DIVINATION - DOWSING

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What is Dowsing?

Dowsing is the ability to find people, artefacts or substances (water, oil, treasure etc.), by using maps or pictures, or actually being in a particular location.  Dowsing as practiced today may have originated in Germany during the 15th century when it was used in attempts to find metals, but its true origins are unknown.  However, it is generally accepted that images of 'forked rods' were used in some of the artwork by the ancient Egyptians, as is also the case with the ancient Chinese kings, and dowsing is known to have been used in Europe in the Middle Ages to find coal deposits.  Since then people have dowsed for almost everything, from lost or stolen items to missing animals and people.

Most modern day dowsers use two 'dowsing rods' and/or a pendulum to practice their art, but previous to this a forked 'twig' was used by 'field dowsers', the preferred wood being hazelwood, although apple, beech and alder were also used quite extensively.

Dowsing rods are now usually made of copper (although metal coathangers are reputedly just as effective) and formed into an 'L' shape; they are traditionally known as 'Wishing Rods'.

When in use, one rod is held lightly in each hand, pointing away from the dowser.  Whatever he or she is searching for has been 'located' when the two rods cross of their own accord.  Various theories have been put forward as to what causes the rods to move, electromagnetic or other geological forces, ESP and other paranormal explanations, etc.  However, the explanation given by the psychologist William B. Carpenter in 1852 is the one that seems to be accepted by most skeptics.  Carpenter tells us it is 'ideomotor action' which causes the rods to move, i.e. the 'influence of suggestion in modifying and directing muscular movement, independently of volition'.  Despite this, many people are far more interested in whether dowsing actually works rather than why the rods move.

When using a pendulum (normally used to dowse over a map) most practitioners weight the line with a crystal, or heavy weight.  The most important thing to consider when using this method appears to be the length of the line on which the pendulum swings.  The mystery is how can diviners simply dowse over a map to find people or objects when the focus of the search can be a vast distance away, tending to suggest to the layman (you and I) that some sort of psychic activity must be involved in the process?  Tom Lethbridge, a 'Master Dowser', discusses his own experiments into lengths of pendulums along with his own theories as to how dowsing works in his book The Power of The Pendulum.

The British Society of Dowsers was formed in 1933, and there are now large societies of dowsers in America and Europe, the members of which practice their art daily throughout the world.

In the late 1960s during the Vietnam War, some US Marines used dowsing to attempt to locate weapons and tunnels.  In 1986, when 31 soldiers were taken by an avalanche during a NATO operation in Vassdalen, Norway, the Norwegian army attempted to locate soldiers buried in the avalanche using dowsing as a search method.  16 soldiers died.

Some dowsers are reported to be extremely accurate in their methods, although the consensus of the scientific community has yet to be given as to whether they support or refute the practice.  Some earn money by advising mining and oil companies on the suitability of a location prior to their test drilling/core sample, while others have successfully assisted the police on numerous occasions.


Click on the following link to go to our downloads page from where you can download your free copy of a pdf eBook relating to Dowsing.  Our download Aspects of the Occult contains this eBook and almost 400 other pdf eBooks and documents relating to most aspects of the occult should you wish to acquire a greater knowledge of this fascinating subject.

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