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Tarot Cards: An Introduction

Published date: 05/12/2019 10:52


Here at Something Different, we carry a beautiful selection of tarot and oracle cards in both classic and modern styles. The art of tarot reading and divination has continued to grow in popularity and the increased interest may have your customers wanting to know more. Keep reading for a brief history of tarot reading, the difference between tarot and oracle cards, and how to get started in the practice.

A Short History

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of these intricately illustrated cards. Some say tarot cards date back to ancient Egypt, while others claim they likely began as hand-painted playing cards in 14th century Europe, commissioned by wealthy families for parlour games. While the dates of origin are unclear, it was not until the 18th century that these cards evolved into the powerful tools used for divination we know of today. To this day, the most commonly recognised deck is that of publisher William Rider and mystic A.E. Waite. This Rider-Waite tarot deck has been the leading choice for practitioners, young and old, throughout English-speaking countries for over 100 years.

Tarot vs. Oracle: What’s the Difference?

Tarot is considered a fixed system, with rigid structure and traditions. While imagery will be unique between decks, the format must remain the same. Tarot decks are made up of 78 cards, with 22 major arcana cards and 56 minor cards.

Oracle cards are considered a fluid system, with variations between decks based on the authors’ individual lexicon and theme. Think of tarot cards as your milk, eggs and butter, with oracle cards as the vanilla, sugar and cinnamon.

The Tarot Deck Broken Down

  • 78 cards total, divided into Major Arcana and Minor Arcana
  • 22 Major Arcana cards, or ‘trump’ cards, containing powerful messages symbolising major life influences
  • 56 Minor Arcana cards
  • Further divided into 4 suits - Cups, Pentacles, Wands and Swords
  • 14 cards in each suit - 10 numbered cards, representing 10 stages of an event, and 4 court cards (the Page, Knight, Queen, and King), representing your personal level of understanding of the situation in question

Getting Started

When beginning a reading for yourself, allow the cards to guide you to a decision on a question or uncertainty. Starting with a clear, focused mind while shuffling your deck creates a strong link between the spiritual dimensions and your higher self. The simplest spread for beginners is known as a '3 Card Spread' and is a great starting point for your journey into divination. We find this list of 25 three card spreads a perfect source for those just starting out.


Tarot reading begins with the perfect deck. Browse our selection of tarot decks and oracle cards by clicking the image below.


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