Dowsing is an act completed to find hidden things. However, they most commonly seek water. Archeologists believe that dowsing is at least 8,000 years old, if not more. The original reason for dowsing was lost to history, but people today use the practice to find many different things including water, people and treasure.
Dowsing Tools and Uses
Dowsers use a stick, pendulum or two rods to search for hidden or missing things. If using a stick, the dowser finds one that has a “Y” shape. The practitioner holds each fork in a hand and has the long end pointing ahead. Usually, the dowser will hold the stick with his or her palms facing downward. The dowser then slowly walks over an area to find the hidden object or water. If it is detected, the stick will dip, incline or twitch.
The most common wood used for dowsing is hazel or witch-hazel. Branches can be fresh cut or picked up off the ground. Other common woods used are willow and peach tree sticks. However, some dowsers do not have a favored type of wood to use.
The use of a pendulum for dowsing is quite different. The dowser uses a crystal or a metal weight suspended on a chain or string. This pendulum will rotate, or rock back and forth and up and down. The dowser will determine which direction means yes and which means no. He or she will then ask the pendulum questions about the hidden object’s location.
Actual dowsing rods are similar to the dowsing stick. A dowser holds the rods at the short end. The metal or wooden rods will move side to side, which helps the dowser determine where an item is located. The rods will cross to form an “X” when the item the dowser seeks is nearby.
Other Names for Dowsing
The practice of dowsing has several other names. The most popular terms for dowsing in the United States are divining and doodle-bugging. Dowsing for water carries its own terms, which include water finding, water witching and water dowsing. If using a willow rod to dowse, some practitioners called it willow witching.
How Does it Work?
There is no true explanation for how dowsing works. In the 1700s, scientists thought that dowsing detected the emanations of substances. Wooden rods were thought to absorb these particles, causing the wood to turn or bow up or down. Later research suggests that sensory cues, probability and expectancy effects caused the dowsing rods to react. However, science has truly failed to prove or disprove the act of dowsing.
Dowsing is a practice over 8,000 years old. Dowsers were once considered evil practitioners of witchcraft. Today, this is not necessarily the truth. Many men and women use dowsing to find water, lost items and even people. In many areas of the country, farmers use dowsing to find wells and oil workers employ these tactics to find oil wells. A true dowser will have a high success rate, which is something that science nor the act of dowsing itself can explain.