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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

The Mystics: Salish Earthing

Tsilhqot’in Tsilhqot’in

up to the land where the waters

are filled with juniper medicine

and the land is drentched

with the stories of our Ancestors

Tsilhqot’in Tsilhqot’in

where the Ancestor glaciers

mix with the Spirit of the mountains

and enter the lake

Tsilhqot'ins: we come from this water


I’m in the Tsilhqot’in doing land work, nourishing relations and creating the foundation for my TYA story The Mystics. I’m hanging with family and creating safe moments of connection in an isolating time and I'm very grateful for it.

To take extra precautions and not wanting to put any of my community members at risk, I took a covid test (which is drastically uncomfortable, like I’d legit prefer any other orifice), I got cleared and then en route B Henry put the Valley and Metro Van into a lockdown. My cuzzins we're like whatchu gonna do?! And I had no idea what they we're talking about because the drive up here is sacred to me, I listen to music, take deep breaths and lock in the beauty of the turns, climbs and wonder. So no radio, but I'm here now and following strict protocols.

I spent the first few days in town with fam jam and some little ones when the second character of my plays name arrived: Pinecone. My lil cuzzin Elise and Max have a cuzzin named Sage who calls Elise "Pinecone". They are both under 3 and they have this ability to see, say and believe and Sage truly is like "ya she's a Pinecone." I think this is amazing and hilarious and literally is the seed for the growth for this characters journey. Plus there is some ridiculous reclamation of white folks calling us "sitting dog" and "tall tree" that I love with the name, Pinecone.

The name of the main character came to me a few weeks ago, Juniper Mack. Here's a small synopsis of the piece. "Juniper Mack is a feisty 11/12 year old Interior Salish wrestling with the notion of belonging and struggling to regulate their emotions. We follow JM on their transcendent adventure to meet their Great Great Great Great Grancestor, as they travel through their blood and timeless history on an adventure bursting with music, dance and stories that reminds us that all of our children are powerfully, The Mystics."

Juniper has deep feelings of loneliness that they do not know how to process and we see them learn from their GrandAncestor and Earthly slaxts (friends Pinecone and Toast) on how to identify and regulate their emotions into powerful energy. JM goes through this spiritual metamorphosis that reckons with the truth that they have powers beyond comprehension by them learning to identify, feel and regulate and honour the sacredness and chanel the power of emotions and feelings.

I'm writing this for k-4 but know that it will be suitable for k-7 and honestly as a person whose learned sort of late in life the transformational power of emotional regulation, it can be for anyone wanting to take a moment to sit, breathe, laugh and honour the energetic possibilities that live within us all when we deepen our emotional literacy. Threading this teaching with the intersections of the mystical powers of young people with their ability to see beyond dimensions and the confines of "adulthood", The Mystics is a piece to connect us to the Universe, honour the gifts we all have and gives deep respect to the mighty journeys we're all on.

I'm doing Earthing work to connect Juniper Mack to the land to which they come from, the Interior Salish. I prepared and did a sweat the other day to honour the creation of this

ceremony and these characters, which was a lot but I was grateful to do it. Knowing Juniper struggles with feeling alone a lot of the time, it was incredibly informative to spend the day, clearing snow, prepping the frozen tent, gathering boughs, making the medicine water, hauling all the wood and being the fire keeper by myself. Digging in and in and in and sweating into the work and position was illuminating.

I used cedar and juniper for the medicine water. Some Salish call cedar the tree of life so when creating characters I find it's a beautiful tree medicine to honour. Juniper is also a traditional medicine in the Tsilhqot'in so using it, because of its connection to healing and it being the name of the main character created purposeful connection. The aromatic waves and stories that steeped from this water and steamed the ceremony was nourishing and saturated my spirit in this world. Salish Earthing is this process of getting out onto the land, touching, holding, and creating ceremony with the medicines of the territory to root the story within the teachings, voices, sounds, stories, knowledge and peoples of the lands and territories we occupy and are relations with.

I had a Raven spend the whole day with me, honking away when I was doing something it thought was funny, circling above as I was searching for Juniper and keeping me company as I trudged through the snow. I'm sure Raven will find a good home in The Mystics. I also had a few more animal and organismic encounters, one that plumed in such a disorienting and yet clarifying way that I won't share just yet, or maybe ever, that basically gave me the starting emotional position for Juniper as a character.

As I spent and continue to spend time here, holding and keeping Juniper medicine in my pockets I have found a story structure that parallels the plant anatomy. Which I will share in detail later on but distilled is a response to the somewhat prickly branch and berry boughs. There is also a structural healing element bound to its medicinal properties for gut health. And I'm really into gut health at the moment because it's basically a second brain and without good gut health we can't have balanced health and Juniper starts the ceremony sick to their stomach and I'm intersecting mind, body and spirit health for the wee ones. Something I struggled with a lot as a kid who just couldn't get my allergies in order and felt very out of balance until I was about 7. They alllll connected folks!

The time here has been nourishing, it always is. The land gifts us with so much always and I hope you are all able to find moments of solace and in healing relations with the Earth, your environments and the relations you might be locked in with. I'm very excited about this Salish Earthing methodology and will continue to write about it on here as I create, The Mystics.

I also want to share that this ceremony is for all the young Ancestors who might need the teachings to harness their emotions and to know that we always belong wherever we are through our blood connections. I write this story with deep respect to you with the intention it brings you a moment of peace in a world determined to try and make you forget that you have supernatural powers. I'm in awe of your lives and power peoples always and remember you are a Mystic. ❤️

Lots of love and with great anticipation for all of you to meet Juniper Mack, Pinecone and Toast,


p.s there is no rooting story for the character Toast - they just came to be and I'm good with that.

p.p.s here's a picture I took today as I was packing some wood and looked up. This is a stunning totem of Salish Earthing. Holeh was it a beautiful few moments.

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