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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

Indigenous Mysticism Never Magic

I use mysticism and not magic when speaking about my work as a storyteller because one is rooted in sensorial experience and the other is a fabrication. I’m conscious of what concepts and ideologies I use when speaking about spirit and heart work, especially with non-Indigenous peoples because imperialists has been attacking Indigenous epistemologies since their arrival.

Magic goes back to the mágoi who were Persian tribes serving a monarchy. The origin is about a group of people. Mysticism’s etymology goes back to the Greeks and is rooted in the concept to “initiate” and “induct”. Mysticism’s genesis is grounded in process.

Magic is used to categorize Indigenous ontologies as fictional myths and product based tricks. When you look into this ideology it's about sleight of hands, facades, the "seemingly supernatural" and that is not what my Salish spiritualism and story creation is. It’s never magic for me, it’s def never “magic realism”.

Mysticism is about engaging and honouring the transformational processes of our infinite relational cosmic work. It can be understood as relational knowings that go beyond cognitive comprehension. Unlike magic where the structural device is founded in manufacturing alterations, mysticism is a part of nature's laws and Universal realities that induct transformations through beingness.

Indigenous mysticism is about my exploration and relational participation in realms and dimensions that dive into the inner space within our spirits which are inextricably connected to the cosmos. It's not metaphorical, it's not a concoction, it's the honouring of our universal interconnectedness. It's a conscious ritual that respects our experiences as the infinite living in the ether, components, essences and beings we relationally conjure and channel with the Universe.

The Stanford encyclopedia says, "Typically, mystics, theistic or not, see their mystical experience as part of a larger undertaking aimed at human transformation and not as the terminus of their efforts. ‘Mysticism’ is best thought of as a constellation of distinctive practices, discourses, texts, institutions, traditions, and experiences aimed at human transformation."

Mystical has been in many ways dogmatically entrenched with western religion but when you trouble that imperial oppression and reclaim the notion of mystics, we can see extraordinary sovereign power in this ideological truth. Indigenous mysticism is foundational to many Indigenous nation's cultural constitutions. It becomes the foundation for all our relations.

There are many spiritualists and theorists who speak to this act of consciously conjuring and honouring our connectivity and I think it's imperative to understand to respect Indigenous ontologies. Some practitioners use the term awareness, presence and consciousness.

Bernard McGinn a scholar of spirituality specializing in mysticism has said, "even for people who may not have any religious commitment of their own, a study of the great mystics can reveal something about human creativity and genius." I find his specificity when it comes to mystical relationalism pertinent, "McGinn argues that "presence" is more accurate than "union", since not all mystics spoke of union with God, and since many visions and miracles were not necessarily related to union."

I believe he's rooting the act of honouring connectivity in a state and not a formal affinity and I appreciate that distinction because it reflects nature's and Universal order's omnipresence beyond the human species consciousness.

Eckhart Tolle says, "at its core presence is awareness. Nothing real ever changes. At the heart of everything is a timeless, eternal sense of Beingness. This "is-ness" is universal energy, the very fabric of energy that comprises everything that exists. Since you exist, you are already (and always will be) a part of this timeless essence. When we are talking about presence, we're talking about the recognition of this fact. Presence then reflects your own awareness of your true, eternal essence."

And Dr. Lindsay Lachance says "presence is the notion of honouring the timelessness of peoples connections to our ancestors. Presencing, is a practice that activates moments of resurgence through allowing one's heart, mind and body to reconnect with ancestral and spiritual knowledge."

All of these understandings address the very real connectivities to people, elements, beings and essences that bond us beyond the present moment. That go beyond tangible western notions of "proof", they acknowledge the reality of beingness that honours our relations with the Universal infinite. This is Indigenous mysticism, this is the paradigm and ideological truisms that I create from.

I offer my stories as inductions into exploring our relational connectivity, focused on nourishing the cosmic bonds between us and the infinite Universe across time, worlds and dimensions that honour and ignite the erotic nature of what it means to be alive.

I've been deep into writing and researching for Break Horizons which involves a lot of astrophysicism and Indigenous mysticism. I've recognized these cultures and ontologies have a lot in common. If an Elder with our creation stories and Indigenous scientific knowledge sat down with a theoretical physicist - it would be wiiiiild.

Imperial scientists working at the quantum level, those theorizing about the events before the Big Bang, have the deepest humility to say I don’t know because nobody does.

This space is where western science and Indigenous mysticism can and does exist with respect to one another.

It’s been utterly joyful to be researching and working in because it is an area where western theories cannot oppress and dismiss Indigenous ways of being. It feels peaceful here. Not being under constant ideological attack. It’s a space where we are bearing witness to beliefs, possibilities and realities and I’m so grateful for the experience.

When you’re in the realities of universal theorizing you know it’s not fiction, it’s definitely not magic - it's a meeting of two worlds to collaboratively create and explore mystical science. Indigenous mysticism is rooted in Indigenous intelligence and technologies relative to western science like theoretical physics and astrophysicism and we'd never call quantum mechanics white people magic.

I may use magic in executing a theatre production but the narratives are never magic. It’s Indigenous mysticism culturally grounded in Salish truths. It is protocol and my humble contributions to our ceremonial evolutions and an honour to get to participate in this cosmic weaving.

with deep mystical love,


#IndigenousMystics #TheIndigenousCulturalEvolutionist

p.s check out this neat new test about Indigenous femme representation in media. My work passes! :P

p.p.s I'm out in the Tsilhqot'in doing deep land work, participating in ceremony, chilling with family and theorizing under the stars. As I visit these stunning environments on the land I'm understanding more and more that these complex and harmonious compositions are the furthest thing from magic, they are undoubtedly mystical.

p.p.p.s Taseko you can go fuck yourself for good. Tsilhqot'in strong!!!

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