Starhawk- “The Fifth Sacred Thing”

Declaration of the Four Sacred Things


The earth is a living, conscious being.  In company with cultures of many different times and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth.

Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them.

To call these things sacred, is to say that they have a value  beyond the usefulness for humans ends, that they themselves become the standards by which our acts, our economics, our laws, our purposes must be judged.  No one has the right to appropriate them or profit for them at the expense of others.  Any government that fails to protect them forfeit its legitimacy.

All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred.  No one of use stands higher or lower than any other.  Only justice can assure balance: only ecological balance can sustain freedom.  Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing that we call spirit flourish in its full diversity.

To honour the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom and beauty can thrive.  To honour the sacred is to make love possible.

To this we dedicate our curiousity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices.  To this we dedicate our lives.”

“She put her hands on his shoulders.  He felt something settle on him, like a weight.  I don’t want it! he wanted to cry, but he held himself silent, and opened, and took it in.  To carry a burden was to be alive. [at the time I guess]”

“. . . and moved with a predator’s grace.”

‘Her fingers read his history [when given a message].”

“Rain is our sister, our mother,

our father, our brother,

our sweetest, most missed,

and longed-for lover.

So if you’ve ever loved anyone,

If you’ve ever missed someone

and longed to see that face

and cry for the touch of those hands,

lift your hands to the rain now,

turn your face to the rain, now,

and feel your beloved come

in rain. . .”

“Madrone knew something was wrong by the quality of silence that descended on the meeting room. . .”

“. . .you don’t know how to ease into a lawn chair on a sunny day.”

“You remember that Dian Fortune quote you’ve always been fond of?  That magic is the art of changing consciousnessat will?  You can look at war as a massing of arms and material and troops, but you can also see it as something else- as a delicate web of interwoven choices made by human beings, made out of a certain consciousness.  The decision to order an attack, the choice to obey or disobey an order, to fire or not to fire a weapon.  Armies, and, indeed, and any culture that supports them must convince the people that all the decisions are made already, and they have no choice.  But that is never true.  So, mad as it may seem, this is the terrain upon which we base our defense of this city- the landscape of consciousness.”

“His silence intensified so deeply that if she hadn’t been touching him she would have believed he had disappeared.”

“Memories are precious.  Even bad ones.  They make us who we are.”

“He pulled back from her.  Where did that come from?  he wondered.  We were close just a minute ago, but she’s like a cat with a wound, who lashes out when she is stroked too close to the sore place.  And aren’t you the same? a voice asked him.”

“He let her massage him, digging her strong fingers into his sore ligaments; he let her questions dig into the sore places of his soul.”

“When they were done and she lay against the pillows, Madrone half expected the bedclothes to be smoldering.”

“She rubbed sand over her skin to wear away the ingrained dirt, scrubbing hard as if to clean away her thoughts.  Water was better than a lover anyway, she thought, it reached more of her intimate places, penetrated her pores more thoroughly, left her clean.”

“Suddenly heights were no threat; she could balance, surefooted, on a narrow stamen or velvet flower petal.”

“”Insanity is repeating the same acts and expecting different results.”

“Yeah, but insanity is also hoping for results that are extremely unlikely for the particular act you take.””

“The lines on your face are the calligraphy of your history.”

“She was too dehydrated to sweat.”

“What mattered was that something in Madrone sank down to her feet and claimed the land . . . Action fever, Maya used to call it.  A type of madness, like falling in love.”

“She grounded herself, shutting out the sounds of the others bedding down for the night, and mentally cleansed herself, imagining clear warm water cascading over her body and washing away the frustrations and pain of the day.  Let it go, this feeling of frustrations and pain of the day.  Let it go, this feeling of an impossible weight of her shoulders.  Let it go, this disbelief in hope.  Let it go, the impulse to yell at your own students, insult them, call them stupid only because the depth of their ignorance hurt her so much.  Let go, let go, into sleep.  Healing sleep.”

“Madrone took her hand again and smelled the child’s fear, an acrid perfume pouring over her.  She was engulfed in the child’s terror, like every fear she had ever felt amplified, fear of pain, fear of abadonment and hunger and death, a craving that could never be assuaged, and, in all of it, no center, nothing to hold on to.”

“You move like someone who’s never questioned her right to have a body.  To exist, to breathe, to take up space.  I’ve been watching you all night.  It’s not arrogance, like the rich people.  It’s not the hard, elegant gesture, like the Angels [a gang].  It’s just solid.  As if you’d never learned to look doen on anyone or bend to someone who looks down on you.  Oh, I’m jealous.  When I look at you, I feel so jealous I could cry, or hate you.  But I don’t.  I would like, just once in my life, to be in a place where everyone stood and moved and walked like you.”

“Brag about it.  Flaunt it, tantalize us with it.  Make us eat our hearts out.  It’s so much better to be envious than to be hopeless.”

“. . .but Highjohn moved surely, as if each foot had a separate contract with the earth to support his moving weight.”

““But how can I lie to her and be her friend?”

. . .How can you lie to her and be her lover?””

“I never get mad.  It’s a waste of food.”

“I’m not despairing, I’m just worried sick.”

[about a bad lover and his two lovers]:

““Maybe I liked him the way he was.”

“Katy, you couldn’t have, honestly.”

“How can you say that?  What do you know about me or what I want?”

“I know anatomy.””

“My love, you are a river fed by many streams.

I blessed all who have shaped you,

The loves whose delights still dance patterns on your back,

Those who carved your channels deeper, wider, broader, wider,

Whitewater and backwater lovers,

Swamp lovers, sun-warmed estuary lovers,

Lovers with surface tension

Lovers like boulders,

Like ice forming and breaking

Lovers that fill and spill with the tides.

I bless those who have taught you

and those who have pleased you

and those who have hurt you.

All those who have made you who you are.”

“Am I going to die?  Is that why the veil between the worlds is suddenly thin?”

“He couldn’t rape a woman.  It would be a betrayal of every comforting touch he had felt, of every rising and spilling of pleasure, of something so deep in himself that it was still intact below all levels of loss and betrayal.  That surprised him, and made him afraid again.  So he still had something to lose.”

“Stop the self-defeating thoughts, let the fear be- what was it Johanna used to say? Let the fear be a dandelion puff and blow it away.”

“She remembered the strength of her grip on the life preserver Iris had thrown her.  From now on everything she did would proceed from that grip, whether she succeeded or failed.  Someday she would die, but death would have to pry each separate finger loose.”

“Right. Betrayal is bad enough; I don’t have to compound it by being actively stupid.”

“The crowd kept shifting, weaving and circling, restless as a brew coming to a boil.”