By: Amy Haben
The Source Family were a spiritual, meditation based hippie cult and rock band from the early seventies out of L.A. Run by Father Yod, the long, white haired, bearded former marine and speed addict, who decided to put down the black beauties and booze at age 43, to follow a healthier life of yoga, raw foods and of coarse, marijuana. He was against drugs and alcohol, yet saw pot as a ceremonial herb that aided his deep, spiritual practices. The love of a 19 year old Parisian girl fueled his ambition of health as he healed her sick body just by changing her diet. They eventually married and were to become the father and mother of their followers.
Father Yod was born Jim Baker, he grew into a 6’4 beast of a man, who fought in World War 2 and became a Judo expert. He killed two men with his bare hands— getting off on self defense. Before his transformation into Father Yod, he had robbed between 2 and 11 banks, funding his famous Source restaurant on Sunset Blvd. Woody Allen was filmed eating there, mocking the overly healthy fare, in the legendary movie Annie Hall. Joni Mitchell, Goldie Hawn, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Yes, Steve McQueen and other celebrities frequented The Source.
It attracted a lot of under age hippies that would work there after school serving been sprouts and kale to flaky, long haired astrologists. Musicians started working there, trading in their hard-partying lifestyle on tour, for a more loving and balanced way. Some followers believed Father Yod had powers including bringing a stillborn baby back to life with his prayer. He practiced Kundilini yoga and would be able to see through his third eye.
What attracted most of these kids to Father Yod was his love-bombing technique of hugging you at first sight and whispering in your ear “Welcome home. I am your father and you are my child.” Since many of these kids had absent or emotionally vacant dads, this was music to their ears. One member described being led to the back of Source restaurant to meet Father Yod and kissing his feet immediately as that was what he believed happened upon meeting a guru leader. A surprised Father Yod looked down at him with stony eyes and replied, “Far fucking out!”
Eventually, he moved his children who at one point reached one hundred followers into a large house in L.A. Sky Saxon of The Seeds even joined The Source Family for a bit. You were to sell all your belongings and give the money to Father Yod before you moved in and set out to wash dishes or wait tables at The Source. They were all given names like Electricity Aquarian, Isis Aquarian, Sunflower Aquarian, etc.. Everybody went down to City Hall together to legally change their names making them an official family.
They wore all white and were given a strict code of commandments to follow which included morning exercise, meditation, and of coarse, smoking the ceremonial herb and holding it in for six seconds a day. He would preach, but instead of sounding like an evangelical, he would just rap to his children about the pleasure of ‘balling’, (What an awful word for sex!) , the upcoming apocalypse and his endless love for them.
Father Yod gave his disciples $30,000 to go out and buy instruments and Ya Ho Wha 13 was born. They made 64 albums back to back of freestyle, psychedelic, trippy melodies that are quite entertaining. The music is very heavy due to the deep spiritual and sexual influences that transcend through the records. Billy Corgan is a fan amongst many other noted musicians.
This utopia started to be covered by dark clouds though, as Father Yod told his wife that he was going to take other wives. He recruited 13 brides from the family, some of which were underage. They started experimenting with magic, including a sexual, tantra based form. Sometimes, Father Yod or Yahowa, as he was called, would play matchmaker and marry people off in unions that they had no say in. Child protective services were called to the home about the underage sex, so Father Yod’s response was to make those girls get married the next day.
When children were sick, the family would just pray for them to get better. Fearing the loss of his sons life, one family packed up and left which Father Yod resented. As neighbors started getting worried about this massive, cults intentions, (remember the Manson incident happened just a few years earlier) the landlord was given some heat and kicked them out. So they sold The Source Restaurant and shipped off to the island of Kahui in Hawaii. It was here that their Father admitted that he was not a God, but only a man.
Soon after Father Yod took a kite ride off a cliff and out of nowhere the excessively windy day halted and he nose dived into rocks. He considered going to a hospital, but when his children reminded him that its against his own rules, he trashed the idea. He died hours later with a smile on his face.
Some of Father Yod’s groovy music: