Let's face it, Hans Holzer was not exactly the sharpest athame in the circle.

And there's the wonderment of the thing: that even through such flawed tools as ourselves, do They work Their will in the world.

Hans Holzer (1920-2009) was, by all accounts, an interesting guy. Born in Vienna, he PhD'd in Classical Archaeology (assuming this wasn't one of those invisible degrees that occultists are so good at conjuring out of the Air), emigrated to Chicago, and wrote 120 popular-press books on subjects arcane and occult.

In so doing, he gave hundreds of thousands of us our first leg-up into the Old Ways.

Though not exactly the brightest candle on the altar, Holzer had the nose, and the sense, to understand that the rise of the Modern Craft and the New Paganisms were profoundly interesting phenomena, and so—years before Margot Adler did it smarter and better—he traveled across Contemporary Pagandom interviewing the Movers and Shakers who were to become the First Generation of American Pagans. Then he wrote books about them.

In this way, Holzer became an invaluable chronicler of that shining generation of thinkers and doers who created Modern Paganism. In some cases—as with his interviews with Ordún of Chicago's Sabaean Temple—he preserved a record of brilliant and path-breaking work that has since gone largely forgotten.

To be sure, Holzer had his limitations. Often he simply didn't understand his informants. Again and again in his writings, Holzer tries to translate what his interviewees are saying into plain language. Frequently he just plain gets it wrong, transforming the insightful into the banal. That's the danger of interviewing one's Betters.

Nonetheless, in so doing, he managed to create a treasure-trove of information on a unique period of contemporary history, one from which historians of culture and religion will be drawing for years. Holzer's work now reads as a postcard from the (recent) Pagan Past.

Likewise, he gave to many, many of us our first taste of something that would change our lives forever. Gods help me, his Truth About Witchcraft guided some of my own first steps on this path.

So thank you, Hans Holzer. Admittedly, sometimes I just want to shake you, and say: Wise up, you dumb f**k.

But you have my eternal gratitude anyway.