Cover layout with bleed borders and the original drawings for Living on the Earth.
Wow, here they are, the original drawings from which all of the books, CDs, t-shirts, fabrics, magazine illustrations and other printed images from Living on the Earth were born. Partially lettered in Press Type, yellowed with age, and stained with rubber cement and correction fluid (ah, the tools of the graphic design trade back in the late ’60’s), they are wabi-sabi, shabby-chic, framable, and absolutely authentic.
I will be having a gallery show at which the entire layout will be auctioned during the months of May and June 2008 at the Kurkku Arts and Environmental Center in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.
I created the drawings, lettering and layout for the first edition of Living on the Earth in 1969 and 1970, at the ages of 19, 20 and 21. The Bookworks, Bay Area distributor Book People’s publishing imprint, released it in September 1970 as their second title ever. They sold out the initial printing of 10,000 copies in two weeks. The Whole Earth Catalog’s review: “This could be the best book in this catalog. It is a book for people. If you are a person, it is for you.”
In April 1971, Vintage Books/Random House released the second edition, which became the first paperback ever on the New York Times Bestseller List. Publishers Weekly had never seen a book design like this one before, and published a handlettered review with illustrations from the book to note this. Dozens of books with derivative book designs, illustrations and themes appeared on the market within a year, and continue to appear to this day.
I am preparing to sell the original layout as an archival manuscript (I retain the copyright of the content), and thought you might like to see what the artwork looks like now, after 37 years in the same little blue suitcase inwhich I delivered it to The Bookworks in the spring of 1970. It’s moved to Hawaii from California with me twice.
The pages in the center of the book aren’t as yellowed as the cover and front pages, probably because they weren’t as subject to the acidity of the packaging in which they were stored. The rubber cement used in layout work in those pre-computer days left stains, as did the white correction fluid.
When I updated the information in Living on the Earth for the Villard/Random House third edition in 1999 (which, with minor changes, was also the 4th edition in 2003), I clearly could not re-use the original layout, so I took apart two pristine copies of the Vintage/Random House second edition and used the pages to lay out the revised edition, still using Rapidograph pen, scissors, rubber cement and correction fluid as I did in 1970.
One of the most noted updates in the revised edition was the layout on marijuana and hemp. I realized soon after moving to Maui in 1974 and inhaling the extra-strong product available there, that it made my nasal passages swell shut, obliging me to breathe through my mouth and wonder how long until this uncomfortable side effect would wear off. So I quit smoking pot. When I updated the text twenty-five years later, I had to find and interview someone who still grew it commercially to improve the instructions. I also learned the usefulness of hemp, even without the medicinal effects of tetrahydrocannabinol. Hemp preceeded petroleum as the material of choice for manufacturing almost everything useful. Canvas, which propelled ships across the ocean, derives its name from cannibis. Some environmentalists think we’ll be back to using hemp on a large scale after Peak Oil.
Living on the Earth was initially shelved in the Library of Congress under Home Economics, Handicrafts and Outdoor Living, but the 2000 Random House edition was categorized under Spirituality and Healthy Living, and the 2003 Gibbs Smith edition as a Reference Book. All of the above, would be my guess. I didn’t create it for a publisher. I made it as a gift to my fellow communards at Wheeler Ranch. However, the Universe had other plans.
Update as of 2021: Many of the original page layouts, framed in handmade driftwood frames created by master craftsman Yugi Kamioka, some with mat boards bearing my new additional illustrations, have been sold at a series of gallery shows in Japan. The cover layout hangs in the tea ceremony house of rock producer Takeshi Kobayashi. Fashion designers Kaoriko Ago Wada and Aya Noguchi, both of whom produced fashion lines printed with the pages of Living on the Earth, have framed pages hanging in their homes. Novelist Yoshimoto Banana bought framed pages, too, remembering how much she enjoyed the book in her childhood.
Here is a link to a video of an art exhibition of the framed page layouts at Gallery Speak For, in Daikanyama, Shibuya, Tokyo.
The sound track is an improvised piece called “Everything is Flowing” from the album Songs from Being of the Sun, which Ramón Sender Barayón recorded in 1973, of himself on zither and me on guitar, and both of us singing.
On May 1, 2020 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.
In the early ‘70’s, while living in on a mountain farm near Popayán, Colombia, Ramon and I wrote Being of the Sun, released as a companion volume 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, the vibrations of music, 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 remastered from Ramón’s 1973 reel-to-reel tape of the two of us performing songs, chants and improvisations from our book, just 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. I also performed this medley in the film I made in collaboration with filmmaker Luis Olano, of my live one-woman two-act storytelling and musical stage performance, Living on the Earth – The Musical.
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 became 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.”
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.
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.”
Gregory Sams 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.
Luis Olano Writer and Director of the documentary, “Sender Barayon: A Trip into the Light” December 2018 _________________________________________________________
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:
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….
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!
Nancy Taylor Holistic chiropractor Charlottesville, Virginia ___________________________________________________________
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.
Lei Aloha Smile Communicator 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.
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
Alastair Gordon 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.
Being of the Sun was so amazingly influential for me. I saw a copy in the Lafayette CA library when I was 14 in the ’80s, checked it out and based a large part of my life on it. My approach to spirituality was influenced by your book.
Intended to be a companion volume to Living on the Earth, this book goes deep into a communal way of life in 1973.
Alicia Bay Laurel and Ramon Sender share their vision of yoga, healing, sun songs, moon songs, meditation, ceremonies, communes, solitudes, and more in a how-to format connecting us back to our inner child, naked & free!
May the holy words found in this book heal the world at a time when we need them most!
Tracy Conti and Stephen McCarty Solar Return Shop Echo Park, Los Angeles, California
I finished reading Being of the Sun, and I loved it. It’s beautiful, and I can’t wait to see my dad read it to my [future] children one day. It will be a lovely bed time book.
Bianca Scott Herbalist and Writer Tigard, Oregon ____________________________________________
We don’t own or keep much in our lives, but this is one of the most treasured. This book came into our lives and gave us such joy. Wonderful images and genuine words of love and care for the planet and each other. Gratitude each day for the arrival of the Morning Star, bringer of life and joy to each and every living being on this planet.
My name is Alix, from Amsterdam. Currently I am on the island of Ibiza, in Spain.
Yesterday, I had the most perfect, aligned, beautiful ceremony with the mushroom. It told me to step in to the light, for I am a light being. It told me to always search for the Sun.
Then this morning I stumbled upon a vendor with retro books. The first one I was drawn to was your book Being of the Sun. I hope that you feel, as much as I do, how your time capsule found the right place at exactly the right time.
Thank you for your wisdom, for I will hand it over to my unborn children.
Being of the Sun found me at my local used book store the other day. It was the first book I noticed, and grabbed it . Being of the Sun speaks to my soul! I’m so grateful it found me. I want to thank you personally from my soul to yours.
It is almost everything I already believe in, and soo much more. I didn’t realize that it was the sequel to Living on the Earth, which I actually just went in search for and ordered along with the new edition of Being of the Sun, because I want to be able to color it, but didn’t want to ruin the original. I’m so happy that your book had found me, and grateful for being, and to get the chance to thank you for inspiring me and soo many others.
Its like you said in your book, the human race is awakening, and the universe listens to everything that we say feel or think. I’ve recently been awakening over the past few years, which has been a blessing, yet difficult at the same time, just because of the world we live in. I find soo much comfort in your books and I’m soo happy that you decided to write and publish them.
I hope that your books continue to find their way to more beautiful souls in search of their own spirituality, just like me
Stephanie Rose Gracon Avon Lake, Ohio
This is the “Breathing Cloud” It has lots of openings for air and there are prisms to breathe rainbow colored light.
Caroling Wholeo Geary Artist and creator of the Wholeo Dome
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