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What is an oracle deck and how do you use one?

What is an oracle deck?

Decks of cards have long been used not only for games but for things like fortune telling, divination, and self exploration. Human beings are share similar themes in our experiences, and these themes have been passed down to us in many ways, including through art, music, literature, and spiritual practices. The tarot, which grew out of fortune telling using decks of cards, interprets cards based on archetypes of human experience. Tarot is simply one specific type of oracle deck; one way to interpret human experiences via cards.

Oracle decks come in as many shapes and sizes as there are interpretations of the archetypical human experience. And you don't need to be looking for your future in a set of cards to use oracle cards for self awareness practice. Sets of cards are usually organized around some sort of theme, like moods, archetypes, plants, questions, quotes -- they are often made by artists who are sharing their experience of the world with you through the cards. Oracle deck creators often share some literature about how to interpret their cards, whether it's a whole book or just a short intro to the oracle cards. 

Here are some oracle decks to explore:

  • The Wild Unknown Archetypes Deck - This watercolor oracle deck has beautiful imagery and explores a variety of archetypes in the human experience. The accompanying guide book helps you consider how to use these as divination tools or use the oracle cards as prompts for self exploration. 
  • The Literary Witches Oracle Deck - This oracle deck for bookworms highlights literary and feminist women throughout history and symbols associated with them as a path toward self inquiry and divination. 
  • The Synchronicity Oracle Deck by Cathy Nichols - This collage oracle deck has beautiful imagery that mixes colors, images, and words to allow the user to explore and interpret for themselves what comes up. 

3 ways to use your oracle deck

As with most things in life, you can use an oracle deck however you want! But here are some of the main ways folks use them. 

Use oracle cards with traditional tarot spreads or to enhance a tarot reading. Some decks are more well suited to this than others, but some work well in traditional tarot spreads. So if you already use tarot cards, the expansion into oracle decks can fit right in and give you a different way to seek answers for your life and connect with your intuition. You can also simply draw a card or two from an oracle deck as the root for a tarot reading, or to expand upon a reading's meaning. 

Draw a card a day to explore a creative practice. This could be the root of some daily journal prompts or art journal explorations. Each card will give you a different facet of the human experience to explore, and using this as the jumping off point for your creative practice can help you explore different areas than you might go to by default and help you avoid creative blocks.

Use the cards in to practice self awareness. Whether you're drawing a card a day or at a different frequency, you can use oracle cards to help you journey inward. Draw a card and ask yourself "Why did this come up today? How am I experiencing this? Why is this something I needed to see today?" You can even keep an oracle deck journal to capture your explorations. As you connect with your intuition, you'll be surprised at how often what comes up is exactly what you needed to hear. 

Are you looking to add an oracle deck to your collection?

I'm currently working on a collage poem oracle deck, the Soft Heart Oracle Deck, which will be made up of watercolor flowers representing different themes in the human experience overlaid with poems made from collaged lines from different books. Through books, wisdom is passed down over time, and rearranging old wisdoms into new poems helps us see these traditional themes in new ways. 

If you want to explore care, community, creativity, and how to be the person you want to be in the world, this watercolor poetry oracle deck may be a great one to add to your collect. 

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