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.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

"We totally got away with it."

Fellowship of Friends - "A non-profit religious organization" (

"We never started out as a religion of any kind. The fact that the Fellowship is running around now saying that it's a religion is a result of the (IRS) audit. So, we made up the religion of the Fellowship of Friends to cover the fact that, otherwise, it was just Robert doing whatever the hell he wanted.

"And we wrote the Canons of the Fellowship, all of its philosophies and everything, and that's what we presented to the IRS to justify ourselves. So, in a way, it was all a lie." 

 - Charles Randall, former Fellowship of Friends CFO (from "Revelations Act V")

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

SFGATE reports on the "Revelations" podcast

[ed. - Published in the SFGATE, October 27, 2021. Text of story follows. You can also hear Jennings Brown interviewed on the "Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and the Abuse of Power" podcast series.]

New podcast investigates abuse accusations at the NorCal cult that pioneered natural wine

'Revelations' pulls back the curtain on Fellowship of Friends

Nearly everything about the Fellowship of Friends feels like the stuff of fiction. In the 1970s, a charismatic leader builds a community devoted to high art and higher consciousness. The burgeoning group plants a vineyard 2.5 hours north of San Francisco and finds itself at the vanguard of the natural wine movement. The teaching turns apocalyptic, but the end of the world stubbornly fails to arrive. And then, as so often is the case, the absolute power corrupts the man in charge without consequence.

But the story of the Fellowship is all too real. And in a new podcast from the journalist Jennings Brown, which premiered this month on Spotify, allegations of abuse by the charismatic leader Robert Burton are laid out in chilling detail over the course of six episodes. With “Revelations,” Brown takes us to the Fellowship’s compound in Oregon House, California, and then shows us how Burton used his perch atop the Fellowship to allegedly abuse scores of young male followers for years. Brown hopes that finally, two decades after the first allegations were made public, there will be justice for the survivors.

In November 2017, at another commune called Teal Tribe, Brown had a fateful conversation. He was working on his Gizmodo podcast “The Gateway,” which told the story of Teal Swan, a controversial social-media savvy guru with a fervently devoted following. “I was out at her healing retreat center in Costa Rica, which was weirdly similar to ‘Nine Perfect Strangers,’” Brown tells me over Zoom from his Brooklyn apartment. 

Swan’s then-husband Ale Gicqueau mentioned that his own awakening had begun at a compound in Northern California with a spiritual group called the Fellowship of Friends, but he eventually came to see the Fellowship as a predatory cult. “But the way [Gicqueau] described it, it just seemed like this fantasy land,” says Brown. “This strange Shangri-La out in the wilderness where they had this giant vineyard and were collecting Renaissance art and had an amphitheater and this pantheon of 44 angels, that included Shakespeare, Bach, Rembrandt and da Vinci. I’m just like, ‘What the hell is this?’”

Brown filed the information away, eventually returning to what he believed would be a magazine feature in 2018. It proved to be fortuitous timing. Burton had predicted that October 2018 would be an Armageddon; after the collapse, their sprawling property out in Oregon House, California, would serve as a Noah’s Ark of sorts from which to restart society. 

To Brown’s surprise, he was invited to attend the End Times event at Apollo, the name Burton had given his 1,200-acre forested compound. “So, I was there for their final black-tie dinner before the end of the world,” Brown says. “I mean, as a journalist, I was like, ‘How often am I going to get a chance to see an apocalyptic group in the days leading up to their predicted apocalypse?’ I thought that was the story.”

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Jennings Brown interviewed on "Trust Me" podcast

[ed. - The following 1-hour and 20-minute podcast features an interview with Jennings Brown about his "Revelations" podcast and The Fellowship of Friends. Click on banner below to download the podcast, or visit to listen to the podcast. (The interview begins 7 minutes into the podcast.)]

#51: Jennings Brown: Investigating the Fellowship of Friends

Jennings Brown, reporter and host of cult podcasts The Gateway and Revelations, discusses life on the lavish compound of the Fellowship of Friends leading up to their doomsday date, why people cling to their prophecies when they don't come true, allegations of sexual assault against the group's leader, and the orgy that was compared to a trip to the DMV.

If you have your own story about cults, high-control groups, manipulation, or abuse of power, leave us a voicemail at 513-900-2955, OR shoot us an email at








Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Robert Burton's inability to "be the words"

"Right action is the way the Self proceeds in relation to conscience."

- Robert Burton, Via Del Sol January 16, 1973  Volume 2  Number 13

Robert Earl Burton at Mount Carmel (aka The Farm) - 1974

Photo: Drew Kampion

[ed. - Robert Burton's preoccupation with sex has been described in many testimonies to be on a most carnal level. The following quotations from 1972 show Robert ("R.") has been incapable of "being the words" he has preached from the very beginning.]

 "Via Del Sol" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 7, 2007:

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.

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 [body] 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.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Jennings Brown reports on 3-year investigation of Fellowship of Friends

[ed. - The following podcast announcement comes from The series also receives mentions on SFGATE, Distractify, geektyrant, Gizmodo, and 1428elm, where The Fellowship of Friends appears in the "true crime" category. Primal Stream Media also reviews the podcast, calling it a candidate for the best podcast of 2021, and lists "Revelations" among the top 25 podcasts of 2021.]

A doomsday cult in Northern California known by wine lovers for their vintage is set to be the subject of a new podcast series from Blumhouse Television and Vespucci.

Spotify will launch Revelations, which premieres on October 3, hosted by The Gateway’s Jennings Brown.

The six-part series tells the story of the Fellowship of Friends, which was founded by Robert Earl Burton, an East Bay schoolteacher who began preaching out of a van in Berkeley in the 1960s before founding the fellowship in 1970 and building it up to around 2,500 members.

The group ran the successful Renaissance Vineyard and Winery between 1982 and 2015.

The series comes from Spotify’s Parcast, created in partnership with Blumhouse Television and Vespucci, the company behind Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Mask of Sanity audio series and Mamoudou Athie’s Chighali. Gilded Audio also produces.

“The echos of NXIVM in Revelations are sadly all too familiar, and make this story Jennings Brown uncovered all the more necessary listening,” said Chris McCumber, president Blumhouse Television.

“After three years of meticulous and unflinching reporting from Jennings, we are delighted for this story to finally come to light. Jennings has an uncanny ability to balance the tightrope of hard hitting journalism and intimate portraits of survival,” added Vespucci co-founders Daniel Turcan and Johnny Galvin.

Jennings Brown added, “I’m glad to finally be sharing the story of the Fellowship of Friends, its members, and its survivors—and I hope this series leaves listeners with a better understanding of the dynamics of spiritual abuse. I appreciate that Vespucci and Gilded Audio understood and supported this story from the beginning, and I’m grateful that Blumhouse Television, Parcast, and Spotify are helping us tell it.”



The Fellowship of Friends is an elite and secretive spiritual organization. Ex-members say it’s a doomsday cult and that its leader, Robert Earl Burton, preys on his followers. On October 20, 2018, journalist Jennings Brown was at the Fellowship’s extravagant compound, observing the final black-tie dinner before the end of the world. Robert had predicted the apocalypse was going to begin the next morning and Jennings wanted to report on the community as it prepared for a global catastrophe. But Jennings soon realized the end-times prophecy was just the beginning of the story. He’d spend the next three years investigating the Fellowship and its dark secrets. Revelations is a Spotify Original from Parcast. Produced by Blumhouse Television, Vespucci, Gilded Audio, Jennings Brown, and Dan Rosato. Hosted by Jennings Brown.

If you have any information you’d like to share about the Fellowship of Friends, please email or leave a voicemail at 347-480-3527.

This series includes discussions of sexual violence. If you are a survivor of sexual assault and need to talk to someone, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.4673 or visit If you are outside the U.S., Pathways Safety International can be reached at 833.SAFE.833.














[ed. - The following link comes from Jennings Brown's Instagram page: The Art of the Scam: The Best Books, Podcasts, and Documentaries About Cults compiled by Alex McElroy.]


"44thWay" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 11, 2021:

#4 Nevasayneva

I agree. I just finished listening to Act VI. The whole series is an admirable piece of work, and I’m amazed at what Jennings Brown managed to do. It also must have required a lot of time editing and putting together. If someone wants to send him a bottle of champagne, I’ll chip in.

I also found it disturbing from the point of view of one who was a member for 27 years. Jennings Brown found out things very quickly that I didn’t know in all that time, and some of which I did not know until I listened to the series. Yes, Elena (#1,2) I was aware of your picketing but I didn’t know what it was about and didn’t find out because Robert forbade us to talk to you.

For me it is particularly disorientating, as one who takes pride in being rational, to realise that I isolated a whole structure of beliefs from critical analysis. I also didn’t enquire further on the rare occasions when someone claimed an injustice. Yet on that score, even if only peripherally, I am guilty.

At least I left when Robert claimed that the Absolute had visited him in the rose garden for a cup of tea or whatever (did the Absolute suck Robert’s dick or did I misunderstand?).

How anyone could stay after that is hard to understand.


 "ton2u" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, November 10, 2021:

I’ll add my thanks here to Jennings Brown and associates for their good works – a public service shedding light on dark places.

Re: picketing the compound, I agree with Ames… from personal experience, back when I lived at “Renaissance” Dorota Star owned a house and property just behind the FOF garden … (a garden as I recall, which kept growing in size and production under Robbie Lichtenberg’s green thumb). After Dorota left the school she regularly made visible efforts to “raise hell” out there on her property demonstrating her anger and outraging at Burden [sic] and the organization supporting him.

At the time, while living inside the “Renaissance” bubble and as a “dyed in the wool true believer” of the lies, I know myself and others of a similar mindset only grew more convinced of our own ‘righteousness’ as Dorota’s protestations continued. I’m pretty sure the same sort of mindset yet persists inside the FOF and certain types of actions will only make the “faithful” more so.

(Wonder whatever happened to Dorota and Robbie?)

As for blind obedience to a blundering oracle, some are unable and will never see the follow-ship of fools for what it is – all frivolous folly designed to fleece the flock in support of the so-called “goddess” masquerading as a man.

A phrase comes to mind: ‘let the dead bury the dead.’


"Nevasayneva" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, November 11, 2021:

Re 44th way. [above]

We were all in the dark to one extent or another while in FOF. The editing of the Jennings Brown podcast is amazing.

Although as per podcast FOF may say – move along move along, nothing to see here, few current FOF members or ex-FOF members will have heard the legal opinions of Ford Greene or Moira Penza (Act V)

Moira Penza Act V

“There is no law against being a cult. The law is against using force, fraud or coercion to have someone engage in specific sex acts”

If I had been mixed up in any force, fraud or coercion, I certainly would not like to find myself across a table from someone like Moira Penza.


"Insider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 13, 2022:

Although this YouTube review,, has limited added value to anyone who has listened to the “Revelations” podcast series about the Fellowship, it is of note that the reviewer considers Revelations to be a candidate for the best podcast of 2021.


"diegoriverassquaretrouserleg" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 14, 2022:

Thanks #82 Insider [above]

I hope the Revelations podcast is a winner and that it and the Fellowship get the attention they rightfully deserve.

Sad to hear those institutionalised old fogeys whacking on about the Gods and poetic beauty.

“Have you ever thought that the God’s wanted a reporter here on the eve of the prediction ?” Says one idiot convinced that Geoffrey Chaucer and Abraham Lincoln have arranged for Jennings Brown to be on hand to witness the fall of California and report favorably on the event. Have you thought that you’ve become a demented buffoon? is my question to you.

He’s parroting the vain, absurd delusions he’s absorbed from Robert Burton, it’s Bobspeak and is characteristic of the true believers of the Fellowship’s inner circle. He’s blissfully unaware that after decades of membership and work on himself he is by now, like so many of them, a psychotic liar who’s convinced he has a working relationship with Socrates and Queen Elizabeth the 1st of England.

“No one lives with this kind of poetry, It’s filled with beauty in every corner, it’s a reflection of our teacher” Says a female version of Uncle Bob, who waxes lyrical about the gauche, decaying, ghastly imitation of taste that passes for proof of genius in Uncle Bob’s Nouveau riche Neverland compound. A chimp on acid in an antiques mall would do a better job at amassing the, “fine impressions” the cult members will enjoy with smug self satisfaction post armageddon and would only require a banana or two in payment.


"Insider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 14, 2022:

83. diego… [above]

Yes, Nick and Judy (and John B and Greg and Peter and Marcus and even Burton) thought they could blind Jennings with fancy receptions in the gardens, unlimited quantities of the best wine, Shakespeare at night in the Theatron, plus all the “uncreated light” and wisdom emanating from Burton and his minions of “conscious” followers floating about Apollo in an endless state of bliss.

But Jennings was not to be blinded by the external show. He never forgot the deep secrets that were being hidden by all the glitter and finery. He knew it was all a fraud despite the “beauty in every corner.”


"diegoriverassquaretrouserleg" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 16, 2022:

The twenty five best podcasts of 2021

1 of 25

Jennings Brown’s previous podcast, The Gateway: Teal Swan, told the story of one woman’s passionate following and examined whether it was, in fact, a toxic cult. In Spotify’s six-part Revelations, Brown investigates the Fellowship of Friends, a California cult (and until 2015, a winery!), and the multiple sexual assault allegations against its founder, Robert Earl Burton.

Speaking with nearly 100 current and former members and paying visits to Apollo, the Fellowship’s compound, Brown’s own revelations include uncovering a possible sex trafficking operation. Ultimately, believers’ blind devotion to the morally questionable Burton is as fascinating as it is bone-chilling.

Friday, October 1, 2021

"Lawmaker shot at Jonestown compares Trump to cult leader Jim Jones"

[ed. - The following is from See also, "Take It From a Former Moonie: Trump Is a Cult Leader" and "Fellowship congregation prohibited from following President Trump".]

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who was shot by members of the Peoples Temple during the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, says she sees similarities between cult leader Jim Jones and former President Donald Trump in the way they use their charisma to connect with disillusioned American and act as "merchants of deceit." Speier was shot five times on an airstrip in Guyana while accompanying a lawmaker to investigate the nearby cult.

More on this interview at Reliable Sources.