieces of paper told me to do.

After finally becoming more receptive to the idea and getting a pack for myself, I realized that this wasn’t really the purpose of the cards. To clarify: oracle cards are actually used to offer inspiration and are completely open to interpretation. They don’t tell you how to live your life, when you’ll get married, or how you’ll die… unless that’s the meaning you want to give them. The future is fluid and forever-changing (at least from my perspective), so I tend to shy away from future questions and focus more on internal struggles. Recently, I have used my oracle deck to explore how I approach romantic love, how my patterns may contribute to the people I draw into my life, etc. However, one thing I can say for sure is I’ve never used them to etch meaning into my future. It’s important to remember that you have control over who you become, and the cards are simply a tool to help you recognize your perspective and thought patterns that you may be unaware of.  

Introspection is Key

Building off of my last point: in order to get anything out of these cards, you have to be open to exploring yourself as a person. I’ve found that when delving into topics like parental relationships, self-confidence, and personal strengths/weaknesses (just to name a few), the skeletons in your closet tend to come out quicker than you think. On one hand, this is a great tool for those who want to unpack personal problems! Getting a pack of cards may provide a lot of support if situations are murky and you’re feeling confused. However, since oracle cards are purely an asset for clarification, if you aren’t open to sifting through the tough stuff, you may get a whole lot of nothing in return.

Don’t be afraid to read into the cards! For example, let’s say I’m doing a reading on my love life and I pull the “parents” card. Most would probably think that’s an odd card to pull. Others may believe that blatantly speaks to the inaccuracy of the cards. I view it as an invitation to analyze how my relationship with my parents and family have affected how I bring love into other areas of my life. It’s that type of analysis and introspection that really makes these cards come alive.

This Can (And Should!) Be a Fun Experience

Don’t get me wrong, coming to terms with personal stuff can feel gross, but it’s also so invigorating. I consider using my cards to be like any other fun activity; whether it’s taking myself out shopping or doing card readings in my room, both help me to get to know myself better. A few more positive things I think are worth noting:

-Most oracle decks are colorful and fun to analyze

-doing readings with friends can help you form closer bonds with them

-you may experience a lot of “aha moments”/realizations when using the cards

Overall, I’m so glad I got into oracle cards and I’m hoping that I’ll only get better as time goes on! Keep in mind, these observations are based on my experiences, so I highly suggest giving the cards a try for yourself. You don’t have to believe in things like witchery or the concept of “divine guides” to try out oracle cards; they can just be a fun hobby or occasional pastime with no religion or spirituality attached. Regardless of how you start, going into it with an open mind will make your experience a profitable one.

Sierra is a junior at Christopher Newport University. She is majoring in psychology with intent to receive her masters in teaching. In her free time, she loves thrift shopping, going on Target runs, and caring for all of her plants.
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