Documentary: The Source Family

“If you wanted to create a sort of archetype of the ultimate early 70s, Southern California, spiritual cult you could do no better than The Source Family… they transformed sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll into a genuine religious formation.” – Erik Davis, writer, social historian

First time film makers Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille bring movie goers straight into the loving and charismatic arms of the earthly spiritual father and leader of the Source Family, Jim Baker, aka Father Yod, aka “Ya Ho Wa”, in this beautifully crafted documentary about the Los Angeles based Utopian Society of the early 1970’s known simply as “The Source Family.”

The Source Family, known for its beautiful women, rock star aesthetic, and deeply spiritual practices, was born out of another phenomenon of the time – The Source Restaurant, one of America’s first health food restaurants. Run by the irresistibly charming Jim Baker (an accomplished youth, decorated World War Two Veteran, murderer, millionaire playboy, and restaurateur who founded several groundbreaking restaurants before starting The Source Restaurant), at one point it was the most profitable restaurant in America, per square footage, grossing more than $10,000 a day.

The Source Restaurant drew the attention of all types of rock stars, film stars, and socialites alike, including but not limited to: Woody Allen, Donald Sutherland, Steve McQueen, Goldie Hawn, and Joni Mitchell just to name a few. “One day all five members of the band YES pulled up to the restaurant each in their own separate limo,” recalled Yohowa #3 Aquarian, a Source Family member.

As the numbers of the Source Family grew they bought a large mansion, dubbed “The Mother House,” so they could tighten their bond, practice their unique balance of eastern and western religion combined with a diet of health, exercise, and marijuana (the sacred herb) and formed a rock band called “Yo Ho Wa 13.”

Ya Ho Wa 13 recorded over 65 albums, drew the attention of musicians world wide, and their records become amongst the most highly sought after records in American psychedelia.

Once located in The Mother House, the spiritual practices of The Source Family became more extreme, incorporating practices of ancient templar societies as well as sex magic, eventually leaving behind one of their own commandments – that the bond between one man and one woman should be sacred, and Father Yod, who at this point believed himself to be God, took 13 wives.

As time went on dissention grew in the group as a result of the complexities of multiple partners and extreme religious practices, leading the group to decide to sell The Source Restaurant and move to Hawaii where they were less than welcomed by the local population.

Things came to a head in Hawaii when an aging Jim Baker, who at this point had begin to confess that he wasn’t god, launched himself off a 1,500 cliff in a hang glider, despite the fact that he had no training whatsoever. The earthly spiritual father successfully landed the glider but broke his back in the process and died nine hours later amongst the emotional fanfare of his wives and followers.

The source family remained relatively intact, in one form or another, for another two years, lead by Makushla Aquarian who was one of Father Yod’s wives, before ultimately disbanding entirely in 1975.

In the end the story of Father Yod and The Source Family could be perhaps be summed up with a combination of familiar sayings, such as absolute power destroying absolutely and the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

The film was distributed by Drag City, the Chicago based record label, turned film distribution company who in their 20 plus years of operation have brought us groups like The Royal Trux, Joanna Newsom, and Pavement just to name a few.

“You are Jesus and I think you’re ready for that.” – Lyric of The Source Family band “Yo Ho Wa 13” Sung by the family’s leader, Yo Ho Wa himself.

The Source Family shows May 17 at 6:30 p.m. at The Limelight Cinema with a special appearance of an original Source Family Member, Rain Aquarian, who will be available for a Q&A after the screening.