Father Yod or YaHoWha, born James Edward Baker (July 4, 1922 – August 25, 1975), was the American owner of one of the country's first health food restaurants, on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. He founded a spiritual commune in the Hollywood Hills known as the Source Family. The Source Family was heavily influenced by the teachings of Yogi Bhajan and the astrological age of Aquarius. The Family practiced communal living in Southern California and later in Hawaii. He was also lead singer of the commune's experimental psychedelic rock band, Ya Ho Wha 13.
James Edward Baker was born on July 4, 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although he claimed to have been awarded the Silver Star while serving in the Marine Corps during World War Two, the Corps does not carry James Edward Baker's name in its official listing of Silver Star recipients. Baker also claimed to have become expert in Jujutsu. He moved to California to become a Hollywood stuntman and was influenced by the Nature Boys, a Los Angeles-based group of beats who lived a natural lifestyle, maintained vegetarian diets, and lived "according to Nature's Laws". Baker also studied philosophy, religion and esoteric spiritual teachings, even becoming a Vedantic monk for a time. He later became a follower of Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh spiritual leader and teacher of Kundalini Yoga.
In 1969, Baker founded the Source Restaurant on Los Angeles's Sunset Strip. The restaurant served organic vegetarian food, with such celebrity regulars as John Lennon, Julie Christie and Marlon Brando. Jim Baker had two other successful restaurants on Sunset Strip: the Aware Inn and the Old World.
Despite the claims that he had fourteen different wives, he had only one legal wife as Jim Baker, Robin Popper, to whom he was married in 1970. They had a daughter together, Tau, born August 14, 1974. Robin said at the time he was "a dirty old man on a lust trip".
Baker left Yogi Bhajan in the late 1960s and created his own philosophy based on Western mystery tradition. Changing his name to Father Yod and Ya Ho Wha, Baker became the patriarch of a commune of young people, who considered him their spiritual father. The group, known as the Source Family, lived together in a Hollywood Hills mansion and was supported by the earnings of the Source Restaurant, which grossed $10,000 a day during its peak popularity.
Some of the doctrines of the Source Family were kept secret; however, they generally adopted a way of life that promoted natural health, organic vegetarian diets, communal living and utopian ideals. Father Yod/Ya Ho Wha had a core communal group of 150 people living in the Hollywood Hills. He as Father Yod and Yahowha had 14 wives and 3 children. His wives were named Makushla, Isis, Astral, Heaven, Prism, Aquariana, Harvest Moon, Galaxy, Lovely, Paralda, Hypatia, Tantalayo, and Venus with Robin (now Ahom) forming the group. His children were Tau, Buttercup and Yod.
Music was an integral part of the Source Family and many members were musicians. Father Yod formed an improvisational psychedelic rock band called Ya Ho Wha 13, with himself as lead singer. In 1973 the band began making limited pressings of their jam sessions, eventually releasing nine albums that were sold at the Source Restaurant for ten dollars each. The original recordings have become valuable to collectors of underground music. Celebrities such as Earth, Wind & Fire would buy Source records out of the back of the restaurant. Other family musicians formed various bands including "Spirit of 76", "Savage Sons of Yahowha", "Yodship" and "Breath".
On December 26, 1974, the Source Family sold their restaurant and moved to Hawaii. On August 25, 1975, despite having no previous hang gliding experience, Yod decided that he would go hang gliding. Yod used a hang glider to leap off a 1,300-foot (400 m) cliff on the eastern shore of Oahu. He crash-landed on the beach suffering no external injuries, but was unable to move and died nine hours later. The Source Family refers to this day as “Black Monday.” After three days of vigil, Yod was cremated and his ashes put to rest at Lanikai Beach in Hawaii.
In 2006, two Source Family members, Isis Aquarian and Electricity Aquarian, wrote the history of the religious group. A revised version of the book entitled The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and The Source Family was released in 2007 by Process Media, and included a CD with live Ya Ho Wa 13 performances, radio interviews, and Family recordings. The Source Foundation was set up at www.yahowha.org and released lost family music through Drag City Records, Fathers Morning Meditation Tapes through Global Recording Artist, a comic book, and The Source Family in 2012, co-directed by Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulous.
Sean Ono Lennon credited the Source Family with inspiring the look and attitude portrayed in the video for his 2013 song "Animals". The experimental sound collage program Over the Edge, hosted by members of Negativland, presented a Source Family retrospective in the second half of the program on the night of June 30, 2017.
- Bearman, Gary. YaHoWha 13 Interview July 2002.
- "Process: May the Source Be with You". Archived from the original on January 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-10.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link).
- Harris, Kevin. Heavy Living: Father Yod and the Source Family Dusted Features.
- Marc Masters, "'70s commune band YaHoWha 13 opens the fold with a Drag City collection", Independent Weekly, indyweek.com, 15 July 2009
- Harvey, Doug (2007-08-30). "Father Yod Knew Best". LA Weekly, August 30, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-06-18 from http://www.laweekly.com/2007-08-30/news/father-yod-knew-best/.
- Tom Ward, GQ&A: Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl on Mark Ronson, cults and the end of techno. Gentlemen's Quarterly, May 22, 2014.
- Over the Edge Presents June 30, 2017 episode featuring clips from The Source Family film.
- Aquarian, Isis & Electricity Aquarian (2007). The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wha 13 and The Source Family. Process Media. ISBN 978-0-9760822-9-3.
- Aquarian, Isis & E Aquarian (2008). No More Secrets: Wisdom Teachings. Isis & E Aquarian. ISBN 978-1-4382-4395-5.
- Allen, Steve (1982). Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults. Bobbs-Merrill. ISBN 0-672-52678-6.
- Miller, Timothy (2000). The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-0601-X.
- The Source Family are also the subject of a 2012 documentary The Source, directed by Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos.