Ghostbuster Hans Holzer dies

Parapsychologist Hans Holzer
Parapsychologist Hans Holzer

Without doubt the largest single volume on my bookshelves is Ghosts: true encounters with the world beyond by the prolific and extraordinary Hans Holzer, who passed on at the age of 89 at his Manhattan home on 26 April, after a long illness.

Ghosts – all 760 pages of it – is hardly bedtime reading. Turning its pages for half an hour is surely equivalent to an energetic workout with dumbells at the gym. Fortunately, a slightly lighter paperback version of this classic has recently been published.

Described in many of the obituaries as a parapsychologist, Holzer was mostly a ghost hunter.

"Ghosts" now available in paperback
"Ghosts" now available in paperback

Most researchers tend to be non-commital about the nature of the phenomena they investigate, exploring a variety of theories from thoughtforms to electromagnetic interference. Holzer, on the other hand, knew with a surprising passion what ghosts were and was never afraid to say so. An early chapter in Ghosts answers the question “What exactly is a ghost?”

He chronicled his investigation of the Amityville haunting in Murder in Amityville: Amityville II The Possession but it should be noted that two of his other books on the same subject – The Amityville Curse and The Secret Amityville – were fiction.

He also believed in reincarnation, was a Wiccan high priest and a vegan, and married a countess. But it was his books – on ghosts, the afterlife, reincarnation and extraterrestrial beings – for which he was famous.

So I was interested to learn, during a visit to the Parapsychology Foundation’s offices in New York, in 2003, that it was the foundation’s co-founder – the famous English-born medium Eileen Garrett – who kick-started his career as a writer on the paranormal.

During a wide-ranging interview, Garrett’s daughter and granddaugher, Eileen Coley (known to everyone as “Mrs C”) and Lisette Coley – who now run the Foundation – shared with me their own cautious views on the evidence for survival after death, touching on Holzer’s work in the process:

“The famous Hans Holzer is a very lovable character and was very fond of Garrett, who asked him to write his first book and he’s written 200+ since then,” Mrs C confided.

“I heard him telling someone a year ago, right here at one of our conferences, in response to the question, ‘You really do believe that there is a life after death?’ – ‘Oh yes, yes, there’s life after death’.

“So, he was then asked what the next world is like and whether we meet our families. ‘Oh yes, life continues as it is here’…”

Lisette chimed in with: “He has them living in condos!!” to which Mrs C added: “He almost has you taking your furniture with you.”

In Hans Holzer’s case, that next-world furniture is going to have to include several large bookcases… just for his own volumes.

Incidentally, the energetic researcher is already busy in the next world, it seems. He has sent his “heartfelt thanks” to The Daily Telegraph obituary department, via one of his daughters, Alexander (who also writes on the paranormal), for its interest in his passing.

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