Book Nine: The Source

The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and the Source Family, Isis Aquarian and Electricity Aquarian

This is the picture that got me to read this book.

I saw it and thought, "I have got to read about these people!" I just can't resist a load of pregnant ladies in hippie garb gathered around a Rolls Royce. Who can't?! I realized mid-book, that I unintentionally picked this up right after Just Kids, which essentially chronicles a different music scene happening more or less at the same time on the other side of the country. With an entirely different vibe. And yeah, this one is less about music and the arts and the "Earth Trip" and more about the story of what some call a cult, told from the perspective of former family members.

So, there's this guy. Jim Baker. With a checkered past that includes some armed robberies and killing two men with just the power of his two hands, and a professed war hero, judo master, and archery champion. He becomes a successful restauranteur in Los Angeles, and his third endeavor, a vegetarian restaurant on Sunset Boulevard called The Source leads him have a dramatic yogic conversion. And then the whole things snowballs and next thing you know, he's the leader of a cult! Or rather, a bunch of hippies feel drawn to him and his powerful energy, so he starts leading morning meditations and then decides that everyone needs to live together as a family. And then he's Father Yod (and later, Ya Ho Wha) the leader of a cult! The rest/bulk of the book talks about the Family's journey, both spiritually and physically, as we see the evolution of the Family and watch them move from LA to Hawaii to San Francisco and back to Hawaii again. And really, it's all kind of fascinating. In the most kooky and insane way. Because, honestly, these people aren't writers, so it reads as this scattered, loony tale of pseudo-religion and Sacred Herb (yes, that herb) and the Age of Aquarius and polygamy and megalomania (in my opinion, mind you) and psychedelic music. Isis Aquarian, the family's official record keeper, writes the majority of the text, but it's healthily interspersed with first-person accounts by other family members. Most are flattering of Father Yod and the experience of being a member of the Family, and some are slightly critical. And some of it made me laugh out loud at the pure craziness. But, for someone who snorted her way through half of this book, I felt oddly touched by the last few pages. Because it felt so honest and true, and even though these might not be things that I personally believe in, I am not such a monster that I can't recognize that everyone has their own way of looking for meaning and experiencing life, and these people truly found beauty and inspiration through this experience. And if no one got hurt (well, just a couple of people died who probably shouldn't have), then who am I to judge?

But I can judge the music, which is featured on the accompanying CD, and I feel good about saying that it's truly, truly terrible. Seriously, don't listen to this, whatever you do. Yipes.


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