Cartomancy is the practice of reading/interpreting playing, Tarot, or oracle cards that have been dealt in a ritual setting. Readings may be performed for the purpose of self-reflection or “divination,” which is a fancy word that means collecting information from the universe.

Depending on the mood and nature of the reading, some decks are more appropriate than others—which is how Tarot and oracle deck collections get started!

Crystal Unicorn Tarot by Pamala Chen
The Crystal Unicorn Tarot Deck by Pamela Chen

Primary questions that arise when considering cartomancy are:

  1. What is the Tarot, and what are oracle cards?

A Tarot deck is a classic tool composed of 78 cards, including one Major Arcana suit (representing larger life events), and four Minor Arcana suits (representing everyday events). With the Fool as its primary character, and sometimes-ominous cards including Death and the infamous Tower card, the Tarot is a study of life’s most powerful archetypes. 

Oracle cards, conversely, are original in structure. Their design stems purely from the creativity of the maker, and delivers messages that are often very digestible to modern readers. Due to the freeform nature of Oracle cards, selecting a deck is an intuitive act.

  1. How does one choose a deck?

Select a deck that pleases your eyes and suits your mood. 

The Animal Spirit Oracle Deck by Kim Krans features mystical creatures.

“I draw an animal card every day when we wake up in the morning. Similar to Tarot, these cards can give you perspective into what is to come or how to prepare for the day mentally. It allows me to have a brief check in with myself and to notice how I feel and how the card is relevant to me. Also, I love animals and the pictures are really pretty.” – Alex, co-founder Herbivore Botanicals 

The Prism Oracle Deck by Iris Eyes offers sweet simplicity, clean lines and bold colors that combine to stir similar kinds of answers from within. Choose this deck when you need guidance that is easy to understand.

Dark Days by (Herbivore Creative Content Specialist) Wren McMurdo is a classic Tarot deck with a lunar theme. This black and white deck’s originality lies in its emphasis on the dark days of the lunar cycle, and its square shape that allows cyclical (as opposed to binary) directional interpretation. Choose Dark Days when you need honest-yet-nurturing reflection.

  1. How does one read the cards?

It’s simple to read Tarot and Oracle cards, and approach depends on ability. 

Cards mirror thoughts to the average layperson—usually those that point out what you most fear or most desire. In this way, the cards can function as a practice of letting go of the habit of second-guessing, and also of finding clarity as to what scares or hinders you from getting what you need and/or want.

When first starting out, shuffle the deck and pull one card per day to learn slowly and deliberately. Work to extract the most honest understanding of yourself upon first glance at the card. Consider journaling your answers. Gaze at the card to absorb each detail for deeper contemplation.

Determine things like: 

  • What is the story I am telling myself about my situation that relates to this card?
  • How is this story real or not real, and if it is real, why would that be so bad or good?
  • How does this story line up with my values?
  • Where do I need to make an adjustment? 

Those with psychic abilities will be able to tap into any, multiple, or all of the clair senses: clairvoyance (clear seeing), clairaudience (clear hearing), clairsentience (clear physical feeling), clairtangency (clear touching), clairsalience (clear smelling), and/or clairgustance (clear tasting) upon revealing card images.

In the case that you possess psychic sense, allow the cards to guide you in developing a practice that is completely unique to you. It’s also a good idea in this case to seek mentoring from a more experienced psychic being if you are feeling unsure. Check out David Petrusich (@alchemybydavid on Instagram) for guidance.

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