Source Family (Father Yod)

A 1970s spiritual group combining mysticism, rock music, and communal living, led by a charismatic figure.

Religion: New Age
Founder: Jim Baker (Father Yod)
Founded: 1969
Location: United States (primarily Los Angeles, California)
Other Names: The Source, The Source Family, The Brotherhood of the Source, The Source International, The Source Family Foundation

The Source Family was a new religious movement that formed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily centered around a health food restaurant called The Source, located on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. This group was founded and led by a charismatic figure known as Father Yod, who was born as James Edward Baker. Before becoming Father Yod, Baker had lived an eventful life, having served as a Marine in World War II, pursued a career as a Hollywood stuntman, and became a martial arts expert. His transformation into a spiritual leader began after he delved into esoteric spiritualism, eventually gathering a following and forming the Source Family commune.

The Source Family’s beliefs and practices were deeply rooted in the American counter-culture of the 1970s, with strong emphasis on communal living, natural foods, and spiritual enlightenment. The Family lived together in a mansion in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, which they called the Mother House. They supported themselves through the earnings of The Source restaurant, which quickly became a cultural hotspot in Los Angeles, attracting celebrities and making significant profits. The restaurant, one of the first of its kind, served organic vegetarian food and became synonymous with the emerging health food movement in the United States. It was even featured in popular culture, notably being parodied by Woody Allen in his film “Annie Hall”.

Father Yod took on multiple wives, with the group peaking at around 150 members living communally and exploring various spiritual practices under his guidance. The Source Family also had a house band, initially called Father Yod and the Spirit of ’76, which later evolved into Ya Ho Wha 13. This band recorded over 60 albums between 1973 and 1974, with their music spanning folk-rock to experimental psychedelia, reflecting the group’s eclectic and dynamic spiritual explorations.

The death of Father Yod in 1975 marked the beginning of the end for the Source Family. Yod died following a hang-gliding accident in Hawaii, where the Family had relocated. His death led to the gradual disbandment of the group, although the legacy of the Source Family lives on through the archival efforts of members like Isis Aquarian, and their music and teachings continue to attract interest.

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