In the most recent LA Weekly
, Doug Harvey has an excellent article about The Source Family love cult, which operated The Source vegetarian restaurant on Sunset Blvd in the 1960s and 1970s.
(For an in depth history of The Source Family, I highly recommend The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and The Source Family, published by Process Books.
Things started getting freaky early in 1969, when Baker opened his third restaurant – the Source – and became a devotee of Sikh kundalini master Yogi Bhajan. Baker began speaking and directing meditation sessions in the restaurant, and – though still a follower of the yogi – channeling a new synthesis of traditional and original esoteric teachings. Attendance soared, and soon Baker and his growing group of followers were dressing in white cotton robes and turbans, living communally in the Chandler mansion (a.k.a. the Mother House) and following a rigorous program of spiritual practices involving elaborate breathing techniques (beginning with a single six-second hit of sacred herb at 3 a.m.), cold showers, radical shifts in gender roles, yoga, chanting the Tetragrammaton, natural home birth, magickal visualizations, Aleister Crowleyian ego-suppressing rituals and tantric sex.
During this period, the Source Family was one of the most high-profile and unusual of the many new religious movements proliferating in Los Angeles, not least because of their uncommonly high standards of grooming and cleanliness, their economic self-sufficiency and work ethic, and the fact that they didn’t openly proselytize. Potential members, in fact, were obliged to undergo a period of sexual abstinence and cross-examination as well as surrender all their material possessions to the group, washing dishes (or other chores) at the restaurant and taking a vow of confidentiality in order to partake of the spiritual teachings.
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