In The Fifth Sacred Thing, readers fell in love with Maya Greenwood, the 98-year-old writer who led Northern California’s successful 21st century rebellion against a racist, totalitarian regime of the South. Walking to Mercury takes readers back to the 20th century and powerfully dramatizes the forces that shaped this extraordinary woman.The book opens and closes with the middle-aged Maya struggling with a profound personal and spiritual crisis. The culminating factor has been her mother’s death, and now Maya embarks on a trek in the Himalayas, intending to sprinkle her mother’s ashes at the base of Mt. Everest and finally lay to rest her tumultuous past. At rest stops in tiny Tibetan villages, she reads diary pages her lover Johanna has tucked into her bag—the diary Johanna kept throughout their shared youth during the Vietnam era.In vivid flashbacks to those radical days, we accompany the young Maya as she awakens to the summer of love, joins the anti-war movement, and enters into a relationship with the abusive, alcoholic Rio. She finally gathers the strength to break free and seek her own true path, which takes her from the streets of Manhattan to the mountains of Mexico. Eventually she emerges, stronger and wiser, infused with the wisdom of the earth and the spirit of the goddess. Traveling through the landscape of memories helps Maya reclaim her past and foreshadows the miraculous events readers of The Fifth Sacred Thing know her to be capable of in the future.
An epic tale of freedom and slavery, love and war, and the potential futures of humankind tells of a twenty-first century California clan caught between two clashing worlds, one based on tolerance, the other on repression.
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 their usefulness for human ends, that they themselves became the standards by which our acts, our economics, our laws, and our purposes must be judged. no one has the right to appropriate them or profit from them at the expense of others. Any government that fails to protect them forfeits its legitimacy.
All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us 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 we call spirit flourish in its full diversity.
To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible.
To this we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices. To this we dedicate our lives.
Praise for The Fifth Sacred Thing
“This is wisdom wrapped in drama.”—Tom Hayden, California state senator
“Starhawk makes the jump to fiction quite smoothly with this memorable first novel.”—Locus
“Totally captivating . . . a vision of the paradigm shift that is essential for our very survival as a species on this planet.”—Elinor Gadon, author of The Once and Future Goddess
“This strong debut fits well against feminist futuristic, utopic, and dystopic works by the likes of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ursula LeGuin, and Margaret Atwood.”—Library Journal