I get this question a lot, especially as I offer both tarot and oracle readings. There's also some common confusion, and sometimes heated debate, over what the differences between oracle cards and tarot cards are.
That ends today!
We'll start off with the tarot as it's more well known and things really scale down from here. You'll understand what I mean by that in a second.
Tarot is a divination tool; when used, they help give provide guidance and advice for your questions and troubling situations.
They consist typically of 78 cards, unless you have a speciality deck, and have two section, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.
The Major Arcana represents major life changes and events that we all face. When they occur in a reading, it's best to acknowledge and listen to what that card is telling you. It's also tells the emotional and spiritual journey of the querent, the person receiving the reading, and follows the path of The Fool.
The Fool, representing new beginnings and optimism, is the first of the Major Arcana and the path continues until you reach The World, which represents completion and fulfillment.
Minor Arcana is made up of four suits (Cups, Swords, Wands, and Pentacles) with the names of each varying from deck to deck. They extend from Ace, which is the purist form of that element and thought for the suit, to King, which has a variety of meanings depending on the suit. Unless a deck of cards, each suit has an extra card, the Page, which goes before the Knight (or Jack).
This arcana tells us more specifically what situation the querant is going through. Many things come into effect here, such as the suit, the number, the imagery, symbolism within the imagery, the placement within a spread, etc.
For example, the Nine of Swords in the Witches Tarot shows a woman laying down under a large group of swords on her wall. Through the swords, we see a full moon. She's swooning, obviously upset.
Swords represent the element of Air, which is intellectual and action based. The imagery in the card obviously shows this woman in distress, blocked off mentally from those around her, perhaps in the form of depression or another mental illness. However, because her hand is very "oh woe is me", you can take it as she's being incredibly over dramatic and needs to open her eyes to the beauty outside.
Oracle cards can get even more specific than Minor Arcana in tarot. These types of decks, sometimes called Angel cards, have key phrases and, sometimes, mantras that can be more to the point than keywords in tarot.
Their imagery changes from the tarot; there's more animals, angels, gods, or (like the Wisdom of the Golden Path) Japanese samurais and Chinese concubines.
One of the best explanations I found for using oracle cards is that they're about "breaking patterns" as they show us our current path and how it's unfolding right at this moment. Tarot can need a few days at the very least sometimes.
Also, oracle cards have a speciality in showing you how your path is manifesting. Some show through your chakras, some show through crystals, some through dragons, etc. My oracle deck gives you the current energy and then mantras on how to change it that you can repeat as you see fit. It's actively emotionally building.
so how can you use both?
When you have timing that stacks like this, you can get some incredibly insightful guidance. You have sources that are telling you where you are on your life path, what event you're going through, and how you're actively feeling and ALL are telling you how to move forward.
The best way, I've found, to use both of these decks in a reading, is to draw the tarot spread first and then oracle for general advice afterwards. That way you get those layers and still address each of the cards. If you draw oracle first, there'd be less attention focused on the tarot; the oracle answered your question already.
You can also specialize in one or the other. It depends on your preference.
As a client, it's the same way. See what deck, if your reader allows you to choose, draws you. Look up pictures and research. Whichever deck pops out to you, get your reading done in that one.
For more information about tarot and oracle cards, check out this link and this link.