The Fifth Sacred Thing Film Planned

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 10, 2011 — 29 Comments

At her blog, Pagan author and activist Starhawk has announced that a movie adaptation of her novel “The Fifth Sacred Thing,” a story about an ecologically and spiritually advanced oasis community existing in dystopian future California, is in the beginning stages of being made into a film.

“So, where are we now? We’ve got structures for the legal and financial stuff, although there’s always endlessly more of those to put in place. We’ve got artwork, character drawings, wonderful support from major artists who will allow us to use their work and images. We have that screenplay—finally down to the size it needs to be! We have a letter of interest from Olympia Dukakis, who is my dream choice to play Maya, the old woman/storyteller. Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll have our website up and already our Facebook Page is up. Please check it out and Like it if you can!”

You can find the Facebook page for the film, here. A Kickstarter campaign for financing and an official website are going to be unveiled soon. At her blog, Starhawk talks about how she feels like the time is now for a film adaptation of her work.

“I so strongly believe that the world needs a positive vision of the future right now. I can’t think of any movie that projects a positive vision of a future here on earth. How can we create it if we can’t envision it? A friend confessed to me the other day that she and everyone she knows thinks it’s already too late, that we’re past the point of no return. I don’t believe that. I believe that the earth is resilient and creative—and we are agents of that creative force called to reinvent our way of life right now. If we can give people some hope, some direction and some inspiration, it seems worth all the risks and the work!”

Films made by and for modern Pagans is a newly emerging phenomenon. Recently, film projects like “Our Pagan Heart,” “Dark of Moon,” “Tarology,” “The Spirit of Albion,” and the recently completed “To Dream of Falling Upwards” have woven explicit Pagan and occult themes into visual storytelling. Considering the popularity of Starhawk’s novel, this may be the biggest project of its kind to ever be undertaken. We’ll keep you posted as things develop on this project.

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • This is amazing news, especially since this is possibly one of the more recognizable purely-Pagan works coming out. I hope it does really, really well!

  • Peg Aloi

    Should be interesting if it comes to light.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Goodness, this could get me back to the movies.

  • How awesome would this be, a positive portrayal of Earth Religions in the media, told from Starhawk's perspective.

  • wirewitch

    I hope Starhawk hangs on to the rights to maintain the integrity of the story!

  • jude

    I read this way back when it first came out. It was the only book that ever made me feel homesick–as if that were the world where I belonged, and somehow we got separated.

  • Redhairedwitch

    This book changed my focus in that I started down a path of learning about and embracing permaculture into my life. My gardens and yard are much healthier for it and so are we. I've always thought ripping up the pavement in cities and planting food was a good idea! Can't wait to see the finished product of this movie.

  • Bookhousegal

    I kinda hope they'll leave out the Mary Daly-esque kind of anti-trans references. I read that book at the time and was very sad about that general writeoff. Not that trans people don't have fight in em, but that they had no place in her utopia, point blank.

    • Lillitu Shahar Kunning

      Yes yes yes! The book itself is great, with this one lone caveat. I hope the movie is BETTER than the book in this regard.

  • Bookhousegal

    Well, as sci-fi, she doesn't seem to have bothered with the actual ecology o the Bay area either, never mind making 'desert folk' a big 'threat.' In the event of such collapses, well, Good, bad, or indifferent, you'd be dead, and so would San Fransisco.

  • I've got a bit about this up at my blog. The Fifth Sacred Thing changed my life. I hope that Starhawk can maintain control over the project. I am lighting incense for that.

    • Bookhousegal

      Or…. Ask her? If you do, convey my concerns. I know she's come a long way since then. Maybe call central casting. I figure, why it *didn't* change my life might make me convincing in some bit parts. 😉

  • chuck_cosimano

    I suppose if Humongous is reborn and eats her commune for lunch it might be interesting.

  • Sara A.

    I'm excited about this. Yay!

  • cigfran

    Hm. Let's see… 'Fifth Sacred Thing,' 1993. 'Always Coming Home,' 1985.
    Post-apocalyptic Californian ecotopia.
    Peaceful, largely matriarchal, egalitarian society.
    Stewards. The Condor.
    Madrone. Stone Telling.
    Counter cultural activist. Actual modern myth maker.

    Yeah. Right movie, wrong book.

    • Euhemerus

      That's right. Mimi probably assumed that very few members of her fan base would ever have read LeGuin's 'Always Coming Home' or Piercy's 'Woman on the Edge of Time' (not to mention the Harpy Farm chapters from Califia's 'Doc and Fluff'). And for the most part, I'm sure she's right.

      • Bookhousegal

        Quite incorrect, in my case, actually, though I don't know if I'd call myself a fan of her fiction: that book's the only piece of her fiction I ever read, actually, but Utopian/Dystopian literature's always been of great interest to me, (Let's face it, I love Star Trek, and it's not cause I'm all that interested in what a phaser set on level whatever can do to Jem'Hadar in an inverse nadion field or whatever. It's cause it's a big locus of our society's hopes, fears, and dreams. )

        It's especially very much about how we explore 'What happens if we change something, what happens if we nurture something,' and when it gets *real* interesting is when we figure out how we reconcile these two things.

        Dismissively-un-naming Starhawk doesn't actually make her a failed sci fi writer: 'feminist' sci fi, *especially* of the period, was really trying to get it right, and to be honest, in the film world, 'The Handmaid's Tale,' ended up making the industry figure, 'This has been Done.'

        Maybe that's why I'm hoping this isn't so much a 'faithful' film treatment of that book so much as Starhawk's material revisited in relevant ways. I' tell you one thing, people aren't laughing so hard at the idea of permaculture *now* as they were *then.*

  • I'm excited about this project not because of the positive light that this be for paganism in general, but more so because it will show everybody an alternative way of thinking, an alternative way that society as a whole can work. a way of thinking that is not profit driven but that is about the people. it is also a story that shows very strongly People when they pull all in the same direction when they make a stand, have the power, not governments, not the corporations who are increasingly over powering the governments and not those who have ridiculous amounts of money, but plain everyday People, regardless of what their faith is.

    This is why this movie excites me, i'm holding out that it will teach everyday people that yes they do have power and that they to can make a stand for their their beliefs and rights. that they can take action, that it is ok to take physical action, to say no that law is wrong, to not be the mindless zombies that our various governments have been training us to be for so long.

    *ponders things*

  • Not to complain about Book I haven't Read, but…..if there were such a utopian society as everyone seems to say this book about, in a dystopian California, wouldn't have been pillaged and distroyed shortly after it's creation, either by the people in the surrounding area who, in their dystopian lack of food, supplies, etc would turn on their "neighbors" in order to obtain the things they want and/or desire, or by the State and Federal Government who in their great power and wisdom, would decide that as these people have something everyone doesn't, they are now a prime resource to be taxed and drawn from to keep the government going (or in the case of a socially progressive government, as a way to give the have nots what the haves have?)

    So unless this little community in the book is one of those Utopias with an army to rival the Spartans of old (which I rather doubt, as most Pagans I meet tend to view war as very bad) how does this little Utopia survive?

    • You gotta read the book to find out! That's pretty much one of the sub-themes.

  • Tea

    I liked this book when I read it about ten years ago…ofcourse I was much more naive and idealistic back then. Maybe I'll give it another read now.

  • I just read this book a few months ago and enjoyed it. I really hope they don't "Last Airbender-ize" it by making the two young lead characters all white.

    Or otherwise make it more appealing to the mainstream by adding more violence/action scenes.

    • Sooo. Michael Bay isn't allowed to get involved in the directing then I take it? >:) *snort*

      • Now there's an idea, great choice for a director! Then they can replace Maya (pivotal lead character who is an old woman in her 90s) with Megan Fox. 😉

    • Bookhousegal

      Yeah, I dunno: just like those 'New Right' characters we're hearing about in another thread, Starhawk's no geneticist, either, even if she had a more positive attitude about things like that. Whoever can *play* the characters, that's the important part. I think the real thing to worry about is who can be 'everywoman' enough for the lead, still be real 'watchable,' and maybe theoretically not be all superstar-look. It's fairly hard it seems, to strike some kind of balance with 'Hollywood' expectations, there. (You'd have to consult more of a film fan than I am for suggestions: I'm lucky to name even the heavily-promoted stars. ) Not that they likely have access to the superstars for this, to begin with. There's got to be someone from B-list sci fi or something, though, that's been working long enough/shown promise. Independent film, Europe,

      Anyway, I think the point of the story there is to *not* worry too much about race. Seems one would almost be looking for a young Keanu Reeves or something: no idea his actual ancestry, but he looks like a child of half the world. 🙂 It'll be 'unknowns,' anyway, almost assuredly. Why not. 🙂

      • A major plot point is the fact that the utopian society the main characters have created is multicultural, and one in which no one group dominates, as opposed to the outside dystopia where there is apartheid. Several of the main characters are of mixed-race — part black and part other things — and their race is central to their characters and the storyline.

        To change them to white to make the film more marketable would be to change a very significant part of the story — several scenes hinge on the racial context — and I'm sure the choice to make them who they were, ethnicity and all, was very deliberate on the part of Starhawk.

        But of course nothing surprises me coming out of Hollyweird and I tend not to get upset about these things. Just making observations.

  • I honestly can't think of a book that needs adapting more than this one. I'll be waiting on pins and needles for news!

  • MumsyB

    I am just as excited as the rest of these folks about the possible adaptation of Starhawk's book. And also hope she retains rights to content and story line. It would be a pity to see this "go Hollywood."

  • Bookhousegal

    You know, it also makes me think of how 'The Fifth Element' was actually like the most Wiccan sci-fi movie ever. 🙂

    And it had Bruce Willis in it. Go figure. 🙂