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.
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 some 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 two 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 our chants for the solstices and equinoxes.
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.
The Japanese translation of Being of the Sun from Soshisha, Ltd., originally published in 1972, came back into print in 2007.
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 a dozen 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 a 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, or either as a CD or as a download from CD Baby.
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:
My friend, organic food product pioneer and philosopher Gregory Sams, author of a wonderful 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