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Ariel School ufo witnesses on life after contact

‘The terror that comes after contact’ – Revisiting the Ariel school UFO witnesses

“The eyes looked evil, like they wanted to take us”, the little girl stared anxiously at Harvard psychiatrist John Mack who had just arrived from the US to investigate what has been considered one of the world’s most significant mass UFO sightings.

It was a normal Friday morning in the staff-room of the Ariel Primary School outside the town of Ruwa, Zimbabwe. The late summer sun streamed through the blinds, broken only by the silhouettes of schoolchildren whizzing by in the playground outside. To the jaded teachers, the cacophony of the children was a familiar sound, reminiscent of a distant puffin colony, but suddenly that sound stopped.

At the end of the playground next to a coppice of miombo trees two figures appeared. One advanced towards the children, hovering above the grass, the other stood back by a silver craft. The children were captivated and something happened to time, a distortion, seconds seemed like hours.

A multitude of images flowed out from the eyes of the strange being that stood in front of the children, disturbing apocalyptic scenes that were transmitted directly into their minds, a vision of devastation that still haunts them as adults today.

This encounter with supposedly otherworldly entities has proven stubborn to refute, with even the most sceptical finding it difficult to dismiss. The sheer number of witnesses, the hours of compelling archival interviews, the ratification of a Pulitzer Prize winning professor, and the fact that over sixty children and scores of adults have all maintained the berk to this day, never straying and always adamantly defending it in the face of scepticism, ridicule and indifference.

Transmitted Images

The transmitted vision that came to the children that day has reverberated in their minds ever since, with sudden flashbacks invading their waking hours which come back again, during sleep, as vivid nightmares. Each flashback feels like a total recall of that day twenty six years ago, described one contactee, who explained how, “each witness has dealt with what happened differently, a lot have internalise it, they don’t talk about it, not to their family nor to their own spouses, it is incredible the lengths they will go to keep it inside”. Others have felt obliged to bare witness, but when society failed to listen they have taken solace in painting, a compulsion that has dislodged hidden memories of the event, from deep within the subconscious. 

There were a total of 64 pupils who accounted seeing a landing disc shaped craft and strange beings that day. The young children divulged their experiences to the late professor John Mack, the head of psychiatry and Harvard Medical School. There was no contradiction in their separate accounts, no hint of ulterior motive, and all interviews were captured by the BBC in chilling video footage that is still available to view today. One little girl described the beings floating across the grass “towards us”. This humanoid entity seemed to mimic the movements of the children, another stood on “top of the ship”. John Mack asked the little girl what she would call the being that emerged from the craft, the little girl responded, “I would call them aliens.” He asked another young girl what scared her the most about the experience. The residue of the incident had yet to expire in the child’s eyes, she gave an apprehensive gasp then replied with clarity, “it was the noise, it was like someone was blowing a flute.”

The John E Mack Interviews

After in-depth interviews with the children the leading psychiatrist was adamant that the children were not fabricating the extraordinary events, saying the pupils, “experienced very powerful encounters with these beings, and we are left with a rather disturbing fact that this seems to be what it is, and it seems to have no other psychiatric explanation.” He added: “These are people of sound mind, I know this by the quality of the way they talk about the incident. It is the same way a person describes a thing that has actually happened to them.”

Most of the witnesses experienced trauma later that night with many of the images that had been transmitted into their minds lingering, refusing to leave. One little girl, called Lisa, who was interviewed by Professor Mack described “feeling all horrible inside” after she had returned home. When provoked to elaborate on this feeling she said, “I felt like all the trees will go down and there will be no air for people to breathe and everyone will die.” The little girl said that these apocalyptic thoughts never occurred to her before the incident, but that they had come directly “from the man” who had stepped out of the craft. When asked about the sense she got from the peering eyes of this otherworldly entity, the little girl responded that, “he was interested”. Lisa, now in her thirties, is still perplexed as to why she was the recipient of such an apocalyptic message. She admits to having repeated nightmares that vividly depict those scenes of ecocide, nightmares that have haunted her ever since the incident.

Filmmaker Randall Nickerson

Filmmaker Randall Nickerson, who has spent the last ten years tracking down each witness for a soon to be released documentary called The Ariel Phenomenon,  tells how some of the contactees still feel a malevolent presence when the subject is brought to mind. He described, “witnesses living in fear, with at least four having to receive psychological counselling”. The filmmaker has travelled around the world to record the testimony of those that were there, the grown adults now have different interpretations of the event.  Some feel they were blessed and “only wish to go back to that day, to relive it again”. Others concluded, “it was the devil”.  One tendency that Nickerson observed was how most witnesses still feel vulnerable, and how “many admit to taking great degrees to secure themselves at night”. This feeling of  apprehension and being adrift is a common consequence of the contactee phenomenon, which Alan Stivelman, director of the recent UFO documentary Witness of Another World calls, “the terror that comes after contact”. 

Aleister Crowley’s visitation with an entity

The descriptions of the entities that visited the children on that Friday morning are surprisingly similar to a drawing made by English occultist Aleister Crowley in 1917. When Crowley was conducting a magical rite called the Amalantrah Working he allegedly made contact with an extra-dimensional entity known and drew its portrait. In 1919 he held an exhibition in Greenwich Village in New York called Dead Souls where he displayed the drawing of Lam, whom Crowley claimed was of inter-dimensional origin. The image was also important enough to be included as a front-piece to Madame Blavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence, and was anchored with the words:  “LAM is the Tibetan word for Way or Path, and LAMA is He who Goeth, the specific title of the Gods of Egypt, the Treader of the Path, in Buddhistic phraseology. Its numerical value is 71, the number of this book.”

A drawing by Crowley of Lam (Credit: Aleister Crowley, 1919, public domain, published in Madame Blavatsky’s “The Voice of the Silence”, Detroit 1919)

Filmmaker Nickerson has described contact with the entities as “opening up a door in the minds of the young children, that normally remains dormant, making the recipient of these mental communication more sensitive to psychic phenomenon. One of the witnesses that is willing to speak about the experience today is Salma Siddick, who now resides in Canada. She described how she, “saw a ‘being’ that had a stoic expression, but the fact that I locked eyes on it,  made me feel it was not totally robotic.”

The Mysteries of Mount Nyangani

The description given by Salma Siddick is markedly similar to a transcript of a remote viewing project recently uncovered in once classified  CIA documents. In 1987 the CIA conducted remote viewing exercises, codenamed Project 8200. The psychic practitioners recorded detecting an “ancient site” inhabited by “entities that had very large round shaped heads, on slender necks” in caverns beneath Zimbabwe’s highest peak, called Mount Nyangani, and known locally as “the mountain that swallows people” and not far from the location of the Ariel school. The CIA documented remote viewer ended their recording with the words, “very unhuman in appearance, almost robot like, unable to make any contact with this being.”

Mount Nyangani from the west (Credit: Babakathy, public domain)

Nickerson details interviews he has conducted with witnesses who were adults at the time of the event. One such being a driver on a rural road later that  night, after the incident. The passing motorist saw two figures, and described them as being small in stature, with oblong pale heads wearing tight fitting black suits and how there was a total silence from nature as a craft passed over head. The filmmaker also describes Harare air traffic control picking up unusual activity, and one pilot who was airborne at the time, “seeing a strange craft flying at 25,000 feet from horizon to horizon in less than four second”.

The Contactee Paintings of Emily Trim

Another contactee is Emily Trim, now in her thirties and is a fine artist living in Canada. Her work repeated expresses that formative incident from 1994, her vivid paintings “all have some sort of connection to the event”. Emily was interviewed by Harvard’s Pulitzer Prize winning professor John Mack days after standing a few feet away from what in all considerations was a sentient extraterrestrial entity. The chilling footage recorded by Professor Mack’s team show a frightened girl, but one who is confident in her testimony. The event still makes her emotional today, in an interview with podcaster Martin Willies she said: “I had locked the experience away for a long time. I only started to process the event in I was 19 or 20.” Emily’s paintings often depict what she saw that day and correspond to what she and many of the other pupils drew for John E Mack when he arrived to investigate after the incident in 1994. In her work we see abstract forms full of energy, today she can still remember the beings as “having an iridescence to them”. Some of her paintings are more representative and reveal, “beings of luminosity, with large elongated heads prominent black eyes and longer thinner necks, with flimsy limbs”. Emily described how they were “mimicking us, they hovered above the ground, not touching it, but their movements were like they were copying us and we were all immersed by the eyes of these beings”.

The Lingering Aftermath

That Friday morning in the Ariel school playing field is now nearly 30 years in the past. Now, the children have grown and acquired their fair share of normal memories of relationships, careers and hardships. Yet of all the memories the one from the school yard is still etched in their minds and glows with its own spectral haunted light. To the witnesses of the Ariel School phenomenon the strange visitors to the school yard that day were real and they chose them. For the rest of us we have the startlingly honest film testimonies from John Mack’s interviews days after the event. Is it that the children were somehow prepped before hand by devious adults, or that John Mack’s questioning techniques caused the children to become influenced by his own underlying bias? Or, what presented itself in front of the children was how they described it, however unsettling and tantalising that may be.

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