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An Interview with Hans Nintzel

Joseph Caezza

An Interview with Hans Nintzel

Joseph Caezza

The suburban Dallas residence of Hans Nintzel remains one of the most fascinating households I've ever known. Two stone sphinxes flank the flagstone sidewalk leading to his front door. Every room in the house seems to bear some token icon of the Hermetic Great Work. Abundant custom made extra deep book shelves do double duty. A first time visitor pulls a book from the shelf only to find another hidden row of books behind what a casual observer might see. Is this the quintessential idea of "occultism" or of the Hermetic concept of "hiddenness" made manifest in practical form? Is this the call of the adept to look deeper than usual? Hans's home houses one of the largest private libraries of alchemical literature in this country. He studied alchemy with Frater Albertus and has been personally acquainted with many of the best known authorities on the subject. These include Manfred Junius, Solarzareff and Petri Murien. The recently republished COMPLETE GOLDEN DAWN SYSTEM OF MAGIC compiled by Israel Regarde features a chapter on alchemy authored by his long time friend and colleague, Hans Nintzel. The following interview was conducted at Hans's home in August of 1996 and January of 1997.

J.C. Hans, there would be no Philosophers of Nature without you. Your essential role made this present international organization possible. Could you speak about that?
H.N. I only discovered Les Philosophers de la Nature and the material of Jean Dubuis while on a pilgrimage in France with the alchemist Solarzareff. Bill Van Doren deserves total credit for following through to make the French dream into an American reality.

J.C. The Philosophers of Nature have experienced awesome growth as well as growing pains in recent times. Why have you chosen to watch from the sidelines?
H.N. The truest alchemical path is an individual effort. Organizations hold a useful place at a certain stage just as the immense volume of literature deserves careful study but eventually one has to do the work. It's a personal thing.

J.C. What is RAMS?
H.N. Restoration of Alchemical Manuscripts Society is a loose knit group of individuals from around the world devoted to translation and distribution of classic Hermetic literature. We are strictly non-profit and cater to the sincere practicing alchemist. Our offerings include selections from the invaluable Bacstrom manuscripts such as THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF HOMER, LAMBSPRING's PROCESS and the COELUM PHILOSOPHORUM. Material by obscure authors such as Cyliani, Monte Snyder and Alexander Von Suchten are available.

J.C. Time-Life Books published a volume entitled SECRETS OF THE ALCHEMISTS in their Mysteries of the Unknown series. The book features a photo of you at a 1981 London conference standing next to a "Hermeticist", Swarmi Purna. The fellow was dressed in the garb of a Hindu Holy Man and claimed the have graduated from Oxford in 1845. His appearance was so youthful. Was this guy for real?
H.N. He seemed to be authentic. I recall he had a retinue of very devoted followers.

J.C. During the past fifty years there has been a major revival of interest in alchemy due to the work of the Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung. How do you feel about his interpretations?
H.N. Jung was a brilliant man. I go along a certain distance with his ideas. They are not wrong just very incomplete. Remember that he had a professional reputation to protect. Don't be to dismayed by all the psychologists who champion alchemy only as a path to personality integration. Sure its foolish to reduce a sacred tradition to "psychology" but see the phenomenon as a signpost pointing to something higher.

J.C. Your friends, Richard and Iona Miller recently published a book, THE MODERN ALCHEMIST, that explicates the classic work of LAMBSPRING as a guide to personal transformation while ignoring the laboratory process associated with this adept. Why is laboratory work so often ignored?
H.N. Not everyone has the grace or insight to even consider the spiritual usefulness of laboratory work. Not everyone has access to the materials required; mineral ores, toxic chemicals, glassware. The toys of an alchemist are expensive and dangerous. We are generally out of touch with the therapeutic value of the crafts or hands-on labor. Our whole economy has shifted from product oriented to service oriented. In the old days people used to make things and sell them. Now everyone is a psychologist. But its OK. Everyone has a roll to play in Nature. Everybody's entitled to make a living.

J.C. Another academic author, Antoine Faivre, recently published THE GOLDEN FLEECE AND ALCHEMY. This work again completely ignores the laboratory effort essential to realizing the Opus Magnum. What was your impression of this study?
H.N. I loved it! Many of Faivre's historical references are among my favorite authors... Pico della Mirandola, Michael Maier and Dom Pernety, if I can drop some names. Joscelyn Godwin's foreword deserves careful attention and is easily worth the price of the book, to me at least. There is a place for academic authority. Its an optional stage but not the goal. Notice how easy it is to become zealous and obsessive. Always remember "Patience is the ladder of the Philosophers and Humility is the key to their garden".

J.C. Speaking of Pernety did you see the recent edition of his work, AN ALCHEMICAL TREATISE ON THE GREAT ART ?
H.N. Yes, I know Don Wieser and Todd Pratum personally. They worked together to produce that fine volume. It's a joy to see the intense attention recently paid to so many traditional authors. But an enthusiastic student need not become a bibliophile or "biblio maniac" as Todd descibes himself. The Bible itself is filled with hidden references to alchemical processes. The passion of Jesus Christ is a well known model for the destructive distillation of Lead Acetate. Genesis and The Book of Revelation hold explicit keys to our art.

J.C. Stan Tenen and his Meru foundation recently blew the lid off the geometric fractal revelation hidden in the Book of Genesis. What does that have to do with alchemy?
H.N. It's not exactly obvious but its a model for what happens during projection when you throw a piece of the STONE into molten lead and it transmutes into gold. The auric seed germinates and flowers instantaneously producing so many other seeds which we know as metallic gold. I know Stan personally. Some people "borrowed" his discoveries and published them but Stan deserves the most credit for original insight.

J.C. What other Biblical references to alchemy are worth considering?
H.N. One of my favorites is the wedding of Cana. Who got married? Nobody knows! It wasn't important. What was important was that it was the first opportunity Jesus had to teach. He performed the transmutation of water into choice wine at his mother's request. Recall how he responded to her. "Mine hour has not yet come". Why was the water stored in stone pots instead of clay? Dwell on these mysteries. You might receive some higher inspiration.
Look at all the references to salt in the Bible. "Ye are the salt of the Earth." What does it mean?
Textbooks tell us that antimony, a very useful material in alchemy, was not discovered until 1450. But look at Jeremias 4:30 and you'll find an explicit reference to stibnite, the major ore of antimony. Check out Isaiah 54:11 for another enigma. The bottom line here, and I'm a bottom line kind of a guy, is that you don't need a lot of books to be an alchemist. You need inspiration, illumination and revelation. It comes from upstairs.

J.C. Hans, I'd like to thank you not only for making time for me today but also for your life's work of keeping the dream alive. Thank you Hans Nintzel.