The top row in this picture shows three different tarot cards from three different decks. Tarot is a divination tool using a deck of cards with symbolic imagery. Tarot decks have 22 major arcana cards – like The Magician pictured above, which represent deeper or “bigger” energies/archetypes/stages of evolution. Then there is the minor arcana, 56 cards divided into 4 suits of 14, much like playing cards. The Queen and Ace of Wands above depict two of the minor arcana cards from the suit of Wands. The minor cards carry less weight and impact, energetically. Even though tarot decks vary wildly in style, imagery, look, and feel – they ALL represent these same 22 major energies and 56 minor ones. It takes time and practice to learn these cards, but once you do, you can pick up virtually any Tarot deck and know what each card represents.
Oracle cards, pictured above in the bottom row, are also a divination tool using cards. They differ from tarot cards in that each deck stands alone. They can have any number of cards, and each card is assigned its own unique meaning by the creator of that specific deck. One oracle deck might have 20 cards, and another might have 55! They are often accompanied by a book that delves into the meaning of each card, and usually have words written on the card to help the reader know the intended meaning.
So, which type of deck should you start with? Either! I often recommend that people start working with oracle cards, because it is easier to get a feel for each meaning and more quickly begin using the cards to access deeper insight (particularly if you select a deck with rich imagery and written words) – there is less study involved and you can begin to feel into each card and work with its message. But if you are drawn to Tarot, start there! Yes, it’s a lot to learn, but there are so many helpful resources.
The most important thing is to find a deck that resonates with you, be it oracle or tarot. The images should speak to you, should make you feel something. You should enjoy looking at the cards, you should like the feel of them (yes, size matters here! And thickness, weight, glossy vs matte, etc.) – find a deck you love, and dive in! Happy Reading!