Guruphiliac: Father Yod Gets Our Nod

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Father Yod Gets Our Nod

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Folks came together in Los Angeles recently to celebrate the publication of a book about the "Source," the hippified commune which constellated around one Father Yod. He was the apparently benign leader of a polyamorous cult full of hot, sexy people who used the heavenly herb as a sacrament. That's three marks on the right side of the pros/cons column in our book:
Imagine your fantasy commune, the one you'd find only in the movies, where everyone is young and beautiful; the clothes are fabulous; the leader benign; and home is a mansion in the Hollywood Hills. Chances are it probably looks a lot like the Source Family, whose 140 members "dropped out" right in the middle of Los Angeles. Led by a bearded, hunky, 6-foot-3 former war hero who called himself Father Yod and, later, YaHoWha, this vibrant group of men and women embarked on a wild social experiment, turning all their material possessions over to the group and supporting themselves serving gourmet vegetarian cuisine at their popular Sunset Strip restaurant, the Source. Living communally in a Los Feliz mansion owned by the Chandler family (former owners of this newspaper) and then in a house built by Catherine Deneuve, many of them formed polyamorous relationships; not surprisingly, the most extreme example was Father Yod, who took 14 "spiritual wives."
Sigh! We missed out on that one as it was about a decade before our time. But chances are we would have been spit out like a worm in a bite of an apple had we set about to remove the occluding ideas about self-realization which almost certainly condensed around the self-proclaimed deity who ran the show.



At 8/19/2007 5:32 PM, Blogger Peggy Burgess said...

I first encountered this group in LA when I was a college student, and that was definately a formative momment in my long time fascination with alternative communities. They were putting on a concert for themselves and Yod was the lead guy in the band , so he was living out all kinds of fantasies. All the woman wore flowing chiffon and romantic picture hats. I remember several babies, so they were into what comes after all that polyamerous stuff. It was a very LA type of phenomenon, like a soft focus version of the Children of God.

At 8/19/2007 10:00 PM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

It was a very LA type of phenomenon, like a soft focus version of the Children of God.

A vivid description which feels just about right.

At 8/20/2007 3:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was the apparently benign leader....

Apparently benign? I'm surprised this paragraph in the LA Times article didn't trigger a verbal ejaculation from your usually overflowing moralizing gland:

The book has been a crucial part of that healing process, honestly exploring the struggles of Father Yod's wife Robin, who married him as Jim Baker and, in Isis' words, "didn't sign up for any of it." It also gave Paralda a forum to address "Jim, Father Yod, YaHoWha" in an open letter. The onetime student of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi accused this "charismatic father figure" of seducing her and ultimately asked for the ability to forgive him and herself.

At 8/20/2007 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bunch of (yawn) old hippies. What does this have to do with anything spiritual? Why should anyone have to join a group or community and give up their belongings to have several relationships (at a time) and live a pleasant lifestyle? Sounds like these people had plenty of bucks. Who raised the kids? I'm glad I didn't grow up there. Yuck -- 14 'moms'. Sounds a whole lot like how Osama grew up, btw. Nothing new in some guy taking lots of wives. The muslims do it all over the place, resulting in lots of inbreeding of cousins, and the consequent strain of violent weirdos we see coming out of Sunni Islam today. (since we weren't confining the discussion to spiritual junk, thought I'd throw in a little genetic/socio-political babble as well).

At 8/20/2007 7:35 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Boys, it happens I was a member of the said "Children of God", livin for a time way out beyond Ft. Worth, Texas, then later hitchhiking with one dime supplied through Dallas, to a small commune in Kentucky, then to Cincinnati , Ohio and finally washed up and out in the New York Catskills. We read and studied the Good Book for 8-10 hours a day, ate food taken out of garbage bins, sang and danced to some pretty good gypsy type music until the wee hours, got up before light and started again! This was before old Moe decided he had to have every good lookin gal he came across and it was only fair that the others could as well. I was twice throwed in jail for preachin the Word of God, once in Brinkley, Arkansas–where a local preacher called the cop
shop when I had just about lured his Youth Director to surrender all and come out on the road with me. The second time was in Columbus, Ohio where I spent 24 hours with a guy who bragged about raping a 3 year old girl.

This was a true cult that was awful hard to get away from. Compared to other groups like the TMO or Ravi Shrunknard's group, they look very light weight indeed on the control side. Like I said, before the big revelations that everybody should have sex with everybody, including ones' own children, I got a severe case of dysentery and had to get shipped home, spent a week in a horsepistal and nearly died. So when the Devil tempted me to get the hell out of there, I gratefully accepted his 30 pieces of silver!

This is how I ended up only having the one offspring, Chuck JR, and not the 15 or 20 some of my friends ended up with. I hate to be called a prude, but I have seen first hand what happens when what is called "conventional morals" go out the window. In very short order acne scarred assholes are believin they are God and their own little girls and boys start takin it up the back passage!

So, like the song says, Jody, perhaps you should "Thank God for unanswered prayers”... !

At 8/20/2007 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Chuck, you should write a book or do a blog of your own.

A friend of mine was in a human potential cult that was a much more sophisticated version of the ones being described here.

He nearly ended up serving decades of time in the federal pen--his crazy leader fled the country and my pal was so desperately loyal that he made fake ID and passports for his leader.

The book is entitled 'People Farm' and the author is Steve Susoyev.

It will make your hair stand on end. And it gives a fascinating description of how differently people live when they are part of a guru's inner circle, versus members of the outer circle/grunt squad.

People invited into the inner circle are often at very high risk of doing dangerous, even illegal stuff that can leave them trapped because the guru has the goods on them and can use this to blackmail them.

And if all legal hell breaks loose, a guru can sacrifice members of the inner circle to the public outrage and cut a deal and go free. Anyone who handles money for an out of control guru is in the most danger.

To me the most fascinating part of Steve's book was his description of what it was like to go downtown to find a lawyer to represent his leader. The one lawyer willing to take the case specialized in defending Mafia figures.

At 8/20/2007 11:12 AM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

I'm surprised this paragraph in the LA Times article didn't trigger a verbal ejaculation from your usually overflowing moralizing gland

I didn't say the guy was a saint, just that he seems to have been mostly benign, as evidenced by the fact that most of the former members celebrate their membership rather than revile it, as many other ex-whatevers do.

Also, Yod was right up front about the sex thing, unlike a Sai Baba or Kreepalu, who keep it under wraps from the general circle, and make up bullshit excuses for the inner circle.

I have no problem with sex in general, but with gurus, having sex comes with a lot more responsibility than without it. Much, if not most of the time, it's a recipe for disaster. But from what I've been able to gather, it generally worked out for those in the Source, which is why I've shown them my favor (generally) in this blog.

If stories come out that reveal a darker side, I'll be sure to share those as well to round out the portrait.

At 8/20/2007 12:15 PM, Blogger Peggy Burgess said...

There is a very revealing decription of Yod on this website,NNDB(search Yod),apparently he was a follower of Yogi Bhajan, but became disillusioned when Yogi admitted he was not God, so Yod decided to go do his own god thing and improve conditions while he was at it. Yes this guy YOD was somewhat old when he startted this thing but his followers were young at the time. Believe me I'm a wizened old lady and I'll tell ya it ain't a good idea to forget your history. All this cult and group formation from the 60's and 70's have had absolute influence on all the crap you can consume today. i.e. if you make it seem glamorous and erotic they will come!! (because they want to come) and don't ever think you aren't vulneralble,They were the advanced shock troups of spiritual marketing and If they are coming for the woman and children get your guns out or beat a hasty retreat!

At 8/20/2007 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me biased (I edited the book) but I did not expect what I found when I first encountered this group. Isis and Electricity and all of the former Family members I interviewed (about 20) were such interesting, thoughtful, funny, charming people, it was disarming. It was the opposite of what I expected, due to my own predjudices largely formed by sensationalistic mass media takes on alternative spiritual communities and cults.

FYI, the Family was a very disciplined occult mystery school sort of setup. Read the book and you will see they were deeply spiritually aware and Yod was a high-functioning Magus. They were up every morning at 3:30 to jump in the pool or ocean then meditate for three hours, with lots of chanting and kundalini breathing techniques, music, and then Yod might channel from the ethers. They also studied many esoteric belief systems through an extensive library they had in the early days.

The group had some very noble ideas and some very silly ones too, but as Omne said "Sure, we did some wacky stuff, but we learned from it." And from what I saw they did. The people from the Family I spoke with and got to know are wise, kind, loving, self-aware, spiritually awake people, really amazing folks.

What more can anyone hope for from any kind of formative situation, in the end, even if it takes years to figure it out? If only we could get the same results for those Americans brainwashed by our alluring, beguiling, hypnotic, perverse and destructive global culture of consumption.

--Jodi Wille

At 8/21/2007 7:05 PM, Blogger Peggy Burgess said...

Yes there were lots of nice people into pretty out there stuff in those days. I knew people who swore they had had encounters with light beings, i was one of them, but that don't make me Yod , er i mean god..

At 8/22/2007 5:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Jodi Willie,

That's all I needed to hear boyeee -- "Yod used to channel from the ethers" -- certifiable nutcases! Bunch of old self-aggrandizing hippies, claiming to have "access" to some ether or spirits or some other useless garbage. Still glad I didn't grow up in that mess.

At 8/23/2007 8:17 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

anonymush said...Still glad I didn't grow up in that mess.

I take your meanin, anonymush! I for one was raised in the Dime Box First Baptist Church, with 3 times a week church goin and yearly tent revivals accompanied by all the fried foot a body could hold! Some may not agree, but I feel it has done me no great harm!


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