Are Tarot Cards, Lenormand Cards, Oracles and Playing Cards the Same Thing?

Are they all the same?

Seeking a deck for guidance presents so many options as there are numerous Tarot decks, various types of Oracles cards and a smidgen of Lenormand decks to choose from.

For example, visiting a shop like Watkins Books of London and seeing what’s on the shelves could easily overwhelm. Searching online leads to a rabbit-hole of Alice in Wonderland proportions. There are so many creators being inspired to create either their own system or they reimagine the cards from the various systems that it’s likely to be a bit overwhelming when you’re looking for that perfect. Some even follow their imaginations to come up with own unique deck.

So many creators have either designed their own system or to reimagine the cards from other traditions.  Some even follow their imaginations to come up with own unique deck. It’s  a bit overwhelming when you’re looking for that perfect companion.

And if you want to find that perfect playing card deck, then honestly your choice is unlimited (magicians love their decks too). When I was looking for a playing card deck a couple of months ago, I narrowed it down to three, and as I couldn’t choose, I ended up with all of them (I currently have three more backed on Kickstarter…).

But the question is, are all the various decks created equally? My take is this…

Oracle Decks are the easiest to grab and use. Often, they only require one card for advice – and there is nothing simpler than pulling a card, grabbing the book and seeing what advice you’ve been given.

My two favourites at the moment are The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit & The Awakened Soul. I’ve also got Seeds of Shakti Oracle waiting to be explored.

Animal Spirit/Awakened Soul/Seeds of Shakti

Animal Spirit/Awakened Soul/Seeds of Shakti

Tarot Cards make up the widest range of cards based on a single divination system. There seems to be an endless supply of decks illustrated with every theme imaginable.

Tarot cards are often read in spreads of three or more cards.  Each position then affecting the message. Tarot as a tool is also one of the most versatile as asking for advice is just one use.

My favourite decks at the moment are The Deviant Moon Borderless, Marshallow Tarot, sun and moon tarot & Trionfi Della Luna. 

Deviant Moon/Marshmallow/sun&moon/Trionfi della Luna

Deviant Moon/Marshmallow/sun&moon/Trionfi della Luna

Lenormand Cards have risen from a background art into a more mainstream form of fortune telling. This change is reflected in the number of traditionally published and self-published decks reflects this. The great thing about Lenormand is that apart from a few variations each of the cards means the same thing. Until a few years ago all English decks came with broadly the same set of instructions. You can quickly read with any deck that sticks to the Lenormand symbolism.

For my money, a Lenormand reading can range from a direct message using a small line of cards to a grand exploration of themes using all 36 cards. Rather than reading cards in isolation, the Lenormand uses card combinations to derive meaning. It’s similar to translating a sentence from one language to another.    Lenormand is the tool you need when looking for answers rather than to use for deep personal exploration.

There is also the added element that Lenormand cards have playing card inserts that can be used to add an extra layer to a reading.

Lenormand is the tool you need when looking for answers rather than to use for deep personal exploration.

My favourite decks at the moment are Rana George Lenormand (coming everywhere soon), Maybe Lenormand, Dreaming Way Lenormand & Piatnik’s Mlle. Lenormand Jeu de destin.

Rana George/Maybe/Dreaming Way/Piatnik

Side note:  You can make your own Lenormand deck with a Sharpie and a £2 regular playing card deck.

home-made lenormand

Playing Cards, for me, are the hardest system to learn but the easiest cards to obtain.  I’ve only started dipping my toe in over the last few months. Unlike Oracles with that books of that explain the system or Tarot and Lenormand’s wealth of consistent information, methods reading playing cards aren’t bound to any particular tradition or lineage.

From what I can tell, a lot of methods are handed down from one generation to another. At the moment I’m relying heavily on Kapherus’s Art of Cartomancy Blog as a reliable resource.

As with Lenormand, playing cards are read in combination with various methods for spreading them out on a table. Unlike Tarot, the numbered cards of  Ace to Ten don’t link to numerology. The suits feel darker, especially the Spades, and there doesn’t feel like the same cohesion. However, it’s a discreet system of cartomancy that has survived as a passed down tradition for many many years.

My personal favourite decks? I don’t know if it’s best to have a favourite deck when it comes to playing cards. What do you think?

So ‘Are Tarot Cards, Lenormand Cards, Oracles and Playing Cards the Same Thing?‘ No, but each is useful, and when it comes to giving advice, they are similar a wide-circle of friends. Each has their world view and their own way of offering their information.

Does it matter which one you choose?  No, as long as you do it consciously. I’ve seen a few too many people ask for advice in a Tarot Facebook Group on cards in their new Angel card deck.

What would I recommend to self-learn? All three eventually.

If I had to choose one? Tarot but maybe not with the Smith-Wait Tarot but that’s a whole other post.

What do you think? Are all forms of cartomancy similar enough that it doesn’t matter what you choose? Is there one you’d recommend to learn over another?


  1. Great post! Lovely insights.
    I like to mix it all up. Basically, depending on the question that has been asked, you can decide which system / deck to go for. In my experience it is this: If it is deep guidance mixed with prediction, then you can go for the Tarot. Simply guidance goes best with Oracle decks. Practical questions that want real-life answers work great with the Lenormand.
    On another note, I too want to get into the playing cards. But I’ve gotten distracted with the Kipper cards right now. And a pack of the Vera Sibilla also waits for me. I think I will find my way to the playing cards after these two have been sorted.

    1. TY! Oh mixing is great fun! I’m trying playing cards to avoid Sibilla and Kipper cards (I have a couple of decks but not really explored) – hope you enjoy them.

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