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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Monday, December 31, 1973

1973 Notes

Los Angeles Center, 1973 (Robert Burton, right rear)

[ed. - Photo from Internet Archive. Timelines provided by Harold Wirk, here and here.]
Whitman House vacated (1/1/73)
David [David Guido?] moves to Carmel
Nadia [Nadia Mattle] quit
Hawaii open meetings
Robert writes to Alex Horn
Meetings at Stella's [Stella Wirk] and James Vincent's [James Vincent Randazzo]
Magazine set up at Stella's
Whitman painting finished
Meeting at Rosie's [Rosemary MacDonald]
In Second "Play of Crime," James Vincent Randazzo is asked to leave the Fellowship of Friends. Apparently, he stole funds. [ed. - James will go on to found the "Spiral of Friends" and establish a criminal record.]
Robert: "School of Literature"
Santa Barbara group [formed?]
(Paper moves to Santa Barbara)
 Sacramento group [formed?]
Sold airplane
"Second Farm Octave [project]" begins
San Diego [group formed?]
Paper octave ends
2nd Farm Octave begins
Lake Tahoe trip
Seattle Center begins
During this period, Randy Olsen and Drew Kampion are the only two members living on the Fellowship farm.
Payments: $60 per month
Robert moves out of Carmel
2nd Mercedes-Benz purchased
Robert trades in diamond ring
Carmel Center tape records "The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution" [by P.D. Ouspensky]
Farm party
Look for 2nd ranch ($24,000 saved for ranch)
Many car problems
Two members of the Hawaii center, DL and DK, were reported to have used squirt guns and other devices to remain out of the first state (sleep) for eight days. It's an example of the extremes members went to in the study of their "centers" and the pursuit of "higher states." (Dates uncertain)

"silentpurr" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 19, 2011:
Robert, sitting in my grandmother’s rocking chair, asked me the title of the music we were listening to. It was Pachebel’s canon. 1973. [ed. - That would become the Fellowship's "theme song."]

"Drew Kampion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 13, 2016:
Someone also mentioned something about FOF financial secrecy, so: As with many, most or some folks, one of the policies revealed during my 3 perspective student meetings was that the finances of the school were completely above-board. Want to see the books? Just ask.

I had joined in Hawaii [in January, 1973], and a couple of months later I was in California, staying at one of the teaching houses in Carmel. One afternoon I found myself alone in this sweet, neat house with no one else around, except for James Chisholm [ed. - aka Chisholme, Chisum. He appears at the bottom of the photo above], who happened to be the treasurer of the org. at the time. Nothing was happening, I had some free time, so I asked Jim if I could have a look at the books. I imagined we’d be sitting there at his desk paging through the numbers when he told me, “No.”

“No?” I said. “But I was told I could see the books any time. I’ve told the same thing to prospective students. It was part of the deal.”

“No,” said Jim. “What in you wants to see the books?”

“The part of me that was told I could.”

He wouldn’t show me the books, and that’s all I’ve gotta say about that. Except that that’s when I became a spy.


Wednesday, December 26, 1973

Bonita Guido takes leave of absence from the Fellowship

[ed. - (This account was provided by a former member who at the time was a close friend to Bonita.)

Robert's first student, and Hawaii center director Bonita Guido asked for, and received, permission from Robert Burton to take a two-year leave of absence from the Fellowship. She left Hawaii on December 26, 1973, accompanied by her spouse Hallstein Farestveit, who had also briefly been a member of the Fellowship. They flew to Oslo, Norway.

Donald MacDonald was in Hawaii, prepared to assume the directorship of the Hawaii center. While Bonita and Hallstein were still in the air, Donald received word, relayed from Burton, that Bonita was no longer in the Fellowship. He was told she was a "bad seed."

In summer 1973, the former member volunteered to drive Bonita around to Bay Area meetings. Bonita had been away in Hawaii for a long time and this was her reintroduction to the Bay Area meetings. 

They attended a large Fellowship meeting in Vallejo, at (he thought) Klair Morris’s house. He remembered that, during an intermission in the meeting, Bonita took him by the arm and dragged him out the front door.

Outside, under a streetlight, she asked, "when did he start doing this???”

Perplexed, he replied, “Doing what?”

“He’s putting people to sleep!” she said.

That person said he always felt Bonita, not Burton, was the real teacher.

Bonita and Hallstein would eventually found The Linbu Society.]

Saturday, December 1, 1973

Early History of the Fellowship of Friends, as told by Student #1

The future "Lincoln Lodge" in May 1973. Photo by Drew Kampion

[ed. - From the Fellowship of Friends Wiki Space [defunct], this retrospective by Robert Burton's "first student," Bonita H. (aka Guido) was first published May 27, 1997. Re-posted here in the chronology for historical context, it presents a fascinating view of the early years.]
From Dec. 1969 to Dec. 1973
By Bon_ta Hight_wer
First student of Robert Burton


I left America in Dec. 1973 with the permission from Robert Burton, to be gone for 2 years, then return to America and be with him again, as a student. He had said that if any time in that 2 years I wanted to return and did not have the money to do so, I was just to telephone him, and he would send me the airplane fare to return. In the first weeks of being in another country, I wrote him a letter. In that letter, I said that he surrounded himself with “Yes” men, and that I did not feel it was beneficial for him. It gave him an unreal view of himself, and how things were, in the school. I also asked him why he referred to the students as “his” students, or “my” students. That why couldn't he just refer to them as students. (I had been a student teacher in Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and Hawaii.)

Soon after that letter was sent to him, a Hawaiian student went against the rules of the school, and contacted me, and told me that Robert had put me out of school.

I did not tell anyone the name of my Teacher, or the name of the “Fellowship Of Friends” to anyone after leaving America. Not even my dear husband, who has been my partner for 16 years.

So, it was not until 1996 that my husband heard those two names, while I was speaking to someone on the telephone and they mentioned them.

Therefore, I would like it to be realized that it is only with a great amount of thought, and a deep realization that the story that shall be told may be of benefit to those that came after me, in helping them to heal old wounds, and giving them a history which is not only my history with the FOF, but is also their history, which they have a right to know. Much of what shall be written has not been told to anyone in all these years.

It is my hope that those who read it may find some of the unanswered questions they may have had, over the years. Also, I deeply hope that it shall in some way, help them to heal.


In Dec. 1969, I was invited to a New Years` Eve party. It was to be held in Lafayette, California.

I did not know the persons giving the party. They were said to be millionaires. It was my impression that the money was from the woman’s side. It was to be a costume party.

I was 33 years old, a housewife, and was married at the time to my second husband. I had 2 daughters from my first marriage. One was 14 ½ , the other was 13 years old. They were both from my first husband, who had been of German and Choctaw Indian decent. I had been told I was of part English, Scott-Irish, German, and Cherokee Indian decent. We had a long haired German Shepard, named “Muski.” We lived at 511 Kiki Drive, Pleasant Hill, which was close to the town where the party was to be held.

My husband did not wish to attend the party. I told him that I was to meet someone that would be very important to me at that party. I have not considered myself clairvoyant, but sometimes I do seem to know something that is going to happen, before it takes place. This might have been the most definite instance of that type of occurrence taking place. None had told me of the above important person to come into my life. I just knew it.

I had been taking belly dancing lessons in that time period of my life, and had made 2 belly dancing costumes. Therefore, I decided to wear one of them to the party.

The party was held in a large, rambling wooden house, surrounded by lovely trees. The persons who had invited me were the only ones I knew at the party. As I was a passive type person, and rather shy, I sat alone, and watched other people at the party. In time, I sat by the large fireplace, and greatly enjoyed watching the fire, and the glowing embers that came. In time, a man asked me to dance. He was a tall man, with black hair, and was quite good looking. After the dance, we sat down together and began to talk. His name was Robert Burton. After some time, I said to him, “There is something quite special in your eyes. I have never seen it before. Do you know what it is?” I do not remember the response, but we continued to talk for the rest of the evening. Eventually he said that I was the first person other than his own teacher who had recognized that special quality in his eyes. One of the statements he made that evening was, “I have found a God that has no clay feet.”

Robert was a little drunk that evening. I was “high” on some 60`s drug. Probably it was mescaline. There was the feeling of awe, and a quality that was well known by many in the 60s`—that feeling, that “anything can happen”. As I had “known” I would meet someone that would be important to my life at that party, it had not taken long to realize that it was this apparently wise and mysterious man. It was Robert Burton. I had never before met anyone like him.

There was such intensity to our conversations that at times everything and everyone else just seemed to disappear. I had entered a new, wondrous world, full of hidden portent. As the party ended, we each left, going our own separate ways.

On Jan. 1, 1970, at home, after being awake for a time, I suddenly realized I had no way of contacting that man. A sense of horror came over me. How could I have been so dumb as not to have secured myself a means of further contact?

It did not take long to make a phone call to the hostess of the party, with the aim to try and find a way to contact him. The hostess said yes, she knew him. He lived with his mother in Walnut Creek. She gave me his phone number. With great relief, I made the phone call. He was home, and we made an appointment to meet in a restaurant in Berkeley. I do not remember for sure if it was for the same evening, or the evening after. I think, however, that it was for the same evening.

I did own my own car, and could drive. It was a little pale yellow Datson stationwagon. However, I had been in a bad automobile accident in 1951, and had never really gotten over some of the trauma of that accident. I did not like to drive. I had not so very often had to drive to a place I did not know. I was somewhat upset that I would have to find that meeting place by myself. Yet, that discomfort in no way took hold of me to the extent that I would even consider not going.

In fact, the night that the meeting was to occur, my brother stopped by, unannounced. It had been quite a long time since I had last seen him. I was ready to leave when he arrived. We spoke a short time together, and I told him I was sorry, but I had a meeting and would have to leave, in order not to be late. I suppose he was rather upset with me at the time, but honestly, I was not in the least concerned with how it affected him. This was too great an event in my life to be concerned with hurting him. I really do not even remember if I had thought about it, at the time. It was only much later, that I realized that I had probably wounded him pretty badly. I had fairly much raised him from the time I was 11, and he was 7 years old, until I left home, when he was about 14 yrs. old.

That had been necessary because my parents had a Spanish/American restaurant, in Windsor, California. They worked 6 days and nights a week, and I took care of him after school. They did not return home until after we were both in bed, asleep. My older sister had worked in the restaurant after school hours.

I found the meeting place, and it was perhaps only the second time I had ever driven in Berkeley. Robert was waiting when I arrived. He congratulated me for being on time. At this meeting, he told me of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. We arranged to meet again, the next day, I think, and I was to buy the book, “In Search of the Miraculous” by Ouspensky. He gave me the name of a book store in which to buy them. I think both the store, and the next meeting, were in Walnut Creek.

We sat for hours in a cafeteria or restaurant, and had only coffee. I was worried about what the waitress would think of us spending so much time there, and spending so little money. Robert said I was not to be concerned with such things, and that it was an example of what was referred to “In the Work” as a feature in false personality called, “Inner-Considering”.

That meant that what one did and did not do, were dependent on what other people would think of our action or inaction, instead of acting from what was true in and of ourselves. I seem to recall him saying that we had to be realistic, and realize that we did in fact, not have much money to spend. At that second meeting, I asked him to autograph the book I had bought. He said, “No, it is not me that is important. It is the knowledge that I release that is important. Someday you will autograph for me, a book that you write.” That has not as yet come to pass.

At some point in the meeting, after having had some of the basics of the theories of the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky given to me, I quite clearly remember going to a toilet, and trying so very hard to “remember myself”. It might have been the first real attempt I had made to do so, and was apparently somewhat successful, as it has created a memory that lasts to this day, more than 27 years later!

At one of these early meetings, Robert said he had only been with his own teacher for 3 years. He also said that his teacher had increased his payments until he had had to hold down 3 jobs to be able to make the payments to be able to remain with his teacher. Then there had come a time when his teacher had told him it was time for him to leave, and go out on his own. Robert said, that he had traveled across the United States, searching for a student, that he may be able to teach, and was it not strange that he had come home, and found one (a student) in his own back yard.

The next meeting was held in Pleasant Hill. We were in a “Burger Bar” of some kind, and I ordered a hamburger. Much to my surprise, Robert did not talk. Eventually he said, he would not teach while I was eating. Eating would be a deviation of my attention. Of course, I finished my food as quickly as possible! I made some comment as to the negative appearance of some of the customers. Robert said that to him, they look “just right”, according to their body types.

At one of the early meetings I asked what would be needed for me to become his student. He explained that one could not be considered a student until a payment was made. He said, “What do you consider it would be worth to save your soul?” He said I was to think about those things he had taught me considering payments, and to arrive at the amount I would choose to pay. I chose to pay 90 dollars per month. I paid the amount, and became his first student.

The subject of voluntary sacrifices was spoken of. I told my teacher that I would give up many things, but I would not give up my children.

In a short time, my husband also became a student. From that time, the meetings began to take place in our home, in Pleasant Hill. From the beginning, Robert and I met 6 days a week. When my husband became a student, the meetings became 6 nights a week. The two children had a hard time, as it was necessary for them to be quiet in their rooms up-stairs, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. 6 nights a week. Of course, that was only one of the reasons their life became more difficult. Yet, that is a story for a later time.

As I had the great good fortune to be a housewife, it became possible to increase the teaching periods I had. It became 6 nights a week, plus many extra meetings in daytimes, alone with Robert. I was also given a number of personal exercises which took up alot of time.

1. I was fat at the time—weighing perhaps 150 lbs. and 5ft. 3½ inches tall. I had a wardrobe for several different sizes, as I was one of those people who had been on and off diets much of my life. One of the exercises was to make a skirt and a long vest, and a blouse.

2. I had previously colored my hair, (had a grey streak down the middle from the time I was 15 years old, due to the auto accident) and had gone through the discomfort of letting all the color grow out. I was to color my hair, as an exercise. Robert said the grey—which was no longer confined to the streak in the middle— was a sign that the hair was dead, or dying. (These are not really important, they just might be a source of humor now, to some “Who have been there.")

Quite early, I was given the exercise to make a poster, to advertise the meetings, to acquire more students. It was quite a surprise to me, and I asked “Why shall one advertise a 'C' Influence teaching?" It was one of those exercises that gave me alot of friction. I was so very passive, just the thought of carrying that out took alot of working against what “came natural” — or, “what was mechanical” for me.

I had 3 months of a teacher to myself, much of the time. So much went on in the day meetings, that I surely felt myself highly privileged, and grateful. Because of the many hours spent together, the time took on another dimension of being taught. That is to say, it could not be considered to be the same kind of a 3 month period for those that came later, and, for example, may have been mostly taught in a group, 3 nights a week.

As I remember it, the 3rd. student was a Doctor. At one time the 4 of us were doing an exercise in our back yard, doing some yard work. It seemed strange to me that I had already noticed a few times when it was necessary for Robert to “separate”, when it was not needed at all for me. I figured out that perhaps it was partly because he was a couple of years younger than I, and had not been married, or had children. Meaning, simply, a lack of experience in family life, which helps one to overcome and accept many things that are not as one would want, if it were only oneself to take into account. Another thought was that perhaps it was just due to our different body types. He was Saturn, with a little Mars. I was Venusian, with a little Mercury.

There came more students. We continued to meet in our home until there came others with a suitable home to have meetings in.

Sometime in the beginning, Robert said he would like me and my husband to make our payments in advance, so he could have enough money to make a downpayment on a Volkswagen van. I think he was using his mothers` car, though am not sure. We did not hesitate to do so, to the extent we could manage. The house we lived in made it look as if we had a good amount of money. That was not correct. My husband had saved a large amount of money before we had met, and put an unusually large downpayment on the house. Most likely we had the smallest monthly income of any in that housing tract. We did explain that situation to the teacher. He gratefully accepted what we could manage to give him, and he bought the Volkswagen Van. In its time, it carried many a student to wonderful excursions. It was sort of the “hippy car” of the time, in the 60s and early 70s. Many a hippy lived in their V.W. Vans, and many were decorated in wild and beautiful colorful designs. Robert's was destined to remain its own discrete color, with none of the fancy decorations of the time. It is surely remembered with a touch of nostalgia, for those that can remember the wonderment of the time, without coloring those memories with the disillusionment that came later.

From the beginning, it was made clear that persons that became students and left, were to have no more contact with each other. The teacher said he had devoted himself to work with those persons who wished to evolve, and it was necessary to keep the energy within the group, and not let it “leak” out, to those that left.
Bonita Guido, Robert Burton's first "student,"
in February 1973. Photo by Drew Kampion.

At one point I told Robert that I had an opportunity to belly dance at a local bar. It would include being topless, as there were the usual topless dancers there. I was told that it would be o.k. to do so, as it was possible to make the performance, “without being it.” I was delighted. I wanted to experiment with the dancing I had been taught. As I had been a nudist for some years, going topless was not something of concern to me. I invited a couple from San Francisco, who were friends of mine, to be there. I did the deed. It was exciting, but really quite hard work. I changed costumes 3 times, and had a wonderful time on stage. It seemed that doing a strip-tease act was right in my essence!!! Ha Ha. Because that was what I made it into. Between performances, the top-less dancing ladies were to serve drinks. In doing so, one dear customer was so sweet as to ask me to marry him. Oh, my, did that boost my ego! Ha. However, though I felt my performances were rather successful, I did not get the job. So it was my one and only night as a professional topless belly dancer. I was quite proud of myself to have been so bold, and was glad that I would have the story to tell if I ever had grandchildren.

Many years later, in the `90s`, my oldest daughter told me a story concerning the night I had been a topless bellydancer. She said that a boy at her school had asked her about it, because HIS FATHER HAD BEEN AT THE BAR, AND SEEN ME DANCE. Oh, my poor,dear, precious daughter!!! She said she had been horribly embarrassed!!! It was certainly NOT the first time I had embarrassed her badly, for sure, but that time had been particularly difficult for her. In many ways, I was grateful that she had waited so many years to tell me. She had not told me until these later years how difficult it had been for her, due to my “unusual” interests, of a variety of kinds.

When we were still quite a small group, one of the members named Stella, asked me if there was anything between me and the teacher other than that of teacher and student. I answered, “No, of course not.” I would like to say at this time, so many years later, that I had lied.

My second husband and I had been separated 2 times, for short periods. The final separation and divorce occured because I told him that I was having an affair with a young man that had come into school. He was a Mormon. My husband could not “take” that information, and we separated and he filed for divorce. It is too long a story to go more into, at this time.

Due to the separation, it was necessary for me to return to work, to earn money. I had begun to work as a practical nurse to earn money, and knew it was a job I intensely disliked. That was because I had taken the education to be able to “give” to other people, and the jobs I had held in “Old Peoples`Homes” had shown themselves to be a horror to me. The work load was literally impossible to carry out, and it became necessary to jump over many of the functions one was supposed to carry out. To me, it had become a nightmare of being inhuman to those precious persons for whom I had learned to value and care very deeply for. So, when I saw an advertisement to be trained as a masseuse, I quickly applied for the training. I was trained by a registered nurse, and learned the trade. Because I already had a certificate as a practical nurse, I was legally allowed to massage people. I acquired a job as a masseuse.

One day, Robert asked me if I would come to his apartment in Walnut Creek. (He had moved away from his mother as soon as he had enough money from students to get his own apartment.) I gave him the massage in his bed. After, he asked me if I would like to have sexual activity with him. Of, course, I was really delighted at the offer. I had been quite curious at what it would be like to have sex with him, a conscious being. He suggested I take a shower first, which I did. We had sex together. Afterwards, he congratulated me on not buffering, by closing my eyes. He also said he had been greedy, as he had attempted to have sex again, after the first orgasm, and had not been able to do so. I had been somewhat disappointed, as it did not seem that he had any special abilities, because he was a conscious being. Also, I did not have an orgasm. There had been no noticeable “foreplay” by him to me, but of course, he had just had an hour of massage, so perhaps that had played the part of “foreplay” for him. In other words, it was just ordinary sex, not exciting or particularly positive. The most positive part of it for me, was that my curiosity was satisfied.

Later that evening, there was a meeting at my house. He seemed much more identified with the fact that we had had sexual activity earlier that day, than I was. He made a statement to the small group, that he was “A bit low on energy that night, due to an unusual expenditure of energy during the day.” I do not think I acted any different to him that night, than at other meetings, but I supposed that I had had a lot more sexual experiences than he. That was just the impression I had had. (As a “liberated” woman of the 60`s, I had experimented quite alot in the area of sexual activities.)

At some time later, I cannot remember how long, he made a statement to the group of students that he had been celibate since he had been a Teacher. Of course, I knew from personal experience, that it was a lie. It created some confusion in me. I just could not understand WHY he would LIE about such a thing. It would have been so easy just to say he was celibate...without adding the lie, “SINCE I HAVE BEEN A TEACHER.” It did not, however, become a large negative for me, as he had preciously taught me, “It can be a legitimate tool, TO LIE. It must not, however, be from mechanical parts that, for example, just want to protect an idea of an identity, or to protect mechanical features.” So, I let it go, and did not, at the time, give much space to thinking about it. It did not in any way make me think he would have sexual activities with others, and also lie about it, still stating he was celibate. Which means, that for me, later, when such statements were made, I believed them, thinking that I had been the exception which for some unknown reason, he did not want to acknowledge. (I never told anyone this story as long as I was in his school, or in America.)

Later, at a school party, he notified me that we would not repeat the sexual experience together, because I did not value him and the experience with him, enough. He also told me not to have sexual activities that did not include a “full relationship”. That is, one in which there were several centers involved, and a wish for a relationship, rather than just a sexual experience. He said that otherwise, it would be “tramp” against myself. That is, not valuing myself enough. Earlier, he had told me that his mother had been married 5 times. Perhaps, in some way, he had wanted to try and spare me that kind of fate, with those suggestions. (As it turned out, I did marry 4 times, anyway. The last marriage became “THE REAL ONE”, FOR ME, THANK GOD!!!)

Quite early Robert had spoken of the future, in which there would be acquired a farm for those students that wanted to devote their life full time to evolution, which included learning to separate from the expression of negative emotions, and learning to “Self-Remember.”

The idea was very interesting to me. I knew I needed and wanted such conditions for myself. Since we were in the process of getting a divorce, my husband and I put the house up for sale. It quickly sold. My husband and I each received 10,000 dollars cash at the sale of the house.

Because it was so very important to me to devote more of my time to evolution, I offered Robert 4,000 dollars to start the account for the buying of a property. He did not want to accept that. He said that it was too large an amount for one person to contribute. I talked and talked to him. Finally, he agreed to accept the money, if it could be considered to be a loan, which would be repaid. I agreed. In a relatively short amount of time he informed the other students that I had made that commitment of money, and there would be a collection made to gather enough to buy a farm. At that time, he said that he would make the decision as to what would be the amount of money which he would require from each student. If one did not make the payment in the amount of time designated, they would have to leave school. At a meeting, envelopes were handed out, telling each student how much they were to contribute. The amount stated in my envelope was 800 dollars. I was surprised, as I had already given the 4,000 dollars. Yet, I paid it, without question.
[ed. - See also "Wouldn't you like to know's" Brief History of the Fellowship of Friends.]

Saturday, September 1, 1973

Body Types

Robert Earl Burton Fellowship of Friends cult enneagram
The enneagram

[ed. - The following is an excerpt from The Fellowship of Friends Body Types Journal published in 1973. It is posted on the Internet Archive. The tone of being "the chosen ones" is already apparent in this early publication.]
General Information

As students penetrate the inner circle of a conscious teaching they will arrive at the emotional verification that they are in a machine, and are surrounded by machines of a body type. As one observes body types objectively, he will find humans are as readily categorized into species as any other form of organic life on Earth. The primary function of these machines is to serve as an organic receptacle for the Earth for celestial influences emitted primarily from the moon and planets within our solar system, and to a lesser extent, influences from the sun and our mammoth galaxy.
Besides serving as a receptacle for celestial influences, body types also in some manner are part of the transmitting mechanism of organic life on Earth to the other heavenly bodies of the solar system. These types, or machines, have one staggering weak spot, which is esoterically known as the "Achilles Heel." The hidden meaning of the Achilles Heel myth is that the machine can stop being a machine by creating a soul, and a soul can be created only by the art of self-remembering.

Friday, June 29, 1973

Monday, April 2, 1973

The Fellowship's First Suicide

Cults & Consequences reports on the Fellowship of Friends
Former Fellowship member Barbara Bruno
Lancaster contributed to this volume.
[ed. - Former Fellowship member Lore Fisher-Smith (Lore Cappel) committed suicide April 2, 1973. Barbara Bruno Lancaster (see below) had joined the Fellowship a few months earlier (November 1, 1972). Demonstrating his fundamental lack of empathy, Robert Burton would later tell his followers "suicide is nature's way of eliminating weak seed." 

According to Harold Wirk's recruitment diagram, Lore and her husband were introduced to Burton's group through Helga Fenn (later, Guinevere Ruth Mueller).

(7/1/17 NOTE: For a long time, this blog mistakenly reported Lore's death as occurring April 2, 1972. This has been corrected based upon Jordan Fisher Smith's statement.)]

"Veronicapoe" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 26, 2007 at 5:30 a.m.:
Three months after joining this “study group”, a special meeting was called and it was announced that a woman who had left the school had committed suicide. This was seen as an example of what happens when students do not value the knowledge they have been exposed to. The school had become a lifetime endeavor! (Only for those who were strong enough to succeed.) - Barbara Bruno Lancaster

"Veronicapoe" added on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 27, 2007 at 4:09 a.m.:

Barbara Bruno’s account appears in a 1988 book called Cults and Consequences. The reference in her story is to the 1972 [sic] suicide of Lori F-S. [ed. - See page 7-5]

"Jomo Piñata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 25, 2009:
[Quoting] Somebody
For example those posts connecting suicides to FOF actions are completely lies!!!
Blaming the FOF for those suicides is malicious.
Let’s examine the evidence.

Burton publicly announces,

“Do not try to save anybody here who tries to commit suicide. They shouldn’t be here. And they will strangle you just as some drowning people drown someone who tries to save them.” (October 26, 1971).

In other words, if someone is suicidal in the Fellowship, don’t try to help them, if you do try they will drag you down and strangle you.

I can hardly think of a policy which would promote individual suicides more than this one. If they are in the school and they are suicidal, don’t help them.

Then, in 1972 [sic], “a special meeting was called and it was announced that a woman who had left the school had committed suicide. This was seen as an example of what happens when students do not value the knowledge they have been exposed to. The school had become a lifetime endeavor! (Only for those who were strong enough to succeed.)” Account of Barbara Bruno Lancaster from the book, Cults and Consequences, at [ed. - See page 7-5]

So, to recap:

1. Burton states, if they’re suicidal, don’t help them, they will drag you down and strangle you.

2. A woman (Lore Fisher-Smith) leaves the Fellowship and commits suicide.

3. Burton calls a meeting and states that this is what happens when people don’t value esoteric knowledge, i.e., when they leave the school. Don’t leave the school, it might happen to you. But if you’re suicidal, no one should help you, because you will drag them down and strangle them. If you’re suicidal, you’re on your own.

4. Kevin Kelly, a quadriplegic, has a basically stable life. Burton insists that his prophesies are going to happen and that California is going to fall into the ocean. People are required to quit their jobs and move to Oregon House. Kevin uproots his basically stable but difficult quadriplegic life. The prophesied fall of California does not happen. Kevin kills himself by drowning himself in the river. I am told he was not permitted to have a funeral.

These are two clear examples of the interconnection between Burton’s statements, fellowship policy and suicides. So, Someone, I am interested to know why you believe the suicides are not connected to Burton or the Fellowship.

Others may have more detailed information than I have about Brian Sisler and Kimo Beech. Tell the stories in detail, please.

[ed. - The following obituary appeared in the Daily Independent Journal, April 4-5, 1973. It is also reported that a collection of her last writings titled, Pandora's Box, Writings of Lore Fisher-Smith, was published in 2001.]
FISHER-SMITH — The sudden and untimely death of Lore Fisher-Smith, on Sunday, April 1, 1973 [Monday, April 2, 1973, according to Jordan, her son], comes as a shock to all who knew her. A highly energetic and creatively versatile person, involved in design, dancing, painting and writing — and conducting workshops in these various subjects — Lore contributed much to the young life, especially in this community. One such contribution was a gentle mural of nature, trees particularly, in one of the lower grade rooms in Old Mill School. Active workshops in writing and poetry and body control produced significant results. As a charter member of sight and insight, she participated in exhibitions and in teaching. Lore Fisher-Smith is survived by her husband, John, and three sons, Jordan, Jeremy and Jothan, and her mother, Else Cappel of Berkeley and by her brother, Klaus Capper of Huntsville, Alabama. Friends may visit from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at RUSSELL AND GOOCH FUNERAL CHAPEL, Mill Valley. The family will be present from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Graveside ceremony Friday at 11 a.m. at Femwood Cemetery, Mill Valley. Memorial gifts may be made to your favorite charity.

Monday, January 1, 1973

"The Original Michael Group" forms

1st Edition cover. Source
[ed. - Date approximate. Following the November 1972 "Play of Crime," many Fellowship members left Robert Burton to pursue their own direction. One group comprised of Alice and Richard Hannah, Sarah and Richard Chambers, and Gene Trout formed what would eventually evolve into "Messages from Michael" and The Michael Foundation. Alice and Richard Hannah, and Gene Trout appear on the 1972 Fellowship Recruiting Diagram. Sarah and Richard Chambers do not, but Kathryn (Hannah) below mentions Sarah was a member. It is unclear whether Richard Chambers was ever a member of the Fellowship. See also the 314-page document, Transcripts of the Michael Channeling Sessions. The following was published on In this remembrance, former Fellowship member Kathryn (Hannah) Fitzgerald speaks about this early history. See also:‘Michael Speaks’ — the 1970s group transcripts are finally published and The Michael Teachings on Wikipedia.]
History of the Original Michael Teachings Group

There were five people who formed the core of the original study group that would channel the Michael Teachings — Alice and Richard Hannah, Sarah and Richard Chambers, and Eugene (“Gene”) Trout. The history of these people and this group is quite fascinating.  While we hope to have the detail history available eventually, here is the brief* outline.

The members of the original group were complex individuals with full lives. They had teenage children; some of them had been divorced and remarried. Their ages ranged from mid-thirties to fifty-ish. Richard Hannah and Gene Trout were medical doctors, Richard Chambers was a civil engineer, Alice Hannah was a biochemist and Sarah Chambers was a life long educator (as she described herself). They lived in Northern California during the time when the “New Age” movement was very active. They were also spiritual seekers –- they had sessions with local psychics, they studied the Seth material, Alice Bailey’s theosophy, Rosicrucian hermeticism and A Course in Miracles, among others. They went to workshops taught by Robert Monroe (Journeys out of the Body) and got to know him very well. Many in the group attended Werner Erhard’s EST seminars.

The core group members were serious students of the Gurdjieff and Ouspensky “Fourth Way” teaching, and belonged to a local Fourth Way group for a time. According to one of the members, after they read about Jane Roberts and the Seth material in the newly published books at the time, several of them wanted to see if they could get messages themselves. They came together as a group in late 1972 or early 1973, to begin their attempts to get information through a Ouija board used by several different members of the group as they experimented. They had many questions about a wide range of subjects. They contacted at least three non-physical beings before the Michael Entity showed up on August 12, 1973. After that, attendance at the group’s sessions grew larger and larger for a couple of years until the large public sessions were disbanded in June of 1975. After mid-1975, Sarah Chambers, who had become the primary channel, continued to have sessions with small groups of friends up until about 1983. Some regular attendees formed their own small study groups of friends, to continue their own personal growth and study, after Sarah stopped channeling publicly. During that time, other student’s began to learn to channel Michael and study groups formed around their work.

A couple of years after the large group sessions ended in 1975, Sarah met author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at a Science Fiction convention. Ms. Yarbro became interested in the transcripts although she never attended any of the study group meetings herself. There were some special sessions done for her to help in writing first her book, Messages From Michael (MFM), which relied heavily on some of the original group transcripts and dealt with the teachings’ structural aspects.   Ms. Yarbro would put together her own channeling group and eventually wrote three other books which concerned the Michael Teachings.

After a hiatus from Michael for quite a few years, Sarah returned in the 1990s as an active channel and teacher, in partnership with several other long-time channels. She left California and moved to Santa Fe, NM in 1998, where she died unexpectedly in December of that year.   The rest of the original core group, and many of the students that gathered around them, went on with their lives.  Of those that remain, several have been kind enough to assist us in reconstructing the group history.

Since the late 1970s, there have been more than 25 additional books written about the Michael Teachings, with new e-books coming out by several authors.   The Michael Teachings continue to grow and expand as students become more experienced and as their questions become more varied. Michael has continuously said that they are available to anyone who asks and reminds that the whole purpose of their teaching is to help us learn Agape — unconditional love.

[ed. - From Transcripts of the Michael Channeling Sessions:]
I had the feeling that Robert Burton said that everybody good was Saturn. I had it beaten into me, and I guess it is so. They are strong, smart, big, with strong teeth. When I learned the Body Type information, it really put me down. It’s not a good feeling to be told you have a feminine body when you’re a man. Venusians are weak and non-existent. There’s nothing good about Venusians.

The same goes for the Lunar type — not much can you say about them that is good: timid, obstinate, feminine, ad nauseum.

I felt in Robert Burton’s group that only men in the active Body Types could contribute anything to the group except for money. You could not even be his friend unless you were an active Body Type. The Body Type stuff is the Body Type stuff — I verified it as true. (p. 56-57)

Robert Burton had this charisma which make [sic] people want to be with him. What he has is worth emulating.
He has total assurance in himself and does not need pats on the back. He had this peculiar way of not laughing out loud, but of covering his widely-opened mouth with his hand when people would say something he thought was funny. (p. 161-162)

"Was KathleenW" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 14, 2007:
Here’s a post-FoF story.

A couple of years after I left in 1984, I read a book titled “Messages From Michael.” It was supposedly channeled. It presented a spiritual system based on the idea that each person comes into a lifetime with a set of “overleaves,” that overlay essence in order to have certain types of experiences, lessons, etc.

Some of the overleaves were body type, center of gravity, chief feature and several other categories not used by the Fellowship that, in some ways, made it a more complete system. The overleaves were seen as tools with a purpose rather than flaws, though tools that need to be seen for what they are (subjective).

The book was based on information that came from a small group of people in the East Bay (No. Calif.) that got together on a regular basis and supposedly channeled Michael. I was told later that at least one person in that group had a connection with the Fellowship.

A few years later, two people who studied the material, J.P. Van Hulle and Aaron Christensen, began teaching, channeling and writing books on the subject and attracted a group of people who came to meetings, read the books, learned about their overleaves and hung out socially. Aaron had been in the Fellowship a few years earlier. (This is reasonably public information.) It presented an interesting spin on the FoF material, and I liked the people, so I hung out with them for a year or two.

It was not a school, there were no rules or “suggestions” about behavior, no conscious beings, no teacher, no pressure to attend events or any of that. There were no fees except for private channeling sessions, and a small donation at the meetings to cover hall rental. It was all very loose. Self-remembering and presence weren’t really part of the package. It was more about self-understanding.

I rarely heard anyone question whether the material actually came from Michael. It was just accepted and believed for the most part. Clearly the FoF stuff had been expanded into a larger system, and it seems unlikely that all of it came whole cloth from Michael, even assuming there is anything to channeling or that there is a Michael.

Maybe it didn’t matter. If people grew and gained something from the experience of seeing themselves in a new way, then it was of some value. People weren’t being exploited, controlled or expected to support anything unethical. Discovering that you believed some pretty outrageous things can be enlightening in itself.

"WhaleRider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 14, 2007:
Was KathleenW #90 [responding to above]

Thank you for your post. You sparked a post-FOF memory that I’d like to share.

When Miles left the FOF he attempted to start his own group. I remember that when he gave his first open meeting in the bay area, hoards of people from Renaissance drove to it, including yours truely.

Amazingly, many of us drove in Renaissance vehicles using FOF gas to get there and back! Nobody tried to stop us from going or made a list of who went. I seriously doubt this would occur in today’s FOF, but I could be wrong.

During the emotionally charged meeting he spoke of leaving the FOF because of his conscience. He thought that too many people were being permitted to join the school whom he felt did not have enough being to seriously under take the work. He felt these people were only being allowed to join to fill the FOF coffers with cash. He was going to be more selective in who joins his group. He charged five bucks a head for the meeting that night. I remember our group drove all the way back in silence without discussing a word of what he had said.

Anyway, after I left the FOF later that year, I contacted Miles to inquire about his group. I learned that he was experimenting with the Michael channeling stuff. I was quite surprised that Miles had broadened his views of the fourth way in this direction. Anyway, for what it’s worth, I was left with the impression that Miles had diminished himself by relying on a ‘spiritual medium’ to do the ‘channeling’ of higher knowledge (or whatever) instead of coming from his own being. So I didn’t join his group and went another direction. Miles’ group later dwindled. So he eventually closed it down and went to college to study counseling.

BTW, this is the story I was told on how ‘c-influence’ indicated to Robert that Miles was going to become a man number five. When Robert first saw him, Miles was wearing a V-neck sweater, with the V in gold trim, signifying the number 5 as the Roman numeral V. Later the prediction was correlated I believe in Shakespeare’s sonnet #44 with the line … “miles when thou are gone”. This is a another good example of Robert’s ‘ideas of reference’, like ‘Union 76′. Also the high tech spy plane ‘SR-71′ which flew from an airforce base near Renaissance was ‘self-remembering 1971′ or when self-remembering came to the area in 1971.

"KathrynF" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 14, 2007:
TO: Cyclops, wasKathleenW [above]
RE: Messages from Michael

After Yorgos [George Ellis "Yorgo" Savides] left the FOF in 1972 or 73, during the “first play of crime”, several splinter groups formed. One of them became the “Messages from Michael” group. I know this for fact, because these folks including many FOFers, and others never associated with FOF often met at my parents’ home. Over several years, I attended three “sessions” via ouiji board.

Sarah [Chambers], the party pythonness channeler was highly educated, with a Ph.D. in classical studies. She worked as the empressaria for the (now defunct) Oakland Symphony, and was a former FOF member. I had grave doubts about Sarah’s honesty. She later confessed (under pressure from another self-appointed 4th-way guru) that the sentences she wrote on the ouiji board came first through her head.

Anyway, at my first session, Sarah suggested I ask silent questions, to which I got generalized answers. She then recommended I ask myself a question and channel the answer (without the board). I had good advice for myself.

We are legion.

— KathrynF

"nowackim" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 13, 2014:
I have not followed this blog for several years. I would like to search the whole thing for comments submitted by Bonita. Can anyone advise if/how to do this? You can email now ack im AT yahoo .

My interest again revolves around the question of how the body type teaching developed in the first years of the FoF. It happens that I heard of the “Michael Channel” only for the first time in the past few weeks. Questions (re)arise about it due to that. I am particularly interested if anyone remembers what sources other than Theory of Celestial Influence were used, and when / how the center of gravity /playing cards arrived on the scene, which clearly did not happen until at least 1973…

Michael Nowacki (“Woods”) ’77 – ’94

"Jomo Piñata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 15, 2014:
I corresponded with Bonita for several years beginning in the late 1990s. She said nothing about that subject. You might have a look at Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s book Messages from Michael which can be found as a used trade paperback for almost nothing. Reading it one sees a great deal of borrowing of FOF doctrine. Have a look at this link:

"nowackim" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 16, 2014:
As I should have said in my previous post, I am looking for those who were FoF members from as early as possible before ’73 when the Michael Channel began. I am not interested in MC per se, but I have not encountered any large group unconnected with the FoF that knows the body type enneagram before. I am in touch with Kathryn H. from whom I got some info.

FWIW I have the desire to see this knowledge in the hands of other than the FoF or, it seems now, the MC people. My experience is that it is real enough and I continue to have perceptions about people that are due to knowing it, and that I would rather have than not. I think they do constitute a direct perception beneath the conditioning that is referenced by terms like personality, ego, identity and culture. I also think the knowledge is very undeveloped, and could integrate a great deal of scientific psychology, no small body of which I have studied for the past 20 years.

It was a surprise to me to encounter a person who IMO accurately sees types. Following her indication of the MC, I quickly recognized that she only had a re-telling of the FoF teaching. I found stories about the genesis (sic) of MC in which Sarah McCord was said to be friends with a couple named Hannah, and that they count exposure to FoF as among their influences. That prompted me to contact Kathryn, who also addressed some questions about the history several years ago without mentioning the MC.

So it seems straightforward enough that Sarah McCord dabbled in the FoF for a while and had already exited before ’73. Kathryn said that to her recollection the cards were not in use before that time, which explains why the immortal being happened not to include it in its revelation.

There is the issue of just exactly how the very sketchy treatment in Theory of Celestial Influence was fleshed out into the knowledge I got circa ’77. Kathryn has said that she once stumbled upon a book, seemingly to her at the time to be of medieval origin, which showed the whole teaching. She was a kid, and freaked out, and said nothing. There are now interesting tidbits easily available about Jacob Boehme that seem to describe planetary types, but K says she is now less sure that Boehme is the author of that book. She was never certain. This at the least is something I would like to uncover.

Another detail supplied by K is that the Alex Horn cult also had the body type info. I recall a small handful of ex-Hornites in the FoF when I first joined. Does anyone have access to such people, or even remember any names? Robert Tully is the only one I can recall at the moment. Haven’t seen his name here.

Any assistance you are kind enough to offer is appreciated. It is not my intent here to instigate a discussion about the merits of channeling, or spiritual work in general. If you would need voluminous correspondence to describe your knowledge or memories, I would be happy to just talk by phone or skype to make it easier. -MN