1970, March 5: Letter from Peter to his brothers

My brother Jay’s birth announcement!

(At the time, Jay was known as Joaquin.)

This handwritten letter was from Peter to at least two of his brothers, maybe all three. I’m sure there was a telegram or a phone call or something to George and Helen, but I don’t have a paper letter to them with this news.

After the birth-announcement part, Peter goes on to talk about what’s up with him.

(The letter is ten pages long, but handwritten on 7"x9" paper, so it’s about 900 words.)

Content warning for vivid graphic description of boils, enemas, and other physical ailments and processes.

I’ve redacted a few bits of this letter, at Jay’s request.

In the first main paragraph, the word VERY is written in astrological symbols that look sorta like the English letters V-E-R-Y. Specifically: an upside-down Leo symbol; a sideways Scorpio symbol; a distorted Pisces symbol; and an Aries symbol. Marcy was a Leo, Peter was a Scorpio, Jay is a Pisces, and I’m an Aries; I suspect that Peter was very pleased with himself for turning our four sign-symbols into something that looked like a word. (The capital H in the phrase His name is also a Pisces symbol.)

54 March 1970, 4 a.m.

it’s raining

o my brothers——

forgive me please for being always often so late —— you know i always come through in the end, but sometimes it seems to take me so long to get it all together —— anyways, we wish you all a VERY




His name (as near as we can get):

JOAQUIN Rest of name redacted.

born saturday morning, Date redacted., at home, with a little help from {our, his} friends, a couple of (doting?) parents, his 23-month-older brother, and a lot of joh-rei… the membrane had broken wednesday afternoon, a long time before, and the labor was long & difficult, though not obstructed (his head is smaller than jed’s was, & marcy’s muscles had already been stretched sufficiently…) he’s pisces with moon & neptune conjunct at midheaven in sagitarius & eleven degrees of aquarius rising… with jupiter retrograde in scorpio in the ninth house in opposition to saturn in taurus and trine the sun, & mars in aries sextile to mercury rising…!!

so, you can imagine, we’ve all been kept pretty busy… “lady madonna, children at your feet, i wonder how you manage to make ends meet” “we get by with a little help from our friends” went through a hospital scene today, taking joaquin for a bilirubin & hemoglobin count, ’cause he’s looking a little bit jaundiced —— marcy may have to stop nursing him for a few days until his liver is more developed … but we found out he’s o.k. —— OKAY? —— he’s BEAUTIFUL, healthy, has great ears, an outstanding nose, & wise alert eyes, a strong grasp, a strong suck, a penetrating cry, dark hair, & (had) long fingernails which we cut right away so he wouldn’t scratch himself —— when he came out, he breathed & cried as soon as i pulled the membrane off his face, what a numinous miracle, that changeover from navel-fed to mouth-fed and to air-breathing —— & then i tied off the cord & cut it (what a privilege & honor!) after we’d aspirated his nose of mucus (not much) —— we welcomed him to the planet with joh-rei & tears of joy…

plus i’m going through the usual extraordinary scorpio changes —— just finished repelling an invasion of particularly persistent Redacted., only to experience an incredible vesuvius of a poison-bubbling boil Redacted. (the yellower & greener the toxins, the older they are —— these seem like poison-ghosts from the past, exorcised from their long haunting as a purgative effect of a three-day purification: drinking the juice of five grapefruit, 3 lemons, and 3-4 oranges (diluted to half-strength with 2 quarts water) daily, starting each day with a hot cup of ⅓-strength PLUTO WATER (!), “America’s Laxitive”, “concentrated mineral water” “made in French Lick, Ind.” (with a picture of a red devil on label), and ending with a (2-qts.-water + juice-of-one-lemon)-enema (i found i could draw the water into my stomach through nauli: back-flushing)… this very cleansing regime i found in a book on raw vegetable juice therapy —— on the fourth day, saturday, i had carrot-and-spinach juice (5:3 ratio) as medicine for the boil, and also, monday & sunday … which together with much joh-rei and much cleaning and bandaging by marcy has brought it to point of being nearly through finished draining, thank the Lord…

then last tuesday i began a computer-programming course at the free u of berkeley … costs $20, refundable upon completion of the course… also, bought a beautiful new toy —— it’s a (learn-to-play-guitar)-kit called COLOR GUITAR —— color tabs pasted at each fret under each string and so that same note (& octaves thereof) is same color over whole fingerboard… then a color-matrix is put behind punched-hole sheets to show scales, chords & fingering in terms of colors: strings are tuned each a fourth apart from adjacent string(s), so that fingering for a particular chord or scale is not different, no matter where on fingerboard it’s played… twelve tones, twelve colors, around a spectrum circle, CAN you DIG IT? —— i have only just practiced about 2-3 times so far, but learned a lot already, it’s so organic, a very beautiful idea, well worth the $15 —— available from whole earth catalogue, portola institute, 558 santa cruz, menlo park, cal. 94025 —— there’re color tabs for two guitars, & the lessons are separate sheets, can be shared…

well, if you consider besides all the above changes, the kitchen-yoga of maintaining an orderly household (the $25 wringer-washer we bought at st. vinnies turns laundry from a spectator to a participant sport…) (veggies through juicer, juiced pulp to stock-pot, stock to soup & bread —— stock squeezed out in juicer, what’s left into organic garbage for compost heap) (garlic, onions, radishes, & carrots growing in garden so far), (visit from groovy social worker today) (cleaning house, washing dishes) (child–care) … and you’ll see why to get this* written i had to stay up all night! so what’s nu with u? love, love, love, peter, marcy, jed & what’s-his-name o yeah wah-keen

In margin: (shopping is another whole trip about which more later)

In margin: (*1st written birth announcement)

Some notes:

Pluto Water
I had never heard of this before reading this letter, but Wikipedia says it was very popular.
programming course
I have no idea what got Peter into programming. A year earlier, he mentioned reading a FORTRAN book, but I don’t know whether it was something he had done before or whether this was all new to him.
Color Guitar
As I mentioned in notes on a previous letter: Apparently around this time, Peter and possibly other family members were trying to learn to play guitar. I have no memory of a guitar around the house, and Peter never played one in my memory.

Facebook post for this letter.

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