- Series: The Fifth Sacred Thing (Book 3)
- Paperback: 682 pages
- Publisher: Califia Press; First edition (January 4, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0996959505
- ISBN-13: 978-0996959506
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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City of Refuge (The Fifth Sacred Thing) (Volume 3) Paperback – January 4, 2016
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"Sensual and erotic, meticulously detailed, intellectually satisfying -and also action packed, intense, and incredibly touching all at once. In a word-visionary... Starhawk has written the story we have been waiting for, absolutely a must-read." - Vicki Noble, co-creator of Motherpeace Tarot, author of Shakti Woman and The Double Goddess Change is coming. Scientists offer statistics, politicians offer promises. But what will the changes, and the choices that are before us, mean? In City of Refuge, Starhawk demonstrates that the novelist makes the human impact of change real in a way that no report or speeches can. In this sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing, she continues her saga of the conflict created by opposing values through the lives of the vividly portrayed characters who struggle to build a new world in all its complexity. Even in an egalitarian ecotopia people have issues, and even those brainwashed by the dystopian enemies of the City can heal. City of Refuge is a worthy addition to an emerging sub-genre of post-cataclysmic survival that includes The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and Star's Reach by John Michael Greer, offering inspiration to respond to change by creating a new harmony. Diana L. Paxson, author of the Chronicles of Westria From Amazon reviews: "City of Refuge is not just a wonderful piece of fiction and the sequel to a great book, it offers the reader opportunities to explore different perspectives on how to accomplish complex challenging goals of liberation in a world where there are destructive, greedy cruel-intentioned people in power." "Highest recommendation for this grand, inspirational adventure which could make a big positive impact on the future of the world. Top of my criteria is that a read releases emotions and opens my heart. Many fine books make me cry once, at the climax, but City of Refuge is multi-orgasmic. The 1st 2 chapters brought healing tears to my cheeks 3 times already, whether in empathy with characters or tears of joy." "An evocative, descriptive, thrilling look at an alternate future - let's not call it a dystopian novel since it allows so much more room for hope than most of that genre...City of Refuge is a novel for anyone concerned about our future, hopeful for the promise of community solutions to climate change and ready to be inspired by a visionary look at what is possible. Not just theoretically possible but actually possible, especially with solutions like permaculture, water reuse, alternate forms of energy and different methods of sharing power and responsibility. This book is a GREAT read!"
About the Author
Starhawk is an author, activist, permaculture designer and teacher, and a prominent voice in modern Goddess religion and earth-based spirituality. She is the author or coauthor of thirteen books, including the classics The Spiral Dance and The Fifth Sacred Thing. Her latest nonfiction is The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups, and forthcoming in February, 2016 is City of Refuge, the long-awaited sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing.
Starhawk directs Earth Activist Training, teaching permaculture design grounded in spirit and with a focus on organizing and activism. “Social Permaculture”—the conscious design of regenerative human systems, is a particular focus of hers.
She lives on Golden Rabbit Ranch in Western Sonoma County, CA, where she and ranch manager Charles Williams are developing a model of carbon-sequestering land use incorporating food forests and savannahs, planned grazing, and regenerative forestry.
Starhawk travels internationally, lecturing and teaching on earth-based spirituality, permaculture, and the skills of activism. Her web site is www.starhawk.org.
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Top Customer Reviews
How do we convince people to walk away from their own enslavement if they have no concept of anything better?
How do we transition people from utter dependency into an empowered life if they’ve only known slavery, abuse, learned helplessness, and top-down control?
How do we integrate vast armies (real and metaphorical) of people “just following orders,” whether in the military, political “honey traps,” cults, torture chambers, or areas of life where these ways seem like “the only ways available”?
What do we do with people who have been so abused and broken that all they know is abuse?
How do we instill a positive sense of Self in people who have lost their own humanity through abuse, educational and media brainwashing, and/or collectivism?
How do we treat people who have failed — sometimes in spectacular ways — but who repent of those failings and attempt to make restitution?
What do we do with unrepentant psychopaths with every likelihood of repeated and increasing offenses?
How do we tell the difference between them?
How do we get real food into people who’ve only subsisted on chemicals, heavy metals, addictive BigPharma drugs, Frankenfoods and processed pseudo nutrients?
How do we fight for change against powerful, conscienceless forces without resorting to their level and methods?
How do we teach broken, abused people to lead themselves without ourselves becoming the next pop icon, guru, dictator, villain, or cult leader when the people we are helping project the only things they know onto us?
How do we step into leadership roles when that triggers our own need for Shadow Work, as well as others’ unresolved Shadows massively projected onto us?
What is truly compassionate, and how do we navigate hierarchies of compassion?
These questions and more run throughout Starhawk’s masterful “City of Refuge.” It’s a gritty, disturbing, yet redemptive book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough during these troubled times.
Now, City of Refuge is utopian fiction, hence it is rhetorical. An argument is being made. There is a preferred society juxtaposed to one not preserved, a less desirable society. There is a third and a fourth juxtaposition, here. The third, to the society of the reader as well. The fourth, history as it is, and history as it could be, and as it might be. It is the year 2048 and there has been one ecological catastrophe after another, and American society has collapsed. "Yet amidst the ruins stands a green and flourishing city where four things are sacred--Air, Fire, Water, and Earth." The Southlands, ruled by the evil and ruthless Stewards (patriarchy unhinged) invade. The good guys win, "using nonviolence and magic" (back cover).
The City, San Francisco, or Califia, is the preferred: egalitarian, ecofeminist, in harmony with and protective and supportive of the environment, open, free, nonviolent. In the South, slavery and male domination, women forced out of the professions, men bred to be murderous soldiers, women, sex slaves, the whiter the more power and privilege, closed... You get the idea. Starhawk is making an argument for a vision of how the world could be, might be, and she is giving a warning of how it might be, if things don't change.
The Southlanders will be back, unless the Califians can liberate them. But are they just too deeply wounded to build a new world? Bird and Madrone, two of the central characters in Fifth, take the road to the South, to "build a city of refuge in the heartland of the enemy," once again juxtaposing one way of life against another. River, a soldier who defected from the Stewards' army, leads the Army of Liberation to the South. Can they do it? Or is some damage beyond repair?
Some will find City of Refuge heavy-handed, and too much of an argument. So be it. Sometimes the escapes from danger verge on deus ex machina, but the good guys do suffer defeats, they do die. Star notes in the Afterword that writing a sequel twenty years after the first book was a daunting task. She had "to continually fight those nagging inner voices that whispered, 'What if it's not as good as the other one? What if people don't like it?'" She also notes that she "tried to stay consistent with the earlier books, but over the course of two decades, the world has changed, and so [has she], The astute reader may notice some differences" (661).
This reader did. I liked that she paid more attention to language. The speech of the "sojuhs" of the Southlands "has many more quirks and unique characteristics than in Fifth" (661). If the Califians believe sexuality is sacred, would they use sexual language for swearing? She also asks the question if "our strategy of peaceful nonresistance work against a truly ruthless opponent?" So, we have possible choices, from "the prefigurative creativity of the Refuge to the out-and-out gun battles of the Army of Liberation" (662). I would have preferred more consistency to the world of this series, but so be it. I liked that in Fifth the city in the north was still called San Francisco, among other things. I felt the link between our world, the reader's world, was more defined in Fifth.
As with Fifth, I am drawn to the ongoing celebration of life, love, and the five sacred things that the reader will find here. The fifth is the human spirit and that it triumphs in both small and large ways, and that, as always in our stories, we explore these triumphs, makes them possible in the real world.