Sunday, February 4, 2024

Hans Holzer's "The Psychic World of Plants"

Here's another in an occasional series about the more obscure paperbacks penned by parapsychologist and ghost hunter Hans Holzer. The most recent post before this examined Window to the Past: Exploring History Through ESP. There's almost nothing on the internet about today's book, so this is a chance to get some information out there for posterity.

  • Title: The Psychic World of Plants
  • Additional cover text: Discover what your plants are thinking in this fascinating revelation
  • Author: Hans Holzer (1920-2009)
  • Cover designer: Unknown
  • Bonkers questions posed on the back cover: Does a carrot scream when it's uprooted? Do plants feel pain? fear? love? Can they communicate emotions? How do you listen to a plant? How do they feel about being eaten?
  • Publication date: September 1975
  • Publisher: Pyramid Books (V3695)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 125
  • Cover price: $1.25 (the equivalent of about $7.20 today)
  • Chapter titles: It's a Plant's World; How People and Plants Relate to Each Other; Science Looks at Plant Communication; Plants in Your Life; A Life with Plants: How to Deal with Your Rooted Friends; and The Do's and Don't of Eating Plants.
  • First sentences: "When a book like Peter Tompkins' and Christopher Bird's The Secret Life of Plants gets on the best-seller list, it is certainly news. It is further news when a total of seven or eight books devoted to the investigation of relationships between human beings and plants are suddenly popping up all over the publishing scene. There is no doubt about it, what goes on in a plant's heart is of great concern to an increasing number of human beings."
  • Last sentence: "After all, where would we all be without plants?"
  • Highlights from "How People and Plants Relate to Each Other": Holzer buys a "lovely pinkish-red bougainvillea" from Futterman's and decides to have some psychic friends — Ethel Johnson Meyers, Ingrid Beckman and Patricia Allen Bott  — see what vibes they can get from various houseplants. Ingrid finds love, tranquility, laziness and warmth in the vibrations of various plants, and attempts to communicate with some of them. Patricia talks about her conversations with her geranium, which is afraid of her cat. 
  • Highlights from "Science Looks at Plant Communication": Much of this chapter is just Holzer repeating material from Tompkins' and Bird's The Secret Life of Plants. It's pretty clear that this short book was, in part, an attempt to capitalize on the 1970s plant craze. The chapter then moves on to the topics of auras and energy fields. (We have, of course, been able to apply scientific methods and come a long way in our understanding of actual plant communications since these parapsychology days of the 1970s.)
  • Highlights from "Plants in Your Life": Here's a fun sentence: "Nevertheless, the possibility of utilizing the ability of plants to foresee things, to sense danger, and to warn man of its approach has led researcher [Cleve] Backster to the somewhat outrageous suggestion that plants be used in jungle warfare to warn of approaching enemies." The chapter then pivots into the sex life of plants, how certain plants stimulate sexual responses in humans and the use of plants in religious ceremonies. Witchcraft comes up, of course, because this is Hans Holzer. 
  • Highlights from "A Life with Plants: How to Deal with Your Rooted Friends": This chapter starts by drawing material from Jerry Baker's early 1970s book Plants are Like People. It's basically a bunch of gardening tips without much from the realm of parapsychology beyond "consider your plants' feelings" and "talk to your plants." There's a rundown of which plants are best-suited to each Zodiac symbol. 
  • Highlights from "The Do's and Don't of Eating Plants": This chapter allows Holzer to make a callback to his 1973 Pyramid paperback The Vegetarian Way of Life. Holzer notes: "One of the commonest arguments I hear from time to time against my being a vegetarian is that I kill plants, living beings, and that there really isn't any difference between destroying plant life and taking animal life." Holzer doesn't do his defense any favors by stating that plants have liquids that are similar to blood and that it has been "proven" that they feel pain. But he says we can treat plant food compassionately: "Breaking plants by hand without properly cutting them, mutilating them in any way while they are still connected to the root, destroying plants you do not need for food are all taboos that should be observed. ... Food plants should not be taken from the soil in the middle of the day but either at sunup or sundown. ... Do not leave plants [that have been harvested] lying around for long periods, allowing them to die slowly." Holzer also has strong opinions about soil additives to help plants' growth: "Neither chemical fertilizer not manure is the asnwer to healthy plants. Compost, that is, the natural remnants of decomposing leaves, flowers, and other products found in nature, is not only nonpoisonous but highly useful in stimulating soil conservation." To add a touch of the paranormal to the chapter, Holzer mentions that fresh fruit and mushrooms are excellent for boosting psychic perception. (No, not those kind of mushrooms.)
That's it. There are no reviews or discussions of this book on the internet, so hopefully this post will become the go-to resource for all those seeking Holzer's thoughts on plants and the supernatural. 
That's Oliver, whose mother, Mamacita, left him (and his four siblings) at our back door 
one morning last August when he was about 4 weeks old. 
Later, we were able to get Mamacita (a feral cat) spayed, which will make 
her life far better and spare us from future surprise kittens.

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