As a writer, my mind is full of ideas for new novels. Some of these ideas make it (The Bleeding Hills and American Male Prostitute), others are either put on hold or don’t make it at all. One of the ideas - that did not make it - was titled Have You Filed Reincarnation Form RI-98726? It is the story of spirit T5648R, its quest for reincarnation, and the struggle with the other side’s bureaucracy. All T5648R wanted, was to be reborn as a human male anywhere outside of Greenfield, Massachusetts, a wish requiring mind-boggling efforts of filing the proper forms and following mandatory procedures.
The idea spawned after reading the New York Times on April 29, 2009, “Hans Holzer, Ghost Hunter, Dies at 89.” Hans Holzer was an Austrian-born, American pioneering paranormal researcher and author. He wrote well over 100 books on supernatural and occult subjects. What caught my attention was his conclusion that “the other side” is very much like this side, only with more red tape. The dead who wish to return to earth have to get permission from “spirit guides”, then wait in a queue and register with a clerk.
As I said, the idea of a novel did not make it. Nevertheless, after more than two years, I felt inclined to engage into some research on Hans Holzer.
Hans Holzer (January 26, 1920 – April 26, 2009) was an Austrian-born, American pioneering paranormal researcher and author. He wrote well over 100 books on supernatural and occult subjects for the popular market as well as several plays, musicals, films, and documentaries, and hosted a television show, "Ghost Hunter".
Holzer was born in Vienna, Austria. His interest in the supernatural was sparked at a young age by stories told to him by his uncle Henry. He went on to study archaeology and ancient history at the University of Vienna but sensing that war was imminent, his family decided it was unsafe to stay in Austria and left the country for New York City in 1938. He studied Japanese at Columbia University and, after studying comparative religion and parapsychology, claimed to have obtained a Ph.D. at a school called the London College of Applied Science. He went on to teach parapsychology at the New York Institute of Technology.
His extensive involvement in researching the supernatural included investigating The Amityville Horror and some of the most prominent haunted locations around the world. He also worked with well-known trancemediums such as Ethel Johnson-Meyers, Sybil Leek, and Marisa Anderson. Holzer has been credited with creating the term "The Other Side" (already in use, however, in nineteenth century spiritualism) or in full "The Other Side of Life". He is also sometimes credited with having coined the term ghost hunter, which was the title of his first book on the paranormal published in 1963. However, an earlier book by Harry Pricepublished in 1936 was titled Confessions of a Ghost Hunter.
Holzer believed in life after death and the existence of ghosts, spirits, and "stay behinds". Ghosts were, according to him, imprints left in the environment which could be "picked up" by sensitive people. Spirits were intelligent beings who could interact with the living; while "stay behinds" were those who found themselves earth-bound after death. He also believed in reincarnation and the existence of "levels of consciousness". He was a vegetarian, then a vegan for most of his life.
The Amityville Horror
Holzer's most famous investigation was into The Amityville Horror case. In January 1977, Holzer and spiritual medium Ethel Meyers entered 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. Meyers claimed that the house had been built over an ancient Native American burial ground and the angry spirit of a Shinnecock Indian Chief - "Rolling Thunder" - had possessed the previous occupant, Ronald Defeo Jr., driving him to murder his family. Photographs taken at the scene revealed curious anomalies such as the halos which appeared in the supposed images of bullet marks made in the original 1974 murders. Holzer's claim that the house was built on Indian sacred land was, however, denied by the local Amityville Historical Society and it was pointed out that it was the Montaukett Indians, and not the Shinnecocks, who had been the original settlers in the area. However, Indian burial sites have been found all over Long Island, including Amityville, so no one has been able to confirm or deny the burial of an Indian chief on or near the 112 Ocean Avenue property. Holzer went on to write several books about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction.
Hans Holzer, Ghost Hunter, Dies at 89
The New York Times - April 29, 2009 (Excerpt)
Hans Holzer, whose investigations into the paranormal took him to haunted houses all over the world, most notably the Long Island house that inspired “The Amityville Horror,” died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.
The death was confirmed by his daughter Alexandra Holzer.
Mr. Holzer — who wrote more than 140 books on ghosts, the afterlife, witchcraft, extraterrestrial beings and other phenomena associated with the realm he called “the other side” — carried out his most famous investigation with the medium Ethel Johnson-Meyers in 1977. Together they roamed the house in Amityville, in which a young man, Ronald DeFeo Jr., had murdered his parents and four siblings in 1974.
The house had become notorious after its next owners claimed to have been tormented by a series of spine-chilling noises and eerie visitations, set forth in the best-selling 1977 book “The Amityville Horror: A True Story,” written by Jay Anson.
After Ms. Johnson-Meyers channeled the spirit of a Shinnecock Indian chief, who said that the house stood on an ancient Indian burial ground, Mr. Holzer took photographs of bullet holes from the 1974 murders in which mysterious halos appeared.
Mr. Holzer went on to write a nonfiction book about the house, “Murder in Amityville” (1979), which formed the basis for the 1982 film “Amityville II: The Possession”; he also wrote two novels, “The Amityville Curse” (1981) and “The Secret of Amityville” (1985). [Read the full article...]
The Telegraph - May 1, 2009 (Excerpt)
Hans Holzer, who passed over to the other side aged 89, was a celebrated "ghost-hunter" and author of numerous books about the paranormal, including Murder at Amityville (1979) – the basis for the film Amityville II: The Possession (1982), the low-budget sequel to The Amityville Horror (1979).
Holzer described himself as an academic parapsychologist and took his calling extremely seriously. There were, he explained, three "dirty words" in his vocabulary: belief, disbelief and supernatural. "Belief is the uncritical acceptance of something you can't prove," he explained. "I work on evidence".
He therefore dismissed the existence of angels and regarded the world's religions as corporations that make large profits out of scaring the "hell" out of their followers. He himself gave up celebrating Christmas after establishing "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that Jesus was born on October 3, 7BC, and stopped attending church when the local minister turned down his offer to contribute to a seminar on world religions. "If it weren't for parapsychology," Holzer complained, "religion wouldn't have a leg to stand on."
But he was firm in his belief in ghosts (people who do not realise that they are dead and are therefore "confused as to their real status"), and was convinced that extraterrestrials are abducting human beings to learn about life on earth. He also believed in reincarnation (he recalled being present at the "Battle" of Glencoe in 1692) and was a Wiccan high priest, initiated "three times" into the pagan religion.
Holzer embarked on his most famous investigation in 1977, following reports about a family who claimed to have been terrorised by paranormal phenomena after moving into a sprawling colonial mansion in Amityville, Long Island, in 1975. The house had been the scene of a grisly multiple murder a little over a year before, when 23-year-old Ronnie DeFeo went from room to room shooting his parents and his four siblings in their beds. [Read the full article...]