Introduction


Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

But according to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish, while through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated 2007) Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship. Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Sunday, December 31, 1972

1972 Notes

Fellowship of Friends members at "The Farm" in Oregon House, CA. Contributor's note:
Outside the [Lincoln] Lodge, Spring 1972. This photograph appeared on the cover of the
Via del Sol Journal, May 9, 1972. It is in the public domain. From the Internet Archive.

[ed. - Timelines provided by Harold Wirk, here and here.]

January
[Note: Robert will continue his 16-month period of silence throughout 1972.]
Fellowship consists of 82 members plus Robert (1/2/72)
Moved to Carmel [assumed to be Robert and some of his followers]
Paper printed in Vacaville
The Fellowship purchases a Cessna airplane
Whitman House [name of the Carmel "teaching house"?]
February
Robert's "not saving anyone" speech
April
Tree planting at The Farm (The Ranch)
May
Robert is presented a gold coin for his birthday [at Whitman House?]
Paper - magazine form
Lake Tahoe Center begins
June
Wedding of Miles and Helga (Guinevere Ruth)
July
Ended giving notebooks
First Mercedes-Benz purchased
Robert travels to Europe
August
Robert said that Miles Barth and another member will be Men #5 in a year, and announces that the "fourth conscious being  has arrived" in the Fellowship of Friends. [ed. - "another member" is possibly Donald Macdonald, who joined in 1970. Fourth conscious being is not clear. Yorgo(s) Savides and Daniel Davis are possibilities.]
A baby is born on the Ranch
September
Plane octave ends [airplane to be sold]
Party at Robert's in Carmel
October
Los Angeles Center begins
Payments are $30 per month
November
November 14: The "Other situation." In the first "Play of Crime," Yorgo Savides [George Ellis Savides] leaves Robert's teaching. "1/4 of school quits". 37 members leave. He invites members to follow him in creating "The School of the New Dawn." [see below]
 Hawaii Center begins
December
Robert ends his 16-month period of silence (see "Silence")
Party at Whitman House

[ed. - From the internet: Yorgo Wolfe Savides was born in Los Angeles 18 December 1943, got Social Security number 567-60-1267 (indicating California,) and died 23 May 2004. The following comments refer to Savides' "Play of Crime."]

"jomopinata: wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 9, 2012:
...in 1972 Yorgos [sic] Savides mailed out invitations, printed on green paper, inviting recipients to join “The School of the New Dawn.” Even in a pre-internet age, one would think word would have spread pretty quickly of this opportunity in the small group.

"jomopinata" added:
I was not there, but I have been told by someone who was there that Yorgos [sic] made a public announcement at a meeting.

Tuesday, December 19, 1972

Via del Sol

Fellowship of Friends publication "Via del Sol" December 26, 1972, Volume 2 Number 10. From Internet Archive.

"Via del Sol" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 7, 2007 at 6:41 p.m.:
Early in its history, the Fellowship of Friends produced a printed publication (published approximately once a week), called “Via Del Sol”. This issue (Volume 2 Number 9, December 19th 1972) featured a collection of Robert Burton’s intellectual gems and purest distillation of his high understanding on the subject of sex. Italics are in the original. [ed. - all quotes from Robert Burton]
Physical sex, in its deepest meaning, is designed to perpetuate the species, and insure nature of a vehicle for transmitting planetary and celestial influences to the earth. Man’s physical pleasures are secondary to this aim, and, in general, a by–product of nature’s hidden aim.
The sex center is not an intelligent brain. It has a dull, plant–like intelligence. At times, it is quite a vulgar brain, and may be easily aroused by uncivilized levels of intelligence.
If a person has a full relationship with another, then sex may be a part of the whole. Without this factor, then one is in tramp and their sex life does not relate well with the mass or whole of their being.
Humans have been tricked by having their sex organs covered or hidden since birth, making them appear mysterious. This is why some people move from person to person having sex. They try to discover (or steal) what is hidden about the other person, and having found the secret move onto another person seeking the same hollow goal.
To have sexual relations with a partner who is at a lower level of being is to be in tramp. Flirtations are a form of tramp in sex and are sex energy leaks.

Martians, as a type, have the least need or desire to abstain from sex. Mercuries follow them in this area.
The machine creates enormous quantities of sex energy; nevertheless, when we lose sex energy, it can be a weary day.
Most men deviate in the quest for their Self by being engulfed in a woman’s problems, which she often offers a man as a means to gain his attention. Women put themselves to sleep by being conditioned to accept a subservient role to men. This refers to machines in both cases and not thyself. One of the ways schools in the past avoided this mechanical manifestation was through monasteries. The higher we can raise our level, it will be seen we are a vacuum moving amongst life, each a monastery amongst humanity.
It is not generally harmful for students to be at a level in their life where they are confused about sex aims. They may fluctuate between a desire to engage in sex and a desire to abstain. Remember the Self is born as a result of friction; and sex is most often an area of friction.
The sex center is a machine designed to seek out its magnetic opposite in physical union. It does not care for abstinence or transcending itself.

"veronicapoe" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 9, 2008:
Reposting again for those interested: the following is now online:
Miscellaneous Via del Sol journals, 1972-1973:

http://www.archive.org/details/TheEsotericHistoryArchive_404

"Innernaut" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 9, 2008:
I just read some of the Via del Sol journals that veronicapoe posted. They are from 1972 or so. You think Robert Burton is spouting nonsense now? I couldn’t believe the crap in those journals, or that I ever fell for them. This particularly struck me:
“People do not have a soul. They have to create one.”
How did we ever start believing in this? I can’t say with any certainty that people have souls, but I am equally uncertain that we don’t, or that they could be created by any means. This statement just has no relationship to reality. Yet it is one of the fundamental premises of the Fellowship of Friends, and always has been. Why would anyone believe this? Fear? It certainly looks like an excellent way to motivate people to do your bidding — scare people by telling them they don’t have a soul, but that, by happy chance, you can provide them with one, if they only pay enough, make enough of the right kinds of efforts…oh my god, what a con.
I was struck by the lunacy of many of the statements — just sheer insanity. I was also struck by the incredibly trite observations, offered in serious, heavy, pretentious tones, as though Robert had the secrets of the universe for sale. It’s all in the presentation — that’s where the big money’s at.

Tuesday, November 14, 1972

Yorgo Savides founds The School of the New Dawn

[ed. - On November 14th, what Harold Wirk referred to as the "Other situation" occurred. This became known as the Fellowship's "first play of crime."]
November 14: The "Other situation." In the first "Play of Crime," Yorgo Savides [George Ellis Savides] leaves Robert's teaching. "1/4 of school quits". 37 members leave. He invites members to follow him in creating "The School of the New Dawn." [see below]

[ed. - From the internet: Yorgo Wolfe Savides was born in Los Angeles 18 December 1943, got Social Security number 567-60-1267 (indicating California,) and died 23 May 2004. The following comments refer to Savides' "Play of Crime."]

"jomopinata: wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 9, 2012:
...in 1972 Yorgos [sic] Savides mailed out invitations, printed on green paper, inviting recipients to join “The School of the New Dawn.” Even in a pre-internet age, one would think word would have spread pretty quickly of this opportunity in the small group.

"jomopinata" added:
I was not there, but I have been told by someone who was there that Yorgos [sic] made a public announcement at a meeting.

[ed. - Letter from Yorgo Savides announcing The School of the New Dawn. Transcribed from copy of original posted on Greater Fellowship forum by "Veronicapoe":]
to loves[?],

this is written to the many whom i shall never see again, and to those who have been waiting...

to leave a teaching is a dangerous action... ...to lose one's aim of waking up is far worse.

to disobey a teacher from the wrong place in being is an error of consequence... ...to not follow one's Self is an enormous waste. Even to listen to these word now is an act of disobedience, and yet there will be those for whom there is no choice to listen or not to listen, for their pain is too great...

my time is short, "They" have given me a few years on this dusty ball to accomplish much... ...and "They" now take me from the Fellowship in order to begin the necessary acceleration of the Work...

through me "they" shall serve students first, as each in turn shall serve his Self above all...

since the path will be steeper and more treacherous with me, they do not wish you to leave the Fellowship until such a time that beyond all the "I"s there is an undenyable [sic] magnetic pull...

the new school will be small and its standards will be high... ...and it will set itself immediately to the task of building true sanctuary and a community for its students to balance with its involvement with Life

Walt Whitman continues to speak today,
i dreamed in a dream, i saw a city
invincible to the attacks of the whole
of the rest of the earth;
i dreamed that was the new City of Friends
nothing was greater there
than the quality of robust love - it led the rest
it was seen in every hour
in the actions of the men of that city,
and in their looks and words...
The first meeting of the School of the New Dawn will be open to all, including past and present members of the Fellowship of Friends. It will be the last open meeting...

...and henceforth anyone wishing to join the School will do so after private work with the teacher...

Wednesday, November 15, 1972

Saturday, July 15, 1972

A developing taste for luxury

Early on, The Fellowship of Friends purchased a pair of Mercedes Benz coupes, the teacher's cars.

Robert Burton purchases first Mercedes Benz.

[ed. - Date is approximate. Burton is now living in Carmel, California, he bought an airplane in January, his birthday gift was a gold coin, he has a diamond ring, and in July, he made his first journey to Europe, all courtesy of his students.]

Tuesday, February 29, 1972

Via del Sol Journal, February 29, 1972

[ed. - It's difficult to decipher, but the newsletter seems to close with Robert(?) stating: "Also, thank you all for your many compliments on my improved spelling."]

From the Internet Archive

Wednesday, January 19, 1972

Fellowship of Friends Recruitment Diagrams

[ed. - These drawings by Harold Wirk are from the Internet Archive. The following description is attached to the archive: "These diagrams document the early growth of the Fellowship of Friends in 1971 and 1972 as a group 'which may be reached only by invitation.'" Around 1974, Harold updated the top drawing, shading over the names of those who had left the Fellowship. According to Burton, these lost souls were to suffer a "fate worse than death."]


January 12, 1972
November 19, 1971

Sunday, January 2, 1972

Path to Higher Centers

Robert Earl Burton with the Fellowship of Friends airplane. From Internet Archive.
"Veronicapoe's" (uploader's) note: Cessna airplane, purchased January 2, 1972. (The plane was sold in June 1973)