Zarlee Woodland – The Spirit Album

I created an album of spiritual/meditation/New Age songs in Studio One, using royalty-free loops and my Korg synthesizer. You can hear the album on Youtube or download individual songs for free here:

The Spirit of the Wilderness

We spent a week in the Algonquin wilds of Northern Ontario. It was beautiful with light dustings of snow and we drove down every road we could find, searching for moose. Finally, we discovered that one particular campground in Algonquin Park was full of moose tracks, and after spying a moose in the trees at dusk, we decided to come back at dawn. We were not disappointed. We came across a mama moose and her calf off in the distance, and we cautiously began to tromp into the woods to get a clearer view. To our complete amazement, these stunning creatures did not move away as we expected. We approached slowly, and something very unusual happened: the mama and calf casually lay down in the snow, aware of our presence but completely unbothered. We continued to approach with respect and caution as they chewed their cud, looking utterly relaxed.

The whole time, as we navigated the thick underbrush covered with snow, I spoke softly to them and sent out my best energy and love. I spoke blessings, and when we found a log near them to sit on, close enough that we could hear them chewing, I watched the mama moose and she gazed at me. I felt a deep connection and the entire experience was so otherworldly that I could only whisper, “thank you, thank you.”

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Why I Am a Philosopher, Not a Shaman

The world of “Core Shamanism” (which takes its cornerstone beliefs from similarities between all cultures which practice rituals of spirit communication) is a modern construct that I studied for a time and then departed from. I left it behind for many reasons, but generally because I am an impatient student; I prefer to discover for myself rather than being told what is true.

One particular leader in modern shamanic thought turned me off by professing in each podcast that the practices of shamanism (“journeying” to speak to spirits) were our human birthright. Meanwhile, she also maintained that only an elite few who met certain conditions could actually be called shamans, despite the practices being available to all. And of course this individual was one of those elite few. I found this attitude to be almost deliberately misleading, calling upon everyone to financially support her work (framing it as a spiritual duty) because so many people want to be one of those elite few, and she promised to show the way — but she also eviscerated anyone who dared to think they were so special without her approval, or any of her students who wanted to think for themselves.

Another problem with modern shamanic thought is the rampant cultural appropriation. I am not one to take on the beliefs of others anyway (and not because I am so noble, but probably because of my own egoic and pompous faults). So I decided to find my own path which does not reference any specific ritual or teaching from another culture. I worked out my own personal and self-specific cosmology from the ground up, and in doing so I found a new way to approach spirit communication that appeals to my personal logic and perspective.

What I have discovered is that I believe all conscious beings are spirits; that the two words are interchangeable. Spirit with a physical limit (such as us humans, which have bodies and do not transcend space), might as well be described as “spirits wearing hats”. Non-physical manifestations of conscious beings are likewise spirits, but not spatially limited (although, I believe, it is logical to assume they are still limited by time — or else they would not be singular Selves, but all-knowing gods with infinite consciousness).

So all conscious beings are spirits. What then, is the importance and role of spirit communication? It is reasonable to think that a spirit who has transcended physical limitations has gained more knowledge and wisdom than humans (which are spirits whom you could speak to in the most ordinary way!). However, as I said, I am an impatient student and did not wish to wade through hundreds of different conversations with different “wise spirits” to come to some conclusion.

My solution came when I was thinking about the concept of collective consciousness, and how I would define it. I believe that if one could hear the voices of infinite spirits (physical beings and non-physical beings), one could abstract from this the commonalities between all or most perspectives, which would be the most “true” wisdom (as true as anything can be, anyway). For a moment I struggled to comprehend how I could experience the noise of infinite spirit voices. And then I realized I have been doing it in a certain way all along. I prefer to think through abstraction, and when you abstract from an infinite chorus you are not listening to all the noise, but awaiting the sudden swells like the peaks of waves, which come suddenly out of nowhere, as my precious truths.

And so for me, I am not practicing shamanic journeying. I require no ritual tools and no rigorous, monk-like meditation. I simply have faith that I can “tune in” to the consciousnesses of all beings as a whole, like listening to all the radio channels at once — but then, only hearing those loudest spikes of truth. With my faith in the reality of imagination, this is neither difficult nor fantastical. For me, abstracting from the collective consciousness of all spirits is a better source of the image we wish to see of God.


A Different Algonquin Park Adventure

Sometimes you just don’t see the moose! But I saw so much more, even while not seeing any wildlife. This time, Algonquin Park let me see myself.

Willow and I went down Hay Creek Road in Whitney several times, because it’s like a private bit of the park. It’s quiet up there in the hydro-fields, and we walked along a road not often used. The next day we went again, and I saw our footprints were still there. But now, they were joined with the tracks of many animals who had walked with us, albeit separated by a little span of time.

So I walked down that road again, looking for my prize: the track of an animal that had actually stepped right into one of our footprints. I didn’t know if I’d find anything or if the photos would be meaningful to anyone other than myself. But I did find exactly what I was looking for. And that is what Algonquin Park always gives me, moose or not.