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The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

The Fifth Sacred Thing (edition 1994)

by Starhawk

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8351910,789 (4.15)25
Title:The Fifth Sacred Thing
Info:Bantam (1994), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, women writers, futuristic, environment, paganism, wicca, watershed, own

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The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk


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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
there is such love in this book that at times it's a bit overwhelming. what a grand scope and idea. it took me a little while to get into it, and then a long time to read it (like at least twice as long as i feel like it should have taken) but i really did like what she was doing and i liked the story, the writing, the book itself. it wasn't written entirely in alternating chapters of viewpoints, but it was close, and i was glad to be with bird when we were with him, and with madrone when we were with her.

the utopia she creates is, well, just that, and it's a nice break from the dystopia that is in so many books, and in reality right now. but she doesn't just create a utopia, she fights for it and argues for it, and i appreciate that. she makes a world where sexuality, gender, and race all exist but don't matter. class is mostly erased. nonviolence is one of the only rules, and she doesn't allow it to go untested. so it's not just a story about this magical, wonderful place that feels like both heaven and an impossibility. she shows us how they got there and almost how to build it (except there is witchery and magic, probably because it's impossible to create this otherwise) and at least in part how to sustain it and fight for it.

i really wish the cover had an obviously brown woman on it, though. madrone is not white and there is no reason to misrepresent her this way. i hate that in my head, i kept picturing white people, even when i knew the characters weren't white. (this is not the book's fault; i understand that it is mine.) but it would have been nice if the cover of the book didn't reinforce my bias.

there are many good ideas here, and interesting philosophical discussions. i also thought it was an interesting choice to put it in the future but the very near future, not even a few generations away. i'm glad i read this.

from her dedication, after mentioning specific children: "...and to all the new ones who must live in the future that we create or destroy with our choices today."

"It was beautiful and fierce and fragile, like a lot of things."

"'War is the great waster, as much in the preparations for it as in the waging of it.'"

"'The ends don't justify the means,' Maya said. 'That was what I learned from Vietnam, from the war and the protests against it. The means shape the ends. You become what you do.'"

"'What good is it all if we can't defend it? And how do we defend it without becoming what we're defending against?'"

"'...peace can't grow out of violence.'"

but she doesn't just throw these platitudes out. she allows her characters to know the contradiction in living those values and their lives, and in meeting violence. i am glad that she takes this book where she does, that she doesn't avoid the hard stuff, even in this utopia. i really appreciated what she did here. ( )
  elisa.saphier | May 19, 2017 |
How would an eco-spiritual community defend itself against an imperialist invasion? Starhawk's novel is set in California around 2048... hmmm, we're now, in 2016, about halfway there from the time of the writing of the novel in the 1980s! Global industrial civilization has collapsed. San Francisco is an idyllic eco-spiritual community while Los Angeles is run as a police state.

To what extent does our present industrial approach to military power drive our level of environment destruction?

This was a very good novel - the plot kept me turning the pages. It switches back and forth between two characters, a man and a woman. They each spend some time in San Francisco and some time in Los Angeles.

I read this on a long train ride - perfect! ( )
  kukulaj | Apr 5, 2016 |
Early ecological movement in the sixties! ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
Phenomenal. Extremely intense and violent. Don't be fooled: there's nothing utopian in this book. Realistic. An important book to read if you're alive during these times. ( )
  willszal | Jan 3, 2016 |
The utopia (very pagan/wiccan)is threatened by an almost foreseeable dystopia in which human values are gone and corporations are the new dictatorship. Freaked me out, as each year more and more aspects of the dystopia seem possible.

( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
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Book description
A world without poverty or hunger that honors the Four Sacred Things that sustain life--earth, air, fire, and water--is poised to clash with a nightmare society of authoritarian regimes and food and water shortages.
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"Imagine a world without poverty, hunger, or hatred, where a rich culture honors its diverse mix of races, religions, and heritages, and the Four Sacred Things that sustain all life -- earth, air, fire, and water -- are valued unconditionally. Now imagine the opposite: a nightmare world in which an authoritarian regime polices an apartheid state, access to food and water is restricted to those who obey the corrupt official religion, women are property of their husbands or the state, and children are bred for prostitution and war. The best and worst of our possible futures are poised to clash in twenty-first-century California, and the outcome rests on the wisdom and courage of one clan caught in the conflict. Ninety-eight-year-old Maya has helped shape the ecumenical culture of the North by reviving and re-creating an earth based spiritual tradition. Madrone, the granddaughter of Maya's longtime lovers, is a healer trying to thwart recurring epidemics that she suspects are biological warfare waged by the tyrannical South. Bird, Maya's grandson, returns from ten years in a Southern prison with warnings of impending invasion and an urgent request for help from the resistance in the hills. When Madrone travels south to aid the rebels and search for a cure to the deadly viruses, she finds herself fighting for her own life alongside battle-weary guerrillas and beautiful pirates. Meanwhile, in the North debates rage about how to repel the invaders. "All war is first waged in the imagination, first conducted to limit our dreams and visions," Maya says, and warns that by killing their enemies, they may themselves become transformed by violence and destroy all they have built. Bird champions her alternative vision and becomes a leader of the faction calling for nonviolent resistance. When he is captured and pressured to cooperate with the enemy, the fate of the North hangs in the balance."--book jacket.… (more)

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