Fortea Morgana :) PeteByrdie certificated Princess
- Jul 14, 2014
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- An Eochair
Very interesting account. You found out something about both sides of the dowsing community -- the dowsers who use it for entirely practical reasons and the New Age energy people who are totally wedded to the belief that dowsing is some kind of spiritual experience and are in it for the kicks, essentially. Regarding the role of "muscle twitches" I would point both to Reddish's photographic experiment, which seemed to show that the movements of the rods did not result from "unconscious hand movements", and Ivan Sanderson's attempt to build a dowsing machine comprising a set of L rods in slightly forward pitched tubes, which apparently crossed when the device passed over a location where human dowsers had previously found a target. If the MoD and Reddish are correct and the energy involved is some kind of torsion wave it begins to make sense. There are also anecdotal accounts of responses to unusually high levels of energy where the rods are literally torn from the dowser's hands.It seems odd thinking about it now but I never tried dowsing for water using a forked stick as a child. I grew up as a semi-feral farm kid and I had a Fortean bent and water divining was certainly known about (no-one EVER referred to it as water witching in the '60s, but nor was it called rhabdomancy either) . It seemed so easy to try out, but maybe I never saw and tagged behind anyone doing it, or perhaps ghosts,witches, Department S, the Avengers, Denis Wheatley and the 'Wart Whisperer' was of sufficient mystery.
My older brother told me he once came across a team from Thames Water using a young chap with a rod - it was explained in matter-of-fact terms 'oh yeah, we've lost a pipe and he's the quickest way of finding it'. I believe my brother - I read that in 2017, ten out of twelve Water Companies still use dowsers (https://www.theguardian.com/busines...t-using-divining-rods-to-find-leaks-and-pipes) - but I didn't see it.
In 1979 I visited a friend who'd set up his new farm in St. Austell (Cornwall). The Water Board wanted £2,000 to connect him to the Mains so he asked for advice from other farmers. They recommended a Dowser that had given good results in finding springs. I got out of bed late on the morning and missed the Dowser by 10 minutes. My friend was given the site of the spring, the direction of flow, the depth and the flow rate (can't remember how many gallons per minute) and seemed well satisfied - I must emphasise this, no Farmer parts with money for something that doesn't work or is of no value. But I didn't see it.
*Interlude* A couple of years later I watched a prog with two Dowsers (one or both may have used a pedulum) trace the 'Primary Ley' from the Lizard upwards.They described a twisting male line and a weaker female line snaking down the country like a Ying Yang helix and where they crossed was a ley site. This was the first time I'd seen a pendulum in action and the first time I'd seen some-one dowse for a ley line. Also the first time ley lines were described as lines of power rather than an alignment of markers à la my hero Alfred Watkins. None of it made sense to me.
Next came a Fortean Times Uncon in London - 1991 ? I think it opened with a Procession of Giants (sounded a hoot but I missed it by 20 minutes) and had two days of Mind Lab experiments. I actually got to try rods to find water (in a bowl under a bucket). I was convinced I knew where the water was but the results were not revealed so didn't know if I was right and if dowsing worked. I was getting hooked though.
I applied to join a group from the British Society of Dowsers (BSD), who wanted to extend the mapping of London's 'lost' rivers. Meet at a Pub, walk down the street with a rod, draw a map. Fantastic, two areas of interest with one stone and a chance to mingle with experts, maybe they could tell me how it all worked. It rained and rained and rained, flooding of Biblical proportions - I didn't go. Somewhere in my Eudora folder on my Win98 PC is an email with the mapping progress made that day, sent by those wonderful people of the BSD.
Finally, In 2016 a local branch of the BSD held an open day in a Church Hall and I went with my brother. I was given a pair of rods and told to follow a thick blue nylon rope in the lawn to get a feel of how the rods move. When I crossed the rope, the rods swung inwards with gratifying force. After half an hour I then tried to locate the mains water pipe, this was surprisingly easy and was pleased when reaching the Church-yard wall to see a Water Board marker on the other side. Next I measured how far the 'bio-aura' of a small tree extended beyond the trunk - oh kaay - and finally before coffee I had to locate the resting place of William Penn (local boy) of Pennsylvania fame. This proved very difficult, not least because it transpired that although there is a grave marker in the Churchyard (which fooled some), he ain't under it (I don't think anyone knows where his body lies). Whilst traversing the green looking for ol' Bill I passed over the blue rope from earlier - not a twitch ! I found that significant (but can't say why).
I asked the Organiser how dowsing worked but only got a polite non-reply ('I offer no opinion', ie work it out for yourself) and after coffee we were introduced to the pendulum and other members of the Dowsing Society.
This did not go well. I could not get the pendulum to swing like a pendulum-do, I could not tell the difference with the pendulum between bottled water, tap water and vodka - or between an organic apple and an ordinary apple. Yes of course an organic apple has a greater life-force, it has more bugs growing on it.
My brother was fascinated (but not impressed) by a lady wearing a broad rim hat and an embroidered tent, pose a question, visibly move the pendulum with her wrist and then solomnly pronounce the answer. It was like watching a bad Ventriloquist's lips move. The earlier promise not to knock and be mindful of other people's beliefs came to the fore, but she was an embodiment of every New Age idea going and they can't all be right or even compatible.
Conclusion: rods move by muscle twitches, muscles move by Mind, which can be highly susceptible to suggestions. I found water (I didn't dig) and I'm happy with that - go try it for yourself.
I have a set of rods and have not used them since - I'm just too self conscious in public. IMHO Dowsing has moved so far away from water divining (as I knew it) as to be unrecognisable. Pendulums are not for me, although I have purchased a book on "How to ask the right question."
What I will try next is to run Dowsing alongside a metal detector - see who has the best discriminator.
Interesting indeed, but rather depressing that the groundbreaking work of Reddish doesn't seem to have penetrated very far. I am mystified why an evolutionary biologist, of all people, should consider herself an expert in a field that is more relevant to physics or geology -- she is clearly totally ignorant of any of the research findings.Interesting article about dowsing:
Interestingly the "future self" idea is invoked.
Feeling the future: A meta-analysis of 90 experiments on the anomalous anticipation of random future events
Thanks for the mention of Reddish; I wasn't familiar with him, but found this page:Interesting indeed, but rather depressing that the groundbreaking work of Reddish doesn't seem to have penetrated very far. I am mystified why an evolutionary biologist, of all people, should consider herself an expert in a field that is more relevant to physics or geology -- she is clearly totally ignorant of any of the research findings.
Reddish wrote two books, The D Force (privately published, 1993) and The Field of Rotating Masses (2010), and I attach an interesting summary of his research by Gribbin, referring to the role of the MoD in his research and its connection with Russian work on torsion waves.Thanks for the mention of Reddish; I wasn't familiar with him, but found this page:
Thanks for that Carl! I had heard of his theory before, but wasn't sure who he was.Reddish wrote two books, The D Force (privately published, 1993) and The Field of Rotating Masses (2010), and I attach an interesting summary of his research by Gribbin, referring to the role of the MoD in his research and its connection with Russian work on torsion waves.
... I've just been to an antique fair this afternoon and picked up a book by Emile Grillot de Givry (1874-1929) Illustrated Anthology of Sorcery, Magic and Alchemy - it has an interesting section on Rhabdomancy, or the art of using the divining-rod. It also has some woodcut prints of the use of divining rods in German mines in the 16thC, showing the mine in sections with the dowser and his divining rod that's described as a 'Virgula divina'.
"In 1692 a humble Dauphine peasant, Jacques Aymar, had called to the attention of the divining-rod, which seems to have been almost unknown in France at that time, except in this province. Not only did Aymar discover water, mines and hidden treasure, but he was able to trace robbers and murderers by means of his rod."
It also goes on to describe his adventures in tracking down a murderer in Lyons (sic) and also has nifty little woodcuts of the most fashionable rods being used in France in 1762. Sadly it only offers demonic or spiritual explanantions of how dowsing is meant to 'work'.
"His renown caused him to be summoned to Lyons by the Procureur du Roi and the Leiutenant-criminel to help them discover the murderers of a wine-merchant and his wife who had been found in a cellar with their throats cut. "His rod twisted rapidly at the two spots in the cellar where the two corpses had been found," wrote Pierre Garnier, physician of Montpellier, in his Dissertation physique sur la baguette, published at Lyons in 1962, the very year of the crime."
In this case he did use the divining rod to follow the trail of the murderer only to find the criminal had already been arrested for another crime and the trail had lead straight to a prison, where the murderer confessed to the double killing.
Bearing in mind how dowsing could easily be misconstrued as the 'devil's work' in 1692, I think this Jacques Aymar was a pretty brave guy to be doing this kind of thing considering the fate of proven 'witches' etc. ...
April 2000 FT 133Psychic detectives are not a modern phenomenon writes GEOFFREY ELGAR. Just over 300 years ago a French dowser tracked criminals for hundreds of miles.
Towards the end of the 17th century, a young stonemason from Saint Marcellin in the French province of Dauphine caused great controversy. Jacques Aymar Vernay (right) is believed to be the first person to have tracked down criminals by use of the dowsing rod.
Brilliant find! Dowsing has been used for all sorts of things besides locating things underground. As we know Lethbridge used his pendulum for dating ancient sites and many other more esoteric tasks.In 2000 Fortean Times ran an article about this Frenchman Aymar. Once presented on the now-defunct FT online articles archive, it can still be accessed via the Wayback Machine.
THE DOWSING DETECTIVE
April 2000 FT 133
FULL ARTICLE (Via The Wayback Machine):
Any recommendations on getting started with dowsing.
As u say 42, I think we all once had this as a natural facility, water detection must have been very important, and I am told aboriginal people have never lost it.
Yes, that's a fair bet. Reddish started his research when he saw a dowser locate an underground drainage pipe, and found that linear features such as pipes created a strong interference pattern that he could detect. In fact dowsing also locates cables and was vital in enabling electrical engineers to locate supply cables in areas of london devastated by the Blitz and effect rapid repairs.At my last home, I had a friend who used the type of metal rod you describe for dowsing for water. He showed my sister and I what to do. We had no idea or preconceptions about whether dowsing would work. Sure enough, at certain places in and around the house, the rods crossed, indicating the presence of water. Given the locations where water was detected, we decided that the rods were picking up water in the various underground water pipes. (I lived outside a village in a very rural locations and there were few houses, the nearest being about 100 yards away, so there can only have been a few water pipes.)
That's summed it up perfectly! Some people can't stand the idea that some things work, and often very well, without a theory that can explain them. I think that a lot of opposition to the idea of dowsing stems from that, as it certainly isn't based on any real evidence. The torsion/earth energy theory is as good as anything else, it's supported both by Reddish's totally independent studies and by the Russians. In fact biolocation, as they term it, has been recognised officially in Russia since about 1960, and is given credit for boosting the Russian economy through the location of valuable mineral deposits. In fact most geology students there go on to do a dowsing course after getting their degrees.“If it’s stupid, but it works, then it’s not stupid.”
Tangential discussion about the influence of belief / doubt and how to accommodate them in experimental design has been moved into its own thread:
Accounting For Belief In Experiments
It is depressing that three decades after Reddish's groundbreaking research someone can describe dowsing as "an occult practice." Abysmal ignorance, to say the least.
Meet the Water Witches of California
I first heard about the occult practice of water divining in Australia.
There, much like in California, heat, drought and wildfires ravage the landscape. In the country’s most recent drought, farmers contended with shrinking aquifers and drying-up rivers, while cities came close to running out of water. The impacts of climate change wreaked havoc on the environment, threatening Australia’s very way of life.
These similarities were clear after I arrived in America last month, only to be met with a blistering heat wave across the Western United States that melted roads and obliterated previous heat records. In Sonoma County, the region where I live, farmers’ taps are being switched off, and vintners are digging ever deeper for water.
The situation is desperate. And I wondered: Who might benefit from that desperation?
“I don’t want to say business is booming, or business is good, but business is very, very, very busy,” Augie Guardino, a second-generation well-driller based in Santa Clara County told me. “When business is good for us, it’s not good for the rest of the community.”
He’s “similar to a mortician,” he said.
Likewise, Rob Thompson said he was swamped.
“This is my busiest I think I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. Thompson 53, is a water diviner, or a water witch: He says he can locate groundwater in the fractures of the earth’s bedrock, using just two rods and a hunch.
The method is thought to have come into vogue in the Middle Ages in Europe, and is “totally without scientific merit,” according to the National Ground Water Association, a group of experts, including hydrogeologists, that promotes responsible water use.
But that has not stopped farmers and land managers from hiring Thompson, a second-generation water diviner based in Santa Rosa, who formerly co-owned one of Northern California’s largest well-drilling companies and claims to have found thousands of groundwater sites across the state.
“This is the worst drought I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Thompson said. “In California, we’re going deeper and deeper,” he said of the wells people were drilling to access water.
Just a two-hour drive from the nation’s technology capital of Silicon Valley, some vineyards continue to lean on Thompson’s work.
“I haven’t ever used a geologist to find water,” said Johnnie White, the operations manager of Piña Vineyard Management, which runs dozens of vineyards in Napa Valley. Still, White acknowledged, “I find it all very far-fetched.”