Monday, July 28, 2008

AN INTERVIEW WITH ANNA MURPHY ~ "Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them."

I recently had the opportunity to interview my friend and colleague, Anna Murphy, an intuitive guide and healer and tarot reader. I hope you find the results as interesting as I did! Please be sure to check out the link at the end of the interview, to read more about Anna and be redirected to her website and thought-provoking and very entertaining blog.

I picked up my first deck, the Robin Wood Tarot, when I was 21. At first, I mainly studied out of books like Mary K. Greer's "Tarot for Yourself" and read just for myself for quite a while. I was lucky to meet someone who was an extremely talented reader. She taught me a lot and really encouraged me to come out of my shell.Growing up, doing things like reading Tarot cards was not something that anyone around me ever did. None of my family or friends ever went to see readers, or if they did they didn't talk about it. So it was a strange new world to me, and a very exciting one.

When I first started playing around with the Tarot, I didn't feel like I had any psychic ability. In retrospect, I had always had a lot of the signs of latent psychic ability -- mainly intense dreams and emotional sensitivity, a strong creative impulse. These are qualities that are really discounted or driven underground in our culture, so for most people, myself included, being sensitive or creative felt more like a recipe for unhappiness than as a gift.

The best way I found to develop my intuition was just practice, both with the cards and with everyday things. At the time, I was living in Boston and going to art school. I used to change trains at Arlington Station and, while I was waiting, I would try to guess which train would come next -- B, C, D, or E. After a while, I got very good at this and learned how to distinguish between a guess, a hope, a worry, and a real intuition.

The less you have emotionally invested in the outcome, the easier it seems to be to predict something. My husband is a big fan of mixed martial arts fighting. I used to be able to predict the outcome of nearly every fight we watched -- but then I started rooting for certain fighters and now I'm terrible at calling fights. This is probably why intuition and gambling don't go together very well.

That's a good question. A lot of people seem to think that their fate is sealed in advance, even the choices they are going to make. I've never understood that perception. Maybe people learn too much Greek tragedy in high school, I don't know.From reading the cards, sometimes it seems that certain things are indeed predestined and unavoidable, but they are the exception, not the rule. The world seems to be a lot looser and more pliable than it appears to us.

I love hunting down answers and solving mysteries. There was a physicist whose books I love who wrote one called "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out." That's a big one for me.

And the Tarot itself is constantly teaching me. The origins of Tarot cards are pretty murky. Tarot scholars will tell you that it seems to have originated as an Italian card game in the fifteenth century that just happened to incorporate some powerful symbolism. But lately I'm thinking that there was a lot more intentionality in its creation than most people believe, because the patterns of its design go very deep.

I recently discovered some alchemical and merkavah (an ancient Jewish mystical tradition) symbolism in the Tarot that it's clear were put there on purpose by whoever created the system. I'm surely not the first person to notice these connections, but they are undoubtedly there. I don't think anyone's gotten to the bottom yet of everything that the Tarot represents and after almost six hundred years that's saying something.

I think of the Tarot as a map of the unconscious mind, but it's more than that. In the West, it also represents a huge part of our spiritual inheritance. It is a coded message from the pagans, the Qabalists, the Rosicrucians, the alchemists and magicians and Mary Magdalene-lovers whose faith and practices were underground for so many centuries.

The funny thing is that these underground traditions are not anti-Christian -- usually they were quite the opposite. Many of them were started by people whose Christian or Jewish faith was so deep that they wanted to get more personally involved in their own spiritual life. That was a very taboo thing to do in those times.

Above all, I think a good reading can bring clarity and insight that it's impossible to find anywhere else. It is also helpful to have some psychological insight if you are going to be a reader. I think it's a shame that the psychological community has become very un-magical. Except for the Jungian tradition, most therapists no longer talk about the soul, and this is a big loss. So now readers and psychics do a lot of this work instead, but it's very private and unregulated.

Mainstream therapists have gotten into "cognitive behavioral" therapy, which has its uses, but essentially we are training people to just behave better and think better. We're changing the outside and hoping that the inside will change -- and a lot of time, this does work just fine, but it's not enough.

As a culture, we seem to have given up on seeking the answers to the deeper mysteries and the really big questions. Bringing up things like the soul or the existence of life after death or what the heck is really happening in our world is kind of a social no-no. But the thing is, these are the questions that people are privately really thinking about and struggling with. They're very important. A Tarot reading is a safe place to bring up and investigate almost anything. I think that's very freeing for people.

Love and money are always the big questions!

Mostly the important thing is to relax and be open. I look at a Tarot reading as a conversation with your higher self. Sometimes when I'm shuffling cards or laying them out, I'll ask clients casual questions about where they're from or something like that.

Sometimes I can feel brand new clients tense up when I do this because they've probably seen some Penn & Teller "expose" about how psychics will fish for information from you or that kind of thing.

Being able to trust in the process is probably the most important thing, both for me as a reader and for the client. I don't fully understand how the readings work but I see it as a very sacred process. As a client, it's not something you want to enter into if you're suspicious of the reader. I think that's why a lot of clients find me through word-of-mouth. This is actually very smart -- I wouldn't let just anyone read my cards, either. It's an intimate thing in a lot of ways.

I don't think so, but it is true that readings are probably not great for everyone.

One of my favorite Einstein quotes is "Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them." Some people do come to a Tarot reader not wanting to change anything about their lives or themselves -- they just want to know what's in the future. And that's okay and it will work. I'm not there to do an intervention on somebody. What you want to do with your reading is completely up to you. But if you're wasting the present, what good is knowing about the future going to do you?

I do think that the readings are healing. At the most basic level, they offer my clients a lot of reassurance and hope. But they offer a chance for a deep transformation as well. It's all up to the client -- they are in the driver's seat for that.

To learn more about Anna, read her insightful and beautifully written blog postings on "Practically Spiritual" or to sign up for her upcoming "Opening to Tarot" class, please CLICK HERE

Thank You, Anna! I appreciate your answering my many questions to share with my blog readers and clients.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

One More Thought on Procrastination

This is a much more succinct posting about procrastination, compared to Thursday's, but here is a great quote from Pablo Picasso, I wanted to share:

"Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone."

Thursday, July 10, 2008


"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."

How true, how true! We all have those things we don't want to do; they seem to permanently appear on our To Do List and no matter how big or small the task is, we dread doing it or we simply continue to put it off, for reasons we're not even sure of. Sometimes, we simply have so much to do, that we become overwhelmed and paralyzed and therefore take no action whatsoever. This behavior, which even the best of us are guilty of from time to time, can quickly become a pattern and a habit that is hard to kick.

Having these uncompleted tasks can drain us -- or as William James' quote so aptly puts it --- it fatigues us. Oh, but how can that be, you ask? If we've not put any effort into completing the task, how can that tire us? Well, that's kind of the point. By having this "To Do" constantly hanging over our heads, it becomes a burden. The proverbial albatross around our necks. It usually takes less effort to do something than the amount of effort it takes to avoid doing it.

So how are we to overcome this? Well, let's take a look at the type of things we tend to put off. Are they seemingly small things? Are they relatively big, important things? Each one needs to be evaluated on it's own, so we can get to the heart of the matter. After all, you cannot resolve something, if you don't know what the problem is, right? Sometimes we don't prioritize correctly or we are unsure of how to go about a certain task so we stall. Sometimes we avoid it because we know it could be a source of stress.

For example, one of the things I procrastinate is anything to do with having to speak to a Customer Service Rep over the telephone. The reason? Well, past experience, for one! I know I will have to go through a long-winded automated menu, punching in account numbers, birth dates and what-have-you. Then, I may get to the next menu, in which none of the options reflect the reason for my call, then I will be on hold for 10 minutes, and then either one of two things will happen next: I will inexplicably be disconnected or I will finally get a "live" CSR on the line and will have to repeat all the information I keyed in on the automated menu, then explain the reason for my inquiry, then will be told by the apathetic rep that I will have to call another number, or that there is nothing they can do to help me. End of call. But the beginning of my aggravation. A year or two ago there was a cartoon at the back of Parade Magazine. A man is in a doctor's office and was completing his physical. Instead of being hooked up to a treadmill with wires to conduct "the stress test", the doctor informed the patient that his stress test would consist of dialing an automated phone operator (the doctor stands, phone in hand, looking at the patient, sitting on the exam table). How appropriate! So, yeah, I tend to put that stuff off, even though it needs to be addressed. So, how can I mitigate this stress? Well, I try to resolve as many things as possible by email. But when I do have to call, I try to relax and do it at a time where my stress level is not already high. If I am calm to start with, even the worst call is less likely to raise my blood pressure. I need to be prepared and do it at a time where I am more relaxed. But then there are some nights where I am like, "I'm in a good mood. I don't want to ruin it by having to deal with this." So, the battle wages on. But remember, we all must pick our battles wisely.

Evaluating the things you avoid will help you to overcome them. Do you avoid things related to technology because you're not savvy in that area and it confuses you? Do you avoid things related to money because your finances are lacking? Do you avoid things related to a particular person because they hurt or annoy you? Identifying your reason for avoidance, will enable you to break your procrastination habit. Sometimes the reasons are based in fear, some are less threatening, but some are more serious, like self-sabotage.

Do you find yourself often saying "I don't have time"? Be conscientious of when you say you "don't have time". Often, "I don't have time" really means "I don't care". And there's nothing wrong with that. Putting time and effort into things you don't care about is disingenuous and doesn't do anybody any favors. By identifying what is valuable to you and what is worth your time, you will find yourself reprioritizing and you will find less on your To Do List and more on your To Don't List.

This is a good thing!

William James, the pioneering psychologist, philosopher and pragmatist, (and godson of Ralph Waldo Emerson) knew what he was talking about, over 100 years ago, when he said ""Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Here Comes the Bride!

I got some great news this morning; my friend, Quiana, beat out thousands of other women and has been chosen as one of ten semi-finalists for Modern Bride's "Bride of the Year". Of the ten, five will go on to be the elite semi-finalists and will make appearances on CBS's "The Early Show" in late July. Of those five, only ONE will be named Bride of the Year and will appear on Modern Bride's cover. To read Quiana's story and to cast your vote, please CLICK HERE.


An attendee of last week's Sugar Solutions: How to Tame Your Sweet Tooth Workshop, which I facilitated in Cambridge, had a very positive experience and generously shared what she learned during this workshop with her blog readers. Still haven't attended one of my workshops? This blog posting will definitely motivate you to sign up! Please CLICK HERE to read one woman's summary of what she learned last week, entitled "Bitter Sweet Tooth". If you'd like to attend an upcoming workshop with me, please note I am holding one at the Boston Center for Adult Education in Boston's Back Bay on July 22nd. To register online, visit or to register by phone, call 617.267.4430. Can't attend on the 22nd? Contact me for more info!