The art of dowsing has its roots in prehistory and is mentioned in many sacred texts. Usually the style of dowsing mentioned is the single rod system in the form of “The Deity, Priest, or Acolyte, struck the rock with their staff causing, water to gush forth”. Frequently the site then becomes the start of a sacred river or healing pool and site of pilgrimage for the followers of that particular spiritual path or people hoping for miraculous healing. In these eras a regular water supply was the key to a successful settlement with the added trade bonus of pilgrims coming to see and sample the water.
In later times the importance of metals meant that they were more dowsed for than water by professional dowsers. But, in the countryside, each village usually had at least one dowser or “Water Witch” to find springs and tell people the best place to sink a well. Techniques and methods were developed in different parts of the world and traded along international communication routes such as the Silk Road connecting China, Europe, the Middle East, and points along it. Many Pagans have pointed out that dowsing may well have originated in ancient China as one of the experiential parts of Taoism, which s pronounced “Daoism” in many parts of that country.
For years the myth has persisted that only specially gifted people could dowse. This is a result of a combination of using dowsing tools that were too unsophisticated for many people to use successfully and the village dowsers urge to safeguard their income. Today experiments both by covens and by psychic researchers suggest that most people can dowse given the right training and instruments to express the skill. The right mental attitude is also important, if someone is told they cannot dowse, or they believe it is counter to their spiritual path or worldview, then they can block themselves from doing so.
In the West the traditional image of the dowser is someone in a field with a forked branch walking up and down looking for a water source. The forked stick, although traditional, is also one of the most difficult dowsing tools to use correctly. It has to be held in a grip of dynamic tension, almost at the point of flicking up or down depending on what the indicator for the target substance is supposed to be. When the dowser detects the target it gives the final impulse for the stick to flick, meaning that the grip not only has to be firm, but sensitive too, which is a difficult physical balancing act.
As with many of the magickal arts dowsing has undergone many developments in the last century. The biggest change has been the discovery and use of tools and techniques that are far easier to use, coupled with the understanding of some of the psychospiritual mechanisms behind the skill itself. This has made dowsing a practical and useful skill within the reach of everyone, with application in both the physical and spiritual realms.
The current scientific thinking is that dowsing is an ideomotor response controlled by the subconscious. In essence the dowsing tool becomes a way for the out of consciousness parts of the mind to communicate with the conscious personality. In addition to this experiments by members of the magickal community have shown that using dowsing tools with magickal intent, and infusing them with magickal energy, can make them a valuable asset in many aspects of magick, ritual, and divination.
The best way to learn this skill is to begin on the physical plane, using dowsing tools and techniques to detect easily checkable items and events. The easiest tool to begin with are the angle or “L Rods” which, as the term suggests, is made up of two L-shaped lengths of wire. You can buy them commercially, but it is far easier and cheaper to make them. Take two wire coat hangers and, using strong wirecutters or tin snips, cut each one just at the base of the hook and diagonally across at the point before the base bends to become the third side. Straighten the resulting wire into an ‘L’ shape, with a typical wire coat hanger the long arm being about 16 ins (40 cms) and the shorter being 6 inches (15 cm). You can bend fencing wire and even oxyacetylene welding rods into a similar shape and dimensions.
It is how they are used, rather than what they are made of, that makes them so useful. When I first began to use them you simply held them by the short arms in loosely clenched fists, with your arms bent so that your forearms were at 90⁰ to your body and parallel to the ground. The rods are held in line with the forearms, parallel, and at the same height as each other with the short arms pointing straight at the ground. The loose grip means that the rods move away or towards each other at the slightest change in angles of the forearms, wrists, or hands. Sometimes this is controlled by the subconscious and at others by the body reacting to the presence of the substance or energy being dowsed for. As to how or what causes the body to react directly in this way is still a matter of debate amongst dowsing practitioners. The more materialistically-minded say that it is the extra sensitive perception of the subconscious noticing minute cues in the dowsers surroundings, while many of the magickal community believe it to be the aura interacting with the environment, or the general interconnectness of all things.
Whatever people believe, the fact is that dowsing produces a distinct physical effect. When you are dowsing this is what makes the tool work and, as you become aware of the sensation, enables you to transcend using a tool and dowse purely using your kinaesthetic sense. In some situations this can be dangerous. There is a theory that many “accident blackspots” in remote areas with no obvious hazards are on an energy nexus or point that can cause a strong muscular reaction, if a driver is not expecting this it can cause them to inadvertently turn the wheel and crash the vehicle.
To experience the muscle reaction for yourself using the rods you made take some batteries (dry cells) that have the positive and negative poles at opposite ends and cardboard boxes that you can close and that are wide and deep enough to shake the batteries in. Place each battery in a box, then shake and invert them until you don’t consciously know which way up a battery is, or even if it is upright or lying down. Place the boxes in a line spaced about two feet between each box, hold the rods as explained, and walk towards them with the intent of feeling or finding out which way up each battery is.
As you approach, or when you reach the box, the rods will swing apart, or cross over each other. Afterwards open the box and see which way up the battery is. You will quickly find which movement means the positive or negative end is uppermost, and also what kind of reaction you get if the battery is on its’ side. This is an excellent way of becoming aware of your dowsing response and experiencing that response yourself.
Next time: Pendulum Dowsing and “Remote Viewing”