The Cult My Parents Forced Me Into Was A Hippie Sex Scam
Kids these days are so spoiled with their modern cults. It's all Hollywood actors and slick suits politely offering personality tests. What about the good old-fashioned sex, drugs, and unquestioning obedience of the Charles Manson-era cults? This was a time when hordes of Americans wandered off into the desert to find out exactly how weird a human life could get.
We talked to Raina Bird, who grew up in an honest-to-god hippie commune led by the alleged embodiment of God, and she told us ...
Of Course, There Was A Lot Of Weird Sex Stuff Going On
The '60s and '70s were as saturated with hippie cults as they were bad fashion, but Adi Da (real name Franklin Jones) was one of its more notable figures. After realizing his degree in English literature probably wouldn't make him rich, Jones started his own religious movement known as Adidam, because all that reading failed to make him even a little creative. His philosophy is probably pretty familiar to you if you've spent much time around anyone who's a little too into yoga, with the important distinction that he had claimed to literally be God incarnated ...
Apparently, even deification doesn't get you out of male pattern baldness.
Somehow, thousands of otherwise perfectly sane and intelligent people heard this and thought it sounded great and in no way ripe for a mess of abuse. Two of those followers later had a daughter named Raina ("Hi!) who eventually moved to the Mountain of Attention, one of Adidam's main compounds in California. Things got exponentially weirder from there. For starters, as the Adidam website itself explains, "many people do 'sense something very unusual'" in the presence of the cult's founder. By "something very unusual," they mean his dong.
"Despite the fact that celibacy was the order of the day and everyone was supposed to be getting enlightened, not banging," Raina says, the guru decidedly did not practice what he preached. While one lawsuit against the guru in the 1980s accused Jones of ordering his followers, "to perform aberrant, perverted and degrading sexual acts, including ... sodomy, urination, defecation and dildo assaults on one another," it usually didn't get that kinky and/or nonconsensual. Mostly, "the guru REALLY liked fucking and plowed his way through almost every hot female in the cult," Raina says. "My mother was always bummed that she never got to have sex with the guru."
Sex with a Yoga instructor has never seemed less appealing.
Actually, regular cult members saw so little action that even touching a PICTURE on its bathing suit area gave them the vapors.
"One of the daily rituals we had to do was worshipping a murti. In this case, the murti is a very large, close to life-sized photo of the guru. We were supposed to wash this photo down with holy cloths and anoint the chakras with holy oil ... One of the chakras is the root chakra, which is basically the butthole. Evidently one of the women was having such trouble focusing on her holy path and not be distracted by sexual thoughts that she asked that we skip the anointing of the root chakra on the photo of the guru."
Sometimes all this weird spiritual slamming was couched in the guise of discipline, which is normally the best kind of slamming and discipline. "One of the ex-commune members told me that he left after he had bragged to the guru that he had the best, most faithful wife ever," Raina says. The guru took it as a challenge, and "around two hours later, this guy responded to a summons from the guru. When he stepped into the guru's quarters, there was his wife on her knees giving the guru a blowjob. I guess it was supposed to teach the guy a lesson in humility. Or something."
Maybe a guy who went by the title "Divine "King" and the Master of Reality" isn't the best person to teach humility.
He Took Their Money In Ridiculous Ways
Before starting Adidam, Franklin Jones had a brief fling with Scientology, which taught him one important thing about running your own religion: Never stop making money off your followers. (Two if you count "imprisoning people who try to leave you," which he also totally did.) "In order to be a member of the commune, you were supposed to tithe them 10 percent of your income," Raina says. Yes, some people somehow managed to get up in the mornings and go to work like normal people who didn't spend their off-time oiling a picture of their savior's fart cannon, while others "came to the compound with their life savings," which quickly got used up on said oil. It must have been expensive, because, "on top of that were the endless raffles and charities and donations and bake sales and special fundraising drives."
Adi Da was constantly coming up with new, impressively ballsy schemes to separate his followers from their all-natural hemp money clips. One of the ways was to have Christmas tree-decorating parties, "where you could buy an ornament to hang on one of the big trees in the compound. They would have parties and the children would be continually hitting up their parents for cash to buy another ornament to hang on the tree. When the season was over, all the ornaments would be gathered up and stored and then sold all over again the next year."
Because apparently, Adidam followers needed one more negative interaction with balls.
Yeah, he was selling the equivalent of real-life DLC for their religion. Think we're joking? "The guru had a list of spiritually approved names and parents could buy a name off the list to name their child. This led to kids being named such names as Sandal, Chorus, and Melon. Who names their kids after a piece of footwear?" More importantly, who's going to stop you from doing it for free? This is America -- we name our children whatever dumbass thing we want.
The system doubly sucked since there was always a decent chance that it was the guru's kid to begin with.
All of this swindling was necessary, Adi Da claimed, to free his followers from that dirty, earthly money. To save their souls, of course. And buy prescription drugs. That was the discovery that led Raina to suspect something wasn't right: "I was in the commune from birth to 16, when I had a crisis of faith and left after I found out the guru had gone on Prozac," she says. "What kind of spiritually enlightened man needs Prozac?!"(
None Of The Kids Ever Got A Real Education
Since Adi Da was ostensibly God made incredibly pervy flesh, he believed that all that really mattered in life was to worship him and his watered-down teachings about karma, reincarnation, chakras, and other quinoa-flavored concepts. Everything else could peace out, including basic schooling.
"Religions have total freedom to school their kids however they wish," Raina explains. That's a necessary component of religious freedom in the US, but it also means that, "if they want to say two plus two is green, they can." Well, it would have been awesome if Raina and her peers had been taught that much. "Because everyone was so certain that we were all going to be enlightened and reach the white light ... education was simply not a high priority," she says. "As a result, my education is extremely limited. I test out at a 5th grader's math skills. We spent WAY more time reading the guru's books than actually learning." After all, you don't need to remember when World War II started if one day you'll be able to astral project back in time and see it for yourself.
Seeing as Adi Da wrote one book for children and it's 48 pages, that's seen as something of a light education.
Her education was physically as well as substantially insufficient, taking place in "a decaying house that had large enough rooms to be converted into the cult's 'school,'" she says. "When one of the windows in the school room cracked, it was repaired with a piece of cardboard that got sadder and soggier all winter. The room was so cold." Thankfully, "I didn't really attend school all that much, I spent most of my time hiking in the hills and hanging out by myself in the woods." Just as the groovy Lord intended.
Their Diet Was ... Weird
TheAdidam site goes out of its way to stress that it's not a cult, which you'll recognize as exactly the sort of thing a cult would do. Another thing that both cults and Adidam do is restrict their members' diets. Studies have shown that fasting or not getting enough food can impair your cognitive functions or make you experience a "higher sense of achievement," which you are then likely to attribute to the cult leader's magic third eye beams or whatever. Therefore, in Adidam, "Fasting was big in the commune, and when we did eat, it was all vegetarian," Raina says. "No meat, no sugar, no white flour, no alcohol, no smoking. We lived on rice and salad and tofu." To be fair, there are plenty of people in Los Angeles leading perfectly acceptable lives on the exact same diet.
... We assume. Our paths don't cross that often.
But children are drawn to artificial flavors the way the guru was drawn to hot hippie ass, and by him, they are going to get it however they can. "The closest thing my sugar-craving self could get to sweets was flavored toothpaste," Raina says. "Picking a flavor was a BIG deal to me when I needed new toothpaste. I would use huge amounts of toothpaste in an attempt to get sweets somehow ... I just used huge massive amounts of it and took a really, really long time to brush my teeth while attempting to keep sweetness in my mouth as long as possible."
The image of a little girl savoring the fuck out of dental hygiene is bizarrely cute, but there was a dirty side to clean eating. Adi Dam used food to engender spiritual devotion the same way he used sex -- well, not food exactly: "In the early years, the guru once made one of his main disciples eat a snot sandwich," Raina says. "Yes, two pieces of bread with massive amounts of snot packed between them. I guess to teach him an example of humility or something. It was supposed to be a big spiritual deal."
At least it made having to oil up the guru's beatific nutsack seem better by comparison.
They Worshipped A Cat
"The compound that I grew up in was dotted everywhere with temples," Raina says. "It seemed like every 50 feet was a temple that signified some spiritual journey of the guru." That seems normal enough, as far as these things go, but what really starts to stretch credulity is that "one of the temples was Holy Cat Grotto, which was set up over a natural hot spring. Yes, the guru had a temple for one of his cats that had passed. I guess the cat was a spiritual teacher of his."
But for this special cat, "every year, we had a big ceremony in Holy Cat Grotto," Raina says. "Where we were basically worshipping a cat. The cat worshipping holy day looked like every other guru worshipping day. It wasn't like we put on cat ears and drew whiskers on our face," which is exactly why Adidam isn't a global religion today.
We have to settle for worshiping cat GIFs instead.
"We could go to the grotto, meditate, and chant. The malas (prayer beads) had a small orange cloth. The color orange was supposed to signify the purifying fire of the guru, and orange was his personal holy color, which is why persimmons were his sacred fruit. Once a year, we would go to the Holy Grotto and switch out the old cloth strips for new ones."
Presumably, because the holy cat kept kicking them off the altar.
Raina Bird is on Twitter. Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.
For more looks into the weird life of cult members, check out 6 Things You Learn Living In (And Killing) A Cult and 7 Horror Movie Scenes I Lived Inside a Real Apocalyptic Cult.
Have a story to share with Cracked? Email us here.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Why the Ninja Turtles' Master Splinter Was a Cult Leader, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.
Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.