Hippie Cult Sees Rebirth in Hawaii

Boing Boing points the way to an L.A. Times article on The Source Family, “a mystical cult that thrived in Los Angeles between 1970 and 1974.” This group, it turns out, has ties to Hawaii, and has its eye on the islands as the home base for a possible revival.

Earlier this summer, the Times reports, “psychedelic music fans, subculture aficionados, students of the occult and local literati” converged in Silver Lake, Calif., to celebrate the publication of a new book about the group: “The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, YaHoWha 13, and The Source Family.” Authored by Electricity Aquarian and Isis Aquarian (a.k.a. Charlene Peters), the book recounts the cult group’s history, which began in the Hollywood Hills in 1969. It was the year of the Manson Family murders, but The Source managed to survive the storm over “hippie cults” with its philosophy of communal, natural living and a popular vegetarian restaurant on Sunset Strip by the same name. John Lennon and Marlon Brannon were known to dine there, and the founder of The Source, Father Yod (a.k.a. Jim Baker) developed a huge following… as a spiritual leader, a psychedelic rocker, and husband to 14 “spiritual wives.”

As with many cult groups, though, things eventually started to unravel over concerns about children. More than 50 babies were born, without traditional medicine, in the group’s three-bedroom house (which housed over 100 souls). One baby was hospitalized for staph, capturing the attention of authorities.

Father Yod, citing apocalyptic visions, decided to relocate to paradise. Fortunately, he did not mean the afterlife. He moved to Hawaii.

His time in the islands was relatively short, however. Father Yod died in a hang gliding accident, a “spectacular death off a Hawaiian cliff,” and his sudden passing effectively signaled the end of The Source. Members drifted apart, times changed, and thus, for almost three decades, the stories of this legendary group went untold and almost forgotten.

But Father Yod’s oldest wife and the group’s historian, Isis Aquarian, has decided to break the silence with the new book. It even comes with a CD of music and interviews, and reflects a multitude of voices. Even voices of dissent.

The Times article closes, however, with the tantalizing suggestion that The Source has some life in it still, and that Isis Aquarian and her old hippie friends see a future here in Hawaii.

The gathering in Silver Lake generated a spark of hope, the chance to “continue this adventure.” Notes the Times:

Seven have bought property on the Big Island in Hawaii, with the plan to form a co-housing community, supporting themselves with a health spa and, yes, a restaurant. Given the Family’s vast scope of knowledge about nutrition and the healing arts, and even home births and deaths, both much more widely accepted today, it actually makes perfect sense. Isis said excitedly, “We could do some outrageous stuff still.”

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