In Memoriam: Hans Schimmer

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of Hans Schimmer. He died December 28, 2009, from complications of pneumonia in Vienna. Hans was one of the driving forces in reorganizing and expanding the Alchemy Guild in the 1970s. Hans considered himself a parachemist and tried to demonstrate spiritual principles in chemical experiments. His unique approach has influenced many practicing alchemists in both Europe and the United States. (For his photo and bio, go to www.AlchemyGuild.org and click on "In Memoriam" in the left-hand column.)

Hans was my friend and mentor, and he fit the description of "scholar and a gentleman" better than anyone I every met. His intelligence and cultured background came through immediately on meeting him, but you soon realized his true distinguishing traits were his deep integrity and the nearly perfect refinement of his temperament.

Hans was never a man of worldly ambitions, and he preferred to work quietly in the background on a one-to-one basis rather than in group workshops or through published materials. Still, he was one of the most influential and dedicated alchemists in our times. The gold he made is carried hidden inside his students, who are spreading it throughout the world in many different ways.

Hans often joked that the Vienna winters were going to kill him someday, and it is a little ironic that a harsh Vienna winter was what first brought us together. When I was a student there, I got very sick with pneumonia. I was living alone in a tiny, damp basement room and was too weak to prepare meals or even keep the small kerosene heater burning. When Hans found out, he insisted I move in with him and wife, Anna, to convalesce.

Unfortunately, by the time I moved in, Hans had also developed pneumonia, and his wife ended up taking care of both of us. As it turned out, though, those two weeks I spent recovering from pneumonia were among the happiest in my life. Neither one of us had the energy to do anything but lay back and talk about alchemy. We were so weak we would drift in and out of consciousness without the other knowing, and our talks continued in our dreams and actually augmented our waking conversations. Our ideas came to life in our dreams, and we would spend the next day expanding our understanding based on insights and images from those wonderfully powerful dream experiences. What a strange way to study alchemy!

One of Hans' pet peeves was he hated the German word "aufwiedersehen" ("until we see each other again"). He felt it was trite and dry and even a little rude (kind of like saying "later!" in America today). Never once did I hear him utter that ubiquitous German phrase. Instead, Hans would say softly "Alles Gute" ("I wish you the best"). He looked you right in the eye when he said it, and he always meant it.

So "Alles Gute" to you Hans, my dear old friend. I continue to learn from you in my dreams.

Dennis William Hauck