Psychic Phenomenon Dowsing Rods and Dowsers Part 1

About the psychic phenomenon known as dowsing done by dowsers with dowsing rods or sticks, history and scientific study of the hunt for water.

Dowsing and Dowsers

When a person walks across a field with just a stick in his hand, and by the movements of that stick detects minerals buried far below, he is dowsing. There are few virtuosos at this ancient art, but many people can achieve occasional success. Usually a forked stick is used, one fork held in either hand, but sometimes a single straight twig is preferred. If the stick turns in the hand, this indicates the presence of minerals below. Hazel and peach twigs are the traditional favorites, though other fruit or nut woods have their advocates. In today's society, however, 2 L-shaped lengths of coat hanger or copper wire are often easier to come by than a peach tree, and these seem to do the job just as well.

In England and America dowsers have searched mainly for water (hence the expression "water witching") but early European miners dowsed to detect metals. A few people were even able to track down criminals with the rod, but this led to widespread abuses, so the Inquisition condemned this form of dowsing, while approving it for finding water. The subject has always been controversial: Some sects believed the rod was moved by the devil, and Martin Luther stated that dowsing violated the 1st commandment. Not many agree with this today, but we still have no certain explanation of the dowser's successes.

For instance, what can we make of John Mullins, a famous English dowser? Wealthy Sir Henry Harben had spent over pound 1,000 (in the last century, and pre-inflation) on professional geological advice and on well-drilling based on that advice. His estate remained short of water. Finally, Sir Henry sent for Mullins, who promptly indicated locations for 5 wells, giving the depths at which water would be found. In all cases he was correct. Many similar tales are told of him and of his contemporary, William S. Lawrence, both of whom "outguessed" experienced geologists on a number of occasions.

The same thing happened in Saratoga Springs, where fortunes were made and lost by men trying to find mineral water. The large companies involved in the search often used several dowsers independently to confirm one another's findings before expensive well-digging was begun.

The popular image of a dowser has him striding across the countryside, rod in hand, but this is not always the case. Two of the best-known dowsers have worked successfully while sitting comfortably at a table, dowsing with a pendulum suspended over a map of the area concerned. Henry Gross of Maine, probably America's best-publicized dowser, frequently used this method, as did Britain's Evelyn Penrose. Miss Penrose perhaps brought dowsing full circle in that she dowsed as much for metals as for water. She found metals, oil, and water for the Government of British Columbia, and worked for tough-minded businessmen located in the U.S., England, and Australia. An interesting point about her dowsing was that she described different physical sensations according to which metal she was seeking. Silver, she said, itched, while tin gave her a feeling of exhilaration.

While dowsing has brought fertility to previously arid farmland and financial success to miners, it is also credited with saving lives. In Vietnam, American forces made good use of the L-shaped coat-hanger dowsing rod to detect mines and other booby traps. Most of the men did not profess to know how or why the rods turned to give them warning--they were just glad that they did!

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