The Fifth Sacred Thing

A Feature Film and TV Series based on the novel by Starhawk

Screenplay and Pilot by Starhawk


[WARNING: SPOILERS. Don’t read ahead if you haven’t read the book.]

Image by Jessica Perlstein


One act of courage can change the world.

It’s 2048. After eco-catastrophes and society’s meltdown, northern California has built a thriving culture based on respect for the four sacred things: air, fire, water and earth.

But when the totalitarian Stewards of the Southlands invade, the people of the north must decide how to fight. Can they resist tyranny without losing their culture of peace?

Bird, a musician turned guerilla, escapes from the Stewards’ prison to warn his city. Healer Madrone lies near death from battling the bioweapons of the Stewards with both medicine and magic. He calls her back to life and love—only to lose her again as she goes south to aid the Resistance and he stays north to prepare for war.

The city has no army, no resources for weapons. But his grandmother Maya has a vision: say to your enemies this: “There’s a place set for you at our table if you will choose to join us.”

Maya addresses the Council

Image composite by Layil Umbralux and Mark Lakeman

Bird has seen too much horror to be convinced that nonviolence and magic can overcome guns. Still he reluctantly agrees.

Nearly captured by the invading army, Madrone is rescued by the Resistance. The bee priestesses of the hills initiate her into a deeper level of magic. But only when she faces her own most painful memories can she grow into her full healing power.

The army invades the north, bulldozing the gardens and damming the streams. Bird and his team wage a campaign of sabotage that meets terrible reprisals.

To stop the pillaging of the redwoods they even blow up the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Stewards respond with ruthless reprisals. Bird is recaptured, tortured, and forced to wear the uniform of the Stewards.

Yet his surrender gives him entry to the world of the soldiers they are attempting to convert. He will need all his courage, and Madrone all her compassion, to wield the healing power that can stop violence.

Can a song overcome guns, lasers, sound cannon, drones, and all the forces of violence?

City people fight tanks with skateboards and riot guns with martial arts. Bird and Madrone must link their powers, physical and magical, to counter drones and bio-weapons. They stake their lives, their love, and the survival of their city on their hard-won belief in a force more powerful than weapons… love, the fifth sacred thing.

Like the hugely successful Avatar, The Fifth Sacred Thing shows us a vision of a positive future—but it brings us back to earth and gives us hope right here.

Ultimately, it’s a story of love: the love between Bird and Madrone and the even greater love required to put down the gun and trust in the power of that fifth sacred thing, the mystery that links us all.