January 26, 1920 – April 26, 2009
I was privileged to enjoy the friendship of Hans Holzer for fifteen years and will miss his company. I visited him from time to time at his home in New York and loved our time together. Hans made himself comfortable on his easy chair, his cat Isis on his lap.
"You need to touch your animals," he would say. "That's why they’re called pets."
The room was filled with artifacts collected from his travels and from local flea markets over the years. We rarely shared meals. Hans was a lifelong vegan and his diets were difficult to follow.
My friend enjoyed talking about his busy, event-filled life. I would bring my latest finds for him to sign — any of his out-of-print books I had discovered in used-book stores. Hans wrote an amazing number of books, around one hundred forty or so, maybe three or four a year, and an incredible number of articles and scenarios.
He may be most famous for his ghost-hunting TV series and for the Amityville Horror books and films. But for "Old Religion" witchcraft and newer Wicca communities, Hans Holzer's work had special significance. He provided information about the Craft when publishers didn't have much taste for the subject and interest was surfacing. The Witches’ Almanac, first published in 1971, was one of the few available sources.
One of the author's books most important to the Craft is Witches: True Encounters with Wicca, Wizards, Covens, Cults and Magick. The huge book has terrific basic information, with chapters including material on what witchcraft is, the place of the Old Religion in the modern world, and how to become a witch. There are interviews with key practitioners. Hans asked me to contribute photos and discussions of my own practices.
My friend enjoyed a matter-of-fact, demystifying attitude about pagan beliefs. According to Hans, "To people untrained in such practices, favorable results sometimes seem 'miraculous,' although they are merely natural. There is, after all, nothing in this universe that is supernatural — only natural laws not fully understood."
We have been very lucky to have had Hans Holzer's ideas within the Almanac’s pages in recent years. In the 2007/2008 issue, check out Wicca and Christianity: A Personal Perspective. In the 2009/2010 issue you'll read an insightful biographical interview by Robin Antoni.
Andrew Theitic April 2009