Hans Holzer is up there as one of the most famous paranormal researchers of all time. His book 'Ghosts' True Encounters from the World Beyond sits on many paranormal enthusiasts' books shelves and for some is considered their paranormal 'bible'. Admittedly, I have read this book several times and it is a great crash course of learning about the paranormal world. It is one of the first books I always recommend to someone looking to read a book when entering the paranormal field. Straight up of course I will tell you that there is a lot in the book that I don't necessarily agree with from his viewpoint, however, there are also a lot of other great points raised as well. I feel like it is safe to say that a lot of people's views on the paranormal were shaped by Holzer whether they realize it or not. This is a book that aims to educate and makes you think. Very much like myself, Holzer encourages his reader to seek their own answers and explanations and this is the part I resonate with the most. So with this in mind, I have hand-picked a few different quotes from his book 'Ghosts' True Encounters from the World Beyond which I hope will inspire, challenge your thinking and create a discussion.
Ghosts do not travel; they do not follow people home; nor do they appear at more than one place. Nevertheless, there are reliable reports of apparitions of the dead having indeed traveled and appeared to several people in various locations. These, however are not ghosts in the sense that I understand the term. They are free spirits, or discarnate entities, who are inhabiting what Dr. Joseph B. Rhine of Duke University has called the 'world of the mind'. They may be attracted for emotional reasons to one place or another at a given moment in order to communicate with someone on the earth plane. But a true ghosty is unable to make such moves freely. Ghosts by their very nature are not unlike psychotics in the flesh; they are quite unable to fully understand their own predicament. They are kept in place, both in time and space, by their emotional ties to the spot. Nothing can pry them loose from it so long as they are reliving over and over again in their minds the events leading to their unhappy deaths.
One of the most asked questions I hear particularly on public paranormal investigations is "Will a ghost follow me home?". Holzer's explanation here is one of the most common responses I hear in the paranormal field. I often wonder if this is where this mainstream viewpoint originated? What a person must also understand is that Holzer of course categorized ghosts and spirits differently. He separated paranormal phenomena into 4 categories
1. A bona fide ghost - that is a person who has passed put of the physical body but remains in the etheric body (aura, soul) at or near the place of the passing due to emotional ties or trauma. Such entities are people in trouble, who are seeking to understand their predicament and are usually not aware of their own passing.
2. No more than 10-15% of all sightings or other phenomena are 'real' ghosts. The larger portion of all sightings or sound phenomena is caused by a replaying of a past emotional event, one that has somehow been left behind, impressed into the atmosphere of the place or house. Any sensitive person - and that means a large segment of the population - can re-experience such events to varying degrees. To them these replays may seem no different from true ghostly phenomena, except that they occur exactly in the same place and at the same time of day to all those who witness them.
3. There are cases in which sightings or sounds of this kind are caused by the living who are far away, not in time by geographically. "Phantoms of the living" is one name given the phenomenon, which is essentially telepathic. Usually these apparitions or sounds occur when it is is urgent that a person reach someone who is at a distance, such as in family crisis, emergencies, or on occasion, between lovers or people who are romantically linked.
4. Finally we should keep in mind that though apparitions may appear to be identical, whether as earthbound spirits called ghosts, or free spirits in full possession of all mental and emotional faculties and memories - just visiting, so to speak, to convey a message - ghosts and spirits are not the same.
This is a pretty good summary of what a lot of the paranormal field believes makes up paranormal phenomena. It is not always black and white and I know I myself have said that it is not necessarily straightforward when it comes to the paranormal. What if it is a little from column 1 and a little from column 2 etc. All avenues must certainly be explored and I would add here that the rational side needs to be evaluated each and every time as well. Not everything is paranormal and while I believe paranormal phenomena does exist, I don't think genuine paranormal phenomena is as common as we think it may be. Of course, Holzer would probably challenge my viewpoint here as he believed that this 'other side' exists in unison with ours and that it is around us all the time and eventually we will all realize what is staring us right in the face.
Remember that any of the phenomena described here could have happened to you, that there is nothing supernatural about any of this, and that in years to come you will deal with apparitions as ordinary events, part and parcel of human experience.
Observation of so-called phenomena will be just as important as induced experiments or attempts at contact. In all this we must keep a weather eye open for deceit, misinterpretation, or self delusion. So long as there is a human faculty involved in this inquiry, we must allow for our weaknesses and limitations.
I have written myself about the fact that it is human nature that in many ways can hold us back when it comes to paranormal research. The above traits mentioned - deceit, misinterpretation, and self-delusion are all human nature. They are present in everyday life, not in just the paranormal field however we sometimes seem so shocked when we find out that someone has succumbed to one of these traits in the paranormal field. Holzer does however go on to say
By accepting safe-guards, we do not close our minds to the astonishing facts that may be revealed just because those facts seem contrary to current thinking. If we proceed with caution, we may contribute something that will give beleaguered humankind new hope, new values, and new directions.
While Holzer believes that such discoveries could provide hope and I guess perhaps comfort for people, again I have written before about my concerns of the world not being able to handle this information. If the paranormal was proven undeniably to exist and that life goes on after we die for example, how will human nature react to this? While yes to some it will offer some much-needed comfort, to others it may be seen as a way out. Would we see rates of suicide and murder increase? Would the penalties of murder change? Would people live life more recklessly or without care? While we believe in the very best of people, we also know what human nature is capable of and a lot of it is not pretty.
Lastly, I would suggest to my readers that they do not get into arguments about the existence of nonexistence of ghosts and haunted houses. Everyone must find their own explanations for what they experience, and belief has nothing do with it.
Indeed, one of the most troubling aspects of today’s world is this matter of beliefs. The power of one’s beliefs is a frightening thing. People often believe in things and events whether they have actually happened or not. Because of beliefs people are murdered, wars are fought, crimes are committed. Disbelief, too, contributes its share of tragedies.
Beliefs – and disbeliefs – are emotional in nature, not rational. The reasoning behind certain beliefs may sound rational, but it may be completely untrue, exaggerated, taken out of context, or distorted.
Holzer would argue to his last days that he believed in the existence of ghosts and believed that he had provided evidence to support their existence. In fact, his views on the paranormal are quite popular within the mainstream and are likely the reason why so many people believe the way that they do. Very much like myself here, Holzer is encouraging his reader to seek their own explanations and this of course is what I myself am all about. Whatever you have experienced, I cannot tell you with any certainty that it was or wasn't paranormal because quite frankly I don't know. That is the thing. We don't know. Yes, it could be something natural. It could be something spiritual. We just don't know. Belief in the paranormal has lasted for centuries and people are still researching and investigating claims of this phenomenon. Most people don't just do it for a few months. For many, it is a lifelong journey. I really feel that we all believe that there is something. Some of us may feel that we know what that something is, Holzer was confident in his views and knowledge and spoke as if it was a fact like many in the field do. I myself don't quite know, but the point is that I do believe that there is something out there. I just don't know what it is, so I am looking for my own answers when it comes to that, just like Holzer was encouraging.
I could sit here and write quotes all day so this will be a regular series where I will look at not just Holzer's views, but also that of other famous figures within the paranormal field in my new series: "In the words of." So what do you think about the above quotes? Do you agree with Holzer? Tell me in the comments below.
Don't forget to follow the Facebook page for regular updates
Join the mailing list to receive weekly updates of NEW articles. Never miss an article again!
Buy the latest and past issues Haunted Magazine
Check out the books written by LLIFS