Dowsing: A Psychic Form Of Divination?

Dowsing is as old as humanity itself. In short, dowsing is a means to find something. It has been used to find everything from natural resources such as gold, water and/or oil; finding ships at sea or ancient archeological sites; to find people or answers about health and more. Just looking into the history of dowsing proves as mysterious as dowsing itself. It is a psychic form of divination? A paranormal science? Is dowsing based on physical influences that are as yet unknown or not understood? Does dosing tap into parts of the mind we normally do not use? The questions about dowsing seem as old as dowsing itself and, as of today, nobody seems to have real answers. Everything about dowsing is largely ‘unanswered’. What we do know is that people seem to have been using it for numerous purposes since the beginning of recorded history.

The general impression of a dowsing tool in a V or Y shaped tree branch with the dowser holding two ends. The dowser then walks around waiting for the tip or front of the branch to tip down or move indicating the dowser has found what they are looking for. Although the ‘science’ of dowsing has progressed, there are still those who swear by the traditional methods. There are 4 types of dowsing tools: The V Rod (the traditional tree branch, or fashioned from wood. Some are now made of plastic or metal). The Angle Rods (these are L shaped rods, usually a pair where he sorter arm held in the closed palm and the long rod parallel to the ground. When the rods rotate and cross this indicates the dowser has found what he/she is looking for).

Old Fashion Dowsing

Old Fashion Dowsing

The Wand (a single long rod held in the hand and will react with circular motion when what is sought is found). And, the pendulum (a weight of crystal on the end of twine or chain that can move in a number of ways depending on the questions asked or what is being searched for). These are considered the classic dowsing divination tools … and they have been around a long time in one form or another. It might surprise many people that these ancient type Dowsing Tools can be found selling at Amazon online.

In the Tassili Caves in France, archeologist discovered ancient cave paintings that seem to show someone using a classic dowsing rod. The painting date back 8,000 years. Those who research dowsing say that there are 2500 year old etching of Chinese Emperor Yu holding something that is very close to dowsers today might use. There is 4000 year old temple wall temple wall art of pharaohs holding something that looks suspiciously like and dowsing tool and pendulums have been found in 1,000 year old Egyptian tombs. Even the Christian bible’s old testament contains references to what can only be called dowsing in the books of Samuel and Ezra. Historical records indicate the ancient Jews learned dowsing from the Babylonians (Prophet Hozea wrote, They now consult their pieces of wood then the wand makes pronouncements from them. The ancient Greeks called dowsing "Rhabdomancy", meaning "Divining Rod" in ancient Greek (the word ‘rhabdomancy’ is still used today in the Italian language for dowsing). The more one looks into the history of dowsing the more one sees how old and mysterious the art of dowsing is.

To a strictly outside observer, dowsing looks remarkably like many other forms of divination. Dowsing is, after all, called a form of divination or means of ‘divining’ an answer. It should be no surprise that a pendulum (pendulums being one of the tools for dowsing) was use by the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece to find answers for clients seeking answers. Psychic pendulum divination continues even today. However, professional dowsers do not look at themselves as ‘psychic’ nor feel they are involved in any sort of paranormal activity at all. Professional dowsers are simply continuing an ancient art that is as yet not scientifically understood. Professional dowsers themselves are divided over whether dowsing taps into unknown mental capacities or whether dowsing is using physical forces that the dowsers happens to be sensitive too. Perhaps what gives dowsing a more non-paranormal status is that dowsing has a long history of mainstream use.

English Philosopher John Locke, the same one inspired the founding fathers of the United States to write the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution, is credited by many for creating the term ‘dowsing’. Locke wrote an essay on using the dowsing rod to find water and precious minerals and coined the term. There is a report of Colonel Kenneth Merrylees using dowsing skills to find bombs underground. American pendulist Verne Cameron is said to have shocked U.S. Navy officials with his ability to find ships at sea using a pendulum and a world map. He ‘divided’ ship locations using a dowsing pendulum hovering over a map and note where ships were currently (which was suppose to be classified information).
In the late 1800 into the turn of the century, John Mullins is credited with finding water wells all over England, confounding scientists. In the 1960’s the U.S. military tried using dowsing to locate enemy tunnels in Vietnam. Even as late as 1987, Munich University carried out a dowsing experiment. In Sri Lanka, dowers pin pointed where 691 wells needed to be drilled for water. The dowsers had a 96% success rate and it only took days for the dowsers to locate water. Geohydrologists took several months to pin point water but their success rate was only 21%.

When it comes to scientific tests for dowsing you see the same inconsistencies and patterns that you see with psychics using divination tools (such as tarot, clairvoyance, astrology, numerology and so forth): There can be astonishing successes and there can be dismal results. You would think this would encourage more scientific research into divination and the paranormal. Unfortunately, the general result for the public is that skeptics point to their experiments where divination fails and the believers point to experiments and antidotal evidence showing that divination can work in the hands of the right person in the right environment. End result? We all get to believe what we want to believe.

It is no wonder that dowsers and those who pursue the art of dowsing do not want to be lumped into the same category as psychics. After all, psychics seem to be always under attack from skeptics as well as various religious individuals. At one time psychics, pagans and dowsers shared ridicule and persecution from the early Christian church (dowsing was considered Satanic and a part of witchcraft). All forms of divination have been persecuted and outlawed at one time or another.

Dowsing, as a form of divination has been used in a lot of interesting ways, beyond just for finding water or natural resources. Dowsing has been used for health and healing, to discover archaeological sites, to find lost people and objects and even to hunt for criminals. As a method of divination, it has proved as useful, and as controversial, as any psychic related tools used for divination from crystal balls to Tarot to Astrology. What is obvious is that divination, in whatever form, is still largely misunderstood and, in many cases, under appreciated. Could it be that dowsers, unknowingly, tap into the same source or mechanisms that psychics do?

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