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.

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Saturday, November 20, 1999

"The Beauty of Renaissance"

[ed. - This is an Internet Archive capture of the Fellowship webpage, featuring an article from the Sacramento Union.]

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The Union November 1999
There was a time when the prospect of producing elegant Cabernet Sauvignon or delectable Chardonnay wines in the remote reaches of Yuba County might have brought condescending smiles to the faces of wine connoisseurs. But those are the same people who are now singing the praises of these and other wines produced by the Renaissance Winery on terraces at the 2,000 foot elevation at Oregon House. Similarly, the idea of having a world-class garden studded with palm trees at such a location might have provoked a great deal of skepticism.
But it’s true. And, after making proper reservations, you can go see for yourself.
Having had the opportunity to visit nearly 60 public and private gardens in the Napa Valley while co-authoring “Gardens of the Wine Country” (Chronicle Books), I would say that this garden compares favorably with any in what is considered the heart of California’s wine- producing country.
From its inception, the 3.5 acre French-style garden was destined for greatness with its thoughtful, geometric design around the central Apollo Academy building which rings of Jeffersonian elegance. But it moved into a state of grandeur when the gardeners discovered that Chilean wine palms (Jubaea chilensis) would thrive at that elevation. Once that was established, so many of the trees were collected from commercial and private sources that one nurseryman answered a request by saying, “Chilean wine palms? Sorry, someone up in Northern California has them all!”
Nick Spaulding, largely responsible for establishing the collection of hardy stout-trunked palms which ultimately grow to a height of 50 to 60 feet, laughs, “There are still wine palms out there if you look for them. But one of our members recently told me, ‘This was once just a garden. Now, with the palms, it’s a park!’”
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French cast-iron sculpture Renaissance Winery’s gardens abound with cast-iron sculpture from France.

Chilean wine palm
Chilean wine palms thrive in Oregon House’s heat and 2,000 foot elevation.
Photos by Dick Tracy

Correction: The tree identified as a “Chilean wine palm” is actually a Chamaerops Humilis.