1. Is this real?
This is likely the question I get most often, or some version of it (i.e. Is this for real? Are you a real fill-in-the-blank?) It always makes me want to laugh a bit. I suppose I wonder what people mean by "real". Obviously, I am real. My cards are real. The pictures are real. The table I spread them on is real. Hopefully, you as the querent are real. And so on and so forth. So, yes. In short, it's all quite real.
To go a bit deeper, tarot is a real practice that has been around for centuries, and divination as a whole has likely been with us since nearly the beginning of time, or at least since we first began to consider something outside of our own literal, physical experience. I think of tarot as an art and a study. Like any other art or study, it's very real and also very subjective. What you make of it is up to you. But there is a longstanding tradition of tarot which can be learned, practiced, and referred to, that gives this particular vein of divination and its students perhaps a little more credence than some others.
Now, to take it a step further, what I think many people mean by this question is "Is it factual?" Yes and no. Obviously, the pictures on the cards we turn are factual. And the traditional understanding of their meaning is somewhat factual, but here we are already beginning to tread the subjective waters. Beyond that, my personal interpretations become even more subjective, and the correlations you draw between what I'm telling you and the experiences in your life continue that trend away from cold, hard, literal, objective fact. However, it is entirely possible for something of this nature to still be true. So while the reading may carry us farther from objective fact, the goal is that it will hopefully carry us closer to subjective truth. Which is exactly where many querents want to go. Think about it. Do you want to pay someone to have them rattle off a bunch of already known facts to you ("Your hair is brown. Your car is blue. Your dog is named Rover. Etc., etc.)? Of course not! We don't seek answers we already know. We're looking to move past the logical, rational, objective, and very active mind, to the deeper, more intuitive consciousness. That is where tarot reading comes from, and I can assure you, it is very real indeed.
2. Are you psychic?
I get this one quite a bit, too. Usually coupled with wide, disbelieving eyes. Here's how I would like to respond. "Of course. You are, too." I don't prescribe to the notion that psychic ability is rationed out to a precious, gifted few. Though I do believe that, like anything else, some are born with a greater or lesser propensity for it. We can all play basketball. We cannot all play basketball well. Some may get there with regular practice and study. Others may pick up the ball and shine like the natural stars they are. While others may never be considered "good" even with lots of discipline, though their personal best is sure to improve. Intuition, for me, is like a muscle. The more I use it, the stronger it gets. As a rule, I avoid the using the term psychic because I find it comes with a lot of ridiculous, ill-conceived concepts. I usually prefer to say "intuitive", "empathic", and/or something a little less loaded. But I do experience what could be defined as psychic phenomena on a fairly regular basis. However, I don't find it nearly as mystifying as the general population. Nor do I think it exists outside the realm of scientific explanation. But just because we can explain something, it rarely ceases to be a wonder in my experience. And even I find myself struck with awe from time to time.
3. Is tarot evil?
Other variations on this theme: bad, wrong, of the devil, going to send me to hell, etc. I don't believe anything can hold power over us except the power we give it. Certainly not a deck of cards. The last I checked, Satan was not the artist nor the publisher of my tarot deck. And I haven't any impromptu calls to hell listed on my T-Mobile bill. Nor do I subscribe to the idea that a deeper understanding of my own feelings, desires, fears, experiences, or behaviors is somehow dangerous. In fact, experience has taught me it is quite the opposite. The more you ignore and repress parts of yourself, the more volatile they become in their attempt to gain your attention. If you believe your own intuition is evil, meaning you have a complete lack of trust and faith in yourself, then I suppose tarot would be evil to you. But if, like me, you believe your intuition serves as a beautiful and functional connection to a higher and greater and purer source of wisdom and understanding (what I call "the Divine" and you likely call "God"), then it is nothing more than a tool or a gift to help us on our journey through life. And if you're wondering where all the superstitious, devil-charged hype came from, I like to point the finger at a two-thousand year old (and truly older as it existed in other patriarchal motifs in pre-Christian cultures) tradition of demonizing everything that rocked the status quo, threatened the powers that be, and/or allowed the rich to get richer. But that's just me.