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Father Yod

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. He was also lead singer of the commune's experimental psychedelic rock band, Ya Ho Wa 13.

Early life

James Edward Baker was born on July 4, 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Baker earned the Silver Star as a United States Marine in World War II and became expert in Jujitsu. 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." [1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

Source Family

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.[4]

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.


Music was an integral part of the Source Family and many members were musicians. Father Yod formed them into an improvising psychedelic rock band called YaHoWha 13, and 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.[5] Celebrities such as Earth, Wind & Fire would buy Source records out of the back of the restaurant.


At the end of 1974, the Source Family sold their restaurant and moved to Hawaii. On August 25, 1975, despite having no previous hang-gliding experience, YaHoWha used a hang glider to leap off a 1300-foot cliff on the eastern shore of Oahu.[6] He successfully crash-landed on the beach and died nine hours later.[6] After three days of vigil, YaHoWha was cremated.

In 2006, Source Family members, Isis Aquarian and Electricity Aquarian, wrote the history of the religious group.[6] A revised version of the book titled The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and The Source Family was released in 2007, and included a CD with Ya Ho Wa 13 live performances, radio interviews, and Family recordings. Isis Aquarian was one of Yahowha's more than 12 'wives'. Isis recently found unreleased music from the Family days, it is now being remastered and released through Drag City Records, out of Chicago. Isis and Electricity have set up a Source Foundation, which includes some of the old Source Family members. A documentary film titled "The Source Family" was released in 2013


Further reading

  • The Source Family are also the subject of a 2012 documentary The Source, directed by Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos.

External links

  • Interview with Isis Aquarian in The Writing Disorder
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