Dowsing Rod

The practice of using a branched wooden stick (a dowsing rod) to locate underground water or buried minerals is known as dowsing or divining. In some areas of the United States, this practice may be called doodlebugging or water witching.

Whether it actually works is open to interpretation.

Typically, the dowsing rod is the forked branch of a tree which an individual — the dowser — holds with the pointed stem of the branch pointing away from his body. In Europe, hazel twigs are the preferred wood. Witch hazel, willow or peach tree branches are the most commonly used in this area.

Photo by Sue Beyer

The dowser, the individual seeking the buried water or minerals, holds the branch in front of his body with the sharpened end pointed forward. He walks back and forth over an area which he suspects holds water or minerals. The rod supposedly pulls or bends downward to indicate the underground “find.”

However, the slightest movement by the dowser will affect results.

The process of dowsing may have originated in Germany about the 15th century as a means to find buried minerals. It is recorded that in 1518 Martin Luther preached against dowsing as a violation of the First Commandment. In 1556, a detailed description of dowsing for metallic ores was included in “De Re Metallica” by Georgius Agricola.

Over the following two centuries, opinions of dowsing swung back and forth between endorsement of the practice to declarations of satanic movement of the rod. It is interesting to note that during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, U.S. Marines used dowsing to locate buried weapons and tunnels.

There is no hard evidence that dowsing works. Researchers have investigated both physical and geophysical explanations for dowsing abilities. Various “scientific” studies in both Europe and the United States suggest that the result of finding underground water or mineral resources is no better than chance.

Modern-day dowsers often use a pair of metal “L” shaped rods, or perhaps glass or plastic rods. An alternate form of dowsing can be a crystal or metal pendulum suspended from a chain. The movement of the pendulum is believed to indicate the presence of buried resources.

Submitted by Elaine Greek


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