by Anita Burns
So many books have been written about dowsing that a novice can get lost in the maze of information. Some simple guidelines and knowledge about how dowsing works will go a long way in helping you become an effective dowser. Then, when you read books on dowsing (also called radiesthesia), they will be clearer and you can make an informed decision on which tools to buy and use.
What is Dowsing?
If we use the theory that we are all capable of unconsciously experiencing subtle forces and energies of the earth, vibrations of thought, and auric emanations, then dowsing is using a tool to interpret these experiences and bring them into conscious awareness.
What Can You Use Dowsing For?
The dowsing tool you use will react and behave in certain patters that can help you:
- Locate lost objects or people
- Find water or minerals underground
- Make choices about purchases—from food and vitamins to houses and cars—that are right for you
- Get answers about your physical, mental, emotional, and etheric bodies
- Determine the best directions for changes in your
- Dowsers in American folk culture are called ‘Water Witchers,’ or ‘Water Wizards.’ They are most often associated with the art of using a small forked branch of pliable green wood to find water for well digging. But, in reality, they find all sorts of things—water, minerals, underground pipes, and lost objects. They also use dowsing for the subtle, personal uses such as health issues and decision making.
Tools for dowsers consist of pendulums, L-rods, or any number of other, more “high tech” tools.
Pendulums are weighted objects on the end of a chain, rope, string, or thread. They come in copper, brass, steel, crystal, glass, wood or plastic.
L-rods are ‘L’ shaped rods with the short ends inserted into narrow, loose fitting tubes. They are generally made of metal with cardboard, plastic, wooden, or bamboo tubes.
Long rods are long metal rods with a handle at one end. Sometimes the rod also has a spring toward the handle end and/or a small ball weight on the other end.
Dowsing is not a new phenomenon; it has been around for longer than anyone knows. In Egypt there are murals of someone holding a forked rod. Some people interpret this as dowsing, but there are not written explanations to tell what the rod was really used for.
One of the earliest mentions of dowsing was around 1430 in a work called Eröffnultee un blostellte natur by Andreas Solea. Here, dowsing was used to find metal ores. Soon after, Christianity had to get into the act and Martin Luther, in 1518, decided that dowsing was against the 1st commandment. It seems dowsing was lumped in the soothsaying and using the entrails of animals for divination that is mentioned in the Biblical book of Deuteronomy. This, however, didn’t seem to dampen interest in dowsing. It continued to be used with enthusiasm.
In 1556, a very good work was published called De Re Metalica. In it, is an illustration that shows how to make and use a divining rod, from cutting the tree branch, to finding metal ore. This illustration is reprinted in the book Dowsing for Health by Arthur Bailey, Llewellyn Publications, 1991.
In 1641, a Jesuit priest, Athanasius Kircher, discovered that unconscious muscular actions were what made the dowsing tools move. No real scientific investigation was made until the 1920’s in England. Sir William Barrett and Theodore Besterman conducted testing and proved that dowsing really does work. They published their findings in The Divining Rod, 1926. University Books republished this in 1968.
Dowsing has continued to grow in popularity and is more sophisticated and complex than a simple task of finding water or ore. Farmers need to know more than just where the water is. They need to know how far down to drill, is the water pure, and what is the flow rate. As mentioned before, Dowsing is now used for finding many things, including people. Dowsers can get answers of all kinds, including health questions, decision making, and some information about future events.
How to Dowse
When learning to dowse and reading ‘how-to’ books, keep in mind that dowsing is a personal response. Someone else’s methods may or may not work for you. And, rules about dowsing are different for different people. For example, some dowsers are more accurate if their tools are made of all natural materials. Yet, someone else can be accurate with a plastic pendulum on a nylon string. Some dowsers prefer copper, others like brass. I know a woman who is very accurate using a plastic key chain. Some dowsers prefer pendulums but others like L-rods, or long rods. Others still swear by the forked tree branch. In reality, each has its advantages and disadvantages depending on what you are using them for.
The most versatile and easy to use dowsing tool is the Pendulum. Because of that, the instructions that follow are for using a pendulum. Keep in mind, though, that the basic principles can be applied to any dowsing tool.
Pendulums are best for indoor use because they are the most sensitive. Wind and walking will affect their movements. If you want to use a pendulum for an outdoor job, try ‘map dowsing’ or ‘proxy dowsing.” Map dowsing uses a pendulum held over a map, and proxy dowsing uses another person to walk around outside while the dowser uses the pendulum in a sheltered spot, keeping the proxy in sight and earshot to tell them when to stop or turn, etc.
Choose a pendulum of a material, shape, and weight that feels comfortable for you. If you can try them out before buying, you’ll find that each one has a unique feel and reaction. After you have practiced using a pendulum for a while, you can ‘dowse” pictures of pendulums for the right one to order through mail order or on the internet. But keep in mind that you can effectively use any pendulum, it just takes getting the feel of each different weight, size, and so forth.
Calibrate your pendulum to you. Some books give definite directions for “yes” or “no” directions of swing. But your directions may be different.
1. Hold the pendulum thread or chain between index finger and thumb and let it hang straight down. Experiment with different holding positions. Just keep in mind that the pendulum must have a free range of movement. Use whichever hand you like. You can rest your elbow on a surface, or not. It all depends on what is comfortable for you.
2. Create a Neutral Balance for your pendulum by beginning to swing the pendulum forward and back. This overcomes the law of inertia and allows quicker response to your questions. You can start from a still position if you like, but it takes much, much longer, and I haven’t found it to be any more accurate.
3. Test out your response times by asking the pendulum to swing in various different directions, like counter-clockwise, side to side, and such. Do this without consciously moving the pendulum. Let it respond as if it were doing so on its own.
4. Go back to the neutral balance swing and ask your pendulum to indicate a “yes” answer. After it has changed direction, note that this is the direction the pendulum will swing when giving YOU a “yes” answer.
5. Repeat the process for a “no” answer, and a “count of 1 direction.” With the ‘count’ direction you can get numerical values for questions such as “how long” “how many” ‘how much.”
6. Get a direction for “yes, but” and “no, but” because not all answers can be 100% “yes” or “no.”
A typical direction pattern would be clockwise for “yes,” counterclockwise for “no,” diagonal right for “yes, but,” diagonal left for “no, but,” and side to side for counting.
Now you can experiment with finding answers to questions. The uses for pendulum dowsing are only limited by your own ingenuity. Try map dowsing. Take your pendulum to the supermarket to find ripe melons or the best products for you. Dowse you car for possible problems. There are hundreds of uses.
There are many fine books on dowsing, some exceptionally good ones are:
Advanced Pendulum Instruction and Applications, volume 1 by Dale Olson, Crystalline Publications; Dowsing for Health, The Applications & Methods for Holistic Healing, by Arthur Bailey, Llewellyn Publications; The Dowser’s Workbook, Understanding & Using the Power of Dowsing, by Tom Graves, Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.