Stirring the Spirit to Health: A Profile of Energy Healer Karlta Zarley

By Michelle McLemore  • Photos by Hilary Nichols

This article was originally published in the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal, Winter Issue #76. Read the original here.

There you are minding your own business, and the sound of a battalion of bees builds to a crescendo—and then disappears just as rapidly. If upon hearing the sound you freeze in momentary panic, you only have a nanosecond to catch a glimpse of the source, and most often it will only be a blur. Seasoned, you know to not swivel about wildly, but to scan with your eyes and turn slowly. Then, you may see the actual flight of the hummingbird. It is a flash of iridescence, a determined small head leading a wake of whirring wings—an almost visible stream hanging in the air where it cuts through this pane of reality like a knife through warm butter.

When asked to reveal the depths of a high-frequency energy individual, like Karlta Zarley, it is like trying to spy a hummingbird in flight. Her true spirit—her energy identity—might be compared visually to a shimmering iridescent cloud—a fluttering of high intensity consciousness because, as she shared, “[she is] working 24/7 in some dimension.”      

To begin to understand someone who chooses to assist in healing (others and the earth) we must first recognize there is more than meets the eye. Understanding energy—the universal life force which connects and flows through all aspects of life as we perceive it—guides us into understanding communication, and intercessions occur across dimensions and the concept of time. And that new wisdom facilitates understanding that 24/7 “work” doesn’t create physical exhaustion…if you have evolved to the point where Zarley is. Along with that comes the understanding that there is no real separation of work from person—there is simply the path and the person she has chosen to be. 

To put it bluntly, for those who know her from metaphysical circles, Karlta Zarley is held in deep respect and high regard; Zarley is one of southeastern Michigan’s deeper and more profound healers, one of our regional equivalents of international psychics and healers such as Sylvia Brown, Barbara Brennan, and Elaine Grohman.      

Zarley’s iridescence is due to how she lives her life—how she eats (as naturally as possible), walks, gardens, communicates, thinks, and prepares. She emphasizes the need for self-care three to seven times a week. For example, she may do swaps with others for modality work like massage. She meditates 30-40 minutes a day and has fallen in love with the free “Insight Timer” meditation phone application. At its mention, she seems to start sparkling (next thing I know I’m listening to a brief commercial by a strong advocate). Fifty-five thousand free meditations, 8,000 teachers, 9-11,000 people meditating at the same time—“that is critical mass numbers for change on the earth population,” she exclaimed, “and it rewards you with a star every ten days.” Zarley leaned in to share, “We couldn’t afford stickers or gum when we were young, so this motivates me.” In a culture that has been advocating self-care for the last five years, Zarley clarified it is not just about the self: “To do the level [of healing work] I do, this is the level of self-care I need.” 

These choices elevate her personal energy frequency, enabling her to interact across matter in ways beyond what most people fathom. And yet this intensity of potential is contained physically in a down-to-earth, nature-loving, casually dressed, no-muss figure of a 63-year-young woman. If the hummingbird symbolizes her internal psychic energy, Zarley manifests in the flesh like a red hawk for her observation and analysis skills, as well as a squirrel in intelligence, communication, loyalty, preparation, trust, and thriftiness.      

When I reached out to ask for an interview, warmth issued through Zarley’s words on the screen. She suggested a grassy park near Chelsea and intuitively spot-on gave me directions via landmarks versus road names. (Some of you will understand this and know my immediate relief and gratitude.) She had brought a home-packed salad from her garden and had brought me a gift—a bag of fresh green beans. In the back of my mind, my Native American teacher was scolding me for not having brought Zarley—the teacher—a gift. Graciously, Zarley did not acknowledge my faux pax—if it even crossed her mind. We sat at a picnic table in the open-air pavilion, and I hesitated. What is acceptable to ask? What is too personal? Some spiritual healers seem to carry a cloak of mysticism, but there Zarley sat beside me, clear as midday sunshine.

Perhaps the most comprehensive and succinct title at this point would be to describe Zarley as a “whole health consultant.” Her health focused journey, however, began very young. She recounts reading to her mother at age four, paging through the dictionary to find the biggest word, when she “chanced” across “obstetrician.” As her mother explained what the job entailed, she remembered feeling from that time on that she would work in medicine. Not surprisingly, Zarley would go on to commit over 30 years in traditional western medicine as a registered nurse, mostly in women’s studies. But first, within a year of this medical calling, she was faced with a major health challenge of her own.

Read related article: Open Your Mind and Say “Ahhh.”

Around age five, Zarley came down with measles and then encephalitis. She was in a coma for a week in a hospital ward with two other children with the same dire conditions. It was during this time that she remembers having her first prophetic dream. Though the details faded, the sense that it was peaceful remained, and in the dream there came an assurance that she would come through the illness all right despite how frightened her parents appeared. Just as the dream foretold, other than having initial difficulty walking due to the multiple injections in her thigh, Zarley fully regained all abilities. Though she didn’t dwell on it, Zarley did comment that the other two children in the ward both suffered lasting physical and cognitive impairments. She didn’t say she was lucky, nor blessed, nor set up for some great purpose. Still, her respectful pause made it clear she also doesn’t take her full healing for granted. 

This hospitalization and prophetic dream also marked Zarley’s conscious beginning of extra sensory perception. Why? Perhaps Native American tradition can explain it: often a spiritual awakening and rise of spiritual gifts occurs during times of severe illness or temporary loss of consciousness. It is in these times of physical stillness that the spirit may concentrate internally. Perhaps without the external distractions, the inner self can explore and cement access to energetic networks of greater knowledge.

Zarley is grateful that her parents were always supportive when it came to her early intuitive episodes. “They never told me something was impossible, or I wasn’t seeing what I knew I was seeing.” Today, it is more common to hear of children talking to “invisible friends,” remembering prior lifetime facts, or even simply declaring things they shouldn’t have any access to knowing. How the caregivers respond makes all the difference in the child’s acceptance of these abilities and confidence in “normalcy” within society. Zarley explained, “They understood unconditional love even though they had normal parental concerns.” Concerns, perhaps, like how could their daughter know certain things [that were happening in the world while] growing up in Iowa? 

Higher sense perception, psychic abilities, or intuition is experienced by different people in different ways. Some are intuitive in one way, such as clairvoyance, where one might see places, people, or events that are not in the immediate physical realm. Others are clairaudient, clairsentient, clairolfactory, and so on. Basically, a person can use any one of the five senses to tap into a higher consciousness network of continuously streaming information. Some, like Zarley, access multiple methods. “Sometimes I see images, have smells, see words, feel others’ sensations in my own body. Sometimes I get whole packets of information from just above and right outside my body, and it just hits me here [indicating her chest]. And it just comes in.”      

Exploring, testing, and learning to trust one’s intuition and the avenues or guides that help facilitate incoming information tends to be a life-long process. Zarley affirmed, “I work very hard at clarity because you are only as good as how clear you are. Expectation screws things up. Everyone can have blind spots because we can be vested in both optional answers.” Consider if you are asking for counsel on a predicament for your child. Should you do A or B to assist? Perhaps option A is to sit tight and wait for effective healing from another source, and choice B is that you should jump in and help immediately. A parent wants to help her child so both could be equally appealing answers. If one doesn’t listen carefully, then personal, earthly preferences may cloud the message received. 

Continuing, she shared, “I also channel. I can see auras, but it’s not turned on all the time. I am very conscious of boundary crossing.” This is just one example of the respect Zarley extends to friend and stranger alike. Just because someone can read thoughts, personal histories, or see someone’s health imbalances and weaknesses, doesn’t mean one ought to do so without permission. “If someone intentionally comes to me,” Zarley explained, “I feel they have given permission to see whatever I might need. Still, I ask for their history to save time—to narrow down to the specific concerns instead of sifting through their entire life and past.” This level of ability might make some uncomfortable. Yet, even with a brief encounter, Zarley’s presence makes trusting in her easy. 

She has an inherent drive to “learn to ask the right questions for one’s culture” and to “meet people where they are.” As a medical practitioner and holistic healer, she believes one must honor a client’s traditions and their truths. Understanding a client’s concerns helps to shape the flow of a session and build trust for work. “I never start a session by naming or asking about any particular disease or ailment. Why would I want to put that fear into their mind if it wasn’t there?” By letting a client name what he or she wants to work on, eventually everything that needs to be addressed gets addressed “because everything is connected.” In holistic work, healing examines the connection between the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual layers present in every human and how one always impacts the others. 

Zarley describes her healing work as finding the big picture. Her gift of pattern recognition and creating ceremony for someone is integral in the work that she does. She went on to define ceremony as “working with energy and symbology—to [help a client] have closer communication between their three-dimensional self, their higher self, and beyond—Divinity.” She emphasized the importance of ceremony. “You can’t skip it. You can simplify it, but you must still hold the intent.” 

Zarley has been a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner for over 20 years and has mentored level four Healing Touch apprentices on their way to becoming full practitioners. She has studied the use of essential oils and the benefit of natural foods. She emphasized, “We need to think of food as medicine. In our farming practices, even the mass-produced organic foods tend not to be fertilized with the micronutrients that we all need…magnesium, manganese, boron, molybdenum, and so on. As a society we don’t realize that if we garden with the various devas [benevolent Vedic divine beings] of the earth, our veggies, flowers, and yards will be much more beautiful, sustainable, and restoring than without that awareness.”

As an earth healer, Zarley has helped balance earth energy fields, repair ley lines, release old and trapped beings, and bless geological formations. At first, she was hesitant to do the work and felt she should solely follow the direction of another trusted friend. Then, she realized, the earth energy and Spirit will tell you what it needs, when, and how. Just listen, then follow the energy. Sometimes what is called for may not make any sense to a practitioner, but it doesn’t have to fit into our often-limited logic or rationale. Are you willing to do the work? “Just do what Spirit says,” Zarley explained. “Be aware and notice. If you follow the energy it works better—like Yin—you allow it, rather than expect it to lead.”

Healing sessions and workshops with Zarley may incorporate a variety of modalities. She has led Seals of Soloman activations (dealing with advanced chakras), past life integrations, a form of Dinshah colored light therapy, herbology, St. Germain’s Violet Flame (for transmuting personal and planetary past errors), and cosmic and planetary harmony. She has helped people contact spirit guides, explore energy basics, and set personal boundaries. She also leads retreats exploring Sedona, Arizona and Mount Shasta in California. 

Mount Shasta, known as the home of one of the Earth’s own chakras, holds several special memories for Zarley. 

Medicine Lake is on the west flank of Mount Shasta. Zarley loves its remoteness. “There is no easy way to get to the old native healing ground there unless you have a map or directions from the local natives.” During one retreat, she sat in a clearing in the woods, waiting for the next student to approach. In the wait, the totem animals began presenting themselves to her before each student’s session. “I couldn’t have orchestrated that,” she reminisced in awe. The sacredness of the space, and the honor of the animals choosing to manifest in the ceremony, made the day unforgettable. 

After overseeing retreats, Zarley plans time for herself to recharge and explore. She makes this private time need clear to all students and asks that they respect her time. Occasionally, someone doesn’t “hear” the need and more extreme measures must be taken. On one particular trip, a student refused to respect her wishes and kept following her, going to great lengths to discover her schedule so he could meet up with her. After re-establishing her boundaries with the student, and again him violating them, at the top of Mount Shasta she was forced to shape-shift her frame and that of her accompanying good friend. The intruder came into the clearing, looked all around, but could not see them. He went on and never recovered their path. 

One of her “craziest” experiences also occurred on Mount Shasta. After another retreat, Zarley and two close friends decided to drive up the coast to the southern part of the Oregon coast as part of their recuperation time. The glorious day took more time than anticipated so they decided to take an unmarked shortcut over a local mountain pass in an attempt to get home before dark. The “road” turned into a half lane without lights, guardrails, or the other normal security measures most drivers prefer on strange winding mountain paths. Add to that abundant wildlife and the knowledge that Zarley’s friends call her “Mario Andretti,” and you begin to grasp the full excitement of the drive. Rocketing through the curves, they got off the road about 15 minutes prior to total darkness. Both friends confessed—through their terror—they had both been doing energy work. One was creating a tunnel of white light and protection to drive through while the other was pushing the various wild animals off the route ahead of the car to avoid a collision. There was much laughter about the team effort when they stopped for dinner. 

Perhaps civilization is now at the state that basic energy premises could be taught earlier, and in doing so, advance the health of all generations and the planet. Zarley suggests the following two tenets be taught universally:

1. Everything is some form of energy. Therefore, reality is not set in stone despite what we each accept as our physical vision. Energy is about balance. There must always be a payment. There is always a rhythm—a sending forth and a cycling back, even seeable in breath. It is the infinity wave cycle. 

2. You have more control than you think—every output will come back ten-fold. So be careful. It may not be immediate.

When asked what makes her disappointed or sad, Zarley admitted: “When people don’t understand that all we are is spirit and that from that point of view, they have so much more to offer themselves and the world.” 

“Everyone has amazing gifts. I expect to see them in people,” Karlta Zarley adamantly shared. “I have strong faith and belief in the client’s power so that the client can see it and heal themself. The biggest step for clients is to see the possibility of their own control. They have hesitation—self-doubt. But we continue if they are willing to do the work. They think I’m doing it [the healing], but I’m just holding the cookie bowl…and doing a little stirring.”

One of her joys is listening to the sound of her husband, Keith, and their two kids (Kahli, 30, and Keilor, 33) and their spouses, laughing with each after she has retired for the evening. Zarley met her husband while working in Alaska. She had been invited to a dance by friends, and Keith ended up her dance partner for the evening. He left to complete his PhD in narrowed physics in New York. By that October, he had invited her to join him. They would move several times for jobs or to care for aging parents, but they were committed to walk this lifetime together.       

In regard to how her children or spouse think about her energy work, her daughter and one of her son-in-laws “are very supportive and have me work on them. The rest are in varying degrees of skepticism.” For many today, first-hand experience still seems to be the barometer for believability. When there is an opening, however, Zarley takes the opportunity. “I’m teaching them about how energy works, how to reframe their experiences from how the world sees them to a higher perspective, and how to manifest more easily and gently.” And the circle cycles back around. 

Zarley’s quest for answers about how life works also started early, and she was fortunate to have “Crazy Aunt Marge” as a long-term mentor. “She was hilarious…a great cook,” and her theme was, “More is not enough.” Marge was compassionate, passionate, kind, and safe. “She would never laugh at or mock me for any of my questions.” Aunt Marge wasn’t frightened to talk about anything. She even did Zarley’s first astrological chart.

Zarley had always been interested in religion. One day while she was still in her teens, she asked Crazy Aunt Marge, “Which religion is the right one?” Her father then suggested the conversation take a break. Zarley did not want to upset her father, so kept future counseling sessions with her aunt private. Still, one day shortly after, her father surprised her by bringing back up the topic of religion and encouraged her to continue seeking spirituality answers, but waiting for collegiate studies. He wanted to encourage her inquisitiveness; he simply hadn’t wanted to risk her losing a faith support net during her teenage years—hence the discouraging of the topic earlier with her aunt. 

Ultimately, Zarley’s questioning did not lead to a disbelief in spirituality as many parents often fear. After high school, she attended Iowa State University but found they didn’t have a nursing degree. So, while attending, she began building her repertoire with a Distributed Studies bachelor’s degree in human anatomy and physiology along with minors in world religion, psychology, and chemistry. (What great prep for her one-day holistic health work!) She would pick up her nursing degree at Rochester Community and Technical College. Regarding world religions and their intrigue, Zarley conceded, “They [religions] may not have it all right, but they must be doing something right to have lasted this long.” During dark times, “and there have been several,” Zarley shared, “every time, it is a mix of total faith that God is present, loving, and helping me, combined with an extremely good support network that has gotten me through.”

Client testimonials from her website exclaim that “Zarley gets it at the soul level when everyone else has failed to.” Another client described Zarley as “an awakened Bodhisattva.” Zarley dropped her chin at this praise. In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is viewed as one who is capable of reaching nirvana—the plane of spiritual enlightenment, but out of compassion, or perhaps empathy, he or she stays in this plane of existence to save suffering beings. Zarley explained that she is glad to serve and pleased to hear that others view her as humble. “Ego can be a slippery slope; more than money.”      

Healing the conscious flaws and pains is only one level of spiritual work that could be done to free one’s spirit and improve one’s life. “Our nation still has puritanical archetypes ingrained and reinforced over these 200 years. We have always been, and continue to be, immigrants coming with the experience of ‘lack.’ That is why we came—because of a shortage or need for something that the old countries didn’t have. So, we all struggle against this archetype basically bred into us.” These inherent, subconscious yearnings and fears need tending. To do so would require alignment with the higher self. 

“Everyone is in a state of major house cleaning.” And yet, Zarley shared, people generally struggle to challenge their inherent beliefs. To address this and grow, each person must tell—or give permission to—the higher self to “go at it, baby cakes.” How to go about it? She suggests to go into a meditative state. Call up your higher self. Bring up your current beliefs. Tend to business one area at a time, being fastidious to finish each area fully. The higher self will clean at the same time. Over time you will see your ideas change and eventually come forth. And that change may catch you curiously off guard. “Where did that come from? Is that what I really believe?” Better to have the whole being aligned and the old patterns which no longer serve you swept out versus sticking to age-old adopted ideas that you cannot (nor truly want to) defend. 

When asked if there is a necessity of doing past life healing as well as work for energetic ascension, Zarley’s answer was candid. “Spirit doesn’t care how you do the work—as long as you do it.” She clarified that during the healing process, “Ripples [of what is needed] will come forward in some way and make it be addressed. You end up working through all the phases.” Multiple lifetimes and times outside of the body may need addressing to clear trauma or unhelpful beliefs so that the person may grow into stronger peace, health, and joy.      

By this point, I wondered: did Zarley ever get frustrated? She laughed. “The great cosmic joke is when someone comes with a very specific question and then no information comes. It just happens sometimes, and sometimes we don’t get answers in the quick way we often prefer.” An intuitive needs to understand that patience and acceptance are part of our daily world. Gaining access to information cannot, or more appropriately, should not, be forced. 

Zarley summed up her life experiences by saying, “My whole life is a series of epiphanies. Unexpected confirmation—it can knock your socks off and blow you away. Intention requires belief, practice, and improvement. I want to show Spirit that I’m all in.” And in that statement, again, I caught a brief blurring and the faintest buzzing as her energy, being of joy and light, kicked up another notch. It was a humbling sighting. 

Karlta Zarley co-founded, and is president of, the Great Lakes Center for Healing Touch in Ann Arbor. She works at the Center for Sacred Living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The second Tuesday of every month she channels spirit in gatherings on how to shift forward in Ascension. You can also sign up for her monthly newsletter in which she shares an intuitive message for the public. To learn more about Zarley, you can access her webpage at or call (734) 761-5908.

Author: ckarr114