What Is The Difference Between Tarot, Oracle Cards, and Angel Cards?

 (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Many people who are new to psychic readings often wonder what is the difference between these three types of divination decks. The differences and similarities may surprise you.

By far, the most commonly used deck is the one known as Tarot. The history of the Tarot is debated between Tarot historians and practicing psychics. Still, it seems to have been created as a card game back in the 14th century and slowly evolved into a divination tool. Two famous French occultists, Jean-Baptiste Alliette (also known as Etteilla) and Antoine Court (also known as Court de Gébelin), are typically credited for popularizing Tarot card readings back in Paris in the 1800s.

Tarot card readers have become more of a specialized skill since then and are commonly used today for psychic readings and spiritual growth. Most work exclusively with Tarot, but many have branched out into using and combining Oracle cards and Angel cards for various purposes.

Part of the allure of having card readings done in person is the shuffling of cards. Mesmerizing, there are many different methods and methodology of how and why a deck is shuffled a specific way. Individual styles of reading allow more interaction with the deck from the client as a psychic shuffles, allowing them to tune more effectively into their energy. Shuffling, in of itself, is said to be meditative and will enable you to connect with your higher self.

When it comes to size, all of these card decks are generally larger, or unusually sized, than typical regular playing cards. Most Tarot cards are slightly larger than standard playing cards, averaging 2.75" x 4.75", whereas some jumbo decks are said to have cards as large as 4.2" x 7.2". Oracle cards oddly favor different sizes as well, and some variations come in square or round.

The one thing all of these decks have in common is that people use them in order to seek answers to questions. No matter if you intend to pull one card or lay down a three-card spread, chances are you will find answers right in front of you if you are willing to see them.

Terms to know (h3)

Major Arcana are the 22 cards within the Tarot card deck representing significant meanings and life changes. Generally, they are considered the core cards of any kind of Tarot deck.

Traditional Representation of Major Arcana

  • 00 The Fool
  • 01 The Magician
  • 02 The High Priestess
  • 03 The Empress
  • 04 The Emperor
  • 05 The Hierophant
  • 06 The Lovers
  • 07 The Chariot
  • 08 Justice
  • 09 The Hermit
  • 10 Wheel of Fortune
  • 11 Strength
  • 12 The Hanged Man
  • 13 Death
  • 14 Temperance
  • 15 The Devil
  • 16 The Tower
  • 17 The Star
  • 18 The Moon
  • 19 The Sun
  • 20 Judgment
  • 21 The World

Minor Arcana - the suit cards of the Tarot deck. These 56 cards include court cards in each suit. There are four traditional suits in the Minor Arcana: cups, swords, pentacles, and wands. Cards can often represent everyday events or people they come into contact with or already know in real life.

Arcana - the combination of both the Major and Minor Arcana cards to create a full deck of Tarot. Arcana traditionally means mysteries or secrets.

Spread - groupings of cards that are meant to offer specific insights and messages. Spreads are most widely used in Tarot but have been used in Oracle decks as well.

Celtic Cross - a popular type of Tarot spread featuring 10 cards representing different aspects of a person's life. 

Shuffle - refers to how cards are rearranged or mixed with each other. 

Corgi Shuffle - a type of shuffle in Tarot card reading where the cards are mixed by sliding them and spreading them out on top of each other, so they pick cards that way.

Draw - what one does when they are pulling a card or cards from a divination deck.

Linear Draw - a style of drawing from a Tarot or divination deck where the cards are laid out in a linear fashion.

Half-cut - when a deck is split in half for the purpose of shuffling and picking cards.

Triple cut - when a deck is split into thirds for the purpose of shuffling and picking cards.

Suits - the four categories of cards that divide the Minor Arcana. Each suit represents different aspects of life, personalities, challenges, and possibilities. In a traditional Tarot deck, the common suits are cups, swords, pentacles, and wands and will include four court cards within each suit.

  • Cups - The Emotional suit. Cups reveal everyone's emotions, their feelings, and intuitive messages. This suit tells you about your relationships with yourself and others in your life and how that connection is strong, weak, new, or needs to be released.
  • Swords - The Actionable suit. Swords embody your thoughts as you think them, your words as you use them, and your actions as you complete them. This suit's cards tell you how to take action, take steps, and indicate events or people doing the same thing.Pentacles - The Abundance suit. Pentacles often focus on material possessions and acquiring skills and wealth. This suit's cards show you where your success lies and where you need focus to manifest. 
  • Wands - The Purpose suit. Wands are there to help you find your life path and to let you know how to get back on the right one when you feel lost or confused. Often, this suit's cards will open you up to your potential and give you hope when you need it. 

Elements - Used commonly in Tarot cards. Elements refer to the four elements of nature. Within the Tarot deck, each suit is said to represent one of the four elements. Cups represent Water, Swords represent Air, Pentacles represent Earth, and Wands represent Fire. The Major Arcana is said to represent the fifth element known as Ether or Spirit. Elements are sometimes interwoven into an Oracle deck or Angel cards, but not always. There is even an Elements spread to dive deeper into the meaning. 

Court Cards - in a Tarot deck, these cards always represent people. In each suit, there will be Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages. (could further break this down into each deck briefly). Court cards tend to embody archetype characteristics. Also known as face cards.

Archetypes - a symbolic example of a person or persona. Within most decks are considered to be the face of court cards. In Tarot, commonly referred to the personality within each of the Court cards. 

Spiritual lessons - each card represents a spiritual lesson or message that the reader must interpret and integrate into their life. Often, spreads will reveal a story arc of messages.

78 - the number of cards in a Tarot deck. Tarot decks typically have 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards.

Cartomancy - the practice of using a deck of cards to reveal secret information. Tarot, Lenormand, Oracle, and Angel cards are commonly known types of decks of cards for this practice, but regular playing cards can be used for cartomancy. 

Lenormand deck - considered to be the original creation of Oracle decks. They are traditionally made up of 36 cards with specific symbology.

Traditional Representation of a Lenormand deck

  • 01 Rider
  • 02 Clover
  • 03 Ship
  • 04 House
  • 05 Tree
  • 06 Clouds
  • 07 Snake
  • 08 Coffin
  • 09 Bouquet
  • 10 Scythe
  • 11 Whip
  • 12 Birds
  • 13 Child 
  • 14 Fox
  • 15 Bear
  • 16 Star
  • 17 Stork
  • 18 Dog
  • 19 Tower
  • 20 Garden
  • 21 Mountain
  • 22 Crossroad
  • 23 Mice
  • 24 Heart
  • 25 Ring
  • 26 Book
  • 27 Letter
  • 28 Man
  • 29 Woman
  • 30 Lily
  • 31 Sun
  • 32 Moon
  • 33 Key
  • 34 Fish 
  • 35 Anchor
  • 36 Cross

Intuition - the ability to acquire information without actually knowing it without any reason or proof of having been told or shown.

Subconscious Mind - the part of the mind that is not entirely aware but drives many internal drives, behaviors, and actions. 

No tools - a type of reading psychics offer that does not include divination tools of any kind. 

Rider-Waite - most widely used type of Tarot deck. 

Tarot Cards Defined

What are Tarot cards?

Tarot cards are a divination tool consisting of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana, 56 Minor Arcana with four suits and court cards. The cards are filled with archetypes and deep meaning included with each card's imagery and the meaning attributed to each card. Within each card is a story filled with variations on interpretations depending on how they are placed in a spread, whether they are upside down or right side up, or what kind of spread they are included within for a tarot card reading.

The Major Arcana represents the life and soul lessons one must complete in our life, whereas the Minor Arcana gives us details about our daily life challenges and experiences. Every deck also includes 16 Court cards that are typically seen as archetypes as they tend to represent personality traits. 

The suits of a Tarot deck represent each of the four elements, while the Major Arcana is said to embody the fifth element, which connects us to spirituality in a grander sense. 

Over the course of hundreds of years, Tarot transformed from its first use in the 14th century. The first decks weren't designed for divination but slowly evolved into that as psychics and mysticists began to adopt the practice for spiritual growth.

What is the purpose of the Tarot?

They are meant to help offer guidance in a person's past, present, or future, allowing them to understand themselves better. For some, reading Tarot is a journey into the soul and one's purpose in life. 

People who use Tarot typically use it more for spiritual growth than for fortune-telling. Psychics begin using Tarot as a way for strengthening their intuition and connecting with their higher self. This practice gradually evolves into connecting with higher spiritual realms, and overtime, as a psychic develop their skills, they may find they may no longer need the tool to guide them. It is often said that practicing Tarot is an effective way to develop one's psychic abilities as anyone can learn to use them.

When psychics use Tarot during tarot card readings for their clients, it offers a way for them to connect with their clients energetically, and the cards help them with tuning into their storytelling skills on how they interpret what the cards tell them. Some clients prefer a Tarot card reading over a no tools reading as they can go back and review the cards independently and reflect on them afterward. 

Each Deck's Design Elements:

  • Complex imagery and meaning
  • 78 cards in a deck
  • 22 Major Arcana
  • 56 Minor Arcana (include court cards and four suits)
  • 4 Suits representing the elements
  • Court cards embodying archetypal personas
  • Various spreads are designed to reveal specific messages from the divine such as a love and relationship spread, money spread, ancestral spread, life purpose spread, etc. 

Oracle Cards Defined

What are Oracle Cards?

Oracle cards are cards with specific messages meant to be used solo as a daily message for spiritual guidance but can be used in a spread or combination with a Tarot card reading. Deck volume varies, and they can consist of 12 or more cards. Most decks tend to be around 30-44 cards. 

The first kind of Oracle deck created is considered the Lenormand deck, which came to be in the 18th century. Known back then as the "Game of Hope," these decks are traditionally 36 cards with well-defined symbology and messaging. Still, many modern decks have deviated from this tradition and have developed their thematic imagery and messages. 

Decks can include many different types of symbols and imagery and poetic words of wisdom and guidance. It is not uncommon to see decks featuring astrology, numerology, Celtic themes, indigenous beliefs, sacred geometry, and varying spiritual beliefs include decks that have a worldview within them.

Because they are nontraditional and vary widely, Oracle cards take a while to get used to using within your psychic readings. Most psychic practitioners who incorporate Oracle cards will take time to get to know each new deck to see how they may or may not integrate them into their psychic readings. 

Performing complete reading spreads with Oracle cards are uncommon. They are meant to be used as one card a day, but some will do a three-card spread reading with them, much like what is commonly used in Tarot spreads. 

Often, they are used to be included within a Tarot card reading. Some people will pull one Oracle card before pulling their Tarot cards to get clarity on the focus of the psychic reading energy. 

What is the purpose of Oracle cards?

They are meant to help the user with their spiritual enlightenment as each card is intended to offer self-growth and reflection opportunities. Generally speaking, they provide insights into an overarching theme or topic of focus for one to consider and are often considered to be more "hopeful" than helpful. 

Each Deck's Design Elements:

  • Simple image meanings
  • Clear and concise messages
  • Thematic and easy to interpret
  • Variety of shapes, sizes, and styles
  • Traditionally, 36 card sets (Lenormand deck) 

    Newer decks are free-form

Angels Cards Explained

What are Angel Cards?

Angel Cards can either come in the format of Tarot cards or as Oracle cards. In most Angel card decks, each card comes with a specific message. When used in Tarot, they will have a particular message, plus the original meaning of the Tarot card along with it, creating a more complex reading experience. 

Angel cards' focus is to provide gentle guidance from non-physical entities, especially from the angelic realm. Not all Angel card decks are about Angels, though. Decks can include Ascended Masters, fairies, goddesses, and any grouping considered spiritually evolved on the same level as Angels. They can come packaged as an Oracle deck, a Tarot deck, or a combination of both. These decks can be straightforward to use or complicated, depending on the format. 

What is the purpose of Angel cards?

Angel cards, in general, are meant to uplift and enlighten. They help encourage growth benevolently, but inclusive as a Tarot card deck can have higher and more in-depth meanings and messages. 

With an Oracle deck style of 36-44 cards, an Angel Card deck is focused on thematic yet uplighting messages meant to be interpreted as a takeaway message for the day or week. They generally do not adhere to the Lenomorand style of Oracle decks but instead will incorporate meanings and messages from specific Angels or spiritual beings such as fairies and goddesses. 

Novices may consider Angel cards to be beginner's decks, but that is not true of the Angel Tarot card decks. When Angel cards come in the form of traditional Tarot decks, they are the most complex out of the divination tools to interpret. Psychics who use Angel cards value them highly, regardless of the style of deck.

Each Deck's Design Elements:

  • Varied: Oracle or Tarot or combination of them
  • Range in complexity from simple to intricate
  • Great add on for an in-depth tarot card reading
  • Profoundly spiritual and healing in nature
  • Encouragement
  • Builds confidence or pushes for actionable change

Pros and Cons of Using Each Deck 

Tarot card readings offer more specific details about events, people, and emotional states of mind. For a person looking to know what is going on within a particular situation or person, a Tarot card reading is more likely to offer them those insights.

Tarot is very conducive to offering divination in the form of storytelling as meaning. Many people are drawn to archetypal methods of relating information. People who enjoy metaphorical divination tend to enjoy working with the Tarot.

When it comes to divination tools, Tarot is the most widely used and known. There are particular ways to interpret cards. There are many well-known spreads and practices that people abide by as well. However, this does not leave much room for creative interpretation or creating new methods accepted by other practitioners. 

Tarot has a longstanding tradition and a community that practices it. This allows you to engage in a community of people who also practice Tarot and meet other Tarot and psychic tools, practitioners.

Oracle cards, on the whole, are easier to interpret. Because the messages are usually written on the cards themselves, there is no elaborate story structure to be found. If they are of the Lenormand variety, then they will be effortless to interpret. 

With some modernized decks, they may have a more free form nature. This means many Oracle decks come in various deck styles and spiritual beliefs. Many people prefer working with these decks because they offer more of a wide range of thoughts to be incorporated into a reading and are more thematic than Tarot or Angel cards. 

Creativity and creative interpretation are encouraged more within any kind of Oracle card deck. Some decks offer more variety in interpretation and meaning-making them more creative for the user. Many psychic practitioners enjoy this about particular Oracle card decks as it allows them to delve deeper into personal meaning rather than generally accepted archetypes.

Because Oracle decks are widely different, they may take a while to get used to using them and getting to know how well you work with just one deck. Psychic practitioners who love trying new things will often have multiple decks, so it will take time to learn each new deck as part of their spiritual fulfillment, which takes time. However, knowledge of several decks may provide more precise readings for a diverse group of clients.

Oracle decks are not for everyone, and not everyone appreciates their value. Because of traditionalists who prefer the Lenormand decks over the more modernized creative decks, there can be a mixture of feelings regarding how well these decks offer people spiritual guidance.

Many people who use Tarot regularly love incorporating one random Oracle card in their readings as a way to add thematic ambiance and direction. This allows for some creativity and personalization of the psychic's intuitive gifts while still allowing for traditional interpretations of the Tarot reading spreads. 

Angel cards give both worlds the best for ease and complexity but may require more experience in using them and connecting with the Spiritual realm to provide accurate readings. 

Angel cards offer the most hope and inspiration for those using them during readings. Most advice and guidance given through Angel cards tend to lean towards gentleness and ease. For people who need patience with the change, these card decks (especially the Oracle ones) are ideal.

Depending on your spiritual beliefs, Angel cards may work for you or not at all. Some people identify with them very deeply, while others struggle to understand and follow the simple messages. Figure out if a deck is for you before using it consistently. 

For those giving a reading to atheists or people who are agnostics, Angel cards may not align with the messages they're willing to receive or hear. Not everyone has the same spiritual beliefs and practices, so it is essential for psychic readers to verify with their clients before using these cards during readings. 

Tips for Successful Readings

  • Take time to get to know your deck(s)
  • Learn the history of each deck and each card
  • Pick decks by intuition rather than comfort
  • Keep a journal
  • Be open to experimenting with form and spreads
  • Practice on yourself before offering readings to others


Learning the differences and similarities between all three of these decks take time but can be fun and spiritually rewarding. When looking for a psychic online to help you, consider asking them what decks they prefer and why. Just because you aren't able to sit in front of them and experience the pleasure of engaging with the cards in person doesn't mean you can't glean from the psychic what is being shared from them as well. Take your time and when you're ready for your psychic readings, contact MeetYourPsychic for a favorite card reader today.