Saturday, December 13, 2008

47. Paul Watkins (deceased member of the Manson Family) on Krishna Venta and the Fountain of the World

Copyright notice - the following excerpt from pages 88-90 of the book My Life With Charles Manson is copyright 1979 by Paul Watkins and Guillermo Soledad:

Even though we were pretty firmly ensconced at Spahn's, during the first three months, Charlie always had his eyes open for alternative headquarters. The Family had moved frequently in the past and we never knew when we might have to do so again. Bad vibes between Charlie and some of the cowboys had become increasingly apparent. It was for that reason that we cultivated a religious order just over the hill from Spahn's called the Fountain of the World.

The Fountain was a nonprofit spiritual order of men and women (primarily women) just north of Spahn's in Box Canyon. It was an impressive complex, built at a bend in the gorge by a stream (almost hidden) by oak trees and a sprawling well-irrigated garden. The buildings, all constructed of hand-worked stone, included a chapel, two dormitories, and a small auditorium where daily meetings were held. To the right of the auditorium on a knoll above the garden, a wooden cross was cemented into the ground. From a distance the Fountain looked like an ancient fortress hewn into the base of the canyon wall.

One morning not long after the birth of Zezos, Charlie woke me up and told me to come with him. I pulled on a pair of Levi's, a T-shirt, and my boots and followed him out of the ranch house. We hiked up to the saloon where the pickup was parked and climbed in.

“Where we headed?”

Charlie fired up the truck and backed it out onto the highway. "The Fountain of the World.”“What?”

Charlie told me what he knew about it as we wound our way up Santa Susanna Pass to Box Canyon and turned left. "It might be a good place to hang out…you know, hide under the cross when the shit comes down at Spahn's. And the way Shorty's been running at the mouth, it might be anytime.

We got there around ten a.m. and parked the truck on a hill, then trudged down the path to the auditorium. The place was about half full, and one of the brothers was already into his rap. He acknowledged us with a smile as we sat down. After a long uninspired spiel proclaiming the virtues of moderation and human compassion, the speaker—tall, stoop-shouldered, and clad in a full-length robe—told the history of the Fountain and Krishna Venta, its founder, had undergone a rigorous purification process, part of which included hanging on the cross for three days.

Charlie sat beside me fingering the beads around his neck, his hair long and uncombed down his back. He sniggered to himself as the speaker raised his arms to symbolize the crucifixion.

"For three days the honorable Krishna Venta remained pinioned to the cross you see there on the hillside." He gestured toward a window which fronted on the ravine.

“For three long days...”

Charlie couldn't contain himself. "Hey, brother, that ain't nothin'," he blurted out smiling.


“That's nothin'…three days ain't nothin'. Paul here could hang on the cross for a week. No problem…right, Paul?
The audience, most of them brothers and sisters of the order, gawked at us. I was a little startled by Charlie's boast at first, but I knew his games pretty well by then and I went along with it.

"Sure," I grunted. "Sure, I could do that.

“Come on!" Charlie urged, getting to his feet. "Let's go on out there. Paul, so you can hang. Come on.”

I got up and started up the aisle with Charlie right behind me. But as we stepped out the door, one of the brothers stopped us. "I'm sorry, but I don't think that's such a good idea. It might elicit some unfavorable publicity…you understand." He gave Charlie an imploring yet conciliatory smile.

Charlie chuckled. "Sure, brother," he said. "Maybe some other time.

After that little episode, Charlie began sending contingents of girls to the Fountain to work with the sisters—soliciting donations, passing out literature and spreading the precepts of Krishna Venta. Sometimes they remained for days at a time, posing as devout and pious ladies of the cloth. But the Family, as a whole, was never warmly received and things didn't work out as Charlie had planned. We finally gave up on the Fountain. We didn't learn until later that Shorty had paid them a visit.

The irony of that whole scene (I later learned) was that Krishna Venta's Family bore a striking resemblance to Charlie's: according to the records the order was started when the honorable leader (sometime in the 1950s) recruited a nucleus of women and a few men to enlighten the world with his spiritual teachings. But Krishna Venta's teachings were never, it appears, divorced from the pleasures of the flesh. Under his leadership, group sex, or what he likened to tantric, transcendental self-realization, was a common practice. Most of his critics, however, including an irate husband of one of the sisters, didn't consider this form of "self-realization" quite kosher. One night, during a small service held in the chapel, that same husband arrived with a case of dynamite and blew Krishna Venta, himself, and thirteen others to kingdom come. The ruins of that explosion were left intact as a monument to the order's founder.

Charlie always thought that a hilarious story.

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