Thursday, December 3, 2009


Dowsing is a form of divination used to locate ground water and other things underground without the use of scientific equipment. There are numerous dowsing societies worldwide. Dowsers hold a rod in front of them and walk forward until it signals. A forked tree branch will dip, incline, or twitch; two L-shaped metal rods will cross. Another method is to hold a pendulum over a map.

Dowsing dates back to at least the 15th c., but is thought by some to have much earlier - even prehistoric - roots. Its use by Moses and others was mentioned in the Bible, but was long considered to be sorcery. It was condemned by 16th c. Protestants and 17th c. Catholics, but embraced by 19th c. Mormons. Today, dowsing for anything other than water is considered by the Catholic Church to be superstitious and therefore sinful. Many dowsers (sometimes known as "water witches") claim to be able to locate underground sources of water, but plenty of others claim abilities to find buried gemstones, metals or ore, oil, and even underground tunnels, land mines, and graves. Some divine disease in people and offset the effects of low-dose radiation.

Dowsing, of course, has never been scientifically proven, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence - including the story I heard yesterday about a dowser finding water at 300' after the property owners had unsuccessfully drilled 600' for a well. It was the opinion of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) that dowsing shouldn't be discounted just because we don't know how it works: "I know very well that many scientists consider dowsing as they do astrology, as a type of ancient superstition. According to my conviction this is, however, unjustified. The dowsing rod is a simple instrument which shows the reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown to us at this time." Detractors accuse dowsers of bilking the gullible, but the owner of Sixth Sense Consulting points out that many charge only a nominal fee, and often only after the water has been accessed. Other dowsers do not accept any form of payment for fear they will lose their gift.

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