A Guide To: Oracle Cards

In a world filled with mental clutter, sometimes you need to turn to the luck of the draw for a little advice and guidance in life. Here's how to use oracle or tarot cards to let your intuition do the talking.
19 Feb 2021

What are oracle cards?

In ancient Greece, gods consulted oracles on matters of the state, laws, family, and personal matters. Today, we can all have oracle cards to offer us guidance, whether it’s the all-knowing Inner Compass Cards, which include separate sets for love or kids, or decks with a fun twist such as Fashion Oracles, gleaning wisdom from sartorial greats. Use the cards to tap into your intuition, show you the path you are manifesting, and reveal what’s needed to break old patterns. If you have no experience of self-reading, these cards are an easy and accessible way to get started.

Wait! Are these actually Tarot cards?

Same, same, but different. Just like tarot, oracle cards come in packs with images and messaging designed to guide. But unlike tarot, oracle cards are free-form. Tarot packs – even those updated for contemporary use such as our Neo Tarot deck – always contain 78 cards, including Major & Minor Arcana and Court Cards, plus they take time to learn and practice to interpret.

Oracle cards are a simpler option. Packs come with different numbers of cards and reading them is less prescriptive than tarot. Rather than give answers, they ask a reader to draw on their intuition and prompt self-analysis. Or, as the guide in our Inner Compass guide explains, consider them “a way out of our scattered monkey minds and rational, logical, analytical human brains.”

The original Inner Compass Cards oracle deck
Inner Compass Cards (Original) - Each of the 49 cards represents a unique theme to help you awake the intuition and encourage you in your daily life.

Where do I start?

Go with your gut. When you shop for cards use your intuition to determine which you choose and opt for a pack with images that resonate. Packs vary greatly, so do take care to read any accompanying guide before your first session.

How do I reset my deck?

Since oracle cards pick up energy, hold them and keep them close for a few days to clear them of any negativity they may have picked up on their journey to you. Oracle fans say washing your hands, lighting candles, smudging and asking your divine power to cleanse them while you hold them gives them a positive charge and attunes them to your energy. Try this ritual before each use, and particularly if others have been drawing from your deck.

Okay, I’m ready.

Oracle cards are incredibly easy to use. Begin in a quiet place and a blank mind. Focus on your breathing, feeling and energy. Hold the cards in your hands and if you like, use your left hand to tap the pack and say your name – silently or out loud – to tap your energy into the pack.

Shuffle the pack until you feel the internal pull to stop, and then simply hold it and think about where you most want guidance then listen to what your intuition tells you in that moment. Pick one or more cards and don’t second guess. This moment is where your intuition hits its peak, and through regular use will become more powerful. Just pull the cards blindly, and notice any feelings, images or words that pop into your head as you look at them. If you like, consult the accompanying booklet to learn more about its message.

There’s no limit to the questions, you should ask, nor are there hard and fast rules that say you can’t draw again to refine the answer you’ve received. Here are some prompts that might kickstart your imagination:

  • How will a current or problem situation develop?

  • Where should my focus be right now?

  • What do I need to know about someone or something/ my life right now?

  • Why has a person or thing come into my life?

  • What is the next right action to take regarding a current or problem situation?

  • What do I need to learn?

To use them in a spread, think about the series of questions you have – a three-card spread could showcase your past, present and future; or desires, obstacles and solutions. Searching “oracle card spreads” on Pinterest or Google is a great way to find a spread that best suits your needs.

A woman playing with the Inner Compass Love Cards
Inner Compass – Love cards tap into your playful nature to connect you back to yourself so that you can be free and open with others. Photograph by Pauline van Der Gulik

Where should I store my cards?

To honour their sacred, intuitive nature, you may want to designate a special place, like a shelf or altar, for your cards. Surrounding them with healing crystals and herbs helps keep them in a positive state.

How often should I consult my cards?

It’s really up to you. There are no hard and fast rules, but many oracle readers set a daily intention using the cards. To do this, pick just one card while asking for guidance. Others make readings a weekly ritual. Or try using them in the moment to guide you in making a decision.

Can I do readings for others?

Doesn’t everyone want their cards read? Draw cards for others by thinking of them as you choose. Or gather together for a new or full moon party, light candles, burn some essential oil, and sit with your friends in a circle. As the host, kick off proceedings by taking a moment to acknowledge the greater powers surrounding you, and set an intention for fun and lightness. Then do a one-card reading for yourself and share your insights. Invite each of your friends to complete their reading in the same way, sharing your questions, cards, and messages. When you have all taken a turn, talk about your takeaways. Remember to perform a cleansing ritual before you use them next in case the cards retain some party vibes.