May 1, 2020. I am happy to announce that, today, Ramón Sender Barayón and I signed a contract for the first English edition since 1973 of our book, Being of the Sun, with Echo Point Books & Media, a small publisher based in Brattleboro, Vermont. It looks like it will be released in the spring or early summer of 2021.
December 31, 2018: El Mundo, one of the most esteemed journals in Spain, published an article about Ramón Sender Barayon, and the documentary film about his life and work written and directed by Luis Olano.
In the above photo, taken in 2004, I visited Ramon Sender Barayon and his wife, Judith Levy Sender, in Noe Valley, San Francisco. Ramón and I each signed each of our remaining copies of our book, Being of the Sun, saved over countless moves since 1973, when it was published by Harper & Row, Publishers.
In the early ‘70’s, Ramon and I wrote Being of the Sun, released as the sequel to Living on the Earth. The book’s central premise is that each person can find his or her own to way to a dialogue with the Divine, without middlemen, hierarchy, or externally imposed rules of living, while borrowing practices from many traditions to enhance this dialogue. We then offered, as an example, various practices that we found useful, especially practices honoring nature and its cycles, and the life-giving light of the sun.
Ramon’s unique contributions stem from his practices of meditation on sunlight and his background as an avant-garde composer and musician. He was, along with Mort Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros and Terry Riley, one of the composers who formed the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the early 1960’s, and collaborated with audio engineer Don Buchla and Mort Subotnick in the invention of first synthesizer built on the West Coast, the Buchla Box (which was contemporary with the Moog, built on the East Coast).
My illustrations in Being of the Sun are far more lush, imaginative and colorful than those in Living on the Earth, and I bravely offered a drawing of a beautiful young woman defecating into a hole in the earth.
Twenty-seven years after its publication, I recorded three of the songs from Being of the Sun on my first CD, Music From Living on the Earth. In 2013, Ramón and I released Songs from Being of the Sun, a CD version of Ramón’s 1973 reel-to-reel tape of the two of us performing songs, chants and improvisations from our book, the year before it was published. In 2015, I recorded three more of my songs first published in Being of the Sun on my seventh CD, More Songs From Living on the Earth, and, in 2018, on my eighth CD, Alicia Bay Laurel: Live In Japan, I perform a medley of the four chants for the solstices and equinoxes.
If you scroll down, you’ll find a chart I made for the new edition of Being of the Sun, showing the pages on which the songs, chants and improvisations appear, and the locations of existing recordings of them.
Being of the Sun was initially not well received; in 1973, Rolling Stone declared it “the worst gift book of the year.” However, in the intervening years, it’s become a cult classic, often referenced on Pagan/Wiccan websites, the illustrations pirated into various alternative journals. People spiritually attuned to nature, for example, practitioners of Shinto, love this book. The Japanese translation of this book has been in print from 1974 to 1980, and from 2007 to the present. And some visionaries, like author/journalist/professor of design Alastair Gordon, saw the magic in it right away: “I still cherish the original editions I have of these magical works… Being of the Sun should be required reading for all earthlings. I truly love your spirit and vision…”
Since then, I’ve been licensing the illustrations to fashion designers in Japan. The Hayashi Sisters did a write-up in Japan Vogue Online, published May 25, 2015, about the Salon de Balcony summer fashion line (photo above), which includes clothing and accessories printed with illustrations from Being of the Sun.
Here is the synopsis/review on Amazon dot com:
“A do-it-yourself spirituality and music book, Being of the Sun (Harper and Row, 1973), is the sequel to Alicia Bay Laurel’s classic, best-selling guide, Living on the Earth (Random House 1971 and 2000.) Co-written with author, avant-garde composer and solar yogi Ramón Sender Barayón, Being of the Sun provides a guide to creating one’s own religion, and also offers a compendium of spiritual practices the authors found valuable. Similar to Living On The Earth, Being of the Sun is entirely handwritten in Alicia’s flowing cursive script and illustrated on every page with her line drawings, a shining example of her immensely influential original book design. However, unlike the simple brown lines and cover of Alicia’s first book, Being of the Sun’s design features purple ink throughout, a colorful cover, plus eight full color illustrations within. Ramón created sheet music of the original spiritual songs and chants he and Alicia wrote for the book. Being of the Sun offers a window on hippie life in the early 70’s, and remains a cult classic among nature-worshippers to this day.”
Here is the cover for the upcoming Spanish edition, which will have the original colors that I used – unlike the Harper & Row and Soshisha editions, which changed the color pallette to suit the aesthetics of the publishers.
In 2013, Indigo With Stars, Inc. released “Songs from Being of the Sun,” a remastered version on CD of an archival reel-to-reel recording made by Ramón Sender Barayon in 1973, of me and Ramón performing some of the sacred nature chants we created for Being of the Sun, just before it was published. It’s available as a physical CD here.
5 star review on CD Baby of “Songs from Being of the Sun” by Gordon Kennedy, author of Children of the Sun, an astonishing book that reveals the 19th century European roots of the hippie movement in the USA:
“In The Sunshine Of Your Love”
“Being of the Sun is an enchanted Solar Mass of relaxing, charming, seductive sounds. If I could pop into the book version like a superflex Gumby, this musical soundtrack would rejuvenate me – and I can’t wait to meet all of the colorful sun children. I visualized Gods-dog and even she sports a nice tan.
“Inside my sauna, the harmonies feed my inner sweat glands with radiant waves of helio-therapy. I surrender.”
Here are some reviews the book, Being of the Sun, from Amazon.com, as of February 2014:
Our friend, organic food product pioneer and philosopher Gregory Sams, author of a wonderful solar praise and scientific information book called Sun of gOd, received a copy in April 2017, and posted:
“Being of the Sun” was written 25 years before Sun of gOd. This beautiful book by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ramon Sender taps into the same spirit. Inspirational! All lovingly hand-written and illustrated.
Here is a quilted fan letter from fiber artist Tomoko Yamada, which she sent to me in 2008:
Tigger Wheel was a child living at Wheeler Ranch commune while I was writing Living on the Earth. We’ve stayed in touch all these years; now she and her husband are retired special ed teachers in Texas. She sent me this a few years back:
Another letter to me and to Ramon Sender Barayon from deLIGHTful Gregory Sams:
“After an initial delightful rush into it, I have now finally got to the end of your incredible testament, Being of the Sun. Sorry it took so long, but maybe I was waiting for the Summer to kick in. I’m just amazed at how tuned in you two lovers were, and to what a depth, all those years ago! Thinking that perhaps those sacraments and the light of our Sun gave a helpful and loving hand. It is at once a beautiful spiritual work of art and a practical guide to living a good life – a fitting accolade to the true light of all our lives.
“I was thinking, going through it, that there were so many pages I wanted to post-it note that it would be silly to do so. And then I see the hand-written index at the back. Astounding! The book covers so very much, even how to hand-make your own musical instruments and wind chimes. Got me wondering if you ever assembled that drone orchestra. Loved your words on food and your expression of the consciousness that pervades all. You both really deserved to retire on that book but hey, you’re happy and Sun still blesses us. I’m really happy to know that a copy of my book is in your hands. They are so different in approach, yet complement each other so well.”
Cultural Change Agent, Organic Food Pioneer
Author of Sun of gOd
VIVIENDO EN LA TIERRA & SER DEL SOL
“Living On The Earth” (Viviendo en la Tierra) es una guía o manual para la vida sostenible, comunal y alternativa creada por Alicia Bay Laurel en el rancho-comuna Wheeler, en el norte de California, a finales de los años sesenta. Fue un éxito de ventas a principios de la década siguiente, y sin ser un libro de cocina, fue incluido en un prestigioso recopilatorio como uno de los 100 libros de cocina más influyentes de la historia de los EEUU. Está traducido al japonés y desde que el año pasado Kachina Ediciones se lanzara a editarlo en español, manteniendo los dibujos originales, podemos tener esta verdadera obra de arte en nuestra biblioteca. Pocos años después de su publicación, Alicia viajó con Ramon Sender a Colombia para investigar a fondo los cultos solares y en 1973 publicaron juntos otra maravilla: “Being Of The Sun” (Ser del Sol), una especie de manual para crear tu propia religión y vivir de una forma más consciente con la naturaleza. Está construido como un diario, e incluye las partituras y los cánticos asociados a diferentes rituales. No tuvo el mismo éxito que su predecesor, y la revista Rolling Stone llegó a catalogarlo como “el peor regalo que puedes hacer estas navidades”. A nosotros nos parece sin embargo, además de una obra de arte, un documento histórico de gran valor. Muy recientemente hemos conocido la fantástica noticia de que Kachina Ediciones se va a encargar de su edición en español para el próximo verano.
Writer and Director of the documentary, “Sender Barayon: A Trip into the Light”
That Yellow book [“living on the earth’] I can’t find it now.
The next, “being with the sun” is now on hand.
I liked Laurel’s leaf, and it was written that I put this name on it.
It was a book that was always whispered and whispered to the truth.
I wonder if I’m going to go with you ✨
Singer-songwriter Keiko Ao Aqua Jimbo and her best friend, Sen, love Being of the Sun!
Certain books influenced me profoundly as a young teenager. I remember pouring over The Last Whole Earth Catalog and planning a theoretical venture into the wilderness. When I was thirteen, my brother gave me a book called “Being of the Sun”. I studied that book for months and began a process of developing my own traditions as a result. I don’t know what happened to my original copy, but a few years ago, I found a new one. Here are a couple of pages:
Suzie Hall Rosse
Alliance For Sustainable Communities – Lehigh Valley and Morning Star Center
That book was my bible as a teenager!
I colored in it and hung out with it in a sacred space I set up in my room to do my yoga…oh, that’s right! That’s where I learned many yoga poses too!
At the time, I didn’t really know anyone who shared that world with me…it was a window into my dreams for my life and really stimulated my imagination and added magic and warmth, color and joy to my days and nights….
Surma Karen Ollice
Paia, Maui, Hawaii
I will introduce you to the book that touched the heart.
This is my forever Bible.
In the light of the sun that lives us,
Feeling the wind and nature
To live comfortably and live,
For us now
That’s exactly what I need.
The author of this book
Live by Alicia Bay Laurel
How to live primitive
Yoga, mantra and breathing
It’s new when you look at it!
It is also the magic of the scales from the eyes,
It is also my life of the past.
Alicia Bay Laurel 💛
I felt you’re really magical of using all of nature 🌈🌲💖!
One words about ‘’Mekarauroko’’ ,
the scale from the eye is a Japanese Proverb,
To see the light ,
to be awakened to the truth,
to have the scales fall from one’s eyes
are the meetings .
Thank you for blowing your wonderful wind into my life!
Owner of Natural Style Yoga salon ナチュラルスタイルヨガサロン
The peacenik holy book.
I read your book, Being of the Sun, and I got inspired by the life you wrote about in this book. These days, I spend more time in nature, and it brings me much calm and peace in my mind.
Izumo, Shimane, Japan
I have my old copy. It has been such a beautiful influence in my life. Alicia Bay Laurel, I am truly beholden to you for your countless gifts, books that changed my life, set me on my path, and were friends to me when no one else understood. Treasured with all my heart.
Beth Owls Daughter
Teacher, Writer, Seer, and Dream-whisperer
Alicia Bay Laurel: So thrilled to see the harvest goddess smiling in your winter solstice altar, dear Hecate Doe!
Hecate Doe: Alicia Bay Laurel, you already know I love me some toilet paper roll Goddesses! You should have seen my Mabon one dancing on my altar, and my Imbolc one was quite cheeky ! I’ve made various Yule ones for 50 years (ack) but this is the first year I’m diligently making one for each Sabbat. Although I design and change up the skirt and blouse on each one over the years, the original inspiration came from your beautiful book.
Alicia Bay Laurel: Wow, I am very honored that a page from Being of the Sun has become so deeply woven into your spiritual life, dear Hecate Doe!
Hecate Doe: Alicia Bay Laurel… and then some. Because it was before scanners, my books are all cut up, the pieces carefully guarded. My 50-year-old son was thrilled to hear that I’ve “met” you; he still remembers the words to [the song] “Receiver Believer” and can play Winter Solstice chant on the old recorder. For the last 50 years, we’ve always sung and played “Receiver Believer” every Yule!
Here are the two pages from the new edition of Being of the Sun that give the locations of the existing recordings of the music in the book. All of these recordings are available from our online shop (there’s a link in the horizontal menu bar at the top of each page of this website).
Just thinking about you this morning as I was going through an old box of books I used for research on SPACED OUT and came across these two beauties…I’d completely forgotten about them!
Your work still inspires and brings joyto so many… (moi meme)
Much Love, Health and Beatitude for 2021
Author, Architecture Critic, Visiting Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design
New York, New York
Thank you for this loving message, which brings me joy. And beatitude!
I have great respect for you and your work, and am thrilled to have had my work be part of it.
Last year, I finished the layout for the first new English language edition of Being of the Sun since 1973. I thought of you while I was restoring the color drawing that you used in your great book, Spaced Out.
Wishing you and Barbara every blessing,