The World of Dowsing

by Adrie Min

Throughout the ages man has been trying to find answers to questions that reason could not provide. To mind comes the oracle of Delphi in old Greece, the foretelling of possible events by numerology and astrology (did the magi find the Christ child by ‘following a star’ or by ‘reading the stars’), reading the palm of a hand, reading tea leaves, reading the I-Tjing,  etc.
    One of the oldest arts of getting answers to ‘unreasonable’ questions is dowsing, named different things at different times. It was either considered the work of the devil and called witching, or the work of God, called divining, depending on the spiritual or worldly leader at that time and whether they were in favor of it.
    Most people who have heard about dowsing think about finding water with a forked stick. For this purpose dowsing has probably been used most often.
However, dowsing has been used for many other reasons, like find-ing minerals, oil, lost persons, ancient ruins, etc.
What is dowsing?
    Dowsing, sometimes called divining or (water) witching, refers to the practice of detecting hidden or buried water, metals, gemstones or other such objects without the use of scientific apparatus (Wikipedia).
    The tools that have been used throughout the ages have been of many different kinds: a forked stick, a weight on a cord called a pendulum, a straight stick, a bobber, an l-rod, a crow-bar, a pair of pliers. Some people did not even need a tool. Their body would tell the answer to their question in no uncertain terms. 
    There is a lot of skepticism whether dowsing is real, or that it merely means that someone is lucky. The fact that it is alive and thriving after so many centuries is proof enough, that there must be some truth to it. Many dow-sers claim, that most anybody can learn to dowse when they put a little effort in it. But not everybody becomes a good dowser over night, just as not every body becomes a good pianist over night. A little talent and lots of practice are required.
How does dowsing work?
    At this time there are some theories about the workings of dowsing, but a scientific explana-tion is not present. Both skeptics of dowsing and many of dow-sing's supporters believe that the dowsing apparatus have no special powers, but merely amplify small imperceptible movements of the hands arising from the expectations of the dowser. This psychological phenomenon is known as the ideomotor effect. Some sup-porters agree with this explana-tion, but maintain that the dowser has a subliminal sensi-tivity to the environment, perhaps via electroception, magnetoception, or telluric currents. These explanations give rise to the classification of dowsing as pseudoscience. Other dowsers say their powers are paranormal (Wikipedia). The most amazing feat performed by some good dowsers, is map dowsing, or dowsing from a distance. The area being dowsed can be 100 or more miles away from the dowser’s residence, the dowser getting a dowsing response to his question.
The tools of dowsing
    As told before, there are many tools available. Usually, one tool becomes the favorite for a dowser, for some this will be the pendulum, for some the y-rod, for some the l-rod, etc.
Pendulum: a weight on a cord, moving in a certain way, telling the dowser the yes or no answer to a question.
Y-rod: a v- or y- shaped piece of material, usually a forked stick. The arms of the stick are about 12 to 18 inches long and held at the end. When the dowser moves over the desired object the forked y dips, revealing the location.
Wand or bobber: a tapered stick or part of fishing rod from 24-36 inches long, held at the thinner side, which bobs up and down at the desired location or when giving the desired answer to the question.
L-rod: they consist of two L-shaped pieces of metal wire, the long arm 12 to 18 inches long, the short arm 4 to 6 inches. The short arm is held loosely in the hand, so the long arm can swivel. At the desired location, the tips start moving together, crossing and giving the answer.
Body: Some dowsers are so sensitive to their environment, that they don’t need a tool. Merely thinking about the object, they may move around until a certain movement of their body tells them that they have found their objective. The body part involved may be a hand, arm, or sometimes the whole body.
Many other tools: Crowbar, pliers, hammer, coat hanger, etc
What to dowse for?
People have dowsed for water, minerals, oil, gas, archeological artifacts, lost items and persons, harmful energies in the environment, to improve their health, etc. The US Marines used dowsing rods in Vietnam to locate Vietcong tunnels and mines.
    To become a good dowser requires practice. You can only write a book, after you learn the ‘ABCs’ of spelling. Dowsing for water is probably the easiest to learn, our body containing so much of it.

* Dowsing for beginners - Richard Webster
* The Divining Hand – Christopher Bird
* The Water Dowsers Manual – American Society of Dowsers
* In Montana: Big Sky Dowsers, Pres. Leroy Haack; (406) 628-2584