For about six heady years from the end of the sixties to the mid-point of the seventies, a group of over a hundred young people known as the Source Family operated a pioneering vegetarian restaurant on Sunset Blvd. and lived communally in the Hollywood Hills under the spiritual guidance of Father Yod, nee Jim Baker.
The restaurant was memorialized in the film Annie Hall as the stereotypical Hollywood beansprout joint, but at the time the place opened, the concept of health food was still foreign to most Angelenos. Father Yod, an ex-Marine self-defense expert and one of the first people in the US to really deliver on the idea of a gourmet aesthetic applied to healthy eating, became the leader of his own tribe of fresh-faced Californians looking for enlightenment. Yod espoused meditation, communal living, shared property, and a non-monogamous sexuality in which women held the power. During those years, the group spawned a heavy rock quartet to perform its own sacred music under the name Yahowha 13, and its trippy devotional albums – pressed in small batches and sold exclusively at the restaurant – have become classics among fans of improvised music.
In 1974, after the group’s notoriety had started to become bothersome in Hollywood, they moved to Hawaii seeking a fresh start. But Father Yod died just a year later, following an ill-fated hang-gliding expedition. Without its charismatic founder, the Family quickly disintegrated. Its story went largely untold, despite fascination in record collector and “cult” circles until archivist Isis Aquarian ( and one of Fathers 14 wives) took it upon herself in 2008 to contact as many former members as she could, go through her materials, and produce a definitive book about the family, which was published that year by Process Media. Father Yod, Yahowha 13 and The Sourceis a fascinating document, tracing the group’s history from its ecstatic first days to the bitter end.
Members of the family resurfaced in LA a few years ago after the book’s publication, and the reissue of several Yahowha 13 titles on Drag City Records, along with the original three-piece band’s first live performances in thirty-five years. Next year, The Eternal Now LLC will debut a feature length documentary about the group, also titled The Source, from filmmakers Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos. The film, portions of which were screened at the Occult L.A festival at the Silent Movie Theater in August, promises a combination of never-before-seen archival footage, along with recent interviews and demonstrations of meditation technique and the proper use of Sacred Herb (spoiler alert: one hit, first thing in the morning at 4AM, immediately before meditation, but never at any other time.)
We spoke to Isis Aquarian via email (following an illuminating dinner interview that this author failed to record properly) about the family, the movie, and what she hopes people can learn from their shared history. Emphasis, where added, is hers.
What do you remember about the decision to break off from the life you were living and move in with Jim Baker? Was it something you knew immediately that you wanted to do?
First of all, I knew Jim Baker before the Source (in) the Old World Restaurant days. I had moved to L.A. from NYC and loved hanging out there…became friends with his wife at the time, Dora. Jim was always so busy running the restaurant, but we connected but not really…it as if a HOLD HAD BEEN PUT ON US .
I met a famous rock n roll photographer named Ron Raffaelli and he was shooting Jimi Hendrix and needed people for a video shoot…we connected that night and I never left. (I) ended up being engaged and helping run the studio and living a very fulfilling fun filled privileged life. He was shooting all the big bands and rock n roll stars. He was king of classic rock era posters and album covers.
We were doing a poster where we needed Jesus looking people. I had not seen Jim Baker in awhile and heard he sold his interest in the Old World, and then He and Dora opened a new restaurant called The Source. Dora shortly left and Jim became a student of Yogi Bhajan and was well on his way in his spiritual quest. I knew he had started a communal family of sorts and they all were running the Source, wearing robes, long hair and looking like Jesus, so I decided to go over one day to get some models. I walked into the Source for the first time and asked for my old friend Jim Baker, and out came FATHER looking like Moses. He gave me the biggest hug and something happened in that moment…..it was as if a transference had happened, he aligned me with his frequency and I felt un-coded and different. I immediately knew I belonged there with Him and that this was what I had always been looking and waiting for. I just turned around and walked out on my life completely. It no longer held a hold on me. It no longer served its purpose for my soul’s journey, and Father and I started our path, agreements and destiny in earnest. My first night in the family at the Chandler Mansion (we called it the Mother House) was the night of the family’s first home birth. I brought in some cameras and a movie camera and I started documenting right away. Father named me the family historian, archive keeper, temple keeper and high priestess.
He told me that we had worked many lifetimes with each other in this way…supporting our spiritual paths and evolutionary process, doing the great work.
I understood it right away….I GOT IT….I got Him and I got the journey.
The impression I get from reading the book is that the group was not particularly interested in recruiting or making converts out of skeptics. Is that an accurate perception?
Recruiting or making converts especially out of skeptics would not be the most appropriate wording here.
We were a communal family in all sense of the genre. We had protocol and our own rules on things. We had a group of people who had become one in vibration and intent and were moving through the universe as they say, really fast. We were fine and could care less if anyone new came in, we were very comfortable with who was there at this point. So we did not really go out looking for people. What we did do was offer our great food at the Source for health education…offer our belief and teachings in several ways. Father’s awesome book “Liberation” and family members holding class in the redwood temple behind the Source for those who wanted to know more or where just wondering etc. For skeptics, it was a teething tool for family members to hone their understanding of it all and learn from that one also.
Of course with Father it was different….he was always open to someone who belonged there to be able to find him and come. So we did so in ways like the band playing gigs or at the high schools etc. He did want people to know there was something happening more than the Eastern vibration that was hitting L.A. and that the Western energy was the balance, It got to a point where we were pretty much a closed family except for the exceptional brother who knew he absolutely belong with Father and the family. And women were always welcomed as his sons needed angels…anyone new coming in we had a 30 day probation period to see if they fit or to see if that is really what they wanted.
We were pretty tight at that point and for someone to step into that oneness and vibration, they had to really hit the ground running to fit in and keep up.
By the way I have tons of stories of watching Father come before someone skeptic and by the time they were done, they were like really turned around.
(For example) we were doing a band gig somewhere in a park I think and father stepped on the platform and unknown to us a whole bunch of Hell’s Angels, gnarly bikers were in the crowd and one of them said something like “Who is this old man who thinks he is Jesus” and as they came up to him father, just sat down in lotus position and looked at them and started to talk and by the time it was over they where helping him stand up and got his Birkenstock slippers and put them on his feet and were all hugs and smiles.
Same thing happened when he went to Egypt and the plane had to stop because of a sand storm in Beirut, and the men all had guns and were very angry type militant guards at the airport, and one of them made a comment about him in his robe and long hair. And he just turned around and gave him the biggest bear hug and called him son and by the time he got back on the plane this guy was calling him Father.
However I must say he/we did have our critics and some that were and stayed skeptic and negative. We were pretty much out of the box so who could blame them. We knew this was our trip and our timing with Father, and what we felt and understood was all that mattered to us.
FATHER LOVED HIS FAMILY…and WE LOVED HIM !
What do you hope people will take away from this film once they have the chance to see it?
MORE INSIDE REALITY AND INFORMATION FROM A CROSS SECTION OF US because this was the way it was and this was the way we all left with it all. Each of us are a thread but we have our own reality and our own connection with Father. Each had their own part or role, lessons, karma or ?
It will be able to offer a more personal genre for everyone because we have my home movies which have never been released. We have tracks from Father’s Morning meditation tapes that are just now released in our first series on our site, www.yahowha.org…Our website is a wealth of information and place to obtain all things SOURCE…and is updated by Electricity or I as things or products happen. You will be able to hear it from Father himself and experience more of how and what we did in the 70’s…the real deal in real time… time travel is possible. ..we have family music never released before…and interviews from family members that have not spoken up before in the media. There will be a lot from my archives with slides, photos, graphics, art work and writings shown. It also brings into the mix stories from people who knew Jim Baker and Father Yod not in the family and interviews with contemporaries, historians of that time and in the now.
Pretty much a complete story of Jim Baker from his childhood up to his L.A. days until the Source. Then the Source beginnings and the Family story and his passing and then what and where are we now.
Father was a living legend to begin with as Jim Baker, and he now is considered a cult hero of sorts. We were part of the forerunners of that crossover in this history’s timeframe. This generation has embraced many of those 70’s concepts and are now continuing the thread in their own way. I think that is why so many of the youth really vibrate to the book we did Father Yod, Yahowha 13 and the Source.
We have bands forming that have used Yahowha 13 music as their mentor.
We have restaurants forming that say the Source was an inspiration to them in its concept and creation.
And of course we have the green movement, the natural birth movement the home schooling acceptance now and on and on….where back in the family days of the 70’s it was all somewhat illegal.
The understanding of spirit with the quantum physic has helped raised our mentality of relating to a more evolutionary process from mere man to a spiritual being. The Source Documentary hopes to share and impart a lot of these concepts that we lived and embraced so long ago. We witness Father giving birth to his own GODHOOD. HE WAS GOD -BUT TO US…AND HE SHOWED US HOW TO DO THE SAME WITH OURSELF …it was his journey, it then became our journey, which we all left and embarked upon in our own timing and way.
Our website is a wealth of information and place to obtain all things SOURCE…and is updated as things or products happen.
Even though our website has released the music of the family, some of it never heard before, our teachings in a booklet “No More Secrets”, a reprint of Father’s book “Liberation”. the release of his Morning Meditation Tape, The Source family book “Father Yod, Yahowha 13 and the Source…my CD of “Echoes of a Crone” (the teachings in word with music)….A Comic Book “Father Yod and the Source”….Source Tee shirts and belt design…a coffee table photo book in the works…
THE THING ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY IS : It will have a little bit of it all ~ in one place !
Any closing thoughts?
The source energy was pretty much flat line since our dispersal…but since the book, it seems we have a heartbeat and are back, alive and well. I would say the Legacy has been secured and that was my promise to Father.
I sometimes I feel like a big fish in little pond and then other times just a little fish in a big pond.
It is awesome swimming in and out of these waters and the adventure continues.