Ojai: the Crucible of Southern California???s Cultic Milieu

by Cody Beckley

Institution: California State University – Northridge
Year: 2016
Keywords: anthropology of religion; Dissertations, Academic  – CSUN  – Anthropology.
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2068247
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10211.3/159708


While Southern California is home to a cultic milieu of alternative spirituality there appears to be a particular concentration of these beliefs and practice within the Ojai Valley. For decades, the Ojai Valley has been the setting of a rather bohemian and idyllic environment, a place to which significant people (mostly artists and actors) have gravitated. Yet, it has also become a home or retreat to many spiritual teachers and seekers, including Jiddu Krishnamurti, the Theosophical Society, Beatrice Wood, and Aldous Huxley. My research broadly asks how alternative spirituality has infiltrated and influenced mainstream culture in Southern California to form a regional cultic milieu. I am specifically exploring why the Ojai Valley has a concentration of these beliefs and practices, and is so magnetic in drawing these groups and individuals. I rely upon Colin Campbell???s concept of the cultic milieu as my primary theoretical orientation, aided by Primiano???s concept of vernacular religion and Ellwood???s notion of frontier experimentation. For my methodology I use an ethnohistorical analysis of both semi-structured interviews and archival materials (periodical articles, photographs, letters, official documents, etc.) I have found that a combination of environmental and cultural factors have made the Ojai Valley an attractive location for practitioners of alternative spirituality. Advisors/Committee Members: Magliocco, Sabina (advisor), Von Mayrhauser, Christina L (committee member).