Herald Sun (Australia), Jan. 18, 2003
By BRAD CLIFTON
They began appearing about noon, at a remote campsite on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts.
By nightfall yesterday, up to 70 members of the International Raelian Movement – dressed in white robes and wearing silver medallions – inhabited a tent city by a river in a secluded valley at Wisemans Ferry.
For the next 10 days, this spot will be Raelian central for scores of believers who have travelled from all points along the east coast and abroad for an annual meditation and awakening seminar.
Attracting world attention last month by claiming to have cloned a baby girl named Eve, the Raelians believe the human race was created by extra-terrestrials – known as the Elohim – who will one day return to lead a peace-loving planet.
In order to be on hand to meet their creators, the Raelians view DNA technology as the way to eternal life.
“We believe we are meant to be cloned and if we are, it’s possible to live eternally in subsequent bodies,” Roy Tyrrell, the national guide of the Australian Raelian Movement, said yesterday.
“We knew it (the alleged cloning) was going to create a bit of a wave.
“But we don’t wantto create monsters, nobody does.”
Mr Tyrrell, from Victoria, teaches woodwork at a TAFE college but regards his work with the Raelians as his “dedication and passion”.
He has been a Raelian for 11 years and, as the group’s national guide, he conducts seminars for his fellow believers to allow them to experience sensual meditation and personal fulfilment.
“They will learn to become in harmony with themselves and the universe,” Mr Tyrrell said, describing the weekend’s activities.
“Through meditation, you are able to detach yourself from the chaos of society and from the pressures we go through in society, and learn to make your own choices in life.
“Sensual meditation is really about non-conformity and teaching people to be individuals.”
As the Raelians arrived yesterday at the campsite – which has been set up at the end of a long dirt road accessible only by a rickety suspension bridge – they made their way to a number of tents and cabins surrounding a large central building.
The lodge-style structure will be used to hold the meditation sessions, and contains images of people and places sacred to Raelian life.
Lining the walls are photographs of the group’s worldwide leader, Rael, a former French motoring writer whose claimed meeting with aliens in the early 1970s led to the establishment of the movement.
On the opposite wall is a picture of one of the Elohim – the aliens the Raelians say are the founders of the human race.
According to the group, the secrets of human origin were told to Rael by the Elohim – who he described as being short, with long dark hair and almond eyes – after he was invited on to their spacecraft in 1973.
Rael’s subsequent book about his experience with the aliens in the French countryside, entitled The Messages, is viewed with reverence by his followers, who are said to number 55,000 worldwide.
Contained in a glass display case in a corner of the large cabin yesterday was a scale model of a futuristic embassy – complete with a silver UFO perched on the roof – which the Raelians intend to build to welcome the Elohim back to Earth by the year 2035.
The cabin’s interior also contained large white lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the floor was covered with ornate cushions.
Donning white robes, the Raelians will congregate in the building for their initial meditation session.
“We wear white robes to highlight the inner beauty, so that when we see a person, it’s what’s inside that counts,” Mr Tyrrell said.
“They might be supermodels or overweight, but that’s not who they really are.”
Mr Tyrrell said the aim of all Raelians was to inform the world about the message of the Elohim and to build the embassy to invite the aliens to return to Earth.
The first of the Raelians to arrive at camp yesterday, a man who gave his name only as Doc, spent the past week travelling from his home in far north Queensland to attend the gathering.
Doc became a Raelian six years ago, after reading a copy of Rael’s book.
“It made a lot of sense,” he said.