How & Why to Use Crystal Oracle Cards + the BEST Crystals for Card Readings
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Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks!) where you’re feeling totally overwhelmed? When this happens, you may feel scattered, lacking your usual confidence, or just plain stuck. So how do you move beyond it? With a little guidance from the Universe, of course!
UPDATE: This article previously mentioned White Sage and Palo Santo among the recommended methods for cleansing your stones. Smoke cleansing using these materials is culturally appropriative in the context it was previously described, especially shared by the author here (who is white). This article has been updated to reflect this change. Further, the term “smudging” has been updated to “smoke cleansing,” since the term smudging was incorrectly applied to the act of cleansing crystals without the cultural context and deeper meaning connected with the act of smudging by Indigenous people.
Crystal oracle cards are one of the quickest and easiest ways to tap into your intuition and call forth just the message you need to get you headed in the right direction. Whether you’re having trouble making a decision, need a little clarity about a situation, or want a little support and encouragement from your guides or angels, oracle cards are a great tool to help you create just the mindset shift you need.
So what exactly are crystal oracle cards and how do they work?
You may be familiar with Tarot cards, but oracle cards are quite different. Where Tarot cards follow suits in the minor arcana and have strong archetypes associated with the major arcana cards, oracle cards don’t require you to have an encyclopedic knowledge of their meanings before you use them. Instead, they leave a lot of room for your own interpretation. In fact, their ability to promote free-flowing, intuitive associations is one of the reasons they work so well!
Their images, messages, and themes encourage you to tap into your own inner guidance and focus in on what’s meaningful to you in this moment in time. This is just one of the reasons modern oracle cards have become more and more popular in recent years. The rise in the popularity of oracle cards has led to many people starting to incorporate this divinatory method as part of their daily spiritual practice.
I personally like to pull a card or two to start my day. Then I’ll place the cards somewhere I’ll see them often throughout my day as a reminder of the messages they’ve given me. Sometimes I’ll even do a quick spread before or after my daily meditation. If my reading is particularly insightful, I’ll add the cards to my altar for a few days and meditate on their meanings for some extra insight and clarity.
The great thing about working with this type of intuitive tool, is that there’s no right or wrong way to go about it; it’s all about tuning into your intuition and doing what feels right.
So how do you get started?
Begin your reading by choosing a spread.
Most divinatory cards, both tarot and oracle, are used with specific spreads or layouts to help you put each card into context. For example, you may draw one card for daily guidance, with the intention that the card you pull each morning is relevant for your day ahead. It may offer some guidance on things to be especially aware of that day. Alternatively, you may choose a simple layout like a 3-card spread. This type of layout is usually associated with a timeline or used for decision making.
For a 3-card timeline spread:
The first card you pull represents past influences. The second card represents your current situation and the third card represents where you’re headed.
With this layout, you’re able to get some insight into the entirety of a situation and understand what led up to your current situation, where things stand currently, and what may lie ahead. Remember that with any divination method, you can ALWAYS change where things are headed, but the card in this position just shows you where you’re most likely to end up if you remain on your current path.
For a 3-card decision-making spread:
The first card you pull represents yourself and the influence you have on the outcome of your decision. The second card you pull represents outside influences that are beyond your control and the third card represents the unknown and additional things to consider that may shape what’s yet to come.
There are also many other traditional, and much more elaborate, card spreads that you can use for guidance. The Celtic Cross spread is probably the most well-known, but there’s also a 12-card spread for the year ahead, spreads for love or success, and many others. It’s best to start out using your cards by choosing a spread that’s most aligned with what you’d like some insight about right now.
After you’ve chosen your spread, it’s time to prepare your space.
A little space clearing goes a LONG way when it comes to any type of divination technique. You can clear your space by smoke cleansing with herbs like rosemary, lavender, or mugwort, use bells or singing bowls, or wave a Selenite wand through your space to clear out any unwanted psychic debris or stale energy prior to your reading. This excess energy can clutter up your space and make it much more difficult for the right messages to come through, so don’t skip this step.
After you’ve cleansed the energy in your space, you need to set the stage for your reading. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but burning some incense, putting on some soft music, and grabbing a few of your favorite crystals really goes a long way to helping you connect with your higher self and getting your intuitive juices flowing.
Here are the top 10 best crystals to incorporate into your space when working with your oracle cards:
- Angelite – Invites your guides and angels to support you during your reading
- Amethyst – Helps you tap into your intuition and decipher any messages that are coming through
- Black Tourmaline – Keeps you safe and protected from outside energies while you’re psychic energy is at its peak
- Selenite – Keeps your space clear and free from psychic debris during your reading
- Clear Quartz – Amplifies your intention of receiving guidance from your cards
- Rainbow Fluorite – Promotes mental clarity so that you can stay focused on what you’re doing and keeps your mind from wandering
- Rose Quartz – Reminds you to stay heart-centered and compassionate during your reading
- Smoky Quartz – Keeps you grounded while you’re tapping into the higher vibe intuitive realm
- Labradorite – Stimulates your third eye and activates your intuitive gifts
- Citrine – Enhances your self-confidence as a card reader and promotes successful outcomes
You can place these crystals in your sacred space or on your altar, keep them near you or hold them for their energy, or even create a grid or circle of stones around you during the reading. Crystals have powerful energy and can really enhance the intuitive process.
Now that you’ve set the stage for a successful reading, it’s time for you to craft a clear and concise question to ask.
It’s best if this is an open-ended question (meaning the answer isn’t a simple yes or no). Our lives are very complex and constantly shifting and changing, so a “yes” to your question today may not be a “yes” tomorrow. Open-ended questions are much more useful because they can reveal much more to a situation and remain relevant as things continue to develop. When you allow the cards to paint a picture of the situation, rather than locking them into strict “yes” or “no” outcomes, the meaning of your reading is truer and more robust in its depth.
Take a few minutes in your sacred space to clear your mind.
Close your eyes and take some deep breaths in and out. Focus on what you most need guidance about at this time, and begin to work this idea into a concise question. If you’re having trouble, it may be because you are thinking about too many things. In this case, you may choose to instead write down a list of questions (which is preferable to asking one large complex question). If you choose to ask several questions form your list during your reading, you may want to simplify things by doing a 1-card pull for each question you ask.
Once you have your question worded in a concise way, you’re ready to begin your reading. Asking your question aloud adds power and energy to your intention of receiving guidance about this issue. If you really don’t feel comfortable speaking your question out loud, you may write it down on a piece of paper and place it near your cards as you do the reading, or you may think the question in your mind silently to yourself.
Proceed with your reading by pulling the cards to match the layout or spread you have chosen for your specific query.
After pulling each card, take a few minutes to sit with the energy of the card and think about what it means to you in relation to your question. What images are present on the card? Do any of those images have a specific meaning to you? How do those images relate to your question? What are some of the traditional associations or correspondences with those images? Do the images have any cultural or spiritual significance? If it helps you get a clearer picture and deeper meaning, you may wish to write about each card in a journal you keep just for your card readings.
Once you’ve had a chance to sit with the energy of each card and think about what it means in relation to your question, take a few extra minutes to ponder how all of the cards relate to one another. What is the overall message? What is the universe trying to tell you? What’s the BIG picture here? You may like to journal about this as well.
You may want to sit with your crystals and hold one you feel particularly drawn to. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in and out and tune into its energy. Alternatively, you may want to hold one of the cards that came up for you in your reading that you really resonate with. Feel this energy surround you. Set your card or crystal down and open your eyes.
At this point, you may want to ask the Universe if it has any more messages for you or if there’s anything else you should know about this situation.
If you feel a “yes” then you may wish to draw one additional card to shed some light on anything that may have been missing from your initial reading. Take a few moments to sit with the energy of this card as well and think about its meaning. Why did this card present itself now?
After you’ve done a few readings for yourself, you may even want to begin offering readings to friends. Invite over a few of your closest friends and offer to give them a reading. There are MANY styles of using cards to read for others and they vary greatly – Who shuffles the cards? Should the deck be cut? Do they draw the cards or do you? Should they tell you their question before you interpret the messages? How you do readings for others is entirely up to you.
It’s all about finding a system that works for you and that helps you get the best, most accurate results.
For example, when I read for others, I have them get really clear on their question and hold it in their mind while I shuffle the cards. I don’t ask them to share their specific question with me beforehand, but I do ask what type of question they have (i.e. do they just want general guidance, do they need help making a decision, are they looking for relationship advice, etc).
While I shuffle the cards, they focus on their question, and when I intuitively feel the urge to stop shuffling, I do. Then I continue with the reading, pulling cards to fit the spread I’ve chosen based on their question type. At the end of the reading, if the person would like to reveal their question, they may. Sometimes this yields additional insight which can be useful, but during the initial part of the reading I prefer not to know what is being asked so that it doesn’t distort my interpretation of the cards. I learned this method of reading from a tarot reader I respect very much and have always found it to work well.
In my own life, I often use oracle cards to help provide a bit of guidance for my journey.
At the beginning of each year, I like to do a reading for the year ahead using a 12-card spread, with one card representing the major theme for each month. I also pull a card at the beginning of the day a few times per week…just to give me a little insight into what may present itself during the day (it’s good to be prepared!).
The way oracle cards have served me best in my life, time and time again, is to help get me unstuck when I’m feeling overwhelmed by a particular situation.
A few years ago I found myself in a very difficult situation. I was co-owner of a metaphysical shop and my business partner was ready to retire, which meant I needed to buy her out of the business or take on a new partner I didn’t know. The idea of partnering up with someone new was a pretty scary concept and I felt ready to take on the business alone in every way…except financially.
I was in my 20s and had no idea how I was going to be able to afford to buy the remaining shares of the business from my partner. So I started going through the process of requesting business loans. I was rejected by 2 banks because they didn’t feel the business was “a sure thing” and I was disheartened. Honestly, I felt like giving up. I felt like a failure.
I had no idea what to do and felt SO out of alignment…
It was like I knew in my heart what I wanted but it didn’t seem to be possible for me. It felt like I was running out of options and I definitely had that miserable “stuck” feeling. So, I decided to pull some cards to help me get a little clarity and guidance. The reading was just what I needed. The message to keep pressing on and moving forward pursuing the business loan came through loud and clear – and it was POWERFUL. It was exactly what I needed to boost my confidence and help reassure me that I was on the right path.
So I did some homework and found a business lender that worked with small, women-owned businesses. I submitted my application and anxiously awaited the results. Guess what? I was approved! Even though I had been at such a low point just a few weeks before, I was now on cloud nine. If I had given up when I felt stuck I may never have seen my dream come true. The guidance I received during my reading pushed me to keep going because things were going to work out as I needed them to (just a couple weeks later than I thought they would!).
So… is working with oracle cards like taking a magic pill that solves all of your problems? Of course not.
They did, however, help me call forth and understand my own inner knowing so that I could feel confident in my decisions. Crystal oracle cards helped me better understand and evaluate what was going on in my life so I could make the best decision for myself. They helped me shift my perspective and think about things in a new way so that I was able to find a creative solution to a problem that I had previously overlooked. That’s the REAL power in the cards.
But the most important part of being sure this power really shines through is making sure that you resonate with the deck you’re using. Do you like the artwork? The explanations and meanings given for each card? That makes a BIG difference in how well the guidance and wisdom comes through.