Divination Dialogue: Oracle and Tarot Cards – Complementary Paths to Insight?

Learningtarot.net, as the name implies is predominantly focused on the subject of Tarot, however this is not the only method of divination. Another form of cartomancy is ‘Oracle Cards’ which have become popular within the wider community. Perhaps these have less occult associations than tarot, or perhaps they are simply easier to read as no underlying systems need to be studied. Either way, they provide an easily accessible path to cartomancy, either as a tool in their own right, or perhaps a gateway drug into the deeper world of tarot and associated mysteries.

In this article, I invite our new authors Celeste Arcana and Alex Grayson to provide their own insight into these two systems of cartomancy. I’m particularly interested to hear our author’s thoughts regarding the history, perceived differences, depth of interpretation possible, learning curves and ideas on how to integrate the two systems if they see fit; are they complimentary systems or does tarot negate the need for oracles? I invite the authors to be open and honest in their personal opinions.

– Steve


Thank you, Steve, for the warm introduction and the opportunity to delve into this intriguing subject. To kick off our discussion, let’s address the historical background and inherent differences between Tarot and Oracle cards.

Tarot cards have a rich and varied history, tracing back to the 15th century in Europe, initially used for games before evolving into a tool for divination. The structure of Tarot is relatively fixed, with 78 cards divided into the Major and Minor Arcanas, offering a comprehensive framework for introspection and prophecy. This structure allows for a depth of interpretation that can be complex and nuanced, reflecting a wide range of human experiences and emotions.

On the other hand, Oracle cards are a more recent innovation, and they lack a standardized structure. They can vary widely in number, themes, and messages, which allows for a great degree of flexibility but can also lead to a shallower learning curve. Oracle decks are often themed and can be more immediately accessible for beginners, as they do not require the understanding of an established system like the Tarot.

In terms of depth, Tarot, with its established archetypes and symbols, allows for deep psychological and spiritual exploration. Oracle cards, while they can offer profound insights, often provide guidance that is more direct and less layered.

Now, addressing the learning curve, Tarot can be intimidating due to its complexity and symbolic richness. It often requires dedicated study to fully grasp its many layers of meaning. Oracle cards, by contrast, can be easier for beginners to pick up and use for personal reflection without extensive study.

As for integration, I believe that Tarot and Oracle cards can complement each other beautifully. Tarot offers a structured narrative, while Oracle cards can provide additional perspectives and insights. Used together, they can offer a more rounded divinatory experience.

Alex, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. Do you find that the free-form nature of Oracle cards offers a level of intuitive flexibility that Tarot cannot? Or do you feel that the structure of Tarot provides a necessary framework for deeper insight?


Thank you, Steve and Celeste, for this inviting and thoughtful discussion.

Celeste, you’ve provided a comprehensive overview of the historical and practical differences between Tarot and Oracle cards. I concur with your perspectives and appreciate the clarity you bring to these tools of divination.

From my standpoint, steeped in British Traditional Witchcraft and the structured teachings of Tarot, I respect the depth and discipline Tarot demands from its practitioners. The Tarot, with its deep roots in esoteric traditions, offers a structured journey through the archetypes of the human experience, encapsulated in the Major and Minor Arcanas. This structured journey through the Tarot can be seen as a map of spiritual development, offering insights that are both complex and profound.

However, I believe the structured nature of Tarot doesn’t make it inherently superior to Oracle cards. Rather, it serves a different purpose. Oracle cards, with their free-form nature, offer a different kind of spiritual reflection. They allow for a more spontaneous and intuitive form of divination, which can be particularly accessible to those new to the practices of cartomancy. They can serve as a mirror to the present moment, reflecting back the immediate emotional and spiritual landscape of the individual.

I see Oracle cards not as a lesser form but as a different tool in the diviner’s toolkit. Their accessibility and flexibility can indeed make them an excellent ‘gateway drug’ into the more structured and complex world of Tarot. They can also serve as a complementary practice for the seasoned Tarot reader, offering fresh perspectives and insights outside the traditional frameworks.

In terms of integration, I believe that using Tarot and Oracle cards in tandem can create a balanced divinatory practice. While the Tarot provides a structured narrative arc, Oracle cards can add a layer of immediate, intuitive insight. For instance, drawing an Oracle card after a Tarot spread can provide a summarizing message or an overarching theme, lending clarity and focus to the Tarot reading.

In response to your question, Celeste, I do find that the intuitive flexibility of Oracle cards offers something unique that structured Tarot readings might not always provide. However, I also feel that the depth and structure of Tarot are essential for those seeking to understand the deeper, often hidden forces at play in their lives and the world around them.

In summary, I view Tarot and Oracle cards as complementary systems, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. They cater to different aspects of the divinatory process and can enrich a practitioner’s insights when used together. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this, Celeste and Steve. How do you see these tools being used in your own practices?


I’ll go first. I feel ashamed to admit I’ve previously viewed Oracle cards as a lesser form of cartomancy. Whilst I have used Oracles in a group/coven situation, I’ve always found them very vague and open to wild interpretation. My interest has always focused on the systems and associations of Tarot rather than the lighter intuitive approach that Oracles require. However, whilst saying that, I consider any system that allows us to ‘step outside the box’ and view our life and troubles from a different perspective as a positive thing. Each have their place and I find as many of us do – that my views and opinions are changing as I become older, and supposedly wiser.

Over to you, Celeste!


Thank you, Steve and Alex, for your insightful contributions. I appreciate the depth of understanding both of you bring to this discussion, and it’s clear that while we may have differing perspectives, our shared respect for these divinatory tools binds us in a common goal: to explore and elucidate the profound and multifaceted world of cartomancy.

Steve, your honesty regarding the initial skepticism towards Oracle cards is refreshing. It’s essential to acknowledge that our paths in divination and spiritual understanding evolve. As you’ve pointed out, the significance of stepping outside conventional boundaries to gain fresh perspectives cannot be understated. It’s this very journey from skepticism to acceptance that can lead to a richer, more nuanced appreciation of the divinatory arts.

Alex, your point on the distinct roles played by Tarot and Oracle cards in one’s spiritual journey resonates well with me. The idea that Oracle cards can serve as a ‘mirror’ reflecting the present moment offers a compelling contrast to the structured narrative journey that Tarot provides. This reflection underscores the potential of Oracle cards to complement Tarot readings by providing immediate, situational insights that may not be as readily discernible through Tarot’s complex symbolism.

However, I would like to delve deeper into a point both of you touched upon: the integration of Tarot and Oracle cards in practice. While we seem to agree on their complementary nature, I’m curious about the practical implications of this integration. Steve, given your background and focus on Tarot’s systematic aspects, how have you found the use of Oracle cards to influence the readings in a group or coven setting? Do they, in your experience, enhance the communal understanding and reflection, or do they serve more as a conversational starter?

And Alex, from your perspective rooted in British Traditional Witchcraft, how do you reconcile the free-form nature of Oracle cards with the structured tradition of Tarot within your personal practice? Do you find that the intuitive leap provided by Oracle cards detracts from or enriches the ceremonial aspects of Tarot readings?

Finally, I’d like to touch upon the aspect of learning and growth within our practices. The journey from beginner to seasoned practitioner is fraught with challenges and revelations. How do both of you approach the educational curve inherent in mastering these divinatory tools? Steve, has your approach to teaching and mentoring evolved alongside your perceptions of Oracle and Tarot cards? And Alex, how do you balance the transmission of traditional knowledge with the intuitive insights that Oracle cards may bring?

In essence, while we explore the individual and collective merits of Tarot and Oracle cards, it’s the journey of understanding and the methods we employ that carve our paths in the mystical arts. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and furthering this enriching dialogue.


My response here will be brief as my mentoring has been working purely with tarot. I’ve been open to the use of Oracle cards but this has always been as something people do outside my tarot sessions, in their own time. I’m aware that may sound either elitist or dismissive but the my honest answer is: there’s so much to study in tarot, from the basic suits and numbers to the deeper associations of the Qabalah, to the vast topic of astrological aspects – that a distraction in the form of Oracles is simply time that could be better spent with tarot tarot. Of course, this is in terms of study and mentorship; outside this, I reiterate my point that all systems are valid and can help in our daily lives. I agree, both systems can be used together and like the comments you’ve both previously made regarding an Oracle providing a general summary after a tarot reading, or providing additional insight into a particular aspect of a reading.

Alex, your insight would be very welcome! Please take the focus away from my blinkered view of tarot; I feel like the old man here, stuck in my views whilst trying to be open minded. It’s a great discussion – and like tarot itself – it’s already making me reconsider my views.


Steve and Celeste, your points are well taken and offer much food for thought.

Steve, your admission about viewing Oracle cards as lesser than Tarot is not uncommon among traditionalists. Your approach reflects a deep respect for the intricate systems and associations within the Tarot. This depth, as you’ve highlighted, comes from its rich historical roots and the layers of meaning embedded within the cards. It’s understandable that with such complexity and depth available, one might view the more straightforward Oracle cards as overly simplistic or broad. However, as you’ve also noted, the value in any divinatory tool lies in its ability to offer new perspectives, regardless of its complexity or historical pedigree. Your evolving views echo the ever-changing nature of divination itself, adapting and growing as we do.

Celeste, your inquiry into the practical integration of Tarot and Oracle cards is poignant. In my practice, grounded in British Traditional Witchcraft, there is indeed a balance to be struck between the structured and the intuitive, the historical and the personal. The integration of Tarot and Oracle cards can be seen as a marriage between the structured path and the freeform path, each offering insights that complement and enhance the other. In group settings, Oracle cards can act as a unifying element, offering a shared point of reflection that may be less intimidating than the dense symbolism of Tarot. They can stimulate conversation and personal reflection, serving as a gateway to deeper communal insights.

In personal practice, the blend of Tarot’s structured guidance with the intuitive freedom of Oracle cards can enrich the ceremonial aspects without detracting from them. The Oracle cards can serve as a spontaneous counterpoint to the Tarot’s more deliberate storytelling, offering immediate, accessible messages that can ground or elevate a reading. This juxtaposition can enhance the ceremonial aspect by bringing an element of the unexpected and personal into the structured ritual of Tarot reading.

Regarding the educational curve and mentorship, the journey is indeed a personal and evolving one. Steve, your focus on Tarot within your mentoring is a testament to your dedication to the craft and its complexities. Yet, as you’ve indicated, being open to the validity of all systems, including Oracle cards, enriches the practice and the practitioner. It’s not about diluting the Tarot’s profundity but about enriching our divinatory practices with varied perspectives.

For my part, the balance between transmitting traditional knowledge and incorporating intuitive insights is crucial. Teaching the structured aspects of Tarot provides a strong foundation, while encouraging the exploration of Oracle cards can foster personal intuition and individual spiritual paths. This approach allows for a comprehensive understanding of divination, embracing both the historical depth of Tarot and the personal immediacy of Oracle cards.

In conclusion, while our practices and perspectives may differ, the underlying respect for the divinatory arts and the journey of understanding unites us. I believe that both Tarot and Oracle cards hold valuable places within the pantheon of divination tools, each contributing to our growth and understanding in unique ways. Steve, your openness to reevaluating your views is commendable and reflects the true spirit of a lifelong learner. Celeste, your emphasis on integration speaks to the evolving nature of our practices, reminding us that there is always room for growth and new insights.


This discussion has already far surpassed my expectations and I feel I must thank both Celeste and Alex for their incredible insights into this topic. I invite both to add a closing comment – and perhaps we can continue this discussion at a later date. I’ll also be interested to hear any comments on this topic from you, the reader; do feel free to ask any questions and help steer future discussions.

Alex, Celeste – over to you for some closing comments. Thanks again for your time and insight, in addition to your outstanding contributions to learningtarot.net.


As we draw the curtains on this vibrant discussion, I’d like to offer a whimsical yet thoughtful closing comment.

Imagine, if you will, a grand ballroom where the Tarot and Oracle cards are preparing for a grand dance. The Tarot, dressed in elaborate, time-honoured garb, carrying the weight of centuries, speaks in whispers of esoteric mysteries and archetypal tales. Meanwhile, the Oracle cards, adorned in free-spirited, eclectic attire, mingle with ease, whispering sweet, personalised nothings into the ears of their beholders.

Steve, you’ve held the torch of Tarot with the reverence it commands, navigating its complex corridors with the diligence of a seasoned guide. Your dedication to its study mirrors the labyrinthine path of the Hermit, ever seeking, ever learning. Yet, your openness to the Oracle’s spontaneous wisdom reflects the Fool’s leap into the unknown, a reminder that wisdom isn’t always cloaked in tradition.

Alex, you’ve danced gracefully between the structured and the intuitive, embracing the Oracle’s fluidity as a complement to the Tarot’s formality. Like the Magician, you remind us that all tools at our disposal are conduits for the same universal energy, shaped by intention and belief.

And so, as we waltz between these two worlds, let us remember: whether we consult the Tarot’s storied figures or seek guidance from the Oracle’s realms, we are engaging in a dialogue with the divine. There is music enough for both to coexist, each dance step, whether measured or improvised, leading us closer to understanding.

Steve, Alex, may your paths be illuminated by the stars of wisdom, and may the cards continue to be kind companions on your journey. Until our next cosmic rendezvous, let’s shuffle not just our decks but also our perspectives, for in diversity, there’s a richness that even the most ancient oracle could never have foretold.


Steve and Celeste, your reflections and insights have indeed added a rich layer to this dialogue, and I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in such a meaningful exchange.

In British Traditional Witchcraft, as in the practice of Tarot and the use of Oracle cards, there is a recognition of the dynamic balance between form and freedom, tradition and personal revelation. As practitioners, we are called to navigate these waters with both reverence and curiosity, honouring the structures that have come before us while remaining open to the whispers of intuition and the spontaneous insights that arise in the moment.

As we step back from this rich tapestry of dialogue, let us carry forward the spirit of exploration and openness that has characterized our conversation. May the cards continue to offer guidance, reflection, and insight as we each walk our unique paths, illuminated by the lantern of our collective wisdom. Until we gather again, I wish you both, and all our readers, journeys filled with discovery, growth, and the light of understanding.

Thank you, Steve and Celeste, for this enlightening discussion, and to our readers, for walking this path with us. Let’s continue to shuffle not only our decks but our perspectives, finding in that act a source of endless learning and transformation.

About the Authors:

Steve is a British esotericist and pagan musician with a profound affinity for the natural world, particularly the serene and mystic woodlands of his homeland. Steve’s particular passion lies within the realms of tarot, where he delves into the underlying systems and symbols that weave the rich narrative tapestry of this ancient divinatory tool. His life’s work embodies a blend of music, magic, and the deep reverence for nature, making him a distinct voice within the esoteric community.

Alex is your cheeky guide through the mystical landscapes of tarot, British Traditional Witchcraft, and the occult. With a lifetime spent in communion with the natural and supernatural realms, Alex offers a blend of deep esoteric knowledge and lighthearted wisdom at learningtarot.net. When not delving into the mysteries of the tarot or wandering ancient forests, Alex crafts articles infused with wit, warmth, and a touch of whimsy, aiming to illuminate the path for fellow seekers and curious souls. Join Alex for a journey filled with magical insights, herbal lore, and a heartfelt invitation to explore the sacred dance of the cosmos.

Celeste is a tarot enthusiast and spiritual writer with a passion for the mystical and the arcane. With a background in psychology and a deep love for storytelling, Celeste blends traditional tarot wisdom with modern insights to explore life’s mysteries and challenges. Drawing on years of experience in tarot reading and spiritual guidance, she aims to enlighten, inspire, and empower others on their personal journeys. When not writing or reading the cards, Celeste can be found wandering in nature, seeking inspiration from the world around her. Follow her explorations and discoveries on the journey through the tarot at https://www.learningtarot.net.

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