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What is Dowsing

Dowsing means ‘finding what is hidden’ or can be defined as ‘the art of knowing’.

Man dowsing wirh dividing rod to locate ground water under surface or currents of earth ra
Man dowsing wirh dividing rod to locate ground water under surface or currents of earth ra

Dowsing is an ancient practice that has continued for many thousands of years. This reflects the fact that it was traditionally known as water divining and was a commercially important means of locating water and minerals, but it is often used today to detect a much wider range of apparently ‘unknowable’ information, from medical diagnosis to the location of lost objects to archaeology.

There has also been the suggestion that dowsing is associated with connections between the right and left parts of the brain. The left part is concerned with logic, reasoning and coping with all the sensual impressions. The right brain is the intuitive side providing insight and inspiration. Mozart said that the music seemed ‘to walk through his head’. So dowsing can also be described as the left brain’s understanding of what the right brain instinctively knows.

Unlike remote dowsing, which seems to be more related to psi phenomena, about 90 per cent of the population can do it at a basic level and it is relatively easy to replicate results; yet the phenomenon is largely ignored by the scientific community. It is also nothing to do with the type of dowsing rods or tools used and in fact it works quite well with no rods at all.

On this basis, it therefore seems to be a basic human neurophysiological response to an unknown stimulus. Since dowsing is also widely used as an adjunct to arguably more psychic techniques of gaining information remote from the site, the stimulus may well be subliminal and internal as much as external and ‘physical’.

Engineers tend to be a pragmatic bunch. If something doesn’t work, they tend not to use it for long. It is therefore significant that engineers appear to have used dowsing for at least 8,000 years.

The first recorded use is thought to be a cave painting at Tassili N’Ajjer in the Sahara, dated at about 6,000BC. There are other references by the Egyptians c. 3,000BC, the Hebrews c. 2,000BC and in the Bible, while CICERO recorded the use of the virgula divinatorium, the dowsing rod, in AD50.

Natural Waterfall
Pendulum and Dowsing rods.jpg

MARTIN LUTHER denounced dowsing as the work of the devil in AD1528. In 1556 a German metallurgical text commented on the common use of dowsing to detect metallic ores while the author, AGRICOLA, pointed out that the dowsing instrument did not move of its own accord, but only in the hands of sensitive persons. In 1632 and 1640 the Baroness DE BEAUSOLEIL, who seems to have made a thorough investigation of dowsing, published reports on it in connection with the utilisation of France’s mineral wealth. Shortly afterwards, in 1665, the well known scientist BOYLE referred to the possible reality of dowsing in a paper to the Royal Society.

Later, the Cornish tin industry started when dowsers came over from the Harz mountains of Germany to teach the techniques of dowsing for tin.

More recently, the US Marine used it during the Vietnam war and our own Royal Engineers were trained in water divining techniques until recently.

Before starting to dowse, it is worth going on a basic dowsing course as there are various fundamentals to be understood before one starts in earnest. 

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