The year was 1970. The chaos, freedom, turmoil and liberation of the ‘60s had yet to subside, seeping into a new decade that had yet to be defined. In the midst of war abroad and the struggle for civil rights at home, American society was in flux, with many left searching for answers.
Out of this landscape, The Source Family was born. Founded on a synthesis of spiritual beliefs and ancient religions, the Family was the brainchild of one man; his name was Jim Baker. A World War II veteran, turned martial arts expert, turned restaurant entrepreneur, Jim Baker the man was both famous and infamous. After being acquitted of murder for killing a man with his bare hands after an altercation with a neighbor turned physical, the onetime bodybuilding champion turned to health food, establishing one of Los Angeles’ premier organic, vegetarian dining destinations in the form of The Source Family Restaurant. From the health-conscious ethos that characterized Baker’s eatery, The Source Family was spawned.
Embarking upon a spiritual quest that consumed him for years, Jim Baker immersed himself in the metaphysical world, studying the teachings of any and every known Western and Eastern tradition, secret society, or metaphysical source he could find. After numerous encounters with the known spiritual leader Yogi Bhajan, Jim Baker found a new pursuit that would not only consume him, but transform him forever, into what many considered to be a spiritually enlightened being in human form. Following this transformation, Jim Baker was no more, and in his place was Father Yod. Birthing The Source Family soon after his transformation, he would go on to create his own self-sustaining commune; wholly spiritual, unwaveringly loving, and unimaginably wealthy.
The Source Family grew quickly, attracting those searching for answers while garnering widespread acclaim for their forward thinking restaurant and idiosyncratic leader. One woman at the center of the family was Charlene Peters, better known as Isis Aquarius, who served as the family’s chief historian and archivist. Collecting numerous artifacts from the family’s archives, she remains one of the prevailing individuals still preserving The Source Family’s legacy. As one of Father Yod’s 13 wives, she was intimate with the leader, digesting much of his guidance and teachings. On the heels of the release of The Source Family’s feature length documentary, we spoke with Isis about her experience in the family, shedding light on one of the ’70s most legendary spiritual communes.