Seemingly patriarchal religious leaders, especially ones who practiced polygamy, hung around with underage girls, and apparently lived by the slogan “no fat chicks,” are not the sort of things to thrill my punk feminist sensibilities. But as I read through the fascinating and beautifully illustrated book Process Media released about The Source, and as I listened to recordings, and watched The Source Family documentary, I realized that Jim Baker was a balls out (literally and figuratively) example of American Metaphysical Religion, and I had misjudged him and The Family. He reminds me of people like Tom Morton, who got into trouble for erecting America’s first Maypole and having a party he invited everybody to whatever their gender or race.
Before the interview, a few words about this Baker guy. Born on the 4th of July, in Cincinnati in 1922, he wasn’t wrong to come to Hollywood to try out for the role of Tarzan. Hard labor had been his lot early in life and it made him into a big strong kid. At age 14 when he was told he needed surgery he happened to run into the Bragg of Braggs Liquid Aminos and Cider Vinegar fame who cured him with diet.
Jim was named after his great grandfather the legendary mountain man Jim Baker, famed wrestler of grizzly bears and friend of Buffalo Bill. Jim 2.0 grew up to become Ohio State Archery Champion at age sixteen, and a few years later Marine Corps Judo Champ, and after that a stunt man. Hanging out with the earliest of the health food characters who made up the core of the Southern California beat movement, men who lived off what they could find in the woods, Baker reminds me of Neil Cassady: a brilliant wanderer, catnip for women, always near someone great, but never quite great himself. Then there are the rumors of the bank robberies that provided the initial investment in America’s first health food restaurant The Aware Inn. Maybe it’s less important whether the rumors are true, than that they are believable.
The men he killed in war, and in altercations that were probably self-defense, those are facts. He did get a Silver Star for shooting down Japanese Zeros on a sinking ship after being let out of the brig for punching an officer in the face for insulting his mother. The first time he killed a man in a fight, they let him go. When he did it again, he did time, but not too much. The success of his landmark restaurants The Aware Inn, The Old World, and The Source did more than make him millions by being way ahead of the health food curve, he made eating healthy chic and hip, establishing the model for everyone who followed after. As he and his wife raised their kids they explored spirituality with the help of Manly P. Hall and other local teachers.
Then Jim fell in love with a teenage hippie and some would say he fell down the rabbit hole; it’s easy for the average reader to roll his or her eyes and declare him an example of what goes wrong when you give in to your urges. From the perspective of society today the idea that younger teenagers were a sexually active part of the family seems outrageous. But that has to be put into perspective. Around the same time another seminal hippie cult, the Whisky used to let them in free to attract tourists, featured two twelve year olds in a sex act for the supposed edification of the collective. A few years later David Bowie and Jimmy Page were idolized by the rock press for their sexual exploits with very young teens. And Star Magazine would teach aspiring tweens how to hook rock stars. Those were very different times.
But Jim Baker was up to something quite different. He wasn’t presiding over weirdly repressed kinky scenes, he was resurrecting a Neanderthal proto-tribe, experimenting with traditional and future community, he was pioneering the Hindu guru archetype for white men, building a real ashram, where the aim wasn’t erotic adventure, it was providing true mutual support, and a foundation for a spiritual way of life; for many of these kids he was a father, in some cases, more a father than the fathers who raised them. Many of them blossomed under his guidance, and there are no lurid stories of overdoses or rapes. Hear that, festival culture?
While at first glance Yod and the Family seem thoroughly patriarchal the women were the ones who chose their partners. Men were taught to ejaculate only once a month during a sacred ritual, or for procreation. The lucky popular ones might spend an entire day enjoying one partner after another while the lonely talked to Father about what they were doing wrong. The usual ploy of a man not taking no for an answer simply wasn’t allowed.
Steve Allen’s book on cults contains a chapter about his friend Jim Baker.
Keep in mind that around then Charlie Manson was gathering young runaway hippies into a community, too, with very different practices and goals. Jim Baker’s experiment was of an entirely differently caliber. First, his family was not made up of middle class flotsam. The family included a daughter of the famous violinist Andre Previn, a holocaust survivor well respected by the local Hungarian business community, Sky Saxon of the seminal garage band The Seeds, the niece of Chief Justice Earl Warren, a sound man for The Grateful Dead, the comedienne fiancé of the late Lenny Bruce, and three children of successful television actor Dick York. One of Yod’s early wives was the daughter of a prominent Jewish business leader.
Members of the family went on to become dot com millionaires, successful entrepreneurs, and psychotherapists. Some have continued to live as they learned to then, while others have lived lives with friends and family who knew nothing about their time with The Source Family.
One of the most extraordinary people who joined The Source Family was Charlene Peters. This beauty queen and model who easily could have been a senator’s wife, or a fashion designer, hung out with Warhol and Dali, and dated young Rob Reiner. As the girlfriend of a famous rock photographer she met celebrity musicians galore. I’m left wondering if this is the hippie chick whose jilt caused Reiner to make Spinal Tap.
Among his many prescient acts Jim chose Charlene Peters, or as we know her, Isis Aquarian, to be his scribe. In many ways, at least in my humble opinion, Isis is the real hero of this story. Yod and company were surfing the crest of a great wave of generational energy. Isis had to preserve the archive after the tide turned. When no one seemed to care anymore about the music, the restaurant, about Jim Baker, his spiritual teachings, even members of the family hid from their past. How tempted might any of us have been to be rid of the burden of dragging around tapes, notebooks, fliers, stuff that many people considered the embarrassing results of excessive times. But all along Isis knew it was much more than that. She was preserving the evidence of a precious experiment.
Baker was a student of Manly P. Hall, the spiritual son of Yogi Bhajan, and a Vedanta Monk. His community restaurant The Source was a shrine of American Metaphysical Religion right on the Sunset Strip, and Jim Baker was yet another in a long line of wonderful American characters transformed by the spiritual melting pot. The community fits into a lineage that goes back to the experimental communes of the earliest colonies. In some ways communities like Ephrata and The Source Family have more in common with each other than their own times.
If you find this interview interesting I urge you to buy a copy of the wonderful and comprehensive Process Media book and a DVD or stream of the documentary. Book editor Jodi Wille also directed the film, with her co-director Maria Demopoulos, and producers including Adam Parfrey; together they accomplished the Herculean task of bringing this detailed and many faceted story to the screen. You can also watch it on Hulu. The Family band YaHoWah13 has experienced a renaissance of interest and a plethora of reissues and new releases hailed by fans of psychedelia.
Meanwhile Isis has released a record, is readying a coffee table book for publication, has a fashion line in the works, and she’s working on an exhibit of items from her archive with L.A. art icon Jeffrey Deitch. I’m delighted to interview Isis, whose extraordinary work as an archivist is an artistic accomplishment of the first order, and a boon to historians and students of American Metaphysical Religion.
In DC you worked for a senator, dated the son of Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense for JFK and LBJ, toured the charity circuit, and became a local beauty queen, what was it about that world that caused you to reject it even after it welcomed you?
I know I always had good guides cause some of my life situations could have become wrong choices for sure. It just always seemed like I was a witness to the timeframe of what was happening this incarnation, somehow feeling like I was in both realms without knowing those concepts yet. I had noticed a pattern in my life of being able to experience things, homecoming court, cheerleader, being popular in high school to modeling and acting gigs and meeting very amazing people seamlessly, being in the right place at the right time and then taking advantage of it. But then I would end up moving on or if I did not something would happen to make me do so. This led me on to D.C. when I was offered a job by my state congressman who then became a senator. This put me right away in the right places and moving once again seamlessly in and out of high places with high people including the White House. The social whirl and more titles, Miss US Savings Bonds and a Cherry Blossom Princess in 1966. I have recently been contacted by the Treasury Dept. for info and articles and photos I kept as I am the only Miss U.S. Savings bonds they know of so they inducted me into their Hall of Fame in 2013. I am also talking with the staff of this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. and might be doing something with that.
I feel that reject is not the right word here. I loved it all, but what I did feel was a destiny deep within that I had not found the core of and so wanted to keep searching until that hole was no longer a nagging feeling and also I honestly one day really looked around at the girl friends, wives etc. of these high power men and thought, do I really want to be one of them knowing the back story and said hell no. I was hired by Brandiff Airlines, which represented a very mod and cool happening in the ‘60s full of colored planes and Pucci uniforms. I was transferred to NYC and was very happy. NYC and D.C. were back and forth places for most of my friends anyhow. Once in NYC I once again slid into the right places with the right people, which included Warhol and Dali at some points but not as a lifestyle. Once again I enjoyed being able to step in but was not into the hard drugs and so kept my distance from this scene.
Age 9 on Captain Kangaroo TV Show.
You got to attend Warhol Factory parties, please share a couple of your more interesting experiences.
Warhol was just another character in the drama of those times. He was elusive and yet somewhat interesting but I just remember never really having the true inspiration or patience to understand what he was saying or not saying. I like what was going on around him more than him. I was working and so I was kind of like a weekend drop in but never made the scene my complete life. And to hang with people like Warhol or be a part of their circle you drop out completely and that is your circle and life. I had a few boy friends I was interested in who were not really part of that energy. One was the heir to a well-known clothing line and vodka company and the other was one of the nicest, funniest guys I ever dated. Both were Jewish and my first learning curve into that culture, which of course for the heir kept me out of his family loop as a wife. I have remained good friends with them and on my recent trip with The Source film had dinner with them both and they love The Source energy.
I also did the same with my friend Ted Nugent from the D.C. days when we screened The Source film in Austin for SXSW, (he married Lucy Johnson in the White House).
Before I leave Warhol here I would like to say that years later when I was living in L.A. with Ron Raffaelli, the photographer, for one of his first art books of nudes he wanted to publish I took them to NYC and met with Warhol for backing. It was after his fatal shooting – his office was out of The Factory now and he seemed calmer and things were not as crazy. I loved his office as I walked into a huge open room with lots of windows and a long table desk with the most beautiful young man ever smiling behind it, then Andy. He loved the work but was not into backing things at that point but we were able to reconnect and then I came back to LA.
When you followed Salvador Dali to a party, how did that compare to life in D.C., and why did you ultimately find that lifestyle hollow, too?
It never really ceased to amaze me in those times just who or where I would end up – it always just seemed a “but of course” attitude. Things in the ‘60s and ‘70s were more open, you could just go to someone’s party or house and if you were cool or they liked you, you could just go in. Party hopping was the thing to do. You would be at one place and then hear of something and move on etc. I was moving from one party to another and heard Warhol was doing something so I went over and was in a elevator going up to the floor and there was Salvador Dali. We had a fun talk and both got off at the same party and so through out the night we would connect. Now he was someone who I had no problem feeling fun about and wanting to hang more with. But once again their world is a whole other type of being and one does have to consider it before stepping into it. Or you can flirt with it on the outskirts like I did a lot but then L.A. ended up calling.
Once again Hollow would not be the right word, as I love it also in NYC, it just was not my destiny and my longing sent to me finally be to L.A.
The Boyfriend I was living with had a cousin who would come visit from L.A. She was a total flower child/hippie and was starting a good acting career. She was perky, always smiling and just seemed to have the sunshine with her. NYC started to feel dark, the drugs were hard and I started to hear of the gentleness of the new genre in L.A so I came for a visit and got hooked. I did not want to give up my job with Braniff but it got to the point where I knew this was what and where I was looking for all these years. I had a bookie friend who was a childhood friend from the hood with Sinatra and Joey Bishop etc. and was invited to the opening show at ABC of the Joey Bishop show. He said “Do you want to come with me?” knowing I could fly and I said sure and so I went to Joey Bishop’s house and his wife did not take too kindly to me and wanted it to be a close family unit where the boys could be their selves and I was an outsider. I went back to NYC and knew I had to be in L.A. and I just gave up everything and went and completely dropped out, became a flower child/hippie and smoked pot and did acid and had the best time ever! People were real, it was an amazing time of goodness, soul-to-soul connections, no bullshit and people really wanting to know and share and be kind. I dated Rob Reiner for a while and one day went with Bobbie to The Old World Restaurant, thee happening place on the Sunset Strip. She introduced me to her friend Jim Baker and his wife at the time Dora, a young French girl. Jim was awesome, he was like the ultimate animal man peaking in his awesomeness and there seemed to be what I call a hold on us. We connected but kept our distance and I actually became very good friends with Dora and so we would hang out. I do not know if I would call her a hippie but she had definitely dropped out, was street smart and was into the music and the drug scene and was enjoying not working and living the good life. She turned Jim onto a lot of what was happening with the hippies, pot, music and freedom. He really loved her and she would tell him that he was old-fashioned when she wanted to flirt with other men. He was usually the one to do so, he was smitten, and she was the one who brought him to his knees when she ended up leaving him. No woman had ever left him; he was the one who always left. Dora and Jim ended up losing the Old World to the other partners as Jim started to drop out more himself. He ended up not taking care of business and being high a lot of time. They eventually found the spot where Jim remodeled and ended up calling it The Source. Dora created the flower daisy logo and they opened it together but she shortly left. This was the time Jim found Yogi Bhajan and started his spiritual journey in earnest.
Young master Baker poses as Tarzan.
You get the feeling from his early history that Jim Baker should have been the guy standing on the porch with a shotgun telling the hippies to vamoose but instead he transformed into an archetype of hippie. You’ve written that Jim Baker and Father Yod were polarities of one being. Can you give us an example of each that really stands out in your memory?
The thing about Jim Baker was he was always very in tune and curious about everything around him so I don’t think he ever saw the young people on Sunset as something or someone that he would not like. In fact he was curious about them, why were they so happy, always smiling and carefree and the allure of spirit attracted him to want to know more. Then when he started to get high and listen to the music of the time, he said that the hippies were saints and sages reincarnated. HE HIMSELF dropped out somewhat, started to wear white and sandals and of course when he started to study under the Yogi he came full circle with himself. He had in the 50’s started his investigation, with Elaine Baker, into spirit at the Vedanta Center, and with Manly P. Hall, Krishnamurti, Blavatsky, etc. He was somewhat a beatnik and had a sandal shop on Fairfax back then where he made homemade sandals. He and Elaine opened the first natural organic restaurant in the country called The Aware Inn that was famous prior to The Old World and The Source. He could hit the ground running and move matter for sure but he had always been restless, also kept moving forward seeking his destiny and left a lot of unhappiness in his wake. In the early Source days as Jim you could see the start of his morphing into his spiritual beingness and then when he left the Yogi and formed his own communal family as Father, one could see the transformation happening. He once said it was as if someone put an ad in the paper saying, ”God wanted for the age of Aquarius” and he applied and got the job. He wanted the Yogi to be the Father for the new age but the Yogi said that was not his role so Jim at one point decided it was up to him. ENTER FATHER, FATHER YOD, AND THEN YAHOWHA.
Those of us in the family from the early days could witness the changes not only in him but us. I knew JIM BAKER before The Source, probably the only one from the family who did. This was a soul who was always Jim Baker but upgrading and resetting himself as he moved towards his spiritual beingness. It was his journey and he was not perfect but I got to tell you he was pretty awesome and I never witnessed a being or shared such insight with anyone like him. He meant what he said and did what he said he was going to do and gave everyone fair warning when there was going to be a change and we could stay or go. Like I said it was his journey and he took full command of it. Along the way it became our journey and a foundation for us to spring from once he was gone to continue our journey in the now. He said he gave us all we needed and we had to move on with it. When he was done and he was ready to move on, he did. He felt that his life took him as far as it could go serving its purpose and then he left us with an incredible legacy and a lot of good. I know that in a future incarnation he will come face to face with what he left as he hears about it, reads a book about it, sees a film about it and it all seems very familiar and an instant connection. We will become our own ancestors then he can take up the banner and move forward in a higher way once again catching up with himself again since there is no death. Our threads stay intact from incarnations, we never lose it, we carry the residue of it and the memory to be unlocked. Just as we did in family days, there were just too many familiarities in many of the teachings, books and stories of old we looked into and related to being a part of from that past.
Photo that hung on the wall at The Bodhi Tree bookstore.
It seems to me that Jim attracted and empowered some extraordinary people and that far from him being the solo mastermind the collective really orchestrated the ride you all took, for example the way that, when Jim went to India, The Source which had been near closing, was turned around by the community as it essentially formed itself, with Bob and Robin in the lead. Or the way Jim didn’t initiate the morning meditation, others simply began attending.
This was before I came into the family and there was just a small group that had formed and everyone was living separately. Bob/Damian was the manager and was running The Source and father left it to him to take care of. In fact it was already in the red and father did not think it was even going to survive very long. It was Damian who turned it around by using the principles Father left him. Robin left and went up the canyon to stay and hang with friends and party. She only came back on Saturday night so she could give the Sunday morning class like father told her to do then she left again and left it to Damian, said she could not bear being there without Jim. I think she made a few calls once to the wholesalers to arrange a time payment to help us out. She actually never even worked in the restaurant, said her back hurt and she was father’s woman and it was ok with him. Dora never really worked either in the restaurants. Robin would come into the kitchen at times and create a few of the dishes used. Damian had the small crew he could count on and they all worked together.
Father was still being called Jim and Hom and Damian started to call him Father while he was away. When he got back and saw that Damain pulled the restaurant out of the red, he bought him a VW bus for work well done. I do not ever remember him mentioning Robin helping? It was shortly after this that they got the Mother House; the first communal home, which started the family for real. And people were drawn to him and the restaurant very quickly.
Myself, I was living with a famous rock n roll photographer and very happy. I had not seen Jim in a few years and one day needed some Jesus models. I heard Jim had opened The Source and they were wearing all white and had long hair and were into spirit so I went there to get some models. I was expecting to see my old friend Jim Baker but as soon as Father walked out onto the patio looking like Moses, his frequency was different and it changed me. It was like a quickening and I knew that was the time and person and place I had so longed for and had committed to working with even before I incarnated. I walked in and left everything and never looked back, it was instant. What I was walking into held more for me than anything behind me.
Isis on her first night with the family.
My first night was the birth of the first child in the family and I brought cameras for filming from the studio and Abraham (who also had worked at the studio with Ron and now part of The Source) and I shot the birth. I started documentary from that moment on and Jim shortly called me to the temple in back of The Source and sat me down and said I was the temple keeper, family historian and to save the archives for it would end up saving the legacy and I did and it has. He also told me that we had done this work together for lifetimes and between him and I, we were clear, no drama doing the work and that is the way it was. There was never any drama about our relationship with each other or other women etc. I did not have those hooks to work out but we had one of highest love affairs in my life, and that is what spirit will do for one—it is a thread that there is no beginning or end, it just is and it works. So when he left his body I never felt it was ended, we were still connected and even though I went on with my life (had a daughter and now and a granddaughter), I kept him it it.
YaHoWah13’s records and the publications The Source put out are really early examples of what would soon become the punk explosion of zines and do it yourself record labels. What was the response to the music and the publications then and now?
Father wrote and printed out his small booklet called “Liberation” which he passed out to all who came into the family and/or gave away but sold for $1.00 to cover costs. Many came into the family due to this booklet -it rang truth for them. Other than this we did not really share any of our life or publication in print. Father would have class on Sunday in The Source parking lot and then family members started to lead class in the redwood temple in back. We rented the Wilshire Ebell theatre and gave a family event where musicians played, Father talked and invited the public, although not too many came. When we did our music we sold it at The Source and tried to get into record stores or a record label with not much success so the playing at the high schools and universities were our next step and they were fun and people liked it.
After the family dispersed and father had left the body some of these vinyls survived and were collected as underground cult pieces. Musicians and collectors loved them but years later could not find anything out about any of us and it added to the mystique. When the book came out and we formed a website things just started to explode. It made the music all that much more interesting and fun and made the book and documentary more complete. We reprinted our teachings called “No more secrets,” posted a lot of photos and had our records remastered and reproduced mostly through Drag City Records out of Chicago…our Site is www.Yahowha.org.
Is that you naked with Father Yod on The Lovers tarot card on the cover of the YaHoWah13 album I’m Going to Take You Home? Was that a transgressive act at the time? How did you feel about it at the time and how do you feel about it now?
That is not me but Makushla. It was part of a series we did called the living tarot. Nudity in those days was common especially with communes. Years after the family I came across a book called best album covers of the ‘60/’70s. Hendrix was on the cover and inside was the photo of our album saying it had the best graphics but they could not find out any information on the band or people. Now we are all over the place everywhere with people taking Aquarian as their names, some claiming Father Yod, and there is still a big buzz about all things Source…we have been well documented and received over these few years and our legacy will long out live all of us.
In The Source’s redwood temple a copy of Manly P. Hall’s The Secret Teachings of All Ages was placed on a stand. Can you share some memories of the connection between MPH and The Source Family? Do you have some memories of Mr, Hall to share?
I had that book by Manly P. Hall long before I came into The Source family. It was like Gold to most of us in the ‘60s. Jim was friends with Manly and respected him. It was Manly who gave Jim a list with 50 names on it and said to go name or have his followers each pick one. This is how I got my name of Isis.
I’d sooner call you Thoth than Isis, given what you accomplished, taking up the challenge Father Yod presented, during and after his life, preserving film, fliers, music, everything, through thick and thin. What inspires such loyalty?
Lifetimes of commitment to this type of work with this soul. Something like this is not something that just happens in one lifetime. Thoth and the Emerald tablets are my all time favorite. Another very familiar energy in my soul. When I looked into Father Yod’s eyes that day at The Source there was a transference of energy and recognition; an imprint of sorts which has carried me through it all. I do believe we all have helpers, guides and one of our best guides who know us the best is our higher self. I actually go the higher self a lot for support, counseling and guidance in its purest form.
It must have been difficult to view the life and death of the man and the community you love so much behind a camera, or with a tape recorder in hand. Did it make it easier, or was it alienating?
I never waivered or question it. It was just what it was and very natural for me. It was my mission and destiny. I feel it focused and centered me more onto what was happening as I had no distractions or side views -it was like a heat seeking missile tuned into its targeted object. There was a brief moment when Jodi and Maria were interviewing me for The Source Documentary and I was talking about taking Yahowha photos and witnessing his passing through the lens of my camera when I broke a bit and started to cry and for a brief second I questioned it then answered my own thoughts with saying it might seem weird but that was just my role and duty. I feel fine about it in the now and very grateful that I did so because we have the archives to share and tell our story.
When I look at pictures of The Source Family I see a tribe. What was it like to be the tribe’s scribe?
It was awesome. I was allowed all access. Nothing was off limits to me. It was a very creative, fun, meaningful process. It had purpose and when someone is given their own purpose and knows it, there is nothing that can stand in the way of it. It is a binding force of power
As time went on a lot of the sisters helped with the archives in transcribing and saving them. Each family member was also responsible for starting and keeping up their own teaching diary which only a few still have. Some stuff came back to us from others who had found our music, old records, etc.
What were the challenges not only as archivist but then in your collaboration on the Process Media book The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, YaHoWah13, and The Source Family, and then on the documentary? Was everyone comfortable with the results?
I must say that the one thing that surprised me in all of this was finding out and coming to the realizations that WE ALL HAD AND HAVE OUR OWN REALITY WITHIN IT ALL. We all have our own way of seeing it and processing it and taking with us our own concepts of it all and that time and one does NOT NEGATE the other. Once again each of us were a thread to Father Yod. We had our own agreements and karma and gifts yet it takes all of our threads to make the complete whole tapestry of that journey. Father told us that 200 people living in the same house for years, do we not think there is some karma to it all? Be it good or bad. So coming to the realization also that yes we shared an incredible spiritual magical journey together held together by the glue of Father but we were a karmic situation also being given the gift of clearing up as much of it as we could in this lifetime. We had and have all the keys to do that and over the last 40 years we have gone through the fire with each other on this but I feel there is more of gentle kindness among us as we agree to disagree and even if it is social, it keeps us at the table with it all. It has been 40 years since we dispersed and for me that wandering in the desert of self is over. It’s time to come out of it and move on in a better way. To me this is a very warrior like mentality to fight the good fight and also the grand hero to be able to do so. Father at one time took all titles and roles away from us, said he was the mother/father and all we needed at that point. He also said don’t get caught up in roles or take it to your ego just play them well as we either needed it for payback, lessons, learning, experiencing, it was due us, we deserve it etc. so it left no room for ego.
As the first one out of the gate after 30 some years, I became a target of sorts or the scapegoat, as it literally made most come out of The Source closet and start dealing with and thinking about it all. Many wanted on the bandwagon. But basically now that I feel that the legacy is secured and saved (which was my commitment to Father Yod) I have the strength to carry through against all odds. It is amazing that we were so well documented for those times and that it was saved and survived. When the family dispersed everyone just walked out, some took some of their teachings and some photos survived but basically people just left and left it all behind as they went into a new part of their lives. No one even asked me for anything so I packed it all up and kept it safe for 40 years.
The ‘60s/’70s were a time when a portal opened and many of us walked through it as forerunners or pioneers of sorts for the new shift or program upon us for this new age of Aquarius. It was a crossover that helped anchor a frequency that is still doing its work, especially with this next generation. I have had the grandest time over the past six years traveling, doing events, speaking, doing Q and As at the end of the film screenings and meeting the most incredible people and sharing not only our story but hearing others’ stories. We truly are all one.
What we have done has bonded us with other groups and has inspired some of the old guard or other communal groups of that time to come forth and then the new generation has been really inspired. We are still here and watching how they now will take it all and make it theirs for this timing.
In retrospect how do you view Father Yod’s and The Source Family’s ceremonial magic? What was good about it for the community and what was bad, and what was the point?
Ceremonial Magic is important as it puts one in the realm of the sacred. I would say everyone should be experiencing situations as sacred in their lives and with each other. It does not have to be called Magic, for me it is a way of life. The mystery teachings have always been held in secret but this is a time of NO MORE SECRETS as we enter a whole new way of being for this new age, a more spiritual beingness with each other. 40 years ago we took the term magic and those teachings and applied it to all aspects of our lives. Sex became sacred tantra, drugs were sacred herb, not just pot which was only taken once in the morning and for meditation purposes. Even our music was sacred and had the beat of the eternal now and was channeled. Our clothing, our lifestyle of home schooling, home births, roles of each gender, the way we are, lived and work and thought—it all was magical.
Do you think Father Yod’s polygamy was an aid or a detriment to him, to his partners and the community, or was it both? What do you think motivated his decision to go tantric with you ladies? The appeal is obvious, but was there more than meets the eye?
Jim Baker was the ultimate animal man. As he changed more into Father Yod and Yahowha he became more of a spiritual man. I’m not saying he was perfect although for me he was as I understood his journey and it was his and I did not judge it. When the Robin and Jim part was done, it was done. He gave her and everyone else fair warning, said it was over and moved on. There always seems to be that “first wife” club genre happening with the groups and rock bands of those times and Jim Baker had left 4 wives in that category but as Father Yod/Yahowha there was no need. He had 14 women who each had their own value that made up that one perfect woman. We all had karma ties with each other from lifetimes. You do not put 200 people in one house and go through what we did for years and think we did not. There were and still are threads that had residue of past times and Father saw that among us. He saw it with some of the women before him and there was no reason not to reconnect again with it. He finished some of his karma with these threads and he was just able to enjoy some of the threads and he was able to continue on with his soul journey with those around him who loved him and it was a protection. I see nothing wrong with polygamy, with consenting people who intend no hurt or harm. I believe if it’s consensual, everyone has the right to live the way they want to live.
We really did not have lust in our family situations and sex was very sacred. There was and always will be more than meets the eye with our journey and this soul.
Watching The Source Family documentary, just before he sells The Source to move to Hawaii, I felt I could see in Jim Baker’s expression that something had gone wrong, as if something was nagging him. What do you think triggered his preoccupation with the apocalyptic and the paranoia that seems to have crept into not just him but the entire hippie culture?
Jim Baker pulled himself up by the bootstraps from the time he was young. He made his own world and marched to his own reality. He always knew he was on a higher mission of self and did not let anything or anyone interfere with that process. He was true to self in that way and by the time he had dropped out and opened The Source and had his spiritual enlightenment the process had started and there was no going back. The concept of mass destruction was on a lot of people’s minds not just ours. Revelation from Bible was a big theme. Most felt a change coming and most knew that for that to happen there would have to be some kind of destruction, a clearing and a whole new start with mankind. (I even remember in the ‘50s being in school in Florida with the very real threat from Castro and then Russia having us engaging in practice drills of hiding beneath our desks.) We had gone as far as we could go in the city and we all wanted to get away from man’s law and the interference of city officials, child welfare, we had long wanted our own land to be more with nature and a place that as a group we could be not only left alone but protected and could survive the perceived coming threats. Father had always loved Hawaii and the tropics so we decided to move to Hawaii on the island of Kauai. And that is what we did. A lot of the hippies were moving to off grid places or high mountainous places or even out of the country. For us we had investigated most of these options and wanted to stay within American boundaries. Here it is 2014 and we are still facing the same questions of destruction, off grid living, the bomb, safety etc. right?
On his last day in Hawaii, just before that Icarus flight that ended his life, what in retrospect do you think he was going for there? I wondered, watching the film, if he had realized that he could no longer be father to so many. While he was obviously reaching for transcendence in that flight might he also have been fleeing futility?
No one can say for sure. Only Father can speak for himself. He had tried to disperse the family several times saying he had given us everything and there was no more to teach us.. It was time to go out on our own path and journey now but we would not go. We had sold The Source and had not been able to get a toe hold anywhere else, we were not living in comfort and there were a lot of children and people to feed, house, clothe etc. He was done and it was time to move on. He really was ready for living out the rest of his life off the grid as peacefully as possible with a very few people. He knew that was not going to happen and at this point he felt he was so much in the other realms and knew they were real and knew that was his next journey and was ready for it. So I feel he tested this opportunity with the flight. If something happened for him to leave he was ready for it, if not he would deal with it then. He made the decision to leave the body within those hours after his flight –the autopsy stated that there were no broken bones and that the cause of death was unknown?
He was ready for his next cycle what ever that might end up being.
From Patricia Kennealy-Morrison to Ida Craddock’s ghost lover who taught her the sex ed that got her in trouble with the law, there is a long history in American Metaphysical Religion of women keeping in touch with disincarnate significant others. You’ve said in some way you feel Father Yod has never left. Can you share an example of that kind of experience?
I always knew our thread right from the beginning of our journey together again in this life. I knew we had made commitments before even incarnating to do the work together we did. I also knew and still know that we have threads with souls and they are not broken by time on this realm. We hold the imprint or residue of it and living in the now stops the control of time to degrees. I feel that we have this realm’s living and rules but we also have the higher realms of being, a thin veil between them. We lived by spiritual law over man’s law for years with each other and just because someone is not here they are not gone or dead anymore than if someone took a trip to Europe for years -we would still be connected, feel, talk, share and have a relationship with them even though they are not here next to us physically.
I have my life and I have people in my life and I do not feel I’m stuck or not functioning. He is still part of my life, we are still doing the work together, he has a hand as a guide with me and I do feel that my higher overself can connect with his at anytime. There are times that I am given insight out of the blue and I just say “thank you” and move on with it.
Very surreal because I just had my nose to the grindstone for so long that when I finally stood up and looked around and saw what was now happening it was somewhat overwhelming. We had and have historical and culture value. We have been interviewed by almost all the big guys: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, L.A. Weekly, USA Today and a three part series on NPR. Almost every blog, internet site and music reviewer has done something on us. We are finding out that so many people in all genres of life and work seem to know about us and have loved our adventure. We were the darlings of L.A. in the ‘70s and it seems we are cool in the now.
Isis and Electricity at L.A. premier of The Source documentary, a special event at the Standard Hotel.
How has your spiritual practice evolved since The Source days? What teachings have had the most lasting impact on you?
It was a foundation built that was strong for me to spring from. I have found so many gems everywhere that have added to my journey or substantiated what we were given. With the Internet being the new library of Alexandria, there are no more secrets—it is all there to be found. But from The Source family days I feel one of the greatest gifts Father Yod gave me were the teachings and realizations about death which took any fear surrounding it away from me.
Isis in 2013.
You have viewed the incredible changes in culture from a really unique point of view from your days in D.C. to Manhattan, the Sunset Strip, The Source, and now as you’ve travelled all over with the documentary. What do you miss most about the ‘60s and how do you feel about the future? What’s going on out there right now?
Back then the newness of the innocence we all stepped into was exciting and the thrill of activating spiritual awareness with self and the feeling of being uncoded and locks opening up from within.
It was a Renaissance of sorts and there are moments so profound from that time that they are hard to relate in the now. The mindset in general of kindness and truth and soul to soul connections that came about through the dropping of the ego and personality and seeing everyone and everything as one with very little judgment, the allowing and the feeling of love that came from that as a lifestyle.
Today, I feel there is a new tribal feeling happening and as in tribes of old it was always the oral stories passed down so the new ones could gain from it.
About the future…there is so much going on and/or the possibility of so much happening (some good some not so good) that I just don’t know. I feel like a watcher walking my own path waiting to see what comes around the next bend in the road myself. There is always time where one is the student, then the master and then the student again, sometimes it all looks best in my rearview mirror and just as people like Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna did good works and left a mark for mankind I know people from this time like Manly P Hall, Yogi Bhjan and yes even Father Yod, will end up to degrees doing the same.
Who knew that in my ‘70s I would be doing all of this with such fun, joy, amazement and extreme gratitude.
Written by Tamra Spivey
Newtopia staff writer TAMRA SPIVEY is a founding member and primary singer of Lucid Nation, executive producer of the documentaries Rap is War and Exile Nation, and associate producer of The Gits documentary. She was art editor and west coast editor of Newtopia Magazine in its former incarnation, collaborating on in depth interviews with whistle blower Michael Ruppert, ACLU and record business honcho Danny Goldberg, and grassroots political strategist Larry Tramutola. Follow her on twitter @MongrelPatriot.