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The Source Family

If you’ve been in the library lately, you may have noticed that our last display featured intriguing, unusual, and inspiring true life stories.  As Mark Twain put it, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”  Well, after spending the last month combing our library for the wildest true life stories to display, I’ve found quite an array of unbelievable tales- explorers living amongst killer ants, extreme gardeners and their giant gourds, Michael Jackson‘s life story.  Yes, I thought I had seen it all…until I came across a shocking new documentary called The Source Family.

The Source Family follows a Los Angeles cult formed in the 70′s around the unconventional spiritual leader Father Yod.  Father Yod, also known as YaHoWa, was formerly Jim Baker, an ex-Marine, judo master, and wanna-be stuntman who had been in and out of prison for killing people with his judo chops.  Isis Aquarian, the cult’s historian (incidentally, she was also one of Father Yod’s fourteen wives) recounts how he robbed “between two and eleven banks” to fund what turned out to be one of the first health food restaurants in the country, The Source Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.  The Source Restaurant was staffed by beautiful, long haired sirens dressed in white robes who catered to clientele such as Joni Mitchell and John Lennon.  After being “turned on” by the teachings of Sikh kundalini master Yogi Bhajan, Jim Baker grew a long white beard, changed his name to Father Yod, dressed exclusively in white robes and turbans, and declared himself the spiritual father of what came to be known as The Source Family.  “I know this sounds insane, but I saw lightning bolts coming out of his ears,” one of his devotees professes.  Most of his 140 followers were under thirty, children of the counterculture who moved in together in a mansion in the LA hills and worshiped their earthly spiritual father above all things.  All members legally changed their names-Electricity, Ah-Om, Sunflower, Orbit-and took the middle name “The” and the last name “Aquarian”.  At first Father Yod, in his fifties, had just one teenage wife, but as his powers grew he took on a dozen more, instructing them and the rest of the gang in the ways of tantra and the Sacred Herb.  He was also the front man of Ya Ho Wa 13, a psychedelica-rock band made up of his followers.  After trouble with the law, Father Yod transplanted his cult to Hawaii, where they struggled to regain the idyll of their early days.  I won’t spoil the ending of this weird tale, let’s just say it involves Father Yod, a hang glider, and a 1,300 foot cliff.

The Source Family draws on a wealth of video footage and photos: from home births to ritual healings to Father Yod tooling around in a Rolls Royce, it seems that the Source Family documented everything.  There are also some great interviews with former Source members.  If The Source Family whets your appetite for truly unusual realities, try these documentaries: Tabloid, Cat Dancers, Random Lunacy, and Bombay Beach.

One Comment

  1. Laura Garon says:

    I am an original Source Family member joining in 1970 and remaining until our dispersal in Hawaii; and like any tall tale told again and again, our story keeps growing out of proportion and this review like the majority of others is full of inexact statements. I was nineteen when I joined the family, and Robin Baker is two years older than me; so she certainly was not a teenager as this article states. Also, Jim Baker/Father Yod did not ‘take on more teenage wives’, nor instruct them in the ways of tantra & sacred herb. Many of the women in the family chose to want to be with Father, he did not choose them as this article implies. And tantra was only a practical and small part of what we were all about, as well as the use of sacred herb (which was essentially THE smallest amount that you could imagine) and only used once in the early morning hours and very sparingly only to increase our meditation experience; but which was certainly not a requirement for all to participate. Nobody was required to do anything that they weren’t comfortable with doing, or simply did not want to! Also, the wearing of headbands and turbans was only for a brief period of time, but not throughout our entire experience, and was from Father’s experience of having been with Yogi Bhajan. In the early days of our group we did not wear robes, but rather primarily just wore white clothing….pants, dresses, etc. The robes, again were only part of an ever changing/diverse part of our attire. Also, Father did not always ‘tool’ around in a Rolls Royce; again that was only used briefly during a time in Los Angeles….the rest of the time we had/used a fleet of very ordinary VW buses. And, I have no idea what this person meant by ritual healings, as there was nothing ever that took place of that nature. We (the former members) are used to our entire story being sensationalized to make it sound more appealing to the public, but the true nature of our story was one of trying/attempting to live together as a cohesive group/family where we treated one another with kindness and respect, and tried to live a healthier, more conscious lifestyle which incorporated a healthy vegetarian diet, yoga & meditation, and the study/understanding of the spiritual meaning & fundamental understanding of the world, but far from being the hedonistic playground that so many of these reviews tend to make it out to be.

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