Meet the Source Family. For about six heady years, from the end of the sixties to the mid-point of the seventies, this group of over a hundred young people gave cult living in the Hollywood Hills a pretty good name, until they grew a bit too large and the Manson Family had to go and give cult living a bad name.
The family lived communally under the spiritual guidance of Father Yod, nee Jim Baker (that’s him in the suit pictured above). The man was an ex-Marine self-defense expert who moved to California to become a stuntman, but ended up learning from the Nature Boys, and getting deep into philosophy, religion, and esoteric spiritual teachings – even becoming a Vedantic monk for a time. In 1969 Father Yod established the Source Restaurant on the Sunset Strip, and slowly but surely assembled the Source Family.
The restaurant was memorialized in the film Annie Hall as the stereotypical Hollywood beansprout joint, and catered to celebrity regulars alike John Lennon, Julie Christie, Fabio, and Marlon Brando. Father Yod was one of the first people in the US to really deliver on the idea of a gourmet aesthetic applied to healthy eating, and the place was an insane success. During its peak, the restaurant was grossing around $10,000 a day if you can imagine.
The restaurant was managed and run by the Family, and served as their primary source of income. Yod espoused meditation, communal living, shared property, and a non-monogamous sexuality in which women held the power. Life seemed pretty good for a whole bunch of years. I mean, just look at those pimpin’ suits and the Rolls Royce!
Oh yeah, and did I mention that Yod and the Family also spawned a heavy rock quartet to perform its own sacred music under the name Yahowha 13? Obviously, these weren’t mega hits, but the records were sold at the restaurant, and they certainly had a following. I can’t imagine anything more 60s cool than a successful, stylish hippie cult with a band!
By 1974, the Family had become a bit too big for their Hollywood Hills britches, and they up and moved to Hawaii for a fresh start. The only problem … Father Yod died just a year later, following an ill-fated hang-gliding expedition. Seriously, what are the chances?! Without its charismatic founder, the Family quickly disintegrated, but they will forever be remembered as one of the coolest cults to ever walk the earth.
If you think that the Source Family is as rad as I do, read the book on the group written by a member herself, Ms. Isis Aquarius. Yep, Isis Aquarius!