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frequently called "water witching," is a method of divination
for discovering water, metals, and minerals, in or under ground. It is also
used to discover leys. Dowsing is distinguishable from a related divinatory
method radiesthesia because the latter method not only attempts to discover
inanimate but animate objects as well such as missing person, and also is
used in the detection of illnesses and prescribing their treatment. Dowsing
used for medical diagnosis is permitted in Europe and Great Britain but
prohibited in the United States. However, almost everywhere the terms dowsing
and radiesthesia have
The origination of dowsing dates back about 7000 years. It is known to have
been practiced among the Egyptians and Chinese. During the Middle Ages it
was use extensively in Europe to discover coal and water.
Martin Luther condemned the practice as witchcraft which was equated to
Devil-worship. Nevertheless, dowsing continued as a popular form of divination
until the 19th century when science cast a dim light on it by proclaiming
it invalid, "occult." In 1897, Sir William Barrett, of the Royal
College in Dublin, stated the "few subjects appear to be as unworthy
of serious notice and so utterly beneath scientific investigation as that
of the divining rod."
Dowsing as well as radiesthesia operate by the use of a rod, commonly a
"Y" shaped stick, formerly a branch of hazel. Frequently before
beginning the dowsing practice, the dowser "attunes" himself to
the object being sought. Included within this attuning method are techniques
of visualization or exposing the rod or pendulum to a location, personal
belonging, or type of material which is being sought.
The forked dowsing rod was traditionally made of a hazel branch because
the wood is known for its long reputed magical properties. Other woods which
are reputed to have magical properties include ash, rowan, and willow. Also
these are considered excellent for wands. However, rods have been made of
such metals as aluminum and copper. Some have even been twisted coat hangers.
Other dowsers preferred rods of whalebone but the supply was extinguished
with the whalebone agreement, then many turned to plastic indicators. For
dowsing in medical diagnosis many prefer small pendulums on strings.
After this method of attuning has been completed the dowser holds the rod
by its handles, formerly the upper ends of the "Y" shaped hazel
branch, and proceeds looking for what is sought. If, for example, the person
is seeking water he searches thoroughly in a location pointing the branch
or rod downward. Presumably when the person comes across an underground
stream or reservoir of water the dowsing rod will turn in his hands, sometimes
For many years speculation was that such turning of the rod was caused by
an underground emanation or an occult force. However, now spawn by an increased
interest in dowsing during 20th century, some modern theorists believe the
turning of the rod may be caused by a response caused by the person's sensitivity
for the object for which he is seeking. This theory does not, however, preclude
the possibility of some sort of electro-magnetic impulse which stimulates
the muscles in the individual's nervous system.
Within this past century dowsing has been applied in archaeological and
geological work. Some dowsers are so sensitive that they can predict the
depth at which the well or reservoir lies underground and the amount of
water or material that it is capable of supplying.
Sometimes the dowser does not even physically go to the location that he
is being questioned about. A map of the location is brought to the person.
The he sets up small pendulums over the maps which assists him in answering
the inquirer's questions. Such a procedure has became known as teledowsing,
with the theory behind it that there is the establishment a telepathic link
between the location and the map.
Dowsing is still viewed by some with skepticism, but there seems to be sufficient
evidence to show that the practice has some merits. Between October 1925
and February 1930 Major C. A. Pogson served as the Official Water Diviner
for the Government of India. He traveled thousands of miles finding wells
and bores. All during these years he was consulted on every matter relating
to underground water.
Both the American and British societies for
dowsers encourage people to learn more about the science and to participate
in all of its areas. The addresses of both societies are as follows: American
Society of Dowsers, Inc., Danville, Vermont, 05828. British Society of Dowsers,
Sycamore College, Tamley Lane, Hastingleigh, Ashford, Kent, TN25 5HW, England.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Witches
and Witchcraft. New York: Facts On File, 1989.
Shepard, Leslie A., ed. Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology,
3rd ed. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1991.
For further information and classes see TigersEyeDowsing.com/
Joseph M. Allen, Instructor