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The Complete Guide to Oracle Cards

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Oracle cards have become a popular tool for those seeking spiritual guidance, personal insight, and self-discovery in modern divination. With uniquely illustrated decks, they provide profound messages and wisdom that can help in navigating life’s twists and turns. Below, explore the different ways to use oracle cards, including a selection of the best decks to consider for your own journey.

What Are Oracle Cards?

While their origins are shrouded in mystery, oracle cards have long been used to gain clarity on various aspects of life through archetypes, symbolism, and creative expression. One notable milestone in the history of oracle cards was the introduction of the Lenormand Oracle, inspired by Marie Anne Lenormand, the famous cartomancer, fortune teller, and author from 18th century France. Renowned for being the fortune teller for Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Emperor Napoleon I, the Lenormand deck helped establish the foundation for present-day oracle cards.

Oracle cards now consist of a deck of cards, each adorned with different images and symbols. They offer messages and wisdom when drawn or arranged in a particular manner. Unlike tarot cards, which follow a structured system with 78 cards and specific major and minor arcana, oracle card decks come in a wide range of designs and themes, and the number of cards can vary, allowing for greater flexibility and personalization. They also come with a detailed guidebook with interpretations, spreads, and instructions from the author on how to use the deck.

a collage of a ring, scarf, crystal ball, and oracle card

Getty + Design Leah Romero

How to Use Oracle Cards

Oracle cards are a visually creative and symbolic way to tap into your inner wisdom intuition, and to gain clarity. Whether you’re seeking guidance on love, career, family, ancestral healing, or personal growth, they can help you look within for the answers to your own questions. Oracle cards are also simply tools for self-reflection and inner growth. With the right deck and a sincere intention, oracle cards can become a trusted source and healing tool on your spiritual path. So take a moment to connect with the cards, and let the journey begin:

Choose Your Deck

Begin by selecting an oracle card deck that resonates with your personality and intentions. Personally, I use a wide array of decks. During readings, I choose my decks based on my clients’ needs, intuition, and the area of life they’d like to know more about. I advise consulting oracle cards as frequently as needed. Daily, weekly, monthly, and on important astrological events, like a new or full moon. There are countless options available, thanks to modern occultists and spiritualists, each with their own theme, focus, archetypes, and energy. Consider what aspects of your life you’d like to explore, and choose a deck that aligns with your intentions.

Getting to Know Your Oracle Deck

Once you’ve obtained your deck, the best way to start is by reading and digesting the guidebook, which is typically included with most oracle decks. The author of the guidebook usually gives instructions on how to use the deck, which spreads are best, and includes detailed interpretations of each oracle card. A deeper understanding of the deck will help you decipher meanings during your own readings. While you’re referencing the guidebook, take a look at each card and study the symbolism. This will help unlock your intuition and have more seamless, self-reflective readings.

Create Your Sacred Space

Find a quiet and peaceful space where you won’t be disturbed to consult your oracle deck. You may want to light a candle or burn some incense. Creating a comfortable atmosphere enhances your connection with the cards and your higher self.

Cleanse the Deck

Light incense of your choice to cleanse your deck. Bathe the deck in the smoke. I also recommend placing a clear quartz or selenite stick nearby to promote cleansing and clarity of thought during the reading.

Connect With Your Intentions

Sit in silence for a moment, holding the cards in your hands. Think of your question, hold it in your mind, and ask your higher self, spirit, or intuition for the answers you seek.

Shuffle the Deck

Hold the deck in your hands, and focus on your question or intention. Shuffle the cards, while concentrating on your query or the area of your life in which you seek guidance. Trust your intuition, and continue shuffling until you feel a connection with the deck.

Draw a Card

When you’re ready, draw a card from the deck. You can do this by spreading the cards out face-down and selecting one randomly or by simply choosing the top card. Some people prefer to fan out the cards and choose one that calls to them. You also can shuffle, and choose the ones that fall out.

Interpret the Message

Examine the imagery, symbols, and words on the card. Pay attention to your initial thoughts and feelings as they arise. While you can refer back to the guidebook for meaning, trust your intuition to decipher the message,. Don’t be overly concerned with traditional meanings. Oracle cards are meant to be interpreted through your own unique lens.

Reflect and Meditate

Take a moment to reflect on the card’s message and how it relates to your question or intention. You can also meditate on the card’s imagery to gain deeper insights. Trust the guidance you receive, and let it resonate with your inner wisdom.

Journal Your Experience

Keeping a journal of your oracle card readings can be a valuable practice. Write down the card you drew, your interpretation, and any insights or realizations that arise. Over time, you’ll be able to track your growth and personal development.

Shop Oracle Card Decks

Oracle card decks come in a wide array of themes and designs, making it easy to find one that resonates with you:

A stunning, illustrated oracle deck featuring 52 of hip-hop’s most influential queens (from Lauryn Hill to Megan Thee Stallion) who serve as compass points for spiritual growth and portals to guidance and meditation.

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