The Source family: Story of Hollywood's bizarre 'mystical sex' cult to be adapted into Mark Ruffalo-led tv series
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: The story of a bizarre Hollywood "mystical sex" cult is all set to be adapted into a new television series, starring Mark Ruffalo in the lead. The cult, famously known as the Source Family, was a prominent fad from the late 1960s to 1975, when it began to dissolve after the death of its erratic leader in a hang-gliding accident in Hawaii.
In its prime, 140 men and women lived in a network of communes in southern California where they practiced tantric sex, wore flowing robes, and produced a string of psychedelic rock albums. Additionally, they were famous for running a health food restaurant on the Sunset Strip that was visited by some celebrated names including John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, and Marlon Brando. The cult was led by a charismatic long-haired guru known as Father Yod, according to the Independent.
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How was the Source family founded?
Described as "a dirty old man on a lust trip," Father Yod, whose real name was Jim Baker, took 14 "spiritual wives" from the group and encouraged many underage female members to marry older men. He also developed a religious philosophy that blended astrology, mysticism, western esotericism, and several other spiritual systems. It is said that Father Yod shot down 13 Japanese aircraft while flying in World War II. He was also convicted of manslaughter in 1963 after he killed two men using his martial arts expertise. He had more criminal charges slapped on him after he robbed up to 11 banks, according to Daily Mail.
Before leading the group, Father Yod relocated to Hollywood in order to try his hand at acting. He even auditioned for 'Tarzan'. Following several rejections, Baker shifted to the restaurant industry and set up the health food spots called Old World and Aware Inn, which became a huge success in California's burgeoning hippie scene. Basking in his newfound affluence, Baker then began to explore the philosophies and became a student of the spiritual guru, Yogi Bhajan. Soon, he started building his spiritualism, which merged the fundamentals of a variety of mystic ideologies, including free love, spiritual sex, a health-focused lifestyle, and heavy marijuana usage.
How did Jim Baker turn into Father Yod?
In the late 1960s, he left Jim Baker behind and adopted the name Father Yod, who made himself the patriarch of a commune that lived, worked, and slept together in a mansion known as The Mother House in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. The cult maintained their lifestyle with the profits generated by their restaurant, Sunset Boulevard, which at its early Seventies peak was bringing in $10,000 a day. This rising success also led Father Yod to adopt the name YaHoWah, a repurposing of the Hebrew word for god, Yahweh.
At one point, the gang invested tens of thousands of dollars in musical instruments, amplifiers, and recording gear before turning the garage of the home into a recording studio and starting to put their ideas into music. The band, which included Father Yod as its frontman, produced roughly 60 CDs of improvised psychedelic rock and hippie-folk. Although no big label ever signed them, the family self-published a lot of their music, and their remaining LPs are now valued at hundreds of dollars each by collectors.
What led to the downfall of the Source Family?
The downfall of the group started in the early 1970s when Father Yod relocated the group to Hawaii. Things were going smoothly until 1975 when he announced he was going to go hang gliding. He leaped from a 1,300-foot cliff in a glider with no prior expertise, and immediately fell to his death. It is still unknown if the death was a suicide. The Johns Hopkins Newsletter claims that Father Yod had a crisis of faith the year before his death and told his followers he was not a deity. After Father Yod's death, the cult started to disintegrate, and it was eventually destroyed in 1978.
A variety of books and films on the group have been published over the years, and now, according to the LA Times, a limited series featuring Ruffalo as Father Yod is in production. A new book titled 'FAMILY: The Source Family Scrapbook', written by historian Isis Aquarian with co-authors Jodi Wille and Charlie Kitchings, has also been published by Sacred Bones and Otherworld.