The Tin Whistle

counterculture history and conspiracy theory

Charlie Manson’s OM War with Wavy Gravy

with 24 comments

After serving 22 months in the Army, Hugh Romney attended Boston College on the GI bill and ended up studying the newly emerging improvisational theater movement (created by Viola Spolin). After college, he moved to Greenwich Village to become a comedian and was initially managed by Lenny Bruce while sharing an apartment with Tom Paxton and becoming close friends with Bob Dylan.

Before long, Romney moved to California and joined Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters. But when Kesey fled to Mexico under threat of arrest, fellow prankster Ken Babbs hijacked the magic bus Further, leaving the rest of the Pranksters stranded in Los Angeles. Romney soon discovered a nearby hog farm in the mountains was looking for a caretaker. In other words, a free place to stay. He set up a commune and called it The Hog Farm, which overnight became one of the most famous of the 1960s hippie communes.

Charles Manson drove out to the Hog Farm one day in the late 1960s. He arrived in his all-black tour bus. Manson had already made contact with one of the Hog Farmers, Shirley Lake, whose daughter Diane would eventually join the Manson family. After arriving at the commune, Manson gave Romney the title to his black bus and then tried to seduce Romney’s wife Bonnie Jean (today known as Jahanara) in a nearby shed. He was undoubtedly planning on merging his family with the Hog Farm and usurping Romney as the leader of the commune. Romney managed to break up the seduction and Manson retired to his black bus with his female followers in tow. Sensing Manson was channeling the wrong vibes, Romney gathered his troops and began an OM circle next to the bus. The OM circle is an ancient ceremony from India that may have originated with the original Soma cults  (See “The Soma Solution” by Chris Bennett, published by Trine Day). I believe it’s the best way to harmonize a group of people and ward off negative energy. The OM circle initially became popular with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in Laguna Beach, and was later taken up by Allen Ginsberg, who used it as a force field to protect himself and others during the riots in Lincoln Park during the Democratic convention in 1968.

Suddenly, Manson burst out of the black bus, holding his throat, choking, followed by his female followers who were quite alarmed. They tried to stop the OM circle, as they believed it was killing their leader. Manson began leading his group in an evil OM to ward off the vibes coming from the Hog Farmers. Eventually, Romney was able to persuade Manson to drive away and not return. The following year, Romney would change his name to Wavy Gravy and become famous as the emcee of the first Woodstock festival. Manson’s family would soon become the most famous serial killers in the world.

Today, Wavy remains a master of improvisational theater, which involves a deep understanding of spirituality (energy). Improvisation can unblock energy clogs and release deep inner insights. If you ever get a chance to attend a Wavy Gravy improvisational workshop, jump at it. You won’t be sorry.

Manson, meanwhile, remains in a maximum security prison and had a parole hearing in 2012. When he entered prison, Manson listed his religion as “scientologist.” He kept an E-meter at his ranch. Many believe Scientology was created by military intelligence as a brainwashing and mind control operation.

The British offshoot of Scientology (The Process Church) ran an operation to capture prominent rock bands into their fold and became perhaps the scariest of all the creepy vibe masters that began to infest the counterculture immediately after it took hold of the younger generation, who’d just wiped away years of conditioning and propaganda with just one acid trip.

Ron Stark was affiliated with The Process Church and he went on to become the biggest connection for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. Ron Stark, the Process Church, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, these are all fascinating threads I hope to get into in future posts.

(This post is an excerpt from my book Magic, Religion & Cannabis, available on Amazon and Kindle, click the link below the video to order.)


Written by Steven Hager

January 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

24 Responses

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  1. The whole scene between the Monsonites and the Hog Farmers is strangely reminiscent of the sting pulled on the Ordo Templi Orientis leader and founding Nasa scientist Jack Whiteside Parsons by future founder of Scientology L.Ron Hubbard, just a couple decades earlier in much the same part of the globe. As Leary – who I understand was linked to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love – identified strongly w/OTO Supreme Head Aleister Crowley aka The Beast 666 – it is interesting the “battle lines” seem to shape up in such a similar way, to say the least – from the way you end the article I expect there will be more light shed on this process (no pun intended) as you role out the data in future pieces.


    January 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  2. How did Shirley Lake originally meet Charles??


    September 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    • I’ll have to ask Wavy next time I see him


      September 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      • According the first (and best) edition of Ed Sanders classic, “The Family: The Story of Charles Manson’s Dune Buggy Attack Battalion:” “Another convert, Diane Lake, a red-haired, fourteen-year-old with hip parents, met Charlie and the girls at The Spiral Staircase house of flickers. Diane and her parents had been living in the Los Angeles area with the Hog Farm, an important seed commune later to roam the continents as a world peace brigade.” Whether or not the young Ms. Lake’s parents were with her at this initial meeting at the infamous Spiral Staircase is not clear. Long since demolished, the Spiral Staircase house was some sort of wrecked mansion at the entry to Topanga Canyon. It is the same locale where Manson apparently first met the actor and musician Mr. Robert Beausoleil (according to the books). Off-hand, I believe I read an interview or book in which Manson stated or implied that he first met California devil worshippers at the same Spiral Staircase.

        Chris Till

        July 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  3. i recall the brotherhood and the free lsd at griffith park…i was involved with the easter 1969 love-in at griffith park….free lsd in jugs of orange juice was doled out while the brotherhood was oming at sunrise!!!
    i definitely tripped my brains out on orange sunshine…….

    aron pieman kay

    February 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm

  4. Countercultural minutiae: When was Mr. Romney nicknamed Wavy Gravy? Somewhere, I read that Mr. B.B. King nicknamed him, but am not sure when. King and Romney both participated in the “Medicine Ball Caravan” tour and film in August 1970. Was Romney already WG before the Medicine Ball Caravan or was that when King nicknamed him? The Medicine Ball Caravan played Yellow Springs, Ohio, where I reside in August 1970, headliners were Van Morrison and Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band (remember “Express Yourself”). According to one survivor of that festival who still resides in Yellow Springs, Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm handed out mescaline popsicles at the Yellow Springs show. Here are two articles I wrote on the Medicine Ball Caravan in Yellow Springs: and The articles also have some info on the ill-fated STP Family’s part in the Medicine Ball Caravan.

    Chris Till

    July 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    • Pretty sure the name came from BB King two days after Woodstock in Texas, not during the Medicine Ball Caravan, which happened a few months later (I have a video on Youtube about the film, part of my bio on Tom Forcade). Wavy played his usual role of Temple Dragon on that film and tour, saving the day many times; so its a mystery why Warners wouldn’t allow any of that footage into the final cut, or why they won’t release any Wavy footage to this day. The STP family were a huge problem Wavy had to deal with, and according to Forcade, he did a masterful job of disarming them.

      Steven Hager

      July 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      • Thanks so much for the quick answer! Unfortunately, the “Medicine Ball Caravan” film is a poor film IMHO. I do enjoy the parts with the illustrious Mr. Tom Forcade and David Peel in Yellow Springs; the Youngbloods’ “Hippie from Olema;” and the soon-to-be-murdered-by-a-cop STP Family’s handsome Deputy Dawg… That said, even as a poor film, I love it because it documents that lost era. Re: Wavy Gravy: my local friend who was at the Medicine Ball Caravan in Yellow Springs, was certainly charmed by emcee/greeter/smiler-in-chief Wavy Gravy’s role at the show.

        Chris Till

        July 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm

  5. Another countercultural minutiae question: How well did Stephen Gaskin know Manson? First, in Gaskin’s “Amazing Dope Tales,” he writes of a charming & intelligent short-haired acid head named Charlie that he befriended in the Drogstore Cafe early one morning back in the Haight. The stories that this Charlie tells sound a little like what has been documented as 1967 Manson philosophy (especially when Charlie draws a single line through a piece of paper and analogizes that just as a drawn line through a piece of paper does not create two pieces of paper, that the air between two people does not create two people, because, brother, we is one!). Second, in (at least) one of the editions of Ed Sanders’ classic “The Family,” he writes of a well-known Haight flower power guru who accompanied Manson on at least one bus trip down the California coast. Sanders does not imply that it was Gaskin, but who was it? Third, when I worked the Renaissance Faire circuit as a younger man, I encountered a former resident of The Farm who off-handedly told me that Gaskin and Manson were pen-pals of some sort. I ask this not to cast any sort of aspersions on Gaskin, but solely because I am endlessly fascinated with countercultural minutiae!

    Chris Till

    July 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    • I’d have to ask Stephen, although in all our talks, he never once mentioned Manson to me. They were in jail at the same time, however, and some correspondence may have taken place. Manson considers himself an environmentalist, so he’d see a lot to respect in Stephen. As for his “Charlie” character, had that been Manson, Stephen would have likely made hay with that fact and reprinted an expanded version of the book. Frisco was filled with flower power gurus, in fact, every commune had at least one.

      Steven Hager

      July 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      • Re: the character Charlie from Gaskin’s Amazing Dope Tales’ “Charlie and the Drogstore Cafe.” You are likely correct that it is not Manson. It would be interesting to know who that Charlie is; Gaskin describes him as talking “the most incredible string of highly intelligent hippie dope talk.” Sure, it could be anyone, but, to this reader, he’s the most interesting character in “Amazing Dope Tales.” One detail of the character that doesn’t fit Manson is Gaskin’s description of him as “a little fat.” Re: the ‘well-known flower power guru’ that Ed Sanders wrote about, my understanding of the Haight in that era is as yours: one couldn’t throw a stick without hitting a guru. However, precious few of said gurus could be described as “well-known.”

        Chris Till

        July 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm

  6. I was on The Farm in `1976. We had almost no media acess, but Stephan told us the following thing during a Sunday service (which was held every week.)
    Charles Manson said, during his parole hearings, that if he were let out, :I would spend the rest of my life with my freind Stephan in Summertown.”
    Since The Farm was located in Summertown, Ten. it was clear which Stephan he meant.
    Stephan said that he would let Charlie in, but if he showed any trace of ego, he would kick him out, and if he wasn’t nice, he would call he Sherif and have him thrown in jail.
    No mention of any preiouse connection or how Charlie may have gotten Stephan into his head.
    Personally, I think that Stephan was kind of an egotistical, hypocrital jerk, kind of abusive verbally and emotionaly, too. But certainly not as bad as Charlie.

    ethan davidson

    August 18, 2013 at 4:17 am

    • I just don’t know how you could compare Stephen to Charlie Manson and the fact you can’t spell his name makes me wonder about the validity of this story.

      Steven Hager

      August 18, 2013 at 6:39 am

  7. Hi Steven!
    I am writing a section in my book about the Hog Farm and Wavy Gravy. Amazing story! Is discussions with Wavy Gravy your source for this? (the story about Manson’s time at the Hog Farm).

    Do you happen to know anything about how Wavy Gravy came into contact with The Urantia Book or anything about to what extent it was / is a popular book among Wavy Gravy and other Hog Farm folks? I have been trying to ask Wavy Gravy but so far no luck.


    Mike – Stockholm Sweden

    Mike MacIsaac

    October 15, 2014 at 7:28 am

    • I culled a few sources for my description of the event, but Wavy will not talk about Manson any more unfortunately…..

      Steven Hager

      October 15, 2014 at 8:11 am

  8. I’d like to quote you. Do you know the date of your article?

    Mike MacIsaac

    October 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm

  9. Hm this is the same group who had orgies with a12-13 y/o Dianne lake? Who feed that girl LSD? Manson may be evil but this group of people scared a 13 year old so much she ran into the arms of a serial killer


    July 1, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    • Don’t know if any of these accusations are true, but I do know there were many, many mistakes made in the 60s. Zane Kesey was a couple years old when he tried LSD. I don’t recommend LSD for anyone, much less a toddler. As for orgies, never heard that story, but I do believe Wavy Gravy has done more to treat blindness in the third world than almost any other single person.

      Steven Hager

      July 2, 2015 at 6:11 am

    • excellent point

      Cynthia Matsumoto

      April 15, 2016 at 11:08 am

  10. Thanks for the article. You should check out Jan Irvin of Gnostic Media’s brain software, for the connections… if you have any that are not in the brain; send Jan your links and where they go, and he will add them into the database.


    January 4, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    • I will approve this comment Mandie, but I have to let you know I consider Jan Irvin a disinformation specialist and would never contribute to his site. If he has similar info he may have lifted it from me sans attribution. I caution people against falling into his many rabbit holes, the foremost of which is the Jews are running the world.

      Steven Hager

      January 4, 2016 at 1:45 pm

  11. WG on video recounting Om out with Manson. Starts 27:00 about.


    April 24, 2016 at 10:43 pm

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