What is dowsing?

Dowsing means ‘finding what is hidden’, and is generally taken to mean finding something which is not apparent to the normal senses, whether it be a physical substance (maybe underground water, oil, or gems), an object (e.g. a cracked water pipe), item (e.g. lost keys), or information.

Dowsing is an ancient practice that has continued for many thousands of years.  There are examples of possible references to dowsing in ancient texts, and artwork – from Egypt, China, and cave pictograms.  The first definitive record of dowsing may well be a picture from a woodcut in the 1556AD publication – De Re Metallica, by Georgius Agricola.  The picture shows individuals dowsing for minerals with forked twigs, and one individual cutting a forked twig from a tree for the purpose.  There are then others digging for the identified substances.   German dowsers were brought to England, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, to help find deposits of Zinc and Copper in the southwest of England (needed for making brass).  There are many written and pictorial references to dowsing in publications between then and now.  The first dowsing society was set up in France in 1931, closely followed by the formation of the British Society of Dowsers (BSD) in 1933.  The BSD provides information, training, an excellent journal, and the ability to buy a wide range of books and dowsing tools – see Links.


What is dowsing used for?

Most people are aware of the use of dowsing for finding water.  It can, however, be used for finding pretty much anything, as long as the person who is doing the dowsing has a concept of what it is that they seek.  You need to know what you are looking for, in order to find it!

Dowsing has been used for finding:

Water; oil and mineral deposits; missing people, animals, and objects; lost ships; underground pipes and cables; underground tunnels (during the Vietnam war); Ley lines and ‘earth energies’; archaeological features; treasure, etc…

It is also used in the field of health to help identify issues and suitable treatments or remedies – see Health Dowsing.


How to dowse

As mentioned earlier, dowsing is used to ‘find what is hidden’.  The first step is to have in mind what you are looking for, whether it is underground water, lost keys, or a broken pipe, for example.  It is necessary to focus your mind on what you are looking for (the ‘target’), and some people find that it is helpful to visualise the target in their mind.  In some cases it is possible to have a ‘witness’, which may be a sample of the substance you seek e.g. a specific mineral or ore, or something which helps you focus on or mentally ‘connect’ with your target – the witness for a person or animal may be a photograph or a sample of their hair.

If you are looking for the location of something, you may wish to know what direction it is in.  If you are using a tool which can indicate direction (such as L rods or a pendulum), you can ask to be shown the direction to the target – the rod or pendulum should move to point to the target.

Although directional dowsing may be used, especially initially in a search, the most common way to go about dowsing is to ask YES/NO questions regarding what you seek.  In order to do this, whether you are using a tool or not, you need to have clearly distinct signals which indicate YES or NO.  They must also be consistent.  The signal for YES and NO can vary from dowser to dowser – the important thing to determine is what is your YES, and what is your NOresponse.  In order to do this you can ask the dowsing tool to “show me my YES response”, and keep repeating this until you get a clear response.  Do the same for the NO response.  For many people, a pendulum may swing in a clockwise circle for YES, and anti clockwise for NO, for example.  It does not matter what your YES and NO signals are, as long as they can easily be distinguished from each other, and are consistent.  It can also be useful to have additional responses to indicate ‘Don’t know, can’t tell yet’, or ‘inappropriate question’.

Sometimes it is necessary to ‘programme’ the YES, NO responses – this may be done by deciding for example that the crossing of L rods indicates YES.  The rods are then crossed repeatedly in response to something for which you know the answer is yes.  In this way, you are educating your subconscious that this particular movement indicates this particular answer.

I like to think of dowsing as a kind of transmitting and receiving activity.  The pattern or signal for the specific target being focussed upon is transmitted, and we are subconsciously scanning for and receiving signals from things that are a match.  We know, at a neurological level, if we have a match or not.  The dowsing tool simply amplifies the dowser’s internal neurological signal which is given in response to the question.  This makes the answer clearer to see and demonstrate to others.  So when asked if I am moving the rod or pendulum, the answer is Yes, although not consciously!

Much of the art of dowsing comes from practice and the asking of ‘appropriate’ questions.  A question must be asked for which there is a clear YES or NOanswer.  Questioning is critical to successful dowsing; it is necessary to ask precise and unambiguous questions.

The next most important aspect, as with developing any skill, is practice.

As mentioned earlier, it is possible to use a dowsing tool to give ‘directional’ information – i.e. for it to ‘point the way’ to something that you are seeking, whether water, the nearest energy line, or a particular remedy.

Other ways in which a tool can be used are for monitoring or tracking (by checking the progress of a process) – a pendulum can be used for this by circling while a process is going on, and gradually coming to a stop when the process is finished.  This is useful for relatively short processes.  For longer processes the ‘percentage completion can be assessed.  A tool (usually a pendulum can also be used for list dowsingchart dowsingbracketing (homing in on a percentage, or water depth for example), and in some cases e.g. energetic healing work for the input of energy.

For list dowsing, a list of potentially relevant answers or aspects can be made and then dowsed by running a finger or pointer down the list whilst dowsing to see which if any give a positive or YES response.  Chart dowsing is similar, but charts are usually presented in the form of a semi-circle with a number of sectors – each sector has an aspect or possible answer written in it.  A pendulum is then held above the centre point, and asked to swing to which answer/aspect is relevant for the subject of the questioning.  This is often used for lists of foods or vitamins and minerals, when determining what may be of use to have, or avoid for a particular person.   When using charts or lists it must be remembered that more than one item may be applicable, and dowsing should continue until all are found.  Also, it may be the case that something else which is relevant is not on the list or chart, so for charts and lists, it is always useful to have one item or sector listed as ‘other’, as a catch all.

Bracketing is achieved by homing in on an answer which can speed up the questioning process immensely.  This is often done for finding a percentage value – e.g. “Is it as much as 50 (percent)”? If Yes, you know it is between 50 and 100 percent, and could then ask – “Is it is much as 75”? If not you know it is between 50 and 75.  You can continue ‘homing in’ this way until you reach the answer.

Map dowsing is often used to assess an area that would be difficult, potentially harmful, or costly to cover on foot.  This has many applications – especially the assessment of sites and properties for non beneficial energies, and the location of oil, ore and gem deposits in remote or large areas (e.g. Australia and Brazil).

IMPORTANT – Before dowsing a particular issue or question, it is my opinion that you should always ask –

CAN I? , MAY I? , SHOULD I?  If you get a NO answer to any of these questions; DO NOT proceed.

It is also advisable to set up ‘protection’ before dowsing, especially if you are dowsing sites or properties where there may be negative energies. (There are various methods, and many books on the subject).  Many people envisage themselves in a bubble of light or a protective cloak, for example.

You should NEVER dowse for personal gain, or dowse another person without their express permission.


Dowsing tools

The majority of dowsers make use of dowsing tools, although this is not strictly necessary – see deviceless dowsing.   The most common tools are: Y rods (the classic ‘forked twig’), L rods, and pendulums, although many other instruments are available, for example: ‘wands’, ‘bobbers’, and ‘aurameters’, to name a few.


Dowsing without tools

This is known as ‘deviceless dowsing’.  It generally involves using your body or part of it to indicate the YES, NO response.  Examples are ‘sticky finger’ (where drawing a finger across a surface will slide for NO, or stick for YES, linked fingers (stay linked for YES, separate for NO), winks (e.g. wink one eye for YES), thumb or finger movements (up/down for YES, sideways for NO), or whole body sway backwards or forwards.  As with external tools, the YES, NO responses have to be determined or ‘programmed’.  Using one of these methods may be ‘less obvious’ in public than getting out a pendulum or rods– e.g. when checking in a supermarket if a certain foodstuff is good for you at that time.

Subpages (1): Health Dowsing