Sophia Rose, very creative herbalist, writer, photographer, designer, life artist, and my good friend, assembled this video collage of art from my books and photographs of me and my communal friends in the early 1970s in Northern California, to a fragment of my autobiographical jazz waltz, “1966.” You can savor Sophia Rose’s divine herbal and artistic offerings at La Abeja Herbs.
On October 24th and 25th, 2012, Rizzoli Publishers (Random House, New York) unveiled 101 Classic Cookbooks – 501 Classic Recipes, a collection edited by Marvin J. Taylor, Director of the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University, home to over 55,000 volumes about food, and Clark Wolf, a New York-based food and restaurant consultant.
Their panel of culinary experts, including food writer and academic Michael Pollan, Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold, New York Times food critic Florence Fabricant, and chef, food writer, and PBS producer Ruth Reichl, chose what they considered the most influential American cookbook for each year of the 20th century, and, from those, the quintessential recipes of each book.
From Living on the Earth, they chose four recipes: Dandelion Wine, Sunflower Milk (actually, How To Make Baby Food), Yogurt, and How to Smoke Fish. In addition, six of the original illustrated and hand-lettered page layouts, plus the cover of the Random House second edition are displayed on pages 136 and 137.
Other authors included in the book include Julia Child, Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Alice Waters, Martha Stewart, Fanny Farmer, Madhur Jaffrey, Molly Katz, and Laurel Robertson.
Here‘s more information about some of the major organizers and contributors to the book.
May 20, 2021 – the first new English edition of Being of the Sun, published by Echo Point Books & Media, is on its way to press, with an expected release in July. The video I made with digital designer Karen Tsugawa displaying many pages of the book was released today, and is on this page.
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,
Here is my complete bibliography as of spring 2021.
New arrivals are expected.
Part One: Books I Wrote, Illustrated, and Designed
Living On The Earth
Most people who know my name associate it with my book Living on the Earth, which has been published five times in English, once in Japanese, once in Spanish, and once in Korean. The Japanese edition has been in print continuously since 1972. A French edition and a second Korean edition are both in process as of 2021.
With flowing line drawings and handwriting, and a groundbreaking layout, Living On The Earth expresses the spirit of a multi-generational yearning for oneness with nature. Widely imitated to this day, Living On The Earth changed the way books are conceived, and influenced countless artists and graphic designers.
First edition, The Bookworks, Berkeley, 1970.
Their second title, ever. Only 10,000 copies printed, all sold within three weeks of publication. Printed on a paper made from sawmill scraps and bark called Karma Kote.
Second edition, Random House/Vintage Books, 1971. This was the first paperback ever on the New York Times Bestseller list, selling at least 350,000 copies before going out of print in 1980.
Japanese edition, 1972 to present (Soshisha, Ltd., Tokyo, Japan)
30th anniversary edition (Random House/Villard Books, 2000)
4th Edition (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2003) with its distinctive metallic gold embossed sun on the cover, and 100% post consumer waste recycled paper and soy-based ink throughout.
(Small Seed, Seoul, Korea, 2005)
Spanish edition (Kachina Ediciones, Albacete, España, 2017) with recycled paper and vegetable inks
50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition (Echo Point Books & Media, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2021) with sustainably sourced paper and vegetable inks.
Being of the Sun
Being Of The Sun
(co-authored with Ramón Sender Barayón, designed, hand-lettered and illustrated by Alicia Bay Laurel)
(Harper & Row, 1973)
A nature, spirituality and music book on creating one’s own one-person religion, finding the divine in nature and within, with songs, ceremonies, projects and practices created or adapted for the authors’ own nature-as-spirituality religions. It is a companion volume to Living on the Earth.
Japanese edition of Being of the Sun
(Soshisha, Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, 1974-1980, 2007 – present)
The first new English language edition of Being of the Sun since 1973 will be released by Echo Point Books & Media in spring or summer 2021.
Earth Time (Random House, 1972) Poetic astrological calendar with large colorful drawings.
A Set of Three Children’s Books (1972):
Centerfolded in Ms. Magazine’s January 1973 edition, in the “Stories for Free Children” series curated by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, one of the magazine’s founders. A little girl living with her parents and their friends on a rural commune gives a tour of her life there.
The Family of Families
We are all one family.
Happy Day! Cried the Rainbow Lady, Full of Light
A wordless journey into the stars.
(All three, as a set, Harper & Row, 1972)
These coloring books advise “No one has to color inside the lines.”
Set of Three Children’s Books, Japanese editions 1974
Sylvie Sunflower, Japanese edition
Soshisha Ltd., Tokyo, Japan 1974
If anyone can send me good scans of the covers of the Soshisha Ltd. editions of The Family of Families and/or Happy Day Cried the Rainbow Lady, Full of Light, I would love to post them here!
Part Two: A Book I Designed and Illustrated
The Earth Mass (poetry by Joe Pintauro)
(Harper & Row, 1973)
“An oldie, hard to find, and worth its weight in emeralds”
Lots of Alicia’s crayon and ink drawings, with ceremonies and poems for life’s passages by Joe Pintauro, who was also a novelist, playwright, and professor.
Part Three: Books I Illustrated
Text by the Monteverdi Artists Collaborative, which included Ray Mungo, Verandah Porche, Peter Gould, Marty Jezer, and Richard Wizansky. Other illustrators include Peter Gould and Doug Parker. The poetry of Verandah Porche is one of the highlights (Saturday Review Press, 1973).
“After the Liberation News Service was chased out of DC by the feds, the darkly cheerful band of artist/intellectuals chose to bivouac in the hills of New England, purchase farms and learn to farm them, and invent recipes, myths, costumes, dances, unending in-jokes, even architecture. In the winter of 1971-72, they planned a communal book, each agreeing to write portions of it, and the pieces were read aloud in the communal dining space they had dubbed the Cafe Depresso. The artists of the tribe rose to the occasion with copious illustrations, and the family graphics professional, Doug Parker, assembled the pieces into a book. Decades later, it’s still fresh, charming, funny and even useful. ” (My review of the book on Amazon.)
William Shakespeare’s The Tempest: A New Age Adaptation by Michael Fleck (New Age Press, 1978)
Script of a wild and colorful 1976 multi-media production on Maui, when Fleck was working as the creative director of the Maui Community Theatre. He depicts Shakespeare’s drama as a battle of cold-hearted corporate real estate developers versus environmentalists, both bohemian and indigenous, and their spirit allies. My ink and watercolor cover and monochrome pen and ink drawings throughout.
Cover of the April 1971 2nd edition of Living on the Earth, published by Vintage/Random House, New York
The New York Times Book Review
March 21, 1971
By Raymond Mungo
Living on the Earth is fun, much more fun than reviewing books about it: but Alicia Bay Laurel (is it a girl? is it a tree?) has made such a beautiful, such a divine and practical book, it’s a pleasure to tell you about it.
Pleasure’s the whole point of course, the pleasures of working with the free and rich resources of the planet in order not only to survive, but to live like kings and queens of the cosmos, richer than Rockefeller often on the per-capita income of Indians on the reservation.
Alicia’s book is rapidly making its way into the reservations, which you might also call the rural communes, the end of the road, or the temples. If you were me, you’d see it everywhere you go. Ah, you’ll see if everywhere anyway…
Living On The Earth is a big paperback melody of “storm warnings, formulas, recipes, rumors and country dances” not written but “harvested by” Miss Bay Laurel, with many graceful line drawings by herself. The text is not set in type, but written by hand, and in the ink is not black, but a subtle sepia color.
It tells you what you want to know. About cooking, carpentry, heat, cold, clothing and sewing, gardening, music, yoga, astrology, wood, water, the heavens, crafts, art, life, and even Death. How to cremate a friend on an efficient and ceremonious funeral pyre. How to waterproof your boots, turn an Army blanket into a Moroccan-style djilleva, or a long robe. How to bake bread, of course, but also how to make soap, hammocks, pillows, sandals, flutes, broccoli, mayonnaise and Space.
“How to Slow Down.” “The Truth About Soup.” Herbal medicines for toothache, insomnia or impotence.
Well, maybe not everything. As you and I are proving at this moment, there’s always another word to add, another book, another unending voice in the psychic atmosphere. There are many other books and magazines devoted to advice-for-the-survivors which have won attention and love in communal households: The Mother Earth News, Whole Earth Catalog, Canadian Whole Earth Almanac, and many good cookbooks, the I. Ching, the Merck Manual and thousands more. They’re all useful to some degree, some of them also funny, wise and beautiful. Alicia Bay Laurel’s is the best merger I’ve ever seen of the practical and the beautiful aspects such a book can have.
It is beautiful to see, hold, touch. The drawings and design radiate warmth, simplicity, sincerity. The whole effect of the books, as an object, is to induce serenity and goodwill; people reading it have been observed to smile and be happy, shout “O Wow!”, furiously copy down instructions for making some chair or souffle, and finally and ineluctably pass this book on to a friend.
Alicia is smiling now, as well she might. She’s happy to make me happy, though we’ve never met. I’m happy to make you happy. Get it?
Because, you see, what’s more: Living On The Earth is not just for hippies who do. It’s especially attractive to folks who live in big cities on an ever-tightening budget and wish to hell they could move to a quiet lovely country or seacoast house and peacefully enjoy their own bodies; and that’s just about everybody.
Most of the information in it is useful to everybody everywhere who wants to enjoy and play with the good things in this life. The vegetables, the cloth, the weather, the colors, the sounds: all the real material pleasures your body can stand, not of the plastic, all of the wealth of the universe, none of the money. All of the mystery, none of the boredom.
Such extravagance, can it be true? Yes, it can. At least, it’s a view of reality. You can buy your clothes on Fifth Avenue, eat in restaurants, and register your checkbook balance in your central nervous system : but Alicia Bay Laurel will show you a better way, less pretentious, more enjoyable. She’s Only Human after all, and must have had some sad and sour moments in her life like the rest of us, but she’s saved up in the cedar-chest only the best, most constructive and selfless, revelation about to life to help all of us, including Alicia, get along.
Get ready. Hell is always there, city or country, if you want to live in it. Heaven is nicer. Both of them are on the earth. God is on the earth, also the devil. Maybe they are the same. If Alicia Bay Laurel chooses to be a ray of God, so can you and I. So there. Reviewer secretly in love with author, also with reader. What a story! Living On The Earth is a pretty strong title. Think about it.
“The book of Tao says,” Alicia tells us, “that every day the scholar must know more & more, but the follower of Tao must know less and less. Eventually I must say ‘no’ to this unceasing tide of information. This book is already too thick. But, if the tide bends me again, this book will have a sequel. Besides, it was fun drawing all these pictures.”
The Village Voice, New York City
April 8, 1971
by Blair Sabol
Column: “Outside Fashion”
Along with the do-it-yourself-kits, magazines and other promos have been the run of books on “Grow Your Own Organic Garden”, “Cure Your Own Head Cold With Herbs,” “Build Your Own Home,” “Bake Your Own Bread,” “Have Your Own Baby.” And frankly, though their covers and titles may be intriguing, once you’ve read them, it’s nothing that hasn’t already been pounded to death in Family Circle or Good Housekeeping. And if you’ve been a regular reader of some of the underground papers’ yoga, health and food columns, than a lot of those books will read like instant replays since most of the hipper alternate-counter-culture printed matter is just that—collected columns. Nothing new.
But there are two new, very special books which I highly recommend as survival aids for health and head. One is Living On The Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel (Vintage Books, $3.95) which has already been accepted by the book critics with open arms and throbbing hearts, and rightly so. Ray Mungo’s review of it in the Sunday New York Times book section was as gloriously written as the book itself. Alicia Bay Laurel and Ray Mungo were made for each other.
Living On The Earth is a living experience. It compounds all of the Whole Earth Catalog’s hard core information with all the personal warmth and feeling that a girl with a melodically infatuating name like Alicia Bay Laurel could possess. It’s written more from and for the heart than the head. Yet she manages to cover every single aspect of survival, starting with camping, to “simple shelters,” to making musical instruments, to all areas of sewing, candlemaking, first aid, cremation, midwifing, “useful addresses for all sorts of extraneous supplies, etc. etc. I mean, you name it and Alicia Bay Laurel has explained it, and not only that, but has made the whole thing flow with her simple line drawings and hand-written directions. I reads as if she were writing a never-ending letter to you and you alone.
To say Living On The Earth is a must just ain’t enuf…it’s a necessity. And for the back-to-the-landers, it will, no doubt, become a bible.
(BOTH PAGES BELOW) REVIEW IN PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, APRIL 12, 1971
Whole Earth Catalog review by JD Smith, 1970
This may well be
the best book in this catalog.
this is a book for people
if you are a person,
it is for you.
if you are a dog,
and you can’t read very well,
it just might be for you too,
because of the drawings.
she’s our very own
Review below reprinted from the now-defunct online Hippie Museum
The natural effect of the new Awareness was a heightened Earth Consciousness, and as Hippies began to feel the mystical connection of their very Beings as being intertwined and interdependent with that of the Planet, they began to be able to see their World as the enchanted land it is – a loving Mother Nature that nourished their very lives, and concern for the environment grew and information and “shining examples” of the new ways of living and thinking quickly spread. Ironically, the new way of living was in many cases a return to the old way of living, as people began to turn away from the high-voltage, high-powered tools and gadgets, poisons and medications of modern society, and to cherish the simple and natural, the homemade and homegrown.
Proof of the Revolution abounded. In 1968, the informative Whole Earth Catalog was born, a cherished publication that offered information on not only how to live Life more naturally, but held an extensive list of goods and services available with which to do so.
Another great source of Earthy information of the “Back to the Land Movement” of the day was Alicia Bay Laurel’s Living on the Earth. Written on Wheeler’s open land ranch, It was a delightfully illustrated and in-depth how-to-survive in the country manual “for people who would rather chop wood than work behind a desk.” The book was also a milestone marking the height of a Hippie way of living that was close to nature, with a focus on sustainable living and communal consciousness.
Review below from: The ‘Sixties Communes: Hippies and Beyond
by Timothy Miller (1999, Syracuse University Press)
…eventually the communes movement was producing books of its own, books that in some cases got wide circulation and introduced a great many young persons to the idealized delights of intentional community. The foremost of that genre was Living On The Earth, a hand-lettered and whimsically illustrated paean to dropout life by Alicia Bay Laurel, written while she was living at Wheeler’s Ranch, an open-land community in California. Originally published by a small press called Bookworks in Berkeley, the book was picked up by Random House and—in the wake of a surge of publicity that included three major notices in the New York Times in the space of six days, among them a glowing review by Raymond Mungo in the Times Book Review—found an enormous nationwide audience.
Timothy Miller is the Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and the author of three books about intentional communities.
More Excerpts from Reviews of Living on the Earth
Many books are made of other men’s books, but only a handful grow directly from experience. Alicia Bay Laurel’s Living On The Earth is a rare example of the latter variety and, as such, provides a statement which is as richly poetic as it is pragmatic… Her poetic vision, in fact, cuts through the complexities of our daily lives in a manner so incisive as to be absolutely dismaying. With her childish scrawl and her delightfully carefree drawings, she has provided us not only with a prescription for healthy bodies, but, more than this, an elixir for regaining a purer society.
Robert W. Conrow
March 24, 1971
…a joyous testament to the most fundamental pleasures of life…
Los Angeles Times
April 18, 1971
Solid common sense on every subject imaginable makes the big paperback, Living On The Earth, one of the publishing delights of the year….
June 15, 1971
Living On The Earth is the most fantastically beautiful book I have ever seen. Although the book is based on country living, it still contains many practical, sane ideas for those of us trapped in the city. Besides, the entire book is written in longhand, with hand-drawn pictures—it is just a total joy to read.
The Great Speckled Bird
…captures the pure pleasure of being a free creature on the earth…just read it, relax and feel yourself unwind. It’s one of those down-to-earth books that makes your spirits soar.
San Diego Tribune
May 4, 1971
A beautifully drawn and handwritten book… amazingly thorough, covering everything… recommended.
June 1, 1971
…it’s an art book, a handbook, an American primitive…
Mary Ellin Barrett
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Cover of the September 1970 first edition of Living on the Earth, published by The Bookworks, Berkeley CA
Alicia Bay Laurel describes Living on the Earth: “There are many other books on this set of subjects, many of which cover them in greater depth than I do. But my book is not only a DIY book. It’s a portrait of a life lived inside the natural world, and outside of the corporate world.“
I’m a 62-yr. old graduate of a midwestern land grant university, and just about everybody I knew forty years ago owned a copy of Living on the Earth.
I used to see Living on the Earth on friends’ coffee tables and cable spools. Once in the late eighties, I noticed it while doing an energy audit for a Lakota woman. For me possession was a token of aspiration. Going back to third grade (1957 or ’58), I can remember thinking that grownups were doing things wrong — and I still have trouble telling which is bathwater and which is baby — but your book sketched out a handmade life, integrated with nature and friends. I wanted to live in a tipi village in the woods, grow pot, make art, go naked, and somebody else had imagined, even lived, that life. More amazing, lots of other people were moved enough by the idea that they bought the book!
Thomas Roark, May 2011
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I’ve been meaning to write and tell you that when Bruce went
back to South Dakota recently, he found his original copy
of “Living on the Earth,” and remembering our friendship
(and the fact that i haven’t been able to find my copy), he
very thoughtfully brought it back for me—what a gas!
leafing through it again brought back some touching old
memories about how inspiring it was at the time and how mind-blowingly
informative it was/is! (and could still come in damn handy if what we
think is coming actually arises, please the gods/goddesses NOT)
so again, thanks again from my heart for your ground-breaking
Author, and editor of Bohemian Buddhist Review
I haven’t talked with you in such a long time – and this is probably not going to be a long note – but I’ve been seeing your name come up quite a bit on Facebook and wanting to let you know about a little “Living on the Earth” vignette:
I was at the local fish market a week or so ago (Monterey Fish Mkt in Berkeley) and I happened to have your tee shirt on, the one I bought when you were speaking at Cody’s on Telegraph several years ago. The fellow who waited on me noticed the shirt (especially interesting because I had a chambray shirt over it, so he really had to look to see it). He was delighted to be reminded of the book from his youth – he proceeded to tell me about his parents, who are old hippies (he caught himself on the “old” and did a bit of back peddling so as not to hurt my feelings;~) – the he went on for the rest of our time together with stories about how the book had figured into his life. He said he would like to get one of the shirts and I said I’d ask you the best way… I don’t even know his name, but he’s been there a long time and I’m sure I’ll see him again. Isn’t that a nice story?
Hope this finds you well and enjoying it all!!!
My daughter is 37 years old and I will attend her wedding ceremony next month. Why is this of interest to you? Well, her name is Alicia, and she is so named because when I was preganant with her in Sky Forest, California, I had a copy of Living on The Earth and was working with many of the suggestions in the book quite sincerely in 1973. I named her out of the inspiration that I took from the spirit of the book. The book helped me learn how to bake, sew clothing, garden, camp out, recycle and save used things and relate communally. I had forgotten about the book as the intervening years brought new and different kinds of challenges…but now I return again to that time and reinvent it in a healing community in which I live and participate. Community is really a center core value that holds true through thick and thin. Your book really expresses that spirit so joyfully. I had the idea of naming my child “Alicia” when I came in from milking the goat one morning, and was settling into some yoga. I wanted to include a plant name as well, but the feeling of her in me, denied this part. So it came out simply Alicia.
I want to give her a copy of your wonderful book for her wedding, as a remembrance of her early life history. She is a happy, very insightful person in whom a mother could not be more pleased than I. I think she would appreciate the book now.
I would be very glad if you would write something in the book for her wedding. Can we arrange this? She is to be married in VA on May 19.
The book is profound, it is really an historical document of a vital cultural movement, that continues in many ebbs and flows… I did not remember the part about cremation. That is awesome, the honesty of that.
You inscription is just right, light and joyful. Thank you for your evocative presence in this life through your art. After 30 years in alternative spiritual communities, your book reminds me of the wholesome things of this world that we can join and support…
I will send you a photo from my daughter’s wedding.
Here’s the photo!
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It is amazing to get an email from you, and I am so glad to finally get to share my own artwork with you…finally a reciprocation! I am sure lots of people have talked to you about the effect your books had on them, but I just wanted to share some of my world with you in this regard.
I graduated in ‘69 from a little high school in Alberta. Although I had been accepted into university for their fine arts program I just never showed up. I stuck out my thumb and began my own adventures. I didnÂ’t own anything but what I could carry, but I always had a sketchbook and a rapidograph pen (someone gave one to me—oh revelations!) and I drew everything. And then when the thing was full, I started a new one.
As you probably recall those who were letting go of the status quo cultural constraints were often leaving all their shit behind in the free-store (often just a box outside the natural foods restaurant) and someone struck it rich rummaging through and finding my sketchbooks. I have no idea where they are, now, but my sister could see the writing on the wall (or the drawing in the book) and actually saved some of the individual drawings and I am so thankful that she did. Crazy freaks…
I don’t know what we were all on, but for some strange reason the artwork of those days took on that innocent quality in psychedelic colors, that back-to-the-land essential information exchange, that transcendent mystical call from the Beyond. You were one of the ones to be focused enough to actually get it all down in pages consecutively numbered starting with ONE, and, amazingly enough, get it published! Their weren’t many books on how to live on the earth in that primal way that we were all longing towards, but yours sat on just about every old kitchen table in every old recycled hippy farmhouse and communal bookshelf that I happened upon.
At one point I found myself in a commune at the end of the road on Kauai. I was on my way up into the wild jungle where I later lived for a few months eating guavas and digging roots. I kept my stuff dry in a bamboo tipi (yes!) covered with plastic. At this camp was a large communal kitchen where beautiful (we were all so beautiful) young naked mothers stirred some delicious rice and veggies with their brown babies perched on their hips. Your book was on the table, of course. I sat and shared a cup of mu tea with them, and flowed through the book. It inspired me to return to Canada after my stay in the jungle, to do a little canning and get in some firewood. It was easier, somehow, in a weird backwards way, even though there was so much more work, to live on the earth in Canada, just because there seemed to be more room than there was in Hawaii. So, I returned to the margins, making art along the way, holding some nebulous vision you had helped to nurture, along with those naked mothers.
I never got it together to buy land until all my kids had flown the coop. But I did manage to live on the earth in a sacred way always, and we all learned where the wild things grew to put in our chapatis. I sewed all the clothes, and cooked endless pots of soup, and celebrated life in its simple and abundant glory. I now share a small house in the sagebrush country of BC with my hubby of a decade. We collect wild things, still, and walk in the sage and rocks and sand, and carry beautiful walking sticks to aler
t the rattlesnakes of our approach. Life is good here on the margin of comfort. We have learned to nap in the shade when it gets over a 100º, and bundle up when the canyon wind blows the snow into our faces. We fish in the river, which is in full flood right now, so the fish aren’t biting, but they will, again in the fall… Coyotes sing here, too, like they do in so many places now… yey for them! Survivors and thrivers, like us.
If you look in my recent works, you will see a painting I did of a Being that kept demanding to be painted. It is a Being of the Sun. I see us all as just that. Infinite Consciousness having the Time of Its life! And I always wonder, what would that look like?
Spirit Sister, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
British Columbia, Canada
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Re: Living on the Earth’s 40th Birthday
I am so thrilled that you are celebrating this most magical birthday! Thank you for all the beauty, fun and wisdom of this great gift to us all these years.
Wishing you (at least!!!) 40 more years of magic and joy!
– Beth Livingston
(you also inspired my style in my own Kind Veggie Burritos (Deadhead) Cookbook .. so sending you even MORE gratitude!)
Thank you, Beth! I love your book! You gave me a copy a long time ago, and it’s happily cuddling with a bunch of other natural food cookbooks on my kitchen shelf! ~ABL
Just wanted to write you a note of appreciation. We have never met, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part. When I was 15 years old and a high school student, I bought your book Living on the Earth and fell in love with it. My sister, friends and I adopted a lot of your ideas about gardening, building and other things. We made our own clothing from instructions in the book too. Our family home was right on a ten square mile forest, so we spent a lot of time in the woods trying out things from your book.
A year later I quit high school and hitchhiked out to the West Coast because I wanted to meet you and Ramon Sender, and met neither of you because I was told you both were in Latin America somewhere. I lived on Wheelers Ranch for a summer, fall and winter, and brought a few friends there too. I used to play music with Snakepit Eddie who turned out to be a wonderful mentor. He introduced me to free improvisation, and also gave me a violin and guitar. I later moved to India and lived there for nine years and Bangladesh for a year, and now my wife and I teach at a small liberal arts school.
Thanks for all the inspiration you’ve given me. I don’t think I’d be the same person I am today if I hadn’t bought your book back in 1971. The book itself was inspiring, but my crazy decision to seek you and resulting “failure” led to a life-changing odyssey that took me all over the globe.
Professor of Sanskrit, Hindi, and Bengali literature
Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina
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When I was 13 my brother gave me “Living on the Earth” and I pored over that book for hours. . . it gave me new ideas about what may be possible in life for myself and for the world in general. It had a huge influence on me and how I saw life.
Alliance for Sustainable Communities
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
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Alicia, I love your book, too. It so reminds me of my childhood, when my mom and I would do things like look at blueprints for treehouses, and dream of living in one.
Joy IsNature Working
Eastern Pennsylvania Permaculture Guild
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“Living on the Earth” meant so much to me way back when. I made a little shirt out of a bedspread for my son who is now 43. You taught us how we could begin to live simply. I also have “Being of the Sun” with your beautiful art work. Nice to see more of it here!
There is a message of simplicity that rings with ever greater truth as the years go by and the world goes insane with technology. This beautiful message exists as a strong seed within our larger society. I must believe that it will be embraced, (and no longer thwarted), when the world wakes up to remember the needs of future generations.
Point Arena, California
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Alicia, I wanted to send you a personal note today. I’ve been thinking about it every year on your birthday since you accepted my friend request when I found you here. We are separated by years, a generation, and any number of things.
I will always remember the first time I found my mother’s copy of “Living On the Earth” in the flotsam and jetsam of her life from the ’70s and began to really think about how I was living and…why.
In a large way, it has inspired a number of things I do when I work with young teenagers on our small farm in Wisconsin: Teaching them that rural life and engaging and nurturing the earth need not be coarse, rude, and thoughtless; it can be elegant, inspiring, and transcendent. You have so much to do with that.
I’m sure you know you’ve touched so many people through the years and just wanted to reach out for one brief moment and let you know that I’m one of them. Keep doing your thing! You add something special to the world.
Always a fan,
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Your books changed my life. I kept my “living on the earth” from my teenage misery years ’til just recently, when I handed it to my 21 year old daughter. thank you so much for leading me into my hands-on artist life.
New York City
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Your book awakened and fed the hippie spirit in me and I often gauged how “in tune” a person was by asking if they knew your book or not. I think every one I knew was familiar with “Living On The Earth.” And if someone was not aware of it, they were directed to get one ASAP.
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Pardon my gushing but I love, love, love, your book. I bought it many moons ago when I was in high school in a little bookstore in Durango, CO. I used to take it out and read it constantly. It was like my bible. Even though so many years have passed I still pull it out and go through it, even if just to look at the beautiful pictures. Blessings to you!!
Christine Davi Whitney
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I so very love reading comments like this to my fairy god mother!
I was truly blessed to be named after a woman of the earth!
Alicia Bay Laurel Moore Ashlock
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Alicia Bay Laurel, how can I ever thank you for touching this hippie heart with your beautiful books? So long ago. I still remember finding Wow! There is another way and stitching a simple long skirt by kerosene light in 1974. I am grateful, so grateful, for you,!!! Thank you up for being a guide and teacher when that was so hard to find.
Waldorf School Teacher
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People have been asking me to list 10 books—my house is full of books—here are some books that I love and/or have carried with me for a long time—and/or changed the way I thought about things (or did things)
1. Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel, carried it from home to home from age 14
2. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea popup by Sam Ita
3. Paper Dreams by Lorrie Bodger (first book by someone i knew)
4. 600 Black Dots (and others) by David A. Carter
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (keep rereading it)
6 Little Women (took it out of the library 4 times in 3rd grd— “xmas wont be xmas without any presents”)
7 Dashiell Hammett books The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon (novel), etc.
9 The Cat in the Hat (first book i could read)
10 A Commonplace Book of Pie by Kate Lebo
Esther K. Smith
Book Artist and Author
Purgatory Pie Press
New York City
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Denise Petersen Lists Her Top Ten Books
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Omnivore’s Dilemna, Michael Pollan
The Red Balloon, A. Lamorrisse
How to Cook Eveything, Mark Bittman
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
The Harry Potter series, JK Rowling
All of John Green’s books
Sylvie Sunflower, Alicia Bay Laurel
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i bought Living on the Earth way back when – it has been invaluable to me all these years! i have made everything in the book i think! i still use it, it gives me joy to read it and takes me back to those wonderful years when i was young. a favorite is rose petal jam that i still make. the book is falling apart now, i have used it so much. i just wanted you to know how much i love that book and thank you for writing such a special collection. my heart is still in the 70’s (i am 59 now)
Michigan Upper Peninsula
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In 1971, I had just bought my copy of Living on the Earth – loved the graphics – and by 1974 was farming in South Dakota with your book on my growing shelf of helpful cool volumes; Edward Espe Brown’s Tassajara Bread book, Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog and Carla Emory’s first xeroxed subscription segments of her Old Fashioned Recipe Book (remember it?).
Teacher, Consultant and Speaker
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i will never be able to relate to you or anyone exactly how much impact your early adulthood and your books had on me. they completely altered my course. you really were my first guru. seeing this picture and reading your story still captivates me…and having you as a friend on FB, inter-relating with you now…45 years later simply blows my mind!
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Kimberly Hughes’ 14 Favorite Books
Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore
Chorus of Stones by Susan Griffin
The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen
Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
First they Killed my Father by Loung Ung
House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende
Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel
Love in Action by Thich Nhat Hanh
My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
Affinity by Sarah Waters
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Teacher and Translator
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Alicia Bay Laurel is one of those incredible awakened foremothers. Alicia is a woman who helped pave the way for conscious planet living, which of course there is a louder call than ever for. Many of you will be familiar with Alicia’s many works. Her classic work “Living on the Earth” written in 1971, is more relevant and inspiring today than ever. I love the communal aspects of her book. In fact, I have now taken to calling up my best girlfriend at least once a week to ask rhetorically “Remind me why we are not living in an intentional community and are trying to sustain our families alone?” I aspire to put into practice as many of her ideas as I can. I love the “getting to back to Mother Earth” philosophy as opposed to the “human conquering earth” attitude which has led us to make many assumptions about consumerism which have cost us all dearly.
As we enter into the second decade of the new millennium, it has become increasing clear that we have tapped Mother Earth’s resources, much like in Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”. We are all being forced now to change our minds and hearts because of the changes in our environmental, financial, emotional and spiritual landscapes.
Many profess this to be a time where a real sweet spot exists, an evolutionary juncture during which we make changes in our hearts and minds, embrace the Divine Feminine and subsequently heal the planet as we begin to appreciate Mother Earth.
Jeanine Austin, PhD, CHt
Life Coaching and Hypnosis
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Living On The Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel was published in 1970 as a result of all the communes and hippie living styles that sprung up in the sixties. Completely handwritten, in script, it has matching single line drawn illustrations that are very charming. Some illustrations are for instructions on how to make things, but others, the ones I like more, show people enjoying her suggestions. The author infuses her spirit for peace and serenity throughout. She speaks to her readers and admits that her name is not her birth name, but one she chose because bay and laurel are her favorite trees. Everything you would need to know about how to survive on your own or with other people is in here. From how to construct a house, to giving birth at home, it’s all inclusive, a bible. Thirty or more years ago, I used the patterns to sew peasant blouses and shirts. And I once tried to make dandelion wine. As we return to a greener existence, this book will come in very handy, again. I’m dusting it off and putting it on my night table.
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We could choose to view the [hippie] period through the pages of Rolling Stone magazine or the succession of Whole Earth Catalogs. Instead, my wife recently handed me her copy of Alicia Bay Laurel’s 1970 Living on the Earth, with its drawings and handwritten text, as an insight into the period. I open here and see, “casings for elasticÂ” and then the directions for making a Mexican peasant blouse. A smock-shirt for a man, too. Patchwork quilts, tie-dyes, natural dyes, moccasins, clay and candlemaking, wind chimes. Is anybody going to master that bamboo flute or actually dance naked with those anklets and bracelets? Milk a cow and make cottage cheese or buttermilk? It’s all there in this journal of discovery, including directions for building your own kayak or giving birth at home. Everything seeming so easy, at that. All infused with sunbursts, moons, and stars.
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I am so proud to say my parents named me after you!
Thank you so much for the friend request!
They gave me their original copy of Living on the Earth as well as a couple of coloring books.
I am including a pic.
So excited to be in touch with my namesake!
Alicia Bay Laurel Prior
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Your book, “Living on the Earth” meant SO much to me back in the early 70’s when I bought it! It was like my bible for living a sane, natural and magical life! Despite leading a rather nomadic life and moving many times, and losing lots of things along the way, I STILL have that book and I take it out and read it again every now and then. My 42 year old daughter just discovered it a few months ago and is also in love with it! I once decorated our Christmas tree with those little star/sun shaped things that are made out of tin can tops – I made designs for the centers and painted the pointy edges with glitter and the tree was so pretty!
Albany, New York
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I used to be the most anti-computer person perhaps on the planet….when I met Alicia I had been living in the woods with no electricity or running water for 21 years in a cabin I built myself with all hand tools…Alicia was literally the only person in the world to whom I would listen about the potential of the Internet…..the only person with credibility that I would listen to, based on my love of her book , which was one of may bibles….she modeled how it could be used to achieve the same goals that she furthers in her book, so that opened my mind….Thank you, Alicia
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Dear Alicia, I have always admired you, ever since I bought Living on the Earth back in 1971 when I was at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. I liked your book so much that during the summer I would sit and color the pictures for hours, very carefully. I thought you would like to know this! It just brings me back to a simpler time when my whole life was ahead of me and I had time to daydream about what it was like to live in a commune. Well, here are some pictures from the pages of your book.
I also shared this book three years ago with a high school English class. The kids passed the book around while I told them that hippies were not just idiots on drugs who said, “Groovy” and made a peace sign, that they actually did believe in living simply and naturally. The summer I bought your book I was living in San Luis Obispo in a little upstairs duplex on Lemon St. (It’s still there, by the way). We had batik curtains, pot, patchouli oil, guitar music playing, etc. but basically, I was still a middle-class girl who went to class every day. But having your book on our coffee table was an affirmation that somewhere out there, people really could live “off the earth” and escape the material world. Thank you for that!
Evelyn Castro Miller
Walnut Creek CA
Dear Alicia Bay, my new olde friend: I love you!!! You’ve been part of my family’s life for years! I’ve had your book, Living On The Earth, since my 18th birthday in 1971 Feb.! It is part of my being and joy! I made my first embroidered peasant hippie-shirts from it, my first dress, had all 3 children home-born! Big influence Your Spirit via Your Book ! We All Love You!
My son, Noah, & I read your book while he nursed ! I passed it along to my daughter, Zoe, who had 4 home-born & home-grown babies! My daughter, Auralia, her daughter, too! Your book is a dear Family Heirloom! You wake up & ignite our whirling & twirling joy & remind us to continue the dance !!!
Thank You wonderful, dear You!!! Now I am off to listen to your music! Love.
Bless you. You helped set me free to be me more!!!
Back in the 70’s my wife and I were living in a VW bus, basically off the land. Your book (and Eull Gibbins’) were some of our favorite reading. I still have a copy…probably the same one I had back then…
I just pulled out “Living on the Earth,” which I do from time to time, and I always feel the same joy from it every time since I was a teenager (I’m now 60!) I don’t know what it is, if it’s the drawings or the possibilities of it, but all I know is it just makes me feel young again, and that, if I had to, I would have the courage to survive with your book at my side. Maybe that’s what it is, it gives me comfort and courage. Thank you!
Terrie L. Burrell
Laurel Krause: Dear Alicia, At a gathering today, I met a new friend. He said, “Did you say your name is Laurel, as in Alicia Bay Laurel?” I had to share how we were friends, and how your book Living on the Earth was my life manual as a young person (saved my life), and he admitted it had been an important book for him too. You have peacefully touched and guided so many souls. You nurtured the heart and spirit of a generation. Thank you Alicia!
Julie Baier: Your book changed my life, via my small town Illinois public library!
From midwife and health educator Zuki Abbott-Zamora: Here is a response from my great aunt Nancy Abbott, who found your book she has had for 48 years or so in her home, and wanted to pass it along to me, not knowing I knew you.
“Hi, Zuki! Yes, ‘Living on the Earth’! Exactly! Please tell your friend Alicia – I still have my copy! Your friend was a real pioneer…not just in what she was talking about, but how she said it … with simple line drawings and cursive handwriting. That meant the world to me because she was speaking directly to me as a reader. I never did half the things she talked about (not living on the land in the country) but I absorbed the sense of things…and it meant the world to me back then, and has the same appeal now. Please let her know I still have my copy and am going to share it with you; I was waiting for the right person to pass it on to! It sounds like her life is rich and full in so many ways!”
What a great experience it was to have Alicia Bay come stay with us, a woman whom I have wanted to meet for over 40 years. In 1971, Alicia Bay Laurel’s book Living on the Earth was published. It was a must have. We still have this book in our library; actually it is on our coffee table. When we have guests, usually someone is reading it.
Harry and Lorraine Emery
Santa Rosa, California
Alicia Bay Laurel es una artista californiana, cantante, prominente hippy, quen en 1970 escribio, tras residir en el Wheeler Ranch, en el condado de Sonoma, en California, lo que se considera la biblia del movimiento “Back to the Land,” “Viviendo en la Tierra,” en el que preconizaba volver a lo primigenio, a la granja, al campo, al autoabastecimiento, el la estela de Thoreau or de Bradfor Angier or de Louise Dickinson Rich.
La gente de la Libreria Nemo (un templo de buen gusto, del buen rollo, y de los pequeños tesoros graficos) por media de su alter ego editorial, Kachina Ediciones, se ha liado la manta a la cabeza, y van a editarlo. Creo que es un librazo.
“Alicia Bay Laurel is an artist from California, a singer, a prominent hippie, who in 1970 wrote, while living at Wheeler Ranch in Sonoma County, California, what is considered the bible of the Back-to-the-Land movement, Living on the Earth, in that it called back to the original way of life, on the farm, in the countryside, with self-sufficiency, in the wake of Thoreau, or Bradford Angier, or Louise Dickinson Rich.
“The people of Nemo Bookstore (a temple of good taste, good vibes, and tiny graphic treasures), by way of its editorial alter ego, Kachina Ediciones, have bundled up the blankets to their heads, and are going to remake this book [in Spanish]. I think it will be a great book.”
Editor at Editorial Impedimenta
You know that having my name appear in [the acknowledgments of the first edition of Living on the Earth] got me brownie points with [my fiance] Jerry when we first met. I knew he was for me when he quoted a bit from the book.
Pam Tigger Miller
Retired special education teacher and stained glass artist
Child resident at Wheeler Ranch commune in 1969
How wonderful to see your book again! What sweet memories it recalls of joyful and optimistic enthusiasm.
Dr. Leslie Arwin MD
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I wanted you to know that I received all the books you sent, along with the shirt. While I only looked through them (lots of reading ahead), I love the books and the pictures– they transported me back to the 1970’s!
In the early seventies, my husband and I met in Southern California (Riverside), and belonged to a nudist camp. A Canadian company came through, making a film on social nudism, and we were married at the camp for the film. About a year ago, after searching for many years, my daughter found parts of the movie on YouTube and we were finally able to obtain a copy of the film.
The ’70s were truly a great time, full of peace and happiness. Your books are just wonderful, and emphasize much of what I remember. It’s so nice to have good memories reawakened. The books are such an inspiration to me! Thank you !!!
I have been in the process of putting my Living on the Earth Book pages into plastic sleeves in a notebook to preserve it. So cool to find you on Facebook.
My husband and I bought your book back in 1971. We owned a United States mail truck that we converted into a live-in Van and traveled all over the US and Mexico. Often we would refer to your book for valuable tips on all aspects of living. Our daughter later would color your drawings. I remember one time we collected a goodly amount of rosehips to make rosehip conserve only to discover your recipe called for a blender to be used!! Of course we had no such luxury item. So my husband made a wooden pestle and we were able to adequately prepare the conserve! A fun memory.
We consider ourselves Flower Children. We started food co-operatives and recycling stations, and always had a garden. We still garden today, when we aren’t playing pickleball, or dancing to local jives, or making our own wine and beer, and visiting our wonderful grandchildren, of course.
I love the sun and the moon.
Hello to you!
Peace Love and Happiness ☮️
Sheri and Bill Houck
Sun City, Arizona
Today I came across [the second edition of] your book, Living on The Earth, at a thrift store and, as soon as I picked it up, it spoke to me, and I couldn’t put it down. I love it.
I’ve recommended your book to some of my friends as well, who I think would be able to benefit a great bit from the wisdom inbetween the pages.
No electricity, no running water during the dry part of the summer so you had to haul whatever water you needed from the trickling spring, no privies, wood stoves for heat. For the first six weeks I lived in a tent before being gifted (by Sam Matthews, who’d helped fellow Wheeler-ite Alicia Bay Laurel usher her beautifully drawn and written, utterly revolutionary, and incredibly successful book “Living On the Earth” into being) with a one room house made of redwood and canvas and scavenged windows that perched on the western side of the ridge at the back of the land, where the musicians and artists had mostly chosen to settle.
Fellow musician and Wheeler Ranch commune dweller in 1969
Yesterday I was shopping in a small town near my home in the Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia. This part of the world would be described as “counter culture” with over 42 “Multiple Occupancy” communities and ideas of intentional living with others. This is a slow part of the world with an interesting history. While I do not live on an “MO” I do live in the rainforest on 2 acres, off grid and so happy. While I was looking in a thrift store I found your book. I was attracted to the cover (very worn but still intact) as it reminded me of Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cook Book. I had never seen it before or even heard of your book but it spoke to me as we are living in a socially conscious way and loving our Mother while we still can 😦
I spent yesterday reading “Living on the Earth” and enjoyed it so much. I will try some of your recipes and I thought how amazing it would be to have such a book for these parts where we live.
My intention is to say thanks for writing “Living on the Earth”. I will look out for your updated version. Have a beautiful day!
I LOVED Living on the Earth when it was published. Radical and fun. Thank you!
San Francisco, CA
I loved your tribute to Bill Wheeler and all of the beautiful photographs. Thanks so much for sharing them. He was an icon in hippie history, and you are too. I remember reading your beautiful book while I was in high school and it had an impact on my young life. Thank you for being You and for sharing your beautiful spirit with all of us….
Former resident of The Farm (commune) in Summertown, Tennessee
I still have my autographed copy & I would not part with it for ANYTHING!!
Round Valley, California
I’ve loved your stuff since I read Living on the Earth and Total Loss Farm lo these many years ago. I’ve got a small, unplugged, self-sustaining farm up here. It’s FB page is Tractorbone Farm.
Somewhere in Northeast Iowa
When I was 13 years old, I found a copy of Living on the Earth in my local library. I read it cover to cover and formed a vision for myself to one day live by the principles in the book. Now, I am 43 and I do largely live by those principles, along with my own. I still have a copy of that book that I got from a second-hand bookseller. Thank you for that work.
“Hatha Yoga keeps you stoned.”
The whole part about waiting for the carrot to grow, and eating it.
The method for making beaded curtains.
I could go on!
Mount Shasta Goddess Temple
I also tuned into the book and way of living at 13 or 14. 47 ? Years ago. Now I feel that Alicia Bay Laurel has been one of my first and most valued teachers. Our Earth would be in much better hands with more people living on the Earth in this manner as leaders.
Port Townsend, Washington
When I came to Maui with my copy of your book, and met [my husband] George, and he told me you were his friend, I just about flipped! He couldn’t see why I was SO excited. LOL. I am happy for you to have touched SO many people on the Earth in this lifetime. Well Done.
Fiber artist, gardener and librarian
Point Roberts, Washington
I can see why George wasn’t over-excited by my book. He already had all of those back-to-the-land skills, in spades. A master craftsman! ABL
I found my first copy in 1971 in Athens, Ohio, in a Tripp’s little bookshop next to a Tripp’s vegan restaurant, went to the place I was staying, and made 3 blouses, and 4 caftans, as shown in the book. I still have that book, traveled many miles. The thing that struck as funny and cute is the illustration on how to “smoke fish”.
It has survived 2 years on an off the grid commune, numerous moves around the country, bunch of kids wanting to color the pictures, and it’s still intact and I love it. I still bake the bread from the recipe and also the mayonnaise and still use the sourdough starter!
My go-to book on many things. Love you, Alicia.
Last night, I found my old treasured homesteading book written by Alicia Bay Laurel in the late 60’s. This was published in 1970. It has everything from how to grow food, live off the land, make lye soap and herbal remedies, make your own clothing, birth a baby, and burn a body in the woods. I guess it was modernized and reprinted, but I like this version the best. I was always a homesteader at heart, but loved that urban bohemian thing as well. Now to marry the two for the next phase of my life. #bohemianlife
I’ve dragged that book around with me from state to state and home to home. You definitely made an impact on many and this info must keep being circulated! Thank you for writing such a lovely, charming, important book – and for accepting my friendship!
Clothing Design, Costumer, Maker, Collector, Seller,
Guerilla Gardener, Mother, Grandmother, Rebel
Here you are! Author of two of my all-time favorite books! You really captured the magic in those books! I still love them and they take me right back to that beautiful place! THANK YOU!
I am currently reading Living On The Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel. I love the way it was written, obviously based on first hand experience of being creative and doing a lot with very little. I also love that it was written in 1970, a time when people wrote based on more first hand experience, and less armed with internet info that comes a little too easily.
I just wanted to send you a personal message of gratitude. I had a copy of Living on the Earth back in the ’70s which I read and savored cover to cover, often on my sunny porch in Santa Cruz. It was a source of inspiration for many paths I followed. Thank you very much for your vision and your art, your beautifully peaceful presence, and your clarity of purpose. Muchas gracias.
Len David Beyea
Founder, Director at The Resources Academy
I am savoring Beautiful Moments & Long Ago Memories of discovering your first edition of Living on the Earth so many years ago. We applied many of your sustainable living concepts and continue to apply them today.
Photographer, Speaker, Workshop Facilitator; Health, Wellness, Joyful Living Enthusiast
You have been an inspiration to me most of my life, and now to my daughter!
Your book was given to me by a dear friend when I was a young woman. It seriously became my favorite go-to book. When my daughter became a young woman, she, too, fell in love with it.
Marsha Hawkins Ruff
My original copy was bought when I was 16. I pulled it out and looked through it a few years ago and realized that it was the source of many of my values throughout my life!
Holli E. Emore
I could never begin to thank you enough for this lifetime of magic, joy, Earth-friendly skills, and sweet hopefulness.
As Holli notes, I can look at these books today and see how they totally shaped my views and core beliefs for the rest of my life.
Thank you, Alicia Bay Laurel, for enriching my world in so many ways.
Beth Owls Daughter
Author of Kind Veggie Burritos Cookbook
Durham, North Carolina
Here is my actual copy, because I just *had* to color the cover.
Loved your book, Living on the Earth. Bought it in London when I was backpacking many years ago; it lived with me in South Africa through university, 2 marriages and four children. It’s with me still – now living in Greece. It is such an honour to ‘meet’ you here, Alicia. I’m sure many say this, but you have been a huge influence on my life 💚 Much love and endless thanks to you wonderful Earth hippie goddess. May you continue to shine ✌💜🌱
I was talking with Facebook friends this morning about demographics and the social markers that define us all, and I was not kidding when I said anyone who was a teenage girl who owned and adored “Living on the Earth” is someone in my tribe.
Alicia, I cannot tell you how vividly I remember so many of those illustrations over 40 years after having last seen them 🙂. You drew and described a utopia that was also faintly scandalous. Who didn’t want to be naked under the stars in a shared sleeping bag? Yet it was also so innocent, so practical… A total revelation, just as much for a lot of us as Our Bodies Ourselves was a revelation. ❤️
I, of course, had The Moosewood Cookbook AND The Massage Book AND The Vegetarian Epicure (which was fantastic), but something about Living on the Earth caught my imagination and influenced me like no other! I think it was because its scope was SO wide. It was audacious as hell, really 🙂. And could only have been written at that moment.
New York City, NY
The Boddhi Tree [bookstore in West Hollywood, California] is where I got your first book in the early 70’s. It’s been all over the planet with me..I treasure it always and am so grateful to you for creating it!
I’m looking forward to listening to your music, and I’m happy that you’re being sustained by your passions.
Dear Alicia, I have passed along a copy of your book, ‘Living on the Earth,’ to my daughter. That wonderful volume was much-treasured and influential during my own teenaged years. Thank you ❤️
Holly Vaughan Valadez
I know we have never met and do not know one another, but I feel in many ways, as if I do know you and that was through your beautiful and inspiring first book, Living on the Earth, which I bought the year it was first published. I have my first edition copy, a little dog-eared, but it went everywhere with me for years and perused a 1000 times.
Your book was like a bible for me for years. I loved your delightful, joyful drawings and learned to do many things via your book ~ It was a dream of mine for years to live in some kind of intentional community with other like-minded friends ~ I never really was able to achieve that for many reasons (you cannot really call living in a house with a band and two roadies really an intentional community!)
I just could not resist sending you a message this evening to tell you what a wonderful inspiration your book was for me and how it went all over the world with me to each place I moved during the early ‘70s.
Not only was it a source of information, but also just joyous to look at and dream about. I also bought your successive books as well and still have them all.
Wonderful to see that you are still performing and all your books still available.
It’s truly a privilege for me to be able to tell you directly (in a manner of speaking) how much your book influenced and inspired me all those years ago and wanted to thank you.
Love you, Alicia Bay Laurel, always. Peace and love to one of my greatest inspirations.
Earth and animal rights activist
I’m at my mom’s, going through all my A-list photos and books that I did not bring to the humid moldy tropical forest (while I sold or gave way 98% of all my belongings) and came across these [Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun]!!! I may possibly be your biggest fan.
Look how I colored them… I spent hours and hours with your books…. my first “cool” friend. I owe you so much.
I love BO-HO Style! Reminds me of the late ’60s and ’70’s (MY time!) And Ditto for Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth Book” which was my “Bible” for both Creative AND Sustainable Living during those days. (Now, as well, for that matter!)
Photographer, Speaker, Workshop Facilitator
Health, Wellness, Joyful Living Enthusiast
Letter and embroidery by Tania Berta Judith, delivered to me by her partner, Nacho (Ignacio), at my concert at Molar Books and Records in Madrid, España, June 20, 2019
Drawing and letter by Alegria Cayetano Alvarez Alvarez, sent to me after my concert at Molar Books and Records, in Madrid, España, 20 June, 2019
Alicia vivió en una comuna a finales de los sesenta y plasmó su experiencia en dos maravillosos libros llamados Viviendo en la Tierra y Ser del Sol, lo segundo que actualmente busca fondos para ser editado en español. Alicia es una guitarrista excelente y con un excelente gusto y una voz preciosa.
Alicia lived in a commune at the end of the sixties and reflected her experience in two wonderful books called Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun, the latter of which currently seeks funds to be published in Spanish. Alicia is an excellent guitarist with good taste and a beautiful voice.
Alegria Cayetano Alvarez Alvarez
We had your Living on the Earth book years ago. We named our dog Licia in your honor.
If memory serves me, a quote I hold dear is from your book: “To slow down, plant a carrot and watch it grow.”
Today we are homesteading in California Gold Country. Your book was an inspiration to me. Check our Facebook site, Storm’s End Farm.
I am sitting here reading your book! Your simple drawings and lovely writing are inspiring and timeless. I am in the foothills of the Cascades starting a little goat dairy.
If I get far enough that I am making soap, I’m going to send you some!
Candice de Virginia
Read your first book when I was 16, while living in a farming village. Bought my copy in college. I am so grateful for your work. Love your music.
Your book was my first guide. My development of awareness and dedication to ecology and preservation of natural resources and living simply was due to finding your book at just the right moment in my life. I just want you to know how much I believe in you and your journey.
I’m going to have to write a little bit about Alicia.
When she was 20 years old, Alicia wrote a book called Living on the Earth. The book has simple illustrations, and discusses building a home from nothing in nature, how to farm a field, and how to make clothes, with everything very easy to understand. I was living in the city, so this was a dream world for me. The book is now a world best-seller and my life is very influenced by it.
After the publication of her book, Alicia began recording her songs while living in Hawaii. She began performing as a singer-songwriter, and recorded a lot of CDs. She began coming to Japan every year for concert tours and art exhibitions.
Her singing voice is going to be heard in the meadows of our mountains, and the hearts of the listeners will be naturally healed.
Ceramic sculptor and musical instrument maker
Co-founder of organic Cafe Pani
Nogura Village, near Ueda City, in Nagano Prefecture, Japan
A happy day at Cafe Pani on August 26, 2018: Cafe Pani’s chef, Kunie Sasaki, Orie Ishii, Alicia Bay Laurel, Yuukou, Yoshiyuki Sasaki and Satomi Yanagisawa
My name is Adam, I am 26 and have found myself feeling incredibly grateful that both of your books AND your music have found their way into my life.
In the moments when all the people around me seem to be living by reaction, to remember the ones that came before me brings me so much peace.
I haven’t met you, but I love you.
Your efforts, and those who paved the way, have been nothing short of transformational. Know that there are many young ones reaching back in thirst to listen and drink from your well.
Hope this message finds you well.
Hi! My name is Hunter!
I just wanted to say that I borrowed my friend’s copy of Living On The Earth and wow. It’s officially my favorite book.
It was just such a great read for a 20-year-old that has a hippie soul in 2019.
I just love your tips and how different the book is! I’m totally obsessed with the illustrations and the handwritten words!
I cannot wait to get my own copy! I plan on buying one from your website when I can save up money for it! Do you do autographed copies by chance? ♥️
This book was bought and used daily by my mother, who taught me all sorts of things out of it….like canning, etc. I am now a mother to a beautiful 7 year old, and she is learning how to colour fabric and water-bath can with me from this well loved and well used book. Some day I will pass it down to her as my mother did for me, and your amazingly simple and ineffably useful book will find yet another generation.
This book is the only good thing that came with me when I left home, and it taught me so much. I became a midwife/nurse and avid food preservationist in no small part due to this book. Growing up, I thought my mom wrote it herself (haha) until I was old enough to read it. I love that it is worn and stained and shows just the love 3 generations have given it.
O I hope this finds you very well and deeply happy. Namaste and peace.
When I was 18 or so, I was living in Yokohama, and a member of John John. At that time, I read your book, Living on The Earth, and it influenced me very much. I wanted to established my life by myself, but, of course, I couldn’t then. After almost 50 years, now I am making my forest place in Nagano. My dream has a little bit come true, and now you will come to my place [to sing at our music festival]! Thank you Alicia.
Yougo Cafe and Camp
Your book changed my life. It helped make me who I am..living on the earth.
A new edition is so important. People don’t know how to do things anymore, or how things work, or that you can do it yourself. You gave me that at a formative age.
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Poet, Professor, Writer, Philosopher, Publisher, Printer, Editor, Head Rascal
I bought your book when I was about 20 years old, and I still have it. Love it. Inspired by it. Still.
Back then, the creative audacity of it was how I imagined the revolution of our world would be accomplished. Now, I am still moved by its graceful simplicity and its vision, and perhaps this is still how our revolution will happen: one home, one heart, one community at a time.
So glad you are still around doing creative audacious things.
I have the edition that says “Vintage books edition, February 1971.” So, I must have been 16 when I bought it. My first go-to book when living out in Cochiti Canyon, dying wool, weaving rugs, making bread, loving the earth. One of the most cherished parts of my life.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth”: the first time I picked up this book I was about 18 years old, living in a flickering room in a small house, in a town that never happened, in Japan.
In my experience of the 1960s, Hotel California, Alicia Bay Laurel, and the comic gallo back-bamber were housed in dozens of back-bang bars, and the Shirato Sanpei Kamui den lived together.
Go on a journey! If you hitchhike, you can stomp around a truck in a gas station and say, “Hey, why not give me a ride?” The smell of gasoline calls and the adventure then begins.
Then, to my surprise, Alicia came. Once again, “Living on the Earth” is in your hand. The last page was how to cremate a dead friend: stack the firewood, put the body on it, light the oil. You can read this on the last page of dear Alicia’s book!
One day, if someone dies in the mountains, I will wrap them in a burning flame, so that the smoke rises straight into heaven and the ashes are scattered in all directions, and the joy of liberation is awakened.
Ameen’s Oven Organic Bakery
Author’s afterword from the Soshisha Ltd. Japanese edition, translated by mystery writer Mariko Fukumachi in 1971.
There is no way to capture the influence your book Living on the Earth had on my 9 year old self! If my little girl self had known then I’d be chatting with you, I would have swooned. My fantasy was to live on an island in the Adirondack lake where we vacationed – naked, with boyfriend and survival skills learned from your book! You captured and created that era beautifully!
Reading Living on the earth in my youth was by far the most formative book in my life. Thank you.
Architectural and interior design consultant
I remember having your book decades ago, when I was living on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.
Patrick Monk, R.N.
San Francisco, California
Thank you! I received a very loved copy of”Living on the Earth,” from a very special friend! I love it!!!
I still have this book, which I bought from some head shop in Atlanta during my “travelling days,” when I was 16 (1971).
It was my constant companion all over the US and it taught me many useful and wonderful things.
After all these years, my favorite page is still “How to slow down.” 🙂
It’s held up remarkably well for being almost 50 years old and frequently thumbed through. I even took my colored pencils to some of the pages… your drawings were (are!) a delight. Thank you for being a part of my hippie life. 🙂
Signed… still that hippie gal
If you were to own two books, Living on the Earth should be one of them.
Herbalist, Raw Chef, Author, Professor
I read your book when I was a young hippie. I’m 64 now, still feeling young, and I’m still living as as natural a life as possible.
Thanks for being such a positive inspiration.
Keep shining your beautiful light.
I stumbled upon a vintage copy of your book at one of my favorite local record stores.
When I saw it in the back corner (the only little bookshelf in the whole store), I instantly fell in love.
Your book is truly amazing, and I just wanted to let you know how much it has inspired me, and how much joy it brings me!
Your illustrations are beautiful, and your worlds are wise and deep.
Thank you for creating such a beautiful piece of art.
Namaste Alicia ~
So happy to connect with you online in Garden of Oz.
Your book, Living on the Earth, deeply inspired me, and, right now, I am realizing ~ your words and drawings were the most influential as a young woman to live a life of integrity in and with nature, my urge to live a spiritual and creative life, and to be “Surrounded by Beauty.”
Tejasvi Giri (Deja Cross)
Sadhvi, Photographer & Festival Director
You inspired my family in our toughest times. We found your book in a free box years ago, researched it, and found a huge respect for you. Then we lost it, and, over the years, searched, and, today, found it, and you . Thank you so much for the beauty you share.
Brandy Hammond (Mama Hope)
Minister at Sweet Surrender Ministry
San Angelo, Texas
Your book, Living on the Earth, was one of my favorite books in the early ’70s. I thank you for it still. My daughter has it now and we still look at it after almost 50 years.
Lytle Creek, California
We had [Living on the Earth] at the Edge of the Wild, Willow Creek, Big Sur, on my jade mining claim in the National Forest. We were 2 miles from the nearest road. 1970-78, sixty miles south of Monterey. I was in an 8×16 cabin with a spring above and PVC line bringing water into the house. Still have family from those days living there. I miss it all the time. We have an annual fund raiser for the local school The Big Sur Jade Festival, first weekend in October.
I loved this book, read it like a kid reads his favorite story all the time, gave it as gifts, and was always soothed by your art.
So happy to have more of you to hold close to my artist-heart.
Much love, yes, so much love for you and all you do!!!!
Singer, gypsy, meta-dreamer
Miami Beach, Florida
I found your book on my mom’s bookshelf when I was a kid, and was immediately intrigued. I ordered my own soon afterward. I have referred to it extensively through the years, and it just makes me happy.
I will never forget seeing it at the Bristol Public Library when I was about 9 and picked it up because we had the same first name. (Ah, the narcissism of youth!) It changed my life. Thank you.
Your book has been by my side since I was about 9 years old. I didn’t own a copy until a few years ago, but I pretty much memorized it because I checked it out so often. Your work (and now your music) have helped carry me through some pretty dark times.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
I read your book last night!! Still it is the best hippie guide ever created..Thank you for friending me..Glad to know you!! (Class of Piedmont 1970)
Angels Camp, California
Your book and drawings really helped me to understand myself, my body and my place on this earth, back in the questing times.
Santa Rosa, California
Ooh, Alicia Bay Laurel, I was born in 1970, but I still cherish my copy of Living on the Earth!
I still have a copy of your book from sooo many years ago, probably around ’71-73. It was one of those books every hippie had to have!
Thanks for being who you have been and who you are now.
Love & Peace
I was an early fan! I feel like you are a sister. I made every one of your clothes patterns! Every year I plant a carrot seed and watch it grow.
With that book in hand, I moved up to the redwood forest – I made herbal flea collars, then opened a natural food store, became a mom, moved to the homestead, defended redwood forests, worked at watershed restoration, started a business making affirmations, all the while sewing, gardening, making things happen…
And, if I see one of your books in a second hand store, I get it to pass along. I learned so much from your work, with the beautiful illustrations. Thank you for your amazing vision and follow through!
When I received your book, Living On The Earth, at sixteen years old as a gift from my mother, I was fascinated and challenged. This book fed my Mother Earth soul and influenced my life in so many ways! Now, my three adult girls, all mamas, are creative and fun and nature-inspired as well. We use natural means for everything. From lemongrass tea to childbirth to dancing outdoors at every opportunity, life is so full of wonderful music and healing! But, you know that. 🌸 Getting the opportunity to spend time with you on Maui in the 80’s was the cherry on top! (Not maraschino😊)
So happy for your continued success ❤️
Saying hello to old friends from the mid 70’s during a rainy-day bookshelf clean-up. Any of these look familiar? They still live in this ancient and awesome bookshelf.
Funny to see this today. I just pulled Healing Ourselves off my shelf yesterday, and recently connected with Alicia Bay Laurel. Our personal libraries capture such flavors of our journeys through time. I love how some teachings can be conveyed this way.
San Rafael, California
As a “back to the lander,” and an artist and musician, I loved your book, “Living on the Earth.”
Lucy Ann Goldberg
Blacksburg, West Virginia
This book is a bible for me.
It’s a book that was drawn 50 years ago, but when it’s open, it’s fresh and exciting.
Oh, how I wish I could bake you a big beautiful birthday cake covered in edible blooms and topped with glimmering beeswax candles. It is one of my greatest joys in life to create confections that celebrate the lives of people I love. I hope that one day I get to make a cake just for you!
It’s hard to say who I would have grown into, had I not found your book at such a young age. In a world that felt so in-humane, the time-worn pages covered in your art and handwriting felt like a promise for my young self, that there was more than what I’d been shown; that there were others who lived in the way I longed to live, even before I could name it.
La Abeja Herbs
To the incredible woman who spoke SO DEEPLY to my 13-year-old self, lying in bed, reading your book, day-dreaming about the day I’D be old enough to join a commune!
Creative producer/head writer
I have saved the letter you wrote to Helen Nearing inside [my copy of] your book.
Your birthday is also my daughter Clara Coleman’s birthday – born 44 yrs ago on our farm at home. I delivered her myself, catching her head with one hand, while on my hands and knees…. amazing birth…. amazing daughter who now runs our farm in Harborside, Maine.
I helped start our farm 52 years ago, near the Nearings’ farm. We bought 60 of their acres of forest in 1968, and turned it into a working farm, just up the road from them on Cape Rosier.
The Nearings’ place has now become The Good Life Center, which people can visit, and which is maintained by stewards.
Sue Lawrence Putnam
Volunteer Coordinator at Maher Park Community Gardens
Alicia, your book started and sustained me during my youth into adulthood, and beyond. Meeting you with [Alicia’s mentor] Esther Blanc was a highlight in my 30’s. I celebrate you as you continue on your journey of self-transformation. Your resilience and artistry inspires millions.
Remote Advice Nurse Educator/Mobile RN/ FCN
Palm Springs, California
Circa 1975, Living on the Earth was the bible of hippie living.
I made a stone button hammock and a pillow hammock.
Also, Alicia’s singing is like Maria Muldaur’s, and I like it 💖.
Naoco Tsubota Shimada
Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Alicia! It has been such a treat for me getting to know you after owning/loving your books years ago! Living on the Earth was a sort of Bible in 1970 when I lived in Lawrence, Kansas
This book is a bible called Living on the Earth.
I was born and raised in Tokyo. I experienced the spirit of American DIY as an exchange student, but, even so, I found this book surprising. The possibility of the possible, in daily living = art. This book taught me how important this is.
All of the illustration is by the author, and is the best.
Author Alicia Bay Laurel is one of the world’s most respected, loving, wonderful elders, creators and precious friends.
Hiroko Yamazaki Huntley
Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Every time I flip a page, it is a book for us: Living on the Earth, by the author, Alicia Bay Laurel, and it’s hand-drawn.
This book, written in the 1970s is the wisdom that Alicia was making with her own hands, in the time when Alicia was living in a hippie commune.
I came back from living in London for 7 years, and I was excited to get some Japanese books. I found this book while book hunting in 2000. This book is like a friend that teaches me what I don’t know, about everything. It became my precious book, and I keep it on the bookshelf of [my raw chocolate emporium in Kyoto], Cacao Magic.
Alicia came into my shop more than 10 years after I bought this book. My friend brought her in without knowing I had this book. I never thought I’d be able to meet her, so it was like a dream.
“It’s magic!” I am delighted that Cacao Magic is a place where magic happens!
Alicia and I became friends. After that, I developed some new chocolate bars, and I asked to use her drawings on the wrapping paper. So, three kinds of wonderful chocolates were born.
Blessings / 祝福
Ritual / ritual
Love / love
I’m not selling these now, but I want to make them again.
Every day is a celebration.
I lived in Northern CA in a little town called Fieldbrook. I owned your book, and, at that time, it wasn’t the happiest time of my life. I loved the book. You wrote about living on the earth. Your name always called out to me when I carried my daughter, and I decided she would be named after you. She is 43 now and is a wild fisherwoman in Alaska, where I raised my 6 daughters, on an island!
Huelo, Maui, Hawaii
I just got a copy via eBay of ‘living on the earth,’ which I lost in one of my moves over the years. Savoring the sweet drawings and clear, lyrical writing once more!
Thank you for this book, which was a gift to my world and my nascent world view as a young hippie girl/woman. my youthful dreams are once again animated…good therapy at this moment!
San Francisco, California
First, I want to express my heartfelt, deep appreciation for your beautiful spirit, art, poetry, writing, voice, and songs. I was born in Berkeley, CA in 1969 and my sister was born in 1973. I still nostalgically long for the free spirited days of my youth. Your books and music magically transport me there, though. For these beautiful portals I am ever so humbly grateful. Thank you so much for being!
Infinite love and gratitude,
Asheville, North Carolina
My name is Ikumi Koyama.
I got to know you through your book about 20 years ago, and have been a big fan of yours since then.
I just wanted to tell you that I love your drawings so much!
Your messages in your art and words are always full of love and joy.
I hope to see you one day, somewhere on the earth.
I have owned your books, “Living on the Earth” and “Being of the Sun,” since I was a high school student in the mid 70’s.
I love your illustrations!! 💖
We are in the process of moving.
Can’t wait to unpack them and put them on display on our bookshelves!!
Fort Collins, Colorado
My dear friends, Wakako and Oe Masanori, two great artists that grow their own food on their farm in the Japan Alps, have posted today about my book. I am so honored! Arigatou!!
Living on the Earth
By Alicia Bay Laurel
Mariko Fukumachi translation
Published by Soshisha Ltd.
This is the larger-size version issued by Soshisha Ltd. in 1972 (27 x 21 cm).
Handwritten message written by a 19-year-old girl in 1970. Pictures with gentle lines that are classic❣️ Simple and easy-to-understand sentences. Since then, it continues to be the Bible of a girl who dreams of living in a natural and natural way.
Many years ago, I heard about the publication of this book from my girlfriend, who coincidentally visited my art exhibition.
Alicia is still in action as an artist around the world. And I heard that, this fall, the 50th anniversary English language edition will be published. Congratulations ❣️
Alicia is a minimalist jazz pen master.
Living on the Earth got 1459 likes in an Instagram Post.
Hope this finds you well. The book has been a huge success in our store. I was just wondering if any of your other books were available to purchase, or is it just Living on the Earth that’s been re published?
Much love to you,
Your book and Carla Emery’s book and, of course, Mother Earth magazine, were my bibles when I was a “mountain mama!”
1971, I found myself going into my freshman year Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Arts – and pregnant…. in North Carolina – not a good situation. I saw you interviewed on tv, perhaps the Today Show, and my goal was to escape to your community…. I have regretted not having the courage. My oldest son is in the Food Studies Master’s Program at NYU and an open minded kind human. My youngest has spent the last 5 years of his life, off grid and lives in harmony with Mother Nature by choice. I retired from a long and fulfilling nursing career. My copy of your first book is tattered and well loved. Would love to purchase 3 copies of your 50th anniversary edition, please and thanks. Mari-Jonn Sothoron, aka m.e. (Emmy)
Mari-Jonn (Emmy) Sothoron
Youngsville, North Carolina
In 1971, the year I was born, also was born this beautiful amazing book by a beautiful amazing woman I am so honored to call friend- ‘Living on the Earth’ by Alicia Bay Laurel. I have loved this book for almost all of my life. The 50th edition is set to be released sometime next year. If you are not familiar with this truly visionary work, I highly recommend. The gift she gave us is as vivid and even more imperative than ever, as we navigate a vision of our future world. Thank you, lovely Alicia Bay Laurel! I am so grateful for you!
Ceremonialist/Performance Artist at Ishtar Noir Temple Liminal Ritual Theater
Virginia Beach, Virginia
I remember your first edition back in the 70’s. Your words set me on my path to living simply and well.
Palm Springs & San Francisco, California
It’s like an excerpt from my brain — the part of it you wrote.
NY Review, Paris Review, LA Review
Novel in Regress
NYC & Williamstown
Aw: you really touched the heart of our generation: so belove’d and inspiring::: a vision that these times call for desperately: bring it on!
Is this the book that had delivering a baby in it? Cause if it is, thank you! Delivered my baby in the front seat of a pick up truck on way to hospital. Would have been panicked if not for this book.
We lived so far from anywhere, we decided to carry all the things mentioned in book whenever we went out anywhere. So we had new shoelaces and cloth diapers . We knew what to do when we had to pull off highway and our baby was born.
My husband and I loved your book and named our daughter after you. I tell her she was named for peace, love, and simplicity. She is 44 and lives her life with these morals. Just a note for you in these crazy times. Stay safe.
Susan and Mitchell Wexler
Trees pages from Living on the Earth
I am in tears. Living on the Earth, and later Being of the Sun, completely changed my life and let me know that the dream I had of how to live my life with shared by others. 50 years later, while I never did live in the communal setting I wanted (although now that I am a Crone and living on my own, anything is possible!) so much of my spiritual, professional, and personal life reflects its earliest roots in seminal books of the time such as yours. To find you again (through the Advent Solstice wheel website) was a delightful serendipitous Joy! Since my original copy has long been cut up into tiny pieces I can’t wait for the new edition!
I really hope you enjoy both books, Alicia. Can’t tell you how much it means to me to have you read my books after so loving YOUR books.
Donna Baier Stein
Award-winning author of amazing novels and short stories!
The best book ever! I love this book. You’ll be the coolest person at your next group camping trip, or honestly, anywhere with the knowledge from this book. I love that all the practices are grassroots and earth-friendly. One of my all-time favorite books that I hope to pass along for generations to come.
A Classic for Ecology. I bought this book for a second time. I had a copy when it came out in 1970, but I loaned it out never to see it again, and I missed it.
Have you ever missed a book?
This one is an inspiration, and a manual for cooperating with the Earth. Invaluable advice, and simple, low impact solutions for reducing impact on the environment. And a useful index with information on how to obtain materials to build your own or do it yourself without great expense.
I have found this book to be a very charming book and one that any person who really cares about the earth, and the possiblity of living at one with it in harmony should indeed read. From making your own soaps, to making your own shelters, it covers topics of living in peace and harmony. Many forgotten things are covered and tips and hints for cooking and canning that might be lost otherwise. The handwritten pages and wonderful drawings are beautiful, and just lovely to cherish for years.
My wife and I found an old copy of your book in a store awhile back and love it, so when a fellow earth lover and handmade craft enthusiast was selected for my company’s gift exchange, I thought it’d be a perfect gift for her.
Have a great 2021, and congrats on making it through this crazy year!
Micah Aaron Schmidt
16-year-old me got your book when it first came out.
It was an important compass in a lot of ways.
I am so excited to share it with my kids!
Thanks for your treasure book!
Green Farms, Connecticut
Living in Colorado in 1971, with visions of homesteading, we bought your book and devoured it. Now at 70, living in Morro Bay and spending lots of time in Big Sur, I think of her book each time I find a bay laurel tree and pick a few leaves.
Morro Bay, California
I’ve moved many times.
Living on the Earth is the only book which has found its way into a box and onto my shelves since the ’70s.
Though I haven’t really read it thoroughly since my adolescence, I’ve walked through it over the years and again recently and it still gives me such joy!
Yellowed, stained & brittle now, it is inscribed “To Kathy from Pammy”, and I must have received it from a friend in 7th or 8th grade. I had recently transplanted in 1970 to NYC from CA. All I ever wanted was to be a country girl. I was different from most kids (especially in NY), and grew up wanting to do different things, mostly involving animals, gardening, cooking, and my hands.
I grew into being a…hippie prepper?
Was it that your book influenced me so much? Or that it was the one that made the most sense to my young brain back in ’71-72 and Pammy saw that? That’s why I couldn’t let it go.
I studied languages, traveled, married a handy kibbutznik I met working a desert farm in Israel, became a nurse. We raised 3 kids bright and strong & out on their own – then bought land down in TN. (Red State, not a happy vibe… But the land is good)
My whole life I have wanted to know how to do things, make things, grow things. I’m not religious, but ” God loves a project” has always been my motto.
We built a log cabin, installed our own solar electric and solar hot water/heating system, grow organically for the local market, and basically live the book.
I’m 60 now and have studied, practiced or intend to learn (soap making is high on the To-do list) almost everything in that crazy, loving, dreaming, planning, cursive book. I even found a yellowed & brittle newspaper-cutout pattern (a 1975 NY paper advertising space in the World Trade Center) for a sewing project tucked into the pages. I have a few neat scarves, maybe I’ll try that one again!
So thank you for that.
All that and more.
You are a blessing.
I realize the historical impact of your gracious book is the counterbalance to where the movement turned deathwards in the hands of that evil stooge Charles Manson! Your angelic understanding of possibility far, far outlives and outweighs the antithesis.
Like Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” this book resonates down generations
Your work is a part of the best of American/world cultural heritage, not just an artifact, but ecological, agrarian, simple, organic, Gaia culture. You are a visionary’s visionary!
Attorney, Professor, Journalist
Winter Park, Florida
I just ordered 2 of your books for 2 of my sons. If I’m to request an inscription, it would be something like: “One of my generation’s greatest influencers is now in your hands! With love from your mother!”
Point Arena, California
What a seminal book of alternative living and loving… Brilliant!
Visiting Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design
Author of Spaced Out: Radical Environments of the Psychedelic 60s, which included illustrations from Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun
New York, New York
That teenager you where changed the world with a few strokes of a pen.
Owner, Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping
Santa Cruz, California
I cherished your book back in the days. Cutting edge visionary.
Catherine Usha Prescott
Psychotherapist in private practice
My mother threw out the original book my brother bought me back in 1978.
This book made a big impression on me!
You’re an amazing person who influenced me in a big way.
Photographer and Civil Rights Activist
St. Petersburg, Florida
This is very exciting. I can’t wait to get my anniversary copy.
Who knows what happened to the copy I bought back in 1970 or 1971! It was my teen bible!
Jazz vocalist and teacher at Berklee School of Music
Oh how I love this hippie classic !!! Still have my old copy from which I made clothes, ( out of an Indian bedspread) for my now fifty year old. Thanks for teaching me that I could make my own patterns !!!
It was special for me because I was a kid who didn’t think she could really do anything. Couldn’t do the sewing machine because I was a bit ADD and would have needed more help than I got to master threading it. I was twenty in ‘71, the baby was a year and a half, and you became an early influence in showing me I could do things after all, (and in natural ways I could relate to, at that) !!! Thanks Alicia !!!
Point Arena, California
I only recently discovered your work and it has been such a blessing! Your music has been carrying me through the final throes of this winter and getting me excited for spring. Once the pandemic dies down, I am planning to move into the back of a pickup truck and begin making my way around America to visit various sustainable intentional communities and homesteads to learn about living with nature – your book will no doubt serve as an excellent guiding light to these off-grid, countryside endeavors!
It is funny you mention Dancing Rabbit. In college, I studied anthropology and wanted to do my senior thesis on intentional communities and actually had plans to go visit DR for a few days when I was home summer before last, but apparently they had a bad experience with a visitor before I was supposed to come and so they temporarily halted any kind of outside visitation. I ended up doing my thesis more on the concept of community, and explored this by looking at how young women who practice modern witchcraft are using the internet to create sacred community and learn about the ways of the old world. Although I am not a witch myself, learning from them led me down my own path of spirituality, sisterhood, and closeness with nature. A women’s art and spirituality instagram account (@odeandiefreude) that was recommended to me by one of the witches is how I found your work! So full circle, I guess, haha! I love little moments like this when we’re reminded of how intertwined everything and everyone is ❤
One of my all time favorite books. Knowing how to live on earth is our life’s work!
Musician, Author and Record Label co-owner
Soundings of the Planet
One of my FAVORITE authors of gorgeous books, filled with helpful advice and joyful drawings, Alicia is an expressive songwriter and storyteller as well as singer/musician. I STILL have her 1970 edition of her original LIVING ON THE EARTH book, lovingly used and earmarked over the years, that Alicia Bay Laurel graciously signed for me when I saw her perform for Earth Day in San Diego in 2000. I also have several other of her books and CD’s, and will be ordering her 50th anniversary edition.
Linda Joy Lewis
Author/illustrator of vegan cookbook Earth Angel Kitchen
I was born in 1970 to very young parents, and your book was on their shelf. I loved reading it as a kid. Bought my own copy at an estate sale years ago. We live on 14 acres and are working toward building an eco-commune. Your writing is very much part of my inspiration for wanting that my whole life.
Morgan Lynn Corvidelle
Much gratitude to be among the hundreds of people you have touched with Living on the Earth. I enjoyed reading comments written to you in appreciation. What a magical, mystical beautiful woman you are!
Lytle Creek, California
Welcome to Living on the Earth, the classic best-selling guide to alternative country life. Entirely handwritten in the author’s script and illustrated with her line drawings, it is a practical home reference volume. And the information is relentless-organic gardening, outdoor cooking, crafts, herbology, midwifery, backpacking, survival, first aid, making and playing musical instruments, sewing, pattern drafting, building a kiln, a kayak, an ice chest, making candles, soap, ink, beaded curtains, ice cream, tamales, and, at the end, how to cremate. A list of useful-and magical-books, and addresses for hard to find tools and materials completes the appendices, along with a star map and an old English poem to the moon.
Originally published in 1970, Living on the Earth is about permaculture, sustainability, simplicity and environmentalism–words that came into our vocabulary ten to twenty years later. Most of the projects involve recycling–stoves and flotation devices from 55 gallon drums, individual greenhouses from glass jugs, patchwork skirts from neckties. It’s about withdrawing from consumerism and finding true happiness through creativity, respectful interactions with nature, appreciation of other people, and consciousness of the Divine.
It is a spiritual book that uplifts and instructs largely through the illustrations of people living outdoors serenely and vigorously. The message of the front cover illustration–ecstatic union with the natural world–resonates with people because it is our birthright. Living on the Earth was and is a freedom call to people in all parts of society—yes, it IS possible to find a simpler and more satisfying life outside of the industrial-military complex. Yes, it is possible to live in a world of innocent, smiling nudes, surrounded by things you grew, found or made yourself.
Living on the Earth is also a historical document, an insider’s view of the communes of the late 60’s, today widely used in university history courses. Along with Ram Dass’s Be Here Now and The Whole Earth Catalog, it bespoke the joyous upwelling of global stewardship, trusting comradery, and direct communion with the Universal Spirit that marked the era’s sudden and enormous counterculture.
Living on the Earth is a milestone in twentieth century art. (Publishers Weekly took note immediately with a handwritten two-page review surrounded by Alicia’s drawings.) Within months after Living on the Earth was first published, dozens of new books and commercial art (packaging, advertising, giftware designs and greeting cards) based on its design and illustrations began to appear. Its influence is still clearly evident three decades later.
Living on the Earth was written, illustrated and designed by a teenager. As such, it speaks to young people as one of their own, daring them to create books, live adventurously, learn the sources of things they take for granted, follow their dreams. Alternative schools (where drawings of smiling nudes are not forbidden) happily use the book as a craft project book for students.
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|Reviews of Living on the Earth
30th Anniversary Edition
|Review, August 15, 2005 on Amazon.com
No left turn unstoned !
Amazing to think that she was a teenager when she began writing this “Bible” of natural living. Not only does it still hold up after 30+ years…but it makes even more sense now in the 21st century.
Reviewer: Gordon Kennedy (Ojai, California)
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Ray Mungo comments on the 30th Anniversary Edition, in 2000:
Assigned to give Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth” for the New York Times Book Review in 1971, I gave it a rave. It really defined the best of our generation’s nascent take on world consciousness. More than 30 years later, I’m still raving about it as ABL deftly connects today’s Earthlife with the one we imagined as kids.
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Here is the Living on the Earth page on Goodreads.com (lots of reader comments)
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Review by Shaunta Alberger on her blog, Live Once, Juicy
Note to Alicia from Shaunta: I was raised by freaks, born the year after your book first came out. My first name even means Peace 🙂 I just really enjoyed your book. Even the bits about growing you own (and I’m a substance abuse counselor!)
It seems to me that there are two kind of non-fiction books.
Those that are tightly focused on their subject.
And those that are wide-flung, giving a little bit of information about a lot of things that all come together as a cohesive whole.
If that second type of book is done just right, you have a book that whets your appetite. It inspires research, and learning more, and figuring things out on your own.
Living on the Earth, by Alicia Bay Laurel, is that second kind of book. In spades. Reading it makes me happy. It starts with a description of clouds, and ends with a drawing of the constellations in the Northern Hemisphere. And in between is a wealth of handwritten, gorgeously illustrated muse-inspiring ideas.
Here are a few things that tickled me:
* how to distill rose water * how to give birth at home * vegan dairy options * how to make a bamboo flute * whittling and wood carving * how to make a Mexican peasant blouse * truly lovely soap
See? That’s just a tiny bit of what’s inside this book. None of it is comprehensive knowledge, but all of it makes you want to know more. The original book was written in the 1970s, but a revision was done in 2000 so there are viable resources included to facilitate what I promise will be an insatiable desire to Google.
This book was written in a time that, looking back, seems incredibly innocent. People, Babyboomers, broke out and did things differently–vastly differently–than their parents had. Self-sufficiency, doing things for yourself, seems like such a detour from the 1950s image of self-cleaning kitchens and TV dinners doesn’t it?
Things are different today. In 1970 there was a push for the kind of back-to-the-land self-sufficiency this book so beautifully describes. But the resources were still there. Gas was still as cheap as tap water, and hardly anyone had even considered that we might run out of oil some time. No one, outside of perhaps some geologists or weather experts, was thinking about Climate Change in 1970.
Maybe that’s why it was easy for the Babyboomers to become Yuppies?
Their movement was glorious. But it wasn’t necessary.
Self-sufficiency is necessary today. It is becoming more and more necessary with each passing year. There is a lot of talk about a need to regain skills that people had during the Great Depression. Of course there is; our economy is that scary. But there is something to be said for examining the brief and shining time in our history when people chose self-sufficiency. When figuring out how to do things on your own was a choice, not a necessity.
How much easier is change when it’s a choice, not a mandate?
Take it from someone whose life’s work has been with a population that is infamously resistant to change (teenagers, drug addicts…), self-inspired paradigm shifts are a beautiful thing.
And this book–with its lovely, loopy handwriting and Adam-and-Eve illustrations, is an inspiration to a paradigm shift.
That really is a beautiful thing.
This book is going into my tiny pile of “books I would want with me if I were trapped on a deserted island (or if the shit hits the fan.)”
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Review, December 4, 2004 on Amazon.com
Fun Guide to Living on the Earth
After waking very early this very morning, I started to read Living on the Earth and was halfway through by breakfast. While I had considered a hand-lettered book to be more difficult to read, I could not have been more wrong.
The hand lettering brought a sense of comfort and the contents reminded me of my childhood in Africa. If you lived in a rural area during the 60s and 70s, many of the items in this book will be very familiar. If you love handwritten letters from friends, then this book will quickly find a place in your heart.
So, there I was stirring a 5-grain oatmeal mixture for breakfast and I looked down and caught a glimpse of my painted toes reflecting in the glass oven door. Suddenly I was transported to the years of my childhood where we build our own tree houses, watched carrots grow, milked cows, raised chickens, learned how to sew, experienced tick bite fever and snacked on friendship cake while walking barefoot on the warm earth.
Living on the Earth is an enchanting read filled with lyricism and whimsy. It is written in a spontaneous style and the topics range from soap making to building rocking cradles out of barrels. Alicia Bay Laurel has illustrated the entire book and it is a completely personal experience.
Some of the highlights include backpacking tips, making hammocks with macramé, making your own soaps, sewing peasant blouses, making your own moccasins, and building a kiln for making pottery.
There is also information on how to make candles, bamboo flutes, bean bags, clothing, rose petal jam, organic diet soda, vanilla extract, dried fruits, nut butters, ice cream, sunflower milk, miso, roasted soy beans, smoked fish, bread, beef jerky, sour dough starter, steamed acorns, plum pudding and herbal tinctures.
As I sit here with my lovely cozy heated blanket and fluffy slippers I can dream about living out in the wild as my washing machine swishes about with the Seventh Generation laundry soap I recently found at a health food store. This book has many ideas you can incorporate into your normal home life. You don’t have to live in a commune to enjoy the information about essential oils, nature-inspired products or environmental issues. The author recommends things like hemp paper and explores the many uses of apple cider vinegar and pumpkin seeds.
To say the least, I was intrigued. This is definitely a must-read book for everyone interested in natural remedies. There are recipes for making herbal tinctures and you may find yourself looking for “myrrh.” If you love to cook you may be intrigued by the recipe for Plum Pudding.
This book was updated in 1999 and is filled with useful addresses and websites. I loved the list of “more books that are still valuable 30 years later!” A helpful index completes this fun guide to living on the earth.
I loved reading this book! While reading you may find yourself becoming nostalgic, enthusiastic about hiking or even making lists to buy a variety of herbs.
Reviewer: Rebecca Johnson “TheRebeccaReview.com” (Issaquah, Washington)
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Review, Amazon.com, February 17, 2001
What an amazing book. I found it at a used book store a few years ago. The line drawings are beautiful,and the recipes and crafts on each page are easy to make. This book makes me want to go live in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere every time i read it! It’s a definite YES for anyone who is into making their own “stuff”.
Reviewer: Catgrrl809 (Akron, OH, United States)
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Review, Amazon.com, September 2, 2000
my manual for living
i found this book as a young teenager up on a shelf. it was my mother’s, left over from HER hippie days. i took up the reading as well as practicing of the book and have become a better person for it. this book should be read by all. it is so simple and yet beautiful and eloquent. i highly recommend it.
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“When we depend less on industrially produced consumer goods, we can live in quiet places. Our bodies become vigorous; we discover the serenity of living with the rhythms of the earth. We cease oppressing one another.”
Oppression hasn’t quite disappeared in the 30 years since Alicia Bay Laurel wrote these words, but, thanks to the enduring legacy of the back-to-the-land movement and the possibilities of telecommuting alike, more and more people are living in the “quiet places” Laurel celebrates. Living on the Earth was a well-worn (and bestselling) bible for the urban hipsters who fled the city and took up such pursuits as organic farming and leather tanning in the early 1970s; its author, a musician and artist who now makes her home in Hawaii, made their acclimation to country life just a little bit easier with her user-friendly instructions on such matters as how to keep gophers from invading the veggie patch and how to get rid of those nasty lice that once served as the mascots of bohemian existence.
Lice or no, the countryside still has its undeniable charms. The reissue of Laurel’s handwritten, simply illustrated manual will appeal to anyone contemplating a new life beyond the city–or merely seeking pointers on how to simplify daily life. Things have changed, of course, since Laurel first self-published her zeitgeist-drenched book in 1970. Where the original edition had seed-to-bud instructions for growing marijuana, the reissue now comes with a modest disclaimer in which Laurel admits to having lost her taste for the stuff decades ago–but it also comes with a ringing endorsement for the use of hemp fiber and paper as a planet-friendly measure of economy. Laurel also juxtaposes her folk remedies for common ailments with a friendly reminder to head to the doctor if the pain is really bad, the kind of advice once shunned by the proudly self-sufficient barefoot medics, manuals in hand. Still, though updated here and there, Living on the Earth retains its recipes for everything from making Moroccan djellabas to molding scented candles to delivering a baby in the privacy of one’s tipi, all good things to know.
|Los Angeles Folkworks
“An Icon of the ’70s revisited”
by Brooke Alberts
Last year when I was about to depart for the Big Island of Hawaii, my buddy Kim asked me if I wanted to look up her friend Alicia Bay Laurel while I was there.
“The Alicia Bay Laurel who wrote, Living On The Earth?” I asked, and yanked the book immediately out of the bookshelf to show her.
Needless to say, I made the connection and spent a very pleasant afternoon with her. L.A. native and (according to the New York Times) “Martha Stewart of the hippie era,” Alicia Bay Laurel is coming out with a 30th anniversary edition of her best-known book, Living On The Earth.
I picked up a copy of Living On The Earth in the late ’70s and it immediately became one of my “desert island ” books. With chapters addressing such issues as how to grow potatoes in barrels while living in a van, Tibetan eye-strengthening exercises, keeping food cool without refrigeration, and alternative guitar tunings, it was a compendium of folk-life skills simply presented.
Alicia grew up in Hancock Park. Her mother, a ceramicist, exposed her to artistic and cultural events, and as a teenager she did page layouts at the L.A. Free Press. She also attended the Otis Art Institute on a PTA scholarship. She subsequently attended San Francisco’s Pacific Fashion Institute.
Alicia started writing Living On The Earth in 1969 when she was 19 while living on the Wheeler Ranch commune in Sonoma County. It was her third hand-lettered and illustrated book, but the first to be published. She had originally conceived of it as a pamphlet to help ease the transition of urban and suburban youth to their new lifestyle, but it grew into a manual. When it was published in 1971, and included in Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, it became a best-seller .
The handwritten text and exuberant line-drawn illustrations were comforting and personal, and reflected the back-to-the-land aesthetic espoused by the youthful idealists of the era.
This aesthetic was picked up and utilized by the creators of The Massage Book (1972), Woodstock Craftsman’s Manual (1972), The Vegetarian Epicure (1972), and later The Moosewood Cookbook (1977) and the works of Sark (1991 and forward).
Alicia collaborated with her partner, Ramon Sender, on Being Of The Sun, a companion volume to Living on The Earth, published in 1973. This second volume is even more exuberant than the first, addressing aspects of meditation, celebration of the year, making music, and being passionate about life. They include instructions for making a bamboo root oboe and a set of bagpipes (from a plastic bag, masking tape, cardboard, bamboo and oat-straw whistles).
They also composed 21 songs and chants for celebrating rain, night, time, welcome and other occasions. A few of these songs are on her CD, Music From Living On The Earth . Alicia had been playing fingerpicking folk guitar as a teenager, and learned of the joys of open tunings from her cousin’s husband, the well-known guitarist John Fahey.For the last 28 years or so, Alicia has been living in Hawaii (the first 25 in Maui, the last 3 on the Big Island). Her CD, Living in Hawaii Style, is more informed by the Hawaiian slack-key style of guitar playing.
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Book Review in the Orlando Weekly
“New days, old ways”
(Gibbs Smith, Publisher, revised and updated 2003; 256 pages)
My forgotten copy of the handwritten, hand-illustrated 1970 sensation by Alicia Bay Laurel (not her real last name, but her favorite kind of tree) was gifted in the early ’80s by an old friend who really was a hippie. (My friend sewed pink and turquoise satin cowboy shirts for Country Joe and the Fish in the Woodstock era and took orange sunshine every day for a year.) By 1980, the peace-and-love hippie era was laughable, having transitioned into the apocalypse-readying New Age movement that was growing under the radical tutelage of bibles such as “Survival Into the 21st Century” by Viktoras Kulvinskas (published in 1975 in a similar style adorned by simple drawings).
Then and now, Bay Laurel’s enduring “Living on the Earth” smartly serves as a sweeping encyclopedia of do-it-yourself instructions for simple, quiet living, removed from urban chaos — all in her own handwriting. It is timeless. The amount of practical and concise information is staggering. There are straightforward how-to entries on making an outdoor latrine, a solar oven, tire-tread sandals and a guitar. There’s herbal everything, with recipes for healing shampoos, poultices and soups. (In her revised entry on hemp, Bay Laurel does offer the disclaimer that she hasn’t inhaled since the ’70s but is in favor of hemp as a viable commodity.) Medical advice covers the gamut, from how to bind blisters on a backpacking misadventure to how to birth a baby (with an illustration of a baby oozing out of a hairy triangle).
The writer’s changes to her 30-year-old best seller (more than 350,000 sold) do not deface the original’s essence, including the minimalist line drawings. The entries now are more relevant, especially with current resource references. Don’t focus too much on her introduction page with the sappy greeting, “Hello sun! You came up! We knew you would! You always do! Hoorray for you!” As the author, who still lives and works in Hawaii, explains:
“I tried, in revising the text, to be true to the spirit of the young woman I was then, and included her idealistic introduction. Today, a country household can make its own electricity, and uses the Internet to conduct home businesses and get truthful information on public affairs. I had hoped at the time that living in wilderness would guarantee the awakening of compassion. Today I see this most profound evolution occuring (sic) everywhere. It is key to our survival as a species.”
It is amusing to browse through Bay Laurel’s drawings. In general, men are wearing clothes. Her women, though, are frequently naked-breasted and nymphlike, dancing through their chores, a reminder that relations between men and women have come a long way, baby.
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Still living, still on Earth
by Alan McNarie
When Alicia Bay Laurel began writing “Living on the Earth” in 1969, she was a teenager on a California commune. Now in her 50s and living in Puna, she has since made a name for herself in other wide – ranging fields, from wedding planner to Hawaiian/folk musician.
But “Living on the Earth,” a manual on simple living that contains everything from recipes for pickles to tips on home childbirth, has gone on to live a life of its own. Revived by Random House a few years ago with a 30th Anniversary Edition, it was re – issued last month in a new fourth edition under a new publisher, Gibbs Smith.
Laurel will be making three appearances on the Big Island next month to promote the new edition. On Thursday, Dec. 11, at Borders Books and Music in Hilo, she’ll be singing music from her CD, “Songs from Living on the Earth,” and telling stories about the book’s four incarnations and how they came about. She’ll repeat the performance at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at Taro Patch Gifts in Honokaa. On at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 14, a $5 donation will admit guests to a longer music and story – telling session at Volcano Garden Arts on Old Volcano Highway in Volcano.
“Living on the Earth” was a revolutionary book, in more ways than one. Not only did it become a bible for the commune movement, it also sparked a small publishing revolution.
“Basically, there wasn’t any book before it that looked like it,” observes Laurel. “After that, there were dozens and dozens.” The book’s style, with its hand – written text wrapped around simple line drawings, had an especially strong influence in the cookbook field, including the “Moosewood Cookbook” series and “The Vegetarian Epicure.”
Ironically, a cookbook helped keep “Living on the Earth” alive. While on a promotional tour on the mainland, Laurel met the editors of a cookbook that was being put out by the Esalen Institute. They recruited her to illustrate the new book, and introduced her to the Gibbs Smith of Gibbs Smith Publishing, who turned out to be a fan of her first book.
“I told him, ‘Funny you should mention that. I just got the rights back from Random House,'” said Laurel.
Smith bought the rights to produce a new edition, and set Laurel to work on a sequel called “Still Living on the Earth: a Dictionary of Sustainable Means,” with updated information on such topics as permaculture and sustainable lifestyles.
With Smith, she recently attended the annual Bioneers Conference in Marin County, California to gather information for the book, which is due out next year.
“That is the largest world conference on sustainability. By going there, I really got an idea of the breadth and depth of what’s going on in this movement,” she says.
The term “sustainability” covers a huge range of topics, from recycling to producing biodiesel fuels to “permaculture” – low energy agriculture systems that don’t require constant cultivation and massive amounts of fertilizer. All are aimed at producing a society that can sustain itself without using up huge amounts of fossil fuel and other non – renewable resources. The movement is an outgrowth of the “back to the land” communes that inspired, and were inspired by, Laurel’s original book.
The new edition of “Living on the Earth” includes a forward by Prof. Tim Miller of the University of Kansas. Miller, a leading expert on the history of communal movements from early American religious communes to the present, helps to put the book in the context of its times.
The hard – to – classify volume – it’s been catalogued under headings ranging from “spirituality” to “home reference” – has also become a historical document.
But whatever else “Living on the Earth” is, it remains a font of practical advice for ordinary people – especially this time of year, when the book’s multitude of craft instructions could produce some unique gifts.
One section, for instance, contains easy – to – follow directions for making a wide variety of candles, from traditional bayberry and beeswax to “ice candles” made by pooring hot wax over ice cubes. (“Ice melts and leaves cubic holes in the candle. The candle burns fast but makes interesting shapes,” notes Laurel’s directions.)
For the ambitious, there is advice on how to build a kayak, make barrel furniture, and create hand looms and pottery kilns. For the lazy, there are easy instructions for creating a “button stone hammock.” (“Fold 6 inches of the end of a blanket over a strong stick. Place a small round stone under the two layers and tie a knot around the knob made by the stone through the two layers.”)
There are also plenty of house and garden tips. The gardening section, for instance, lists the amount of seed or plants needed per 100 – foot row to plant any of 18 different garden crops, and gives solid advice on such topics as irrigation composting and mulching.
There are sections on canning and jelly – making, with recipes for traditional treats such as apple butter and exotic flavor sensations such as rose petal jam. There are directions for making home – brewed beverages such as apple mead and elder blow wine. There are directions for salting fish and for making yogurt and sauerkraut.
There are also recipes for making soap, varnish, glue, shoe polish (“equal parts oil, vinegar and molasses. Add enough lamp black to form a paste”), paint remover (“1 part turpentine to 2 parts ammonia)” and waterproofing for cloth and leather.
Volcano and Kaumana City residents may be particularly interested in Laurel’s directions on how to clean a wood stove and prevent it from rusting.
And there is lots of information that is just plain interesting.
“I think that when the book was a best – seller in 1971, a lot of people that read it were just armchair communards, in the same sense that there are armchair football fans,” observes Laurel. “They may never have wanted to make ink from scratch, but it gave them a real spiritual lift just to know that it was possible. They might even have gone into the kitchen and made some marmalade.”
Homegrown charm helped ‘living on the earth’ become a big seller
By KATHY KREIGER
Thirty-one years ago, a 19-year-old urban refugee sat down to write a simple how-to pamphlet for new members of the rural California commune where she landed after sticking out her thumb.
The resulting book, “living on the earth” quickly became a cult classic that catapulted its author, alicia bay laurel, to the top of the New York Times best seller list and sold more than 350,000 copies.
Much more than a manual for making eggplant tooth powder, macrame bags and domes, the book became a counterculture bible that inspired countless back-to-the-landers.
The author’s simple line drawings and distinctive handwriting, complete with misspellings, gave the book a homegrown integrity that struck an instant chord with a generation ready to reject big American cars, Formica and Wonderbread.
“living on the earth” was part Boy Scout manual, part Betty Crocker cookbook for a generation desperate for the beat of a drummer that did not lead to Vietnam. The book talked about having babies at home, dying and just about everything in between.
“This book is for people who would rather chop wood than work behind a desk so they can pay P.G.& E.,” wrote bay laurel, who adopted the name to honor her favorite tree. “It has no chapters; it just grew as I learned. …”
Thursday, the author, now 51, will read, sing and sign copies of a newly-revised edition of the book at Gateways Books in Santa Cruz.
“In 1993 I noticed that the people in health food stores looked the way I did at 20,” bay laurel said in an interview last week from a friend’s house in San Luis Obispo. “But they were 20 and I was 40.”
She decided that this new generation might need the book too. It took a while to convince publishers.
The stop in Santa Cruz is part of a unique eight-month road tour sheÂ’s making through the U.S. bay laurel is doing her tour in typical alternative fashion: she went through her address book and asked all of her far-flung friends if she could stay at their houses for three days. Then she called the bookstores in their areas to set up readings.
No, she won’t be arriving in a VW van. She’s borrowed her 80-something mom’s indigo-blue Peugeot station wagon for what she calls a “connect-the-dots” tour.
You follow alicia’s adventures via the daily entries she makes on her website, (www.aliciabaylaurel.com).
alicia! Girl, what’s gotten into you?
Well, the world and alicia and all of us have changed in 30 years.
“The book was written by a teen-age girl,” bay laurel said. “I tried to stay as close to the spirit of the original as I could and not overlay too much of myself.”
But the many things she’s done since her 2½ years living at Wheeler Ranch, a northern California commune have left their imprint.
She wrote several other books, none of which have repeated the success of “living on the earth.” Five are still in print in Japan, she says, where American pop culture is revered. After 1978, though, publishers rejected her proposals, telling her “the hippie thing is dead.”
Her distinctive style was widely imitated. That may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it doesn’t pay the bills. When she turned down an ad agency’s request to draw a tequila ad, for example, she said another artist changed her name to a similar-sounding one and did the work.
Since 1974, bay laurel has lived on Maui, Hawaii. There she’s been an artist and illustrator, singer and guitarist and yoga teacher. In 1988 she started a destination wedding business on Maui. It was so successful it earned her spots on Good Morning America and in “Bridal Style” book.
She sold the business a year ago, at about the same time Random House asked to reprint the book.
Friends helped her revise it, and the new version reflects updated ideas about health, ecology and so forth — she no longer uses pot, for example, but supports its use for fiber — but there is no mention of computers.
“She wouldn’t have been a computer person. She wasn’t even into electric lights,” she said of the person she was back then. “It’s still a ‘70s piece. It’s not about living in 2000 completely.”
The tour has another fascinating twist on the old days of hippie road trips. Once she’s finished, she plans to take her “living n the road” computer entries and turn them into, what else, another guide for another generation.
Meanwhile, she hasn’t lost her affection for the naive teen-ager she was, the one she thinks of as a daughter in some ways, the one who still influences her life today.
She still makes sprouts. She still sews, she still cooks everything from scratch and she still eats organic food “almost exclusively.”
But right now, she’s on the road. Right now, her stuff is in storage and she’s got her metaphorical thumb out there for new adventures.
“I would love to be doing that stuff,” she said. “But I don’t think I’m going to be doing it real soon. I’m wanting to launch my free-lance art career. Wherever it takes me, I’m going.”
WHO: alicia bay laurel will read, sing and sign copies of her newly revised book, “living on the earth” WHEN: 7 p.m., Thursday, May 18 WHERE: Gateways Books, 1018 N. Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz COST: Free INFO: 429-9600
|From Talking Leaves Magazine,
The first thing I noticed about this book was its delightful homegrown look, the handwritten pages and playful line-drawings illustrating the text on every page. Living on the Earth, originally published in 1970, is a true heirloom. It is reminiscent of the era of hippies and the back to the land movement, but it is essentially a collection of recipes for living on the earth suitable for any day and age.It includes how to do everything you’ve wanted to know how to do for years but didn’t know how, or didn’t know whom to ask, or didn’t have time to read an entire volume on the subject, or lost your library card, or didn’t even know you wanted to or could do until you read this book. People can do that? Yep, get ready!
Granted, these aren’t science experiments, but real live descriptions telling how to live a happy, wholesome life where you are empowered individually to take care of your needs and to be self-reliant and resourceful, as many of our ancestors before the technological revolution were. You don’t have to be a full-on Luddite to enjoy this book, though, and you certainly don’t have to live in the country. There is something for everybody. Ever wonder how to make yogurt? Or miso? How to get rid of ants? Make your own shoes? Build a yurt? Or how about make candles, flutes, pemmican sausage, jerked meat, soap, bread, and country pie?
Not only is this book astoundingly complete and deliciously inspiring, but I could tell something about the author as well. She is a collector. She collects ideas about things that work for living, for being human, and relying on human powered innovations; for, as titled, living on the earth. She is a human and a teacher. Wow, she must have collected for years! No wonder this is a revised edition. I think it would be nearly impossible for a collector of valuable information to publish only one edition of such a book.
Living on the Earth is written clearly, concisely, and in a positive manner. Read this book and pass it on! Hopefully you’ll learn something new, and then teach a friend to do something too!
Reviewed by Jenya Lemeshow
Reviewed by Linda Richards
Thirty years after its original publication, the newly revised and updated Living on the Earth remains the definitive guide for those interested in shucking off the trappings of modern life and running off to start a commune.
Author Alicia Bay Laurel was just 20 when the first edition of Living on the Earth was published in 1970. One can just imagine the flowerchild she was sitting cross-legged in some verdant field with her sketchbook in her arms while she filled page after page in her growing compendium of modern knowledge for skills almost lost. Everything from milking a cow, making glue, soap and candles to building an interesting salad (“and some taste trips like kelp, onions, raisins…”), organic sauerkraut and sunflower milk. Really, the list of what is included is too long to even attempt. Suffice it to say that, if you were actually taking a run at community-building at the edge of a wilderness, Living on the Earth would be a pretty handy book to have around. Especially if you’d also brought your Champion juicer and some powdered potash along for the ride.
The 2000 edition contains all of the homespun charm of the original. Nothing — from the copyright notices to the index — is typeset. Everything is in, presumably, Bay Laurel’s own clear and schoolteacherish hand. The author’s naively whimsical illustrations are intact, as well. The author has included a sketch on nearly every page. In some cases, the illustration and the text form a sort of whole. For example, that sauerkraut recipe is written inside of the jar.
There’s lots of utopian brouhaha going on, as well. Naked celebrants dancing under trees and playing the instruments they’ve just made. An unclothed man sprinkling water from a hose onto both a cavorting child and a line of willing plants. Eight unclothed and nearly unclothed workers joyfully tending their garden.
A great deal of the book is given to the execution of simple tasks — and here again I’m tempted to make a list: tanning leather, curing a cold, remaking second-hand clothes. However, some of Living on the Earth deals with higher concerns. Bay Laurel tells us, for instance, that “hatha yoga keeps you stoned,” and that “the Chinese were once very hip to living in nature.”
Despite all of this naively rendered and idealistic exuberance, Living on the Earth is an oddly complete book, one that would be useful to have at hand if you were, for example, stuck on a deserted island or lost in the woods. It also includes much that will interest modern vegans (aside from that leather tanning reference, of course) and others concerned with finding a more organic course through their lives.
Despite useful and interesting updates in this new edition, and despite the fact that the book includes real life instruction for various activities, at its heart, Living on the Earth remains a touching reminder of a quiet revolution.
Linda Richards is editor of January Magazine.
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|From the Ukiah Daily Journal
The Library File
by Susan SparrowJune 15, 2000
A few years ago this book would have been another good book for your 1970’s collection of how things used to be. But, in just a couple of years, more and more people have begun looking for ways to simplify and regain the pleasures of being more actively involved in the creation of their own living space and lifestyle.
Living on the Earth is written in Alicia’s cursive script and illustrated on every page with her line drawings. Still containing most of the original text and drawings, she has updated this classic counter culture lifestyle book with information on sustainable technology, preservation of the environment and new natural food recipes.
Alicia Bay Laurel is back. The trend-setting author who in the early 1970s encouraged thousands to go live in a yurt is in Sonoma County with a new edition of her counterculture classic, Living on the Earth.
Years earlier, at 19, the Los Angeles native was motivated to pen a how-to handbook for hippies after moving to Wheeler Ranch in Occidental. The west county parcel, a former infamous hippie enclave, is owned by landscape painter Bill Wheeler. Indeed, Laurel’s best-selling tome is entwined with the history of the county’s idealistic back-to-the-land movement and the repeated efforts of county officials to destroy it during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Back in March 1969, a restless Laurel already an artist, musician, and author of two unpublished books stuck out her thumb on Park Presidio Street in San Francisco. “The first people I met on my journey were on their way to Wheeler Ranch,” says Laurel, whose left-thinking parents encouraged her artistic bent. “When I got there I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and the way the people were living and their cheerful freedom. But there was nothing in my 19 years that had prepared me for living without electricity and running water. I was not alone in needing to learn basic outdoor skills.”
The free-ranging manual Laurel conjured includes step-by-step instructions for making sand candles (remember them?), cooking on a woodstove, creating wind chimes out of tin cans and seashells, and birthing a babe at home. “How do you grow things? How do you make clothes from things out of the free box? These were things I needed to know, and I felt that other people would surely want to know them as well,” says Laurel.
The unconventional set of instructions proved to be just what the reading public craved. Published in 1970 by Bookworks (an imprint of Oakland book distributor, Bookpeople), Living on the Earth enjoyed overnight success.
In six weeks the first run of 10,000 copies disappeared off shelves. Then, two weeks before he died, Bennett Cerf, president of Random House, acquired the rights. In 1971, the Random House edition emerged as the quintessential bible for wannabe and would-be back-to-the-land types, selling some 350,000 copies in English and landing on the New York Times bestseller list. The original version still sells in Japan.
Why the phenomenon? By 1971 the back-to-the-land movement was well under way and Laurel’s book resonated with those longing to move to the country. The large format softcover, written in Laurel’s loopy, cursive script, with few capital letters, broke the rules. Simple line drawings cheerfully illustrate the text and included many pictures of men and women in various stages of dress and undress. The innovative book design was emulated by dozens of books including Anne Kent Rush’s The Massage Book and Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood Cookbook. Just as surprising to the publishing industry, Laurel’s homage to the hippie homemaking was among the handful of paperbacks, including the Whole Earth Catalog, to outsell hardcover titles.
Laurel created and published six more illustrated books after Living on the Earth. In 1974 Laurel visited Maui and decided to stay. There she worked as an underwater photographer, yoga teacher, book illustrator and teacher. In 1988 she opened a destination wedding business, selling it in 1999. “I wrote books while I was in Hawaii but nobody wanted to publish them.” Not long after selling the wedding business, Random House decided to re-issue Living on the Earth.
With the help of experts, Laurel updated the 30th anniversary edition of Living on the Earth (Villard Books/Random House 2000; $16.95) with new information on sustainable technology and preservation of the environment and new recipes for natural foods basics. The directions for growing bean sprouts aren’t as “funky” as they were, but all the original drawings are there. “I was very careful not to put in new things that were out of character with the person I was then.” The result is a book that looks very much like the original, but the updated resource listings include Web site addresses.
Traveling to readings in an old royal blue Peugeot, Laurel has met many who have said her book changed their lives. Several carried Living on the Earth around the world. One young woman was named after Laurel. “She was born in a teepee, of course,” says Laurel.
During her sojourn in Sonoma County, Laurel plans to catch up with old friends and walk over the land at Wheeler Ranch, recording her impressions on her Web site. “The thing about the relationships that began in those days is that they’ve been extremely durable, almost like blood relatives,” says Laurel.
“We are intertwined through our love of the land and through our creativity,” agrees Freestone author Salli Rasberry, whose first book was published shortly after Living on the Earth.
“Those of us living in and out of the communes began experimenting in simple living, attempted to use all of our senses as we connected with the natural world. People like Lou (Gottlieb) and Bill (Wheeler) provided sanctuary and a time out to try and make sense of a world that made no sense to us,” adds Rasberry.
Undoubtedly Laurel will find that the Occidental area reflects the integration of the rascals, artists, hippies, and greenies who moved to the established rural town some 30 years ago or more and stayed. Among them, Wheeler, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Saturday.
Reflecting on her time at Wheeler Ranch, Laurel says, “It seems like a shimmering star. It’s amazing I could live so fearlessly. I loved the social openness. Normally, we spend so much of our time in clothed society separated by social status. There, most of us were naked most of the time when the weather allowed. I had a sleeping bag and a dress and a jacket. Everything else was dispensable.”
Sara Peyton is a free-lance writer living in Occidental, West Sonoma County
30 years ago, Alicia Bay Laurel wrote a book on natural living during her stay on a commune in California. That book, called “Living on the Earth”, surprisingly became a New York Times bestseller.
The book is still the ultimate guide to living a simpler, self-reliant, close-to-nature lifestyle. Just like
The 30th Anniversary Edition is updated with new information, such as new
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High Country News
We can do it ourselves
It was 1970, and people were dropping out in droves. Wood stoves were replacing electric heat, milk cartons were transforming wax into candles. Someone noted that more pottery was created during the “70s than during the history of mankind – perhaps an exaggeration. One of the gurus for back-to-the-landers 30 years ago was a woman who named herself Alicia Bay Laurel. Then 19, she lived on a California commune, and after collecting country lore, she hand wrote and illustrated a book, Living on the Earth. Now her hippie how-to book has been reissued so that once again it invites contemporary malcontents and vicarious readers to make almost everything from scratch. That means jerky from game you shoot yourself, soap from ingredients you stir for hours, patchwork quilts from upholstery samples and remnants. Nothing goes to waste in her world; everything yields to human ingenuity as long as there’s time enough to fiddle. Bay Laurel also doesn’t shrink from life’s inevitabilities. Her simple recipe for forest cremation: “Make a pyre of wood, lay the body on top, pour on kerosene and lots of incense. Burning bodies don’t smell so good.” Bay Laurel’s was the first paperback to out-sell hardcover books, says her publisher. It recalls a time when rural America was the destination for those seeking to create a life free of materialism and full of joy. If you didn’t live through that decade, no problem; Bay Laurel will still bathe you in nostalgia.
|from The East Bay Express Online,
December, 2000by Jonah Raskin
Living on the Earth
Call it “That ’70s Book.” Originally published in 1970, it finally went out of print in 1980 after it sold more than 350,000 copies to folks on communes and to curious middle-class moms and dads in suburbia. Living on the Earth, Alicia Bay Laurel’s hippie workbook, was just what city kids needed in the ’70s when they left home or dropped out of college, and moved to the countryside. Written with a graceful hand and easy to read, it provided practical information about homesteading and farming, and offered beautiful drawings of naked girls and boys in an Edenic landscape-–all of which made the rigors of rural living look like fun.
Now, with third-generation hippies quickly coming of age, Laurel’s book is back in print in a new, revised 30th-anniversary edition that’s more environmentally sensitive than the original. This time the author doesn’t suggest bathing in streams or cutting down trees in the forest to make human habitats. There are other changes here and there, but overall the joyous, down-to-earth feeling of the original book has been preserved. The values of the counterculture come through as loudly and clearly as ever before.
It’s hard to believe, though, that Living on the Earth will sell as well in the coming decade as it did in the ’70s when it reflected the belief that paradise could be created here and now. Today, it seems in part like a cultural artifact from a long-ago decade. Still, Laurel’s book is undeniably charming and it’s likely to make unreconstructed hippies feel nostalgic for days gone by. For the utopians of the 21st century it’s likely to provide renewed inspiration to live in harmony with the planet and its creatures.
from: The Austin Chronicle, September, 2000
It all seemed a lot simpler in 1971. The simple solution to my misery was to get back to nature and learn to grow my own food and weave my own fabric and live in a field with dozens of other dispossessed hippies, children, and dogs. Fortunately, that never really happened, and it chills me to realize how close I came to it. So when the reissued Living on the Earth landed in my hands, it was like I was trapped in a time machine in an old science fiction movie. Suddenly I was flailing helplessly against a big whirling spiral. In 1971, I was a mess — a confused adolescent trapped in the hell between hideous teenage persecution and suburban emptiness. And this book offered a way out. As if she were a cross between Martha Stewart and a Deadhead, the author presents a utopia of simple self-sufficiency with decidedly childlike illustrations, presumably to underscore the simplicity of simplifying your life. It’s not really all that easy, but, back then, this book made me dream of it.
|From the website 60sfurther.com:
The first author I would like to introduce here is someone whose books have been on my shelf (and in my heart) since the early 70’s. As young back-to-the-land homesteaders headed for the idyllic country life, many books were needed to give us suburban transplants some sorely needed guidance. A number of us had never even seen a vegetable garden before!!! Let alone know how to can, freeze etc. without killing ourselves in the process!!
And during that time, amidst all the other purely practical books..”Living on the Earth” was born. Hand-lettered and illustrated by Alicia, it was loaded with practical advice of all sorts in a wonderfully whimsical manner…weaving spirituality with earthiness. Her works have always been a reminder to stay true to my heart..and to retain simplicity in lifestyle, love for all and stay high naturally by being in love with life.
“An original work of its time, now returning to print after twenty years at a time when environmental awareness and concern is at a high.”
The Rainforest Alliance, New York NY
From: Thoreau Green World, May 6, 2002
OK, on to the final part of my economic rant. In addition to getting your own thing together, I think it is equally important that you want less. There are several books that I recommend. First, the classic. Walden. Second is a book on the practicalities of a Thoreauvian lifestyle in the present day, Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth”. The third book is somewhat deceptively titled “The Tightwad Gazette”, by Amy Daczyn (not at all sure about the spelling of that last name, pronounced “decision”) It is not about being ungenerous, rather it is about giving yourself a lifestyle of sane spending. Additionally, many of the ideas in this book are also environmentally beneficial. It is one of those nice situations in life where there is little tradeoff: If you are doing it for the environment, you also save money; if you do it to save money, you also save the environment. Not bad, huh?
I’m not sure if we can ever cease craving, but our cravings do have to be calmed. In addition to all the practical suggestions in Alicia Bay Laurel’s book, she also suggests meditation. Try it. Unless enough of us calm our inner fires, we’re all doomed.
|From: The MLS Bookstore“Living On The Earth”
by Alicia Bay Laurel
This book is illustrated by the author in simple line drawings. She draws knowledge about communal hippie living from many individuals and acknowledges them in her book. They give specific directions on how to build your own shelter, dig a proper latrine, grow your own food, sew your own clothing, and live harmoniously on the earth with your fellow humans. These lessons taught by Alicia Bay Laurel and her friends should become part of our American oral tradition. People of all generations can benefit from the author’s childlike perspective on simplicity.
From: Powells Books, Portland OR
From: Daedalus Books
A classic of the back-to-the-land, do-it-yourself philosophy of the 1960s, this free-spirited, homemade, information-packed book is updated with information on sustainable technology and the environment, while maintaining the freewheeling lyricism of the original 1970 edition. In drawings, recipes, and handwritten text the book depicts human life in ecstatic harmony with nature. It’s also a wide-ranging compendium of country living skills, in a design that influenced many books to follow, created by a then-teenaged resident of a northern Californian commune.
In 2002, Living On The Earth was recommended at the following web sites:
CHURCH OF ALL WORLDS – Basic Bibliography
Hundreds of books have contributed to the constellation of ideas and world-view that is the CAW. Of these, the following bibliography includes the most vital, essential, basic, challenging, and revolutionary. We have organized the list into a number of topics, which are here presented in order of essential relevance to our present gestalt. Within each category, individual books are listed in what we consider the ide
I. THE VISION
http://www.omphalos.net (posted in 2000)
Inspiration is not the word! When I heard your interview, I was so excited because you wrote your book exactly for people like me. I was a kid born in a small town in Texas who never really had to do anything! When I ran away from home and moved to a commune community, Living on the Earth was a great tool for providing an orientation on LIFE! I learned how to survive not only communal living but how to live on the earth! In the commune I used your basic whole wheat bread recipe and baked them in coffee cans so I could make 9 loaves at a time upright. I had to make 30 Sandwiches a day as well as breakfast and occasionally dinner. I made our community granola that they all LOVED! There was some controversy in the commune because I was a “guy” and should be doing the manual labor and not working in the kitchen. The women liked that I was cooking and everyone agreed that I was good in that arena. What I learned from Living on the Earth is that the secret to good cuisine is fresh products! It is hard to go wrong when you start with wholesome natural food. I even made some clothes after reading Living on the Earth. They were more like robes and baggy shirts but the point was that this kid with no knowledge was able to plant a garden, make clothes, cook on a campfire and a wood-stove, develop a Granola that is for sale today “Ezra’s Granola” and create a niche for myself in a community. I was 17 when I first picked up Living on the Earth and still have the original copy. I am 54 today and still read it and remember good times with Alicia!
I would be honored and humbled to prepare dinner for you!
Wheeler Ranch [1967-1973]
Wheeler Ranch was founded by landscape artist Bill Wheeler on a 320-acre ranch along Coleman Valley Road. Wheeler opened the ranch to everyone after county authorities began rousting the residents at Morning Star Ranch. When Morning Star was leveled, Wheeler Ranch continued as a quintessential hippie commune until the bulldozers arrived in 1973. Wheeler Ranch was written up in the June 1970 issue of Harper’s. The book “Living on the Earth”, a best-seller in the early ’70s, was written while author, Alicia Bay Laurel, was living on the ranch.
VEGAN dairy recipes
(same website also quotes the beaded curtain recipe from LOTE–abl)
From http://www.lelandra.com, a wonderful web site devoted to hippie crafts:
Threads for Heads – This comb-bound book of about 50 pages is the only “commercial pattern” I know of that is oriented specifically to the hippie market. It gives instructions for basic items like apron shirts, pants and shorts, skirts, etc., including guidance on constructing your own patterns from your measurements. I loved the personal touch of the quotes and bits of poetry throughout… it reminded me of the Alicia Bay Laurel books…
From Tribal Jams Magazine, spotted among recipes and instructions for cooking while camping out, by a writer named Sunflower Junction:
Read Alicia Bay Laurel’s book “Living on the Earth” for more ideas on camp food. I consider this book to be the essence of hippiedom.
From Whole Earth Magazine’s review of The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery:
Nevertheless, as folk literature—as the crazy quilt of a quarter-century’s worth of hints for rural living and as a monument to one woman’s determination to feed her seven children by ingenuity and hard work—this book should be shelved in your collection between the Foxfire books and Alicia Bay Laurel’s Living on the Earth .
From Vegetarian Teen’s website:
Stephanie, age 17: Well, I know a book you could refer to. I have this book called Living on Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel and it is pretty much a guide to life. It explains methods to make just about everything yourself so that it is healthy and environmentally friendly, and more often than not, vegan or vegetarian. The book includes beauty products, like soaps (facial), different types of baths (Japanese, steam, etc.) and a bunch of other things. You should get this book – it’s amazingly helpful, unique and extremely interesting. A “how to” guide to suit your everday needs.
From the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage website:
We were graced with two fabulous performers this week, who stopped here on their way across country. Alicia Bay Laurel wrote a best-selling book called Living on the Earth in the late sixties based on the skills she learned living on a commune. She just rereleased the book and is traveling the country telling stories and singing songs about that time. She performed here because Alline contacted her about selling her book through Community Bookshelf, Alline’s book business.
From The Hestia Guild Bookshelf:
Living on the Earth When I first met Bella, I saw this book on her bedroom wall and knew we’d have the same goals in life. (I also had a copy!) It’s the original hippie guide to homesteading. It’s a great book to color in the pages with your kids – there are big, childlike, sweeping illustrations. No printing…everything is just handwritten in Alicia’s loopy cursive. This book starts with outdoor survival and moves to important things like home birth and home medical remedies, how to make your own shellac and turpentine, dealing with crabs and lice. Also fun things that only the hippies would think of – tie-dyeing with natural dyes, making musical instruments, wind chimes, and kid toys out of recyclable materials, etc. Will bring a smile to your face, and your kids will love it. It’s another one that is probably out of print and you’ll have to look hard to find a copy.
I was so impressed with your first edition that I’m sure my daughter will love the 4th edition. The information you have captured is getting lost in our current culture and the way you have detailed such valuable knowledge is so wonderfully straightforward, useful and inspiring. My husband and I currently live aboard a small sailboat that is almost completely self-sustaining, and little by little we are trying to return to a simpler, more natural way of life while we cruise around the world. I will use your book as a guide toward this end, and I’m sure my daughter will be just as inspired.
Thank you and Fair Winds and Following Seas to You!
Diana (Mulroy) Reynolds
Chat on http://archives.his.com
OK, I may be just speaking to my fellow aging hippies out there, but I want everyone to know how pleased I was to discover that Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth” has been re-issued in a special 30th anniversary edition. For many of us who came of age in the 1960s and began our journey through the various crafts in the early 1970s, “Living on the Earth” was both a roadmap and a bible. This book, written entirely in Alicia’s own cursive script and illustrated with her charming line drawings, was intended to be the definitive guide for sustainable living. And for may of us it really was. I cannot imagine how many people were inspired by this book to try their hands for the first time at sewing, dyeing, weaving, pottery-making or even candle-dipping and sprouting our own veggies. Everything she described seemed so infinitely possible. So we just plunged in and did it. Didn”t wait for anyone’s permissions. I can remember in my pregnant hippie days constructing most of my maternity clothes from the patterns in the book. (And yes, I really did have a tie-dyed maternity top). The first dyeing I did was by following her instructions for tie-dying. There was a pattern for constructing a simplke Inkle loom, and instructions on how to make simple musical instruments from items around the house. Learned from this book to distil rosewater, for example. I am so pleased that the book is back in print again. Of course this time it costs $12.95 instead of the $3.95 my mom paid for the copy she bought me back in 1970. The new edition is updated, taking into account some technological innovations and new ecoogical concerns that have arisen in the last three decades. But its lovely heart and soul are still intact. Here’s a URL for Alicia Bay Laurel’s own website. And you can buy the book through this site. Ah, I am filled with such nostalgia!
I made an inkle loom and many belts. My son made a red, white , and blue one and almost got kicked out of school for it (that’s how it was then). I’m going to get the book and share it with my grandchildren.
Jo Rice in Ohio
When I’m not making the folk festival circuit, I’m a student at SUNY Geneseo. I’m an Art major/English minor, but I have no idea where I want to go with that since I’d rather be living out of a van with a guitar, a change of clothes, and a jar of peanut butter to keep me alive.
I thrive on unusual books. Any suggestions are welcome, since my “to read” pile is gradually decreasing to the size of two small rooms. Most recent books I’ve read: “Living on the Earth” by Alicia Bay Laurel and a collection of humorous essays by Mark Twain.
My only dream is to ride freight trains across the country with my guitar. If I never do another thing afterward, I will have lived more than everyone on this campus combined.
The Globe: The Daily Freak 7/4/00
Early last week, I picked up a book “Living On The Earth” by Alicia Bay Laurel. Very sixties, very countercultural, especially in this sense: It practically teaches you the skills to survive and enjoy life completely off the grid, or at least as far off it as you want to be. It isn’t a book about “survivalism” practiced by militias and wackos. It’s all about forging a good life outside mundane society. It doesn’t promote revolution, it creates revolution by giving you the tools to live the good life without J.C. Penney, Nike, Stop+Shop, The Gap, and Microsoft.
And again I ask…how independent are you?
I have always loved this book. It rings true and honest, advocating a simple, celebrate-life existence. Subtitled, “celebrations, storm warnings, formulas, recipes, rumors and country dances”. Quirky line drawings by the author. Cover drawing of naked woman in reverance to the sun. Overall a bit worn and well-loved. Several dark spots on cover.
Seasoned Booksellers (ad for used book)
” hippie: an open hearted being striving to develop a soul`s link to the divine.
You have no idea how delighted I am to receive this email response. Your book holds a very dear place in the warmest part of my heart. It was given to me by two of the sweetest friends I have ever known but with whom I have lost contact. Your book continues to inspire and validate the most relevant part of who I am as a person – encouraging, light, fun, curious, forgiving, tolerant, creative, hard working, musical, and loving.
I am 5+ months past treatment for cancer and having that book makes me less worried about outcomes. The circle of life resonates with me now in all things and your book, your simple, amazing book with it’s crazy, free form, looping pen draws that circle for me in my mind. It is stored away in my attic and I’m getting it down just to hold it’s richness in my hands once again and perhaps try to find a recipe for something yummy.
Thanks again for the book and for being such a positive, loving, and very special part of my life for so very long. I have read a lot of books in my life and some I’ve even kept for some time. But Living on the Earth is the one book I will never lose – even if I give it away to someone I love – because it lives in my heart.
From Your Dear Friend,
I just wanted to let you know I’m enjoying Living on the Earth tremendously! The illustrations are incredible and your flowing, poetic writing style is like a window into your spirit 🙂 Thanks for the lessons in enjoying this Earth of ours, I’ll definitely put them to good use.
Awww, I am so touched to hear from you. I do love your book, yet am now finding though I enjoy just having a lovely thing, I would rather pass it on to someone who will use and gain from it. And your book is one whose time has come again, the current younger generations desperately needing classic natural and self help knowledge. There are some around here who don’t even know how to prepare a carrot or sew on a button. My sights are now on writing into the world my views on life’s consciousness and how e.g. plants through their flower essences are helping us to develop into a new stage of unity consciousness. Perhaps you know the work of Peter Russell. Whatever you are up to these days I wish you the very best and thank you for your wonderful book which helped encouraged me on my direction in my youth.
Love and blessings,
|Alicia Bay Laurel, in my opinion, is the world’s sexiest woman. Equal parts hippie chick, geisha, and earth goddess–a total babe.John Sakowitz
Blessings upon you, John, whoever you are…ABL
When I met your book at my age 14 at Manpei Hotel in Karuizawa, it changed my life. Until I met your book, I was living in a pretty regular, standard Japanese life, and had never thought about living without any electricity and at that time, your book left my mind very different experience for me.
And I was happy to know there will be a world somewhere, people is living freed from controlled system. So, your book has changed my life and widened my soul.
I don’t know how I can express my excitement inside of me, when I met your book in my teenage time. I love all of your words, drawings and life style in your book and your book made small Japanese girl dreamed about beautiful people and community existing in this world freed from all gravity.
I feel light going forward even when I am in a dark world.
You show me beautiful things in this world all the time.
I love you,
Translator, web designer, animator, DJ, photographer
Tasnim Janice Burton This book played a major role in my development of living lightly on the earth and my creativity. Alicia ~ oh, I loved your book! So basic and primal, showing us how to live in harmony with nature, in beauty. It has been a thrill to find you on Facebook, carrying onward!
Yuka Hoshino I love your drawings. They really make me feel we are loved by the Earth and the Universe. Living on the Earth is the art of love.
Deborah Derr I just found the greatest treasure ever! Your book, Living on the Earth!!!
Wendy Green: My slow life mentor!! The seeds you planted in me in the 70’s have blossomed into a full fledged off grid lifestyle since 2005. Forever grateful.
Jane Eagle: I still have my copy of Living On The Earth; love it always!
Barbara Gettes I’m writing to tell you how thankful I am for coming across your book Living on the Earth. I discovered it initially years ago at my friend’s farm (and my ‘home away from home’) in New Hampshire. With no exaggeration your book changed my life coupled with the first year I spent a summer on The Farm. So thank you, thank you for that.
I never thought to actually just contact you!
With Love, Barbara
Kerry Lee Hoffman Thank you so much for writing and drawing Living on the Earth. Who knew that a hippie chick from a commune would change the direction of my entire life?
Mea (founder/director of the Spirit Weavers Gathering) I was in a bookstore in Pasadena CA back in 2005 and found Living on the Earth. I could not believe my eyes with what I was seeing. LOTE resonated with every cell of my being. I bought the book and went home to find used copies on Amazon. I literally bought 25 of them (at that time they were like 2.99 on Amazon used). I gave them away that Christmas to all of my favorite humans. They were all also blown away by the book and many of us went on to buy 1st edition prints of many of your books. I know a few of us that have at least 4!
I believe that this find of your book on this day opened up some magic that was hiding for many moons! I posted about your book on my blog and met Sophia Rose a year later. I love that you two have connected and I love that you are interested in Spirit Weavers. I have traveled with your book and have probably gifted away over 50 books over the years. Truly!
And, I want to share that part of Spirit Weavers is really inspired by Living on the Earth and the back to the land movement that is now awakening again.
We would love to have you join us; that would be beautiful!
Its so beautiful to connect with you here as you have inspired so many of us!
from Setsuko Miura
It was very joyful time with you at Iwaishima.
Thank you very much for sending me your CD’s.
I can feel your life with art and joy.
Ren likes them, too!
Today I received a letter from Taka-chan:
“Thank you so much for coming to Iwaishima!
This Birthday (42 year’s anniversary) is very special for me.
And your talk about your life, American history, Hippy history and so on, were also big gifts. Today I also got your nice book. I feel my life is opening to new world.
“Thanks again! I hope we’ll see you again.
“Your song and your practice are prayers for peace.
She also said that your live songs are so wonderful.
She loved to listen to the live music. Unplugged.
I hope you are well, and keep on Living on the Earth!
Love and Respect
Shirley Brown Betush when i was very young, 11 or 12 maybe, i happened upon this book at one of my sister’s friends houses. someone gave me a copy, which i lost…bought a new one, gave it away, got a new ‘used’ one…and i continue to love it. it was sort of a ‘how to do life’ guide. i used it often, learning. i reached for it often. 🙂
today i had the extreme honor of meeting this lovely human, Alicia Bay Laurel. it was a wonderful opportunity to thank her for the inspiration that her book provided me: to build gardens, make babies and do art.
thank you Alicia!
KC Williams I would love you to sign this for my daughter, Lily. I’m giving her books for Christmas that meant a lot to me at the same age (17) as she is now. And I used to sit with your book for hours, back then. Thanks so much!!!
Brynda Bechtold I mentioned you today while shopping in a health food store with my daughter in Savannah. That I had made my own essential oils and soap back in 1971, 72…and how your book “Living on the Earth” told me how to do everything.
Val Greenoak I don’t think there is another book that expresses my hippie sensibilities as well. It is on the shelf with a few other real classics of the era that still hold up. Dog-eared? Yes. Still need to find the picture of my now 46-year-old son wearing the shirt I made for him from an Indian bedspread from a newspaper pattern. You taught me my first primitive skills. Love to you Alicia!!!
Celine Richwine I had one of the original editions in the very early ‘70s. I spent hours poring over the book and wishing I could live that life. It took awhile, but I’m doing it now!
Lucy Logsdon I have used your book as an example for my rebel step-grrrls of how helpful humans can be, and what kind of work can be published instead of useless rubbish.
Steve Filby I remember a photo of you now playing your guitar with Juliette Bairacli Levy in her later life. She was a wonderful lady too. Juliette’s granddaughter Adaya was searching for her grandmother’s early poems, many about gypsies in booklets The Cypress Wreath & The Yew Wreath. She is using them as lyrics for her new songs. Luckily we had copies of these poetry books & were able to photocopy & send them to her, as there were no copies available. It is always the simple gestures that give the most satisfaction in life & it was lovely to be able to help. Wishing you well on all your amazing projects, Alicia. Keep up your lovely work; the world is definitely a better place for it. I think we need more people like you in this world. Love & peace to you, Steve.
Claudia Joseph My older sister probably bought your book. I claimed it and it did help lead me to Permaculture. I remember we made the peasant blouses. It is on the shelf in my kitchen after traveling to CA and back east again. Not in storage like dozens of other books I own. I treasure it. A true inspiration. Thank you so much!
Nancy Taylor Alicia Bay Laurel, your art deserves to be acknowledged. Not only did I pore over your books, but my now 29-year-old son loves them too! In fact, he keeps asking me for my copies. Love you.
Courtney Girouard I absolutely love this book and am so giddy to see there is a FB page for it. And with good reason there should be! This is an all time favorite, well traveled and reread through the years, must have book I adore.
Russell Fuller Alicia, I’ve long lost track. Decades, right, but thank you for then (when the original book was a regular fixture), and how nice to see you now, vibrant as ever. The kitchen where a bunch of us spent a good deal of time, and still spend some, turned 45, last summer. New oven now; it still uses propane.
Alicia Bay Laurel Thank you, Russell. It first was published in September 1970. It’s still selling in English, Japanese and Korean. It was selected as one of the 101 most influential American cookbooks of the 20th century (and it’s not really a cookbook). It’s currently displayed in three museum exhibitions about the hippie world. I’m writing a 50 years later sequel, since I once again find myself in a situation in which I, and many others, are wondering how to survive.
Sophia Rose I’m so honored to know you and to share such a deep appreciation for one another’s work. I was sharing your books last night with someone who was just seeing them for the first time. It was such a treat to get to read your words and see your illustrations with fresh eyes. I love you Alicia.
Varda Steinhardt I’ve had that book since about 1975. Was just moving & doing a big (very painful) book purge. Picked that up from a bottom shelf… husband pointed to “toss” bin. I clutched it to my chest & said “not on your life!” In 1976, I was a 16 year-old vegetarian feminist hippie-holdover high school girl with hairy armpits, reading tarot cards & casting astrological charts for my friends & trying to survive in the disco-era suburbs. Your book was my bible.
Becky Brown Your Living on the Earth book was (and is) one of my treasures. It’s a little tattered, but I still enjoy reading it and looking at your drawings.
Tina Carlisi I am an artist from Montreal, Canada and I am also currently doing my PHD in fine arts. My artistic and case-study based dissertation is an exploration of the lessons that can be learned from communes (established during the counter culture as well as more contemporary ones).
Part of my focus is also to gain more insight from women’s perspectives and experiences which has been underwritten in or excluded from existing literature on communes.
Living on the Earth is one of my favourite poetic and practical books which has had a profound impact on me as an artist and as an individual.
Hi, Alicia! It was so nice reading through Living on the Earth and knowing that it is possible to live that way! I am 22, just getting into the hippie scene, and I am fascinated by all the things they did and all that they had going on! What did you do for fun in the 60s & 70s?
Currently, I am working my way through the Magical Books you had listed in LOTE. I am on The Hobbit right now and just finished the first Dragon Riders of Pern volume.
I hope to hear from you!
Wow Sarah! What a lovely letter! May I post it on the reader feedback page on my blog?
What we did do for fun in those days? Play and sing live music together. Dance together. Go to hot springs and do sweat lodge ceremonies. Hike in nature. Make things – crafts, food, gardens, shelters. Do yoga. Go swimming. Have potluck meals together.
My personal hobbies are visiting shrines of culture and visiting shrines of nature. Going to places that astonish me. A book can also be a shrine of culture – so can a performance or a movie.
Hugs to you, sister!
Alicia Bay Laurel
Ayer fue mi cumple y me regalaron esta maravilla de @kachinaediciones. Por favor, ojeadloen vuestra libreria de cofianza. Yo estoy que me da un soponcio de amor.
Tania Berta Judith
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