Ghosts - research, evidence, and discussion.
Newsletter Subscription:
Subscribe to our free monthly email newsletter:

Features Archive:

2005 Archive:
Whose Scrooge? - by Lee Prosser
December 15, 2005

Column - regular feature

Spirit Dor by John Richards
December 9, 2005

The Witchcraft Connection - The Ghostly Carpenter - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
December 6, 2005

Column - regular feature

Nature is a Haunted House - by Lee Prosser
December 1, 2005

Column - regular feature

Hollywood Ghost Hunt Weekend by Richard Senate
November 28, 2005

Clairvoyance, Ghosts, and Music - by Lee Prosser
November 15, 2005

Column - regular feature

Halloween and the End Times - by Lee Prosser
November 1, 2005

Column - regular feature

The Witchcraft Connection - Resurrection Mary: The Conclusion - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
October 20, 2005

Column - regular feature

1 Corinthians 12:10 - by Lee Prosser
October 15, 2005

Column - regular feature

Gift From A Child By Rick Hayes
October 14, 2005

Ghost Hunt: The Liberace Mansion by Richard Senate
October 7, 2005

Mimosa, Marigold, Cayenne, Dandelion, Mullein, Clairvoyance, Uncle Willard, and Ghosts - by Lee Prosser
October 1, 2005

Column - regular feature

Today's Cults of Personality by Wayne Harrup
September 19, 2005

Clairvoyance and the River of the Mind - by Lee Prosser
September 15, 2005

Column - regular feature

Bide One's Time - Rev. Pat Robertson - by Lee Prosser
September 1, 2005

Column - regular feature

Cedar Key Inn - The Man in the Kitchen by Janice Cottrill
August 29, 2005

Bide One's Time - High Spirits - by Lee Prosser
August 15, 2005

Column - regular feature

CBS Introduces the Ghost Whisperer by Jeff Belanger
August 5, 2005

Bide One's Time - Ghostly Encounter - by Lee Prosser
August 1, 2005

Column - regular feature

Bide One's Time - Don Bachardy - by Lee Prosser
July 15, 2005

Column - regular feature

Bide One's Time - New Mexico, Land of Enchantment - by Lee Prosser
July 1, 2005

Column - regular feature

Tibetan Beliefs On Death and Beyond Part 2 of 2 by Janice Cottrill
June 20, 2005

Bide One's Time - Why Do We Enjoy Ghost Story Movies? - by Lee Prosser
June 15, 2005

Column - regular feature

Tibetan Beliefs On Death and Beyond Part 1 of 2 by Janice Cottrill
June 13, 2005

Bide One's Time - We are Each a Living Ghost in Our Own Story - by Lee Prosser
June 1, 2005

Column - regular feature

Electronic Voice Phenomena (E.V.P.) by Todd M. Bates
May 23, 2005

Bide One's Time - Sensitive to Ghosts - by Lee Prosser
May 17, 2005

Column - regular feature

Emotions of the Paranormal by Brian Leffler
May 13, 2005

George Lutz's Amityville Horror by Jeff Belanger
April 12, 2005

Connecting Through Reincarnation? by Rick Hayes
March 16, 2005

Chinese Hopping Ghosts by Janice Cottrill
March 4, 2005

Dr. Hans Holzer - A Lifetime of Explaining the Unexplained by Jeff Belanger
February 7, 2005

The Legend of Lucy Keyes by John Stimpson
February 4, 2005

Raymond Buckland by Lee Prosser
January 28, 2005

The Mysterious Haunting of Stone's Public House by David Retalic
January 23, 2005

Some Musings on White Noise by Lee Prosser
January 12, 2005

India and the Supernatural by Lee Prosser
January 3, 2005

February 7, 2005

Dr. Hans Holzer - A Lifetime of Explaining the Unexplained

Interview by Jeff Belanger

Hans Holzer died on April 26, 2009, at the age of 89. Dr. Holzer was a pioneer and trail-blazer in the paranormal community. He will be missed. extends our condolences to his family and friends.

This past January, Dr. Hans Holzer turned 85 years old. He laughs when you mention retirement. I retire every day, he says with the hint of an Austrian accent. Every night at midnight.

After penning 138 books as well as several plays, musicals, films, and documentaries and hosting a television show, the only thing that slows him down today is a mishap from an operation on his leg three years ago. What does it slow him down from? Swing dancing, he said. I laughed. Then I realized he wasnt kidding. Not just swing dancing, any kind of dancing!

Supernaturally speaking, Dr. Holzer has seen and heard it all. Hes worked with psychic legends like Sybil Leek, hes investigated some of the most prominent haunted locations around the world, and hes come as close as a living person can to touching the other side of life a term hes quick to point out that he invented.

I spoke to Dr. Holzer about his life and work from his office in New York City. I have no secrets, he said. I mean, I have secrets, but I dont make them secret. If anybody wants to hear them, they can hear them.

I wanted to hear them.

Born January 26, 1920 in Vienna, Austria, Holzer embraced the supernatural from a young age. He had an uncle Henry who used to tell him about fairies. Uncle Henry had many interests in the field of the paranormal, and he certainly left an impression on young Hans. I was in kindergarten, Holzer said. I was four years old I see this as vividly today as when it happened I see myself seated in a little yellow chair with all of the other kids around, and I was in the middle, pretending to read from an expired streetcar pass of my fathers. I couldnt read at four, but I pretended. And I was reading them ghost stories. Obviously fictional ghost stories, but the kids loved it. The only trouble was that they told their parents at home.

Did you get in trouble? I asked.

The next thing that happened was the mothers came in and said, What kind of a kindergarten are we running here? And so my mother was brought in, and the teacher said, Look, either he goes or I go. At that point, I stopped telling ghost stories.

In 1938, 18-year-old Holzer saw a very big war coming to his region. He figured being that close to Nazi Germany while a World War was brewing wasnt healthy, so he and his brother came to New York. Hes lived in New York City ever since.

What was your first paranormal experience? I asked.

Its not a question of whether I had experiences, he said. My interest has nothing to do with personal experiences. In other words, you dont have to be an investigator to experience things first-hand.

For Holzer, each case must withstand journalistic integrity, and journalism is just one of the many subjects he studied during his academic career. I took ancient history and archaeology at the University of Vienna, he said. Then I spent another three-and-a-half years at Columbia University where I studied Japanese. In addition, I was a graduate of the Academy of Journalism in Vienna, which was a total waste of time. But I took it it sounded nice. At the end, I studied at the London College of Applied Science which awarded me a masters in comparative religion, and then a year later a Ph.D. with a specialty in parapsychology.

By the time his schooling was finished, his reputation was sealed as an investigator of the paranormal.

Ive read you dont like the term supernatural, I said.

I use the term because it is the one that people use, Holzer said. But nothing in my scientific view does not have an explanation. The question is, sooner we get it or later we get it, but there has to be an explanation. You cant say nobody knows. I dont accept that. And the paranormal is part of our experience we just dont always understand it as such.

Eventually, we did get to speak about some of Holzers personal experiences. And while some people in this field of study have had personal experiences and believe that in itself makes them expert on knowing if a location is haunted, Holzer wants witnesses several of them preferably, and the not-crazy kind. Thats why I want to know my witness, he said. I ask them, Who are you? What do you do for a living? I interview the witnesses. If there is a crazy in front of me, Ill know it.

My first visual experience was when I lived in New York City with my father in a penthouse apartment on Riverside Drive. I was asleep in bed, and I woke up and there was my mother dressed in a white nightgown, pushing my head back onto the pillow. My head had slipped off the pillow. At that time I was subject to migraines. Had I not had my head back on the pillow, I probably wouldve had one, and there wouldve been dizziness and I wouldve been out of business for a day. I said, Oh, hello, Mama. And she disappeared.

We talked about the difference between a ghost or a spirit how a ghost is a residual entity, like a psychic imprint left in an area that some people can pick up, whereas a spirit is intelligent and interactive. Holzer also mentioned a third category I hadnt heard about before: the stay behinds.

Stay behinds are relatively common, he said. Somebody dies, and then theyre really surprised that all of a sudden theyre not dead. Theyre alive like they were. They dont understand it because they werent prepared for it. So they go back to what they knew most their chair, their room, and they just sit there. Next, they want to let people know that theyre still alive. So theyll do little things like moving things, appear to relatives, pushing objects, poltergeist phenomena, and so on.

Preparation for the after life is something most world religions devote their very existence to. Holzer believes all religions have some of it right in that they believe in a supreme power a belief Holzer also holds. He considers himself an Evangelical Protestant and used to attend St. Bartholomew in Manhattan twice a year on Christmas and Easter. But he has since stopped going hes been at odds with the minister. My minister at St. Barts, I dont like, he said. And its mutual. He laughed.

Why is that? I asked.

They were running a seminar on world religions they had a rabbi there, they had an Imam there it was a discussion group, he said. Since Im a professional lecturer, I offered to add the view of parapsychology. And he [the minister] turned it down with a note saying, How can you compare that with what were doing? And I didnt think that was very nice. You have to understand, where I'm coming from, if it werent for parapsychology, religion wouldnt have a leg to stand on. Because they have used what we call the facts of the paranormal to build their messages of faith. Religion works on faith and on belief and disbelief you must do this and you must do that thats not where science comes from. Science gives the facts whether you like them or not, and you have to accept them or not accept them, but its not a question of belief or faith.

Holzers own research has also led him away from his Christmas and Easter visits to St. Barts. I am working on early Christianity as part of the research work, and I have come up with some very startling facts about early Christianity that differ markedly from what the Roman Catholic and even my own church are convinced of, he said. And while Im working on this, I would feel like a fool going to church. For instance, I spent 15 years of research establishing that Jesus Christ, that is Jeshua, was born October the third, seven B.C., beyond the shadow of a doubt. We have the hard evidence from contemporary sources. So how could I possibly go and celebrate Christmas? The church at the Council of Nicea in 325, since they werent sure when Jesus was born either, decided to make it officially on a day which was already a holiday this was Saturnalia of the Roman calendar the 25th of December.

October the third is the correct date. I wrote a book about this called A Star in the East.

Though the date might be wrong, is the message right? I asked.

Im not condemning all religions, he said. Im condemning certain portions of it as being man-made and used solely for selfish purposes. There are some wonderful concepts in religion Buddhism has a lot of good things, for instance. I think that spirituality is a personal thing unique to you. It doesnt cost anything and it doesnt take any effort. We should all have a spiritual concept of life.

I asked him what we can expect to find waiting for us on the other side. His reply came without hesitation, and very matter-of-fact. We all pass out of the physical body and we are now on the other side of life. Its a world just like this one it has only two differences: theres no sense of time, and if youre ill when you die youre now no longer ill. But other than that, youll find houses, trees, gardens, and your relatives, friends, and so on. It looks like a very real world. Maybe a little nicer, but still a normal, real world. And you are just the way you were before. Maybe a little bit younger-looking if you wish, but youre still in a very real world.

Youll notice that the other side of life is a bureaucracy just like this one. You cant just call Uncle Frank [whos still living]. You have to get permission from a group of people who call themselves guides spirit guides. They will say, Why do you want to make contact? Whats your purpose? And if they approve of it, theyll say, Okay, find yourself a medium somewhere, speak with them, and they will make contact for you. Or if youre that strong, you can try to make contact yourself.

And if you dont like where you are after a while -- you may have a consciousness that youve been there a certain period and feel that you would rather be back on the other side with friends and loved ones. Youll say, Id like to get reborn again. These are the words I got from them, theyre not my invention. They [the spirits] said you have to go to a line, and you have to register with the clerk. Clerk is the word they used. So you get in line and register with the clerk that you want to go back. The clerk says, Okay, Ill let you know when I find an appropriate couple for you that will advance your development. They have no real sense of time, so they just stand there, and eventually the clerk will say, Ive got a couple for you.

There is a well and they [the spirit about to go back] must walk through that well. They call it The Well of Forgetfulness. They are sprayed with this water not 100%, it never quite covers everything. Thats why people have memories, dej vu experiences, and recurrent dreams. And then they are a baby again.

What I have learned in my investigations is that there are seven levels of consciousness on the other side of life that are concentric with our world. Its not up or down, its just concentric. We cant see it because it moves at a different rate of speed than we move.

The idea is reincarnation. This concept has been a part of many religions and belief systems for millennia. Holzer continued with his ideas on how our physical and spirit bodies connect. Theres three levels when you are born. You are born with a physical outer body, a duplicate inner body, and at the very moment of birth thats very important the moment the child is supposed to see the light [during childbirth], that is when the soul or the spirit is inserted from the pool of available spirits from the other side. Therefore all this nonsense about abortion killing a child is pure lies, pure nonsense. The fetus, until the spirit of the child is inserted, is a physical part of the mother. It does not have any life its not a separate entity.

Holzer said he worked with several mediums to compile this information on how things work in the afterlife. Holzer believes a good medium is the most critical element to a good supernatural investigation. He believes the medium is the person who can speak for those on the other side and deliver clear messages.

Thats putting a lot of faith in a person who is hopefully not a charlatan, but could be, I said.

Thats why you dont ask questions of a psychic, he said. You just sit there and listen. Ill give you an example. Philip Solomon, a British trancemedium, once called me out of the blue because I had written a rather harsh piece in a magazine. It was about psychics who didnt deliver not fakers but incompetent psychics. So we talked on the phone and became friendly, and then he suddenly said, Your uncle Henry is here. It became clear that he was talking about somebody who really is my uncle Henry. Weeks went on, and from time to time he would call me and give me messages from my parents and from Henry, which I found valid. Months went by, and he [Philip Solomon] said, Yes, Uncle Henry is here again. So I said, If its my uncle Henry, what does he want me to know? And Philip said, Just a moment. And then he came back and said, Your uncle Henry says the dogs name was Rigo. Who the hell would know that? But it was Rigo.

Thats what I call evidence. There was no way that he could have known that my uncles dogs name was Rigo. No way he could have known that that was years and years ago. The only explanation of that particular case was that this was my uncle Henry. That was his way of proving himself. Thats the kind of evidence I demand. It cannot be explained away.

Paranormal investigative groups are popping up everywhere. More people are studying this field today than ever before, and Holzer has met many of them. We are living in a technological age, he said, and they [paranormal investigators] think, or at least some of them that Ive met, in all sincerity, that running around with geiger counters and cameras and instruments that can measure cold spots will be the way to investigate a haunting or a ghost. Thats bullshit. Because if you really are an investigator of the paranormal, and youre dealing with ghosts or hauntings, youre dealing with a human being nothing more, nothing less. Therefore you should have with you a good trancemedium who can lend her body or his body temporarily for that entity to speak through so you can find out what the trouble is. Thats the way it works not a geiger counter.

But certainly a geiger counter is more accessible than a good trancemedium for most people, I said.

And it looks more professional to them, Holzer said. But it really is bullshit.

The one piece of equipment Holzer doesnt completely dismiss is the camera. I have worked with psychic photographers, he said. Thats a special form of mediumship. Psychic photography is a gift. Some have it. Ive used these people in haunted places. When there was something there, they would photograph it.

Have you ever been afraid during an investigation? I asked.

Fear is the absence of information, he said. Fear is created by not understanding something. You bring on the fear. There is no object to fear. Ive never been afraid during an investigation. I shouldnt be in this business if I was.

Theres nothing out there that isnt one way or the other human. Hollywood notwithstanding, there are no monsters out there. There is no other supernatural race, no devils, no fellows in red underwear. It doesnt exist.

What have you learned about yourself during all of these years of investigations? I asked.

My purpose is that I have a job. First of all, the other side, being a bureaucracy and being a well-ordered world, invests in peoples abilities. When the other side decides some individuals have very good minds and good hearts, then they are given talents with the proviso that they will use those talents for the betterment of the world and mankind. If you dont, they wont like it. So they make it very plain: you have a gift. Use it. I found out early enough that they had something in mind for me. I accepted that its an assignment. I noticed that what happened to me was kind of programmed I met some people who were important for my career, or for my enlightenment it was all arranged. So I finally said, Friends, I noticed youre running my life. Its okay with me. I will do it. And I hear this in my right ear: We will guide you, help you. Use your gifts. You have two separate paths, one has to do with science, parapsychology research, and the other has to be the entertainment business. But you combine them to let the world know what you find.

And thats what I do.

Holzer has been a vegetarian since age 11 and a vegan since age 40. It makes a difference, he said. You may not like to hear this, but it does make a difference. The last cold I had was 15 years ago. I dont take injections of any kind or prescription drugs. And I intend to be around a long time.

Do you have any vices at all? I asked.

Sure! I love to chase women, he said, then laughed. But chasing and catching them you know are two different things. I have many women friends and I have few men friends. Thats not my fault; it seems to be the way it is. Because women are much more sensitive to the psychic world. But I have many friends.

I have a lot to do that needs to be done. A lot of it is not yet finished. I think retirement is a terrible mistake.

Holzer is fortunate to be doing what he loves to do. So there is certainly no need to retire. People can be unhappy for two reasons, he said. Because they have the wrong mate or because they have the wrong job. They can change both.

How do you want to be remembered? I asked.

As a man who told the truth. I wont have a tombstone. Cemeteries are real estate wastes, and I dont believe in funerals of any kind. The sooner you burn the body the better. Its just a shell. Mankind has a lot to learn.

Im particularly concerned about mankinds continuing preoccupation with violence, war, and crime. I think one of the problems with our generations is that there is no spirituality. And what Im sort of selling if you wish instead of religion which means to relink with the deity, really I sell something called the spiritual way of life. That is to say, instead of going to church at 11 on Sunday once a week, you live it seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Your conduct is spiritual no matter what you do; you follow a spiritual, moral concept. And thats all you should do. Just live it.

What will you be doing on your 100th birthday?

Looking forward to my 101st, he said. I do what Im meant to do. A man who takes himself too seriously, others wont take seriously, so Im very careful about that. I want to be factual and to be useful and I try to help anybody who wants help.

And you want to keep swing dancing. I said.

Yes, he said. Not just swing, any form of dancing. When my daughter saw me at the wedding of my younger daughter, my older daughter saw all of us on the dance floor and said, I didnt know you had in you, Daddy. I said, What do you think I do, the Govotte?

Dr. Hans Holzer has two daughters and five grandchildren. He was married once, but divorced after the birth of his second daughter. Hes committed to explaining the unexplained, to living a spiritual life, and to dancing.

In Joseph Campbells book, Myths to Live By, he describes a conference on religion that took place in Japan. A social philosopher approaches a Japanese Shinto Priest and says, Weve been now to a good many ceremonies and have seen quite a few of your shrines. But I dont get your ideology. I dont get your theology. The Priest thinks about this for a moment and then responds, I think we dont have ideology. We dont have theology. We dance.

Thanks for dancing with me, Dr. Holzer.

2014 Haunted New England Wall Calendar by Jeff Belanger photography by Frank Grace
Check out the 2014 Haunted New England wall calendar by Jeff Belanger and photography by Frank Grace!

Paranormal Conferences and Lectures
Don't miss the following events and lectures:

Jeff Belanger and “The Bridgewater Triangle” at Dedham Community Theatre - April 6, 2014 9:00PM

The Spirits of the Mark Twain House - Hartford, Connecticut - April 12, 2014

Paracon Australia - East Maitland, New South Wales, Australia - May 10-12, 2014