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February 2017

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by Benjamin Radford

Dowsing is an unexplained process in which people use a forked twig or wire to find missing and hidden objects. Dowsing, also known as divining and doodlebugging, is often used to search for water or missing jewelry, but it is also often employed in other applications including ghost hunting, crop circles and fortunetelling.

The dowsing that most people are familiar with is water dowsing, or water witching or rhabdomancy, in which a person holds a Y-shaped branch (or two L-shaped wire rods) and walks around until they feel a pull on the branch, or the wire rods cross, at which point water is allegedly below. Sometimes a pendulum is used held over a map until it swings (or stops swinging) over a spot where the desired object may be found. Dowsing is said to find anything and everything, including missing persons, buried pipes, oil deposits and even archaeological ruins.
They got it wrong

Part of the reason for dowsing’s longevity is its versatility in the New Age and paranormal worlds. According to many books and dowsing experts, the practice has a robust history and its success has been known for centuries. For example in the book “Divining the Future: Prognostication From Astrology to Zoomancy,” Eva Shaw writes, “In 1556, ‘De Re Metallica,’ a book on metallurgy and mining written by George [sic] Agricola, discussed dowsing as an acceptable method of locating rich mineral sources.” This reference to ‘De Re Metallica’ is widely cited among dowsers as proof of its validity, though there are two problems.

The first is that the argument is a transparent example of a logical fallacy called the “appeal to tradition” (“it must work because people have done it for centuries”); just because a practice has endured for hundreds of years does not mean it is valid. For nearly 2,000 years, for example, physicians practiced bloodletting, believing that balancing non-existent bodily humors would restore health to sick patients.
Pendulum dowsing
[Pin It] Sometimes dowsing involves holding a pendulum over a map.
Credit: MoniV | Shutterstock
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Furthermore, it seems that the dowsing advocates didn’t actually read the book because it says exactly the opposite of what they claim: Instead of endorsing dowsing, Agricola states that those seeking minerals “should not make use of an enchanted twig, because if he is prudent and skilled in the natural signs, he understands that a forked stick is of no use to him.”

If dowsing could be proven to work, what could the mechanism be? How could a twig or two metal wires know what the dowser is looking for (water, money, minerals, a lost item, etc.), much less where it could be found? The proposed mechanisms are as varied as the dowsers themselves. Some sources claim that strong psychic energy is radiated by the object and detected by the dowser; others believe that ghosts, spirits or mysterious Earth energies direct the dowser to their targets.
Dowsing: No better than chance

Skeptic James Randi in his “Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural,” notes that dowsers often cannot agree on even the basics of their profession: “Some instructions tell learners never to try dowsing with rubber footwear, while others insist that it helps immeasurably. Some practitioners say that when divining rods cross, that specifically indicates water; others say that water makes the rods diverge to 180 degrees.”

Though some people swear by dowsing’s effectiveness, dowsers have been subjected to many tests over the years and have performed no better than chance under controlled conditions. It’s not surprising that water can often be found with dowsing rods, since if you dig deep enough you’ll find water just about anywhere. If missing objects (and even missing people) could be reliably and accurately located using dowsing techniques, it would be a great benefit: If you lose your keys or cell phone, you should be able to just pull out your pendulum and find it; if a person goes missing or is abducted, police should be able to locate them with dowsing rods.

Science differs from the New Age and paranormal belief in that it progresses, correcting and building on itself. Technology and medicine are continually advancing and refining. Designs and techniques are improved or abandoned depending on how well they work. By contrast, dowsers have not gotten any more accurate over centuries and millennia of practice.

Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of six books including Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His Web site is www.BenjaminRadford.com.

by Maggie Percy

Dowsing is not only an excellent way to interact with animals; it is a wonderful tool for helping them. You can use dowsing to improve your animal’s nutrition, behavior, emotional health and to communicate with him, among other things. By using dowsing to help animals, you will also expand your horizons, become more intuitive and more attuned to the natural world; a worthy set of objectives!

Society generally tends to rely upon science as a means of assessing truth or value. Therefore, the preferred way of helping animals is through scientific methods, such as those veterinarians are trained to use. Unfortunately, science has a very restrictive viewpoint concerning animals. It only accepts as true that which has been ‘proven’ scientifically. So such things as communicating with animals in nonverbal ways, healing with energy techniques, the process of bonding with a particular animal and whether animals have emotions are all subjects that science either dismisses or ignores. Why? Because it can’t demonstrate through experimental means that they truly exist. In ignoring or minimizing these subjects, science diminishes the full spectrum of the human-animal relationship.

As a dowser with two biology degrees and experience working as a scientist for NASA, I am aware of the strengths of the scientific viewpoint. I can also see that dowsing, although scientifically unverifiable, has much to offer in terms of our relationships with animals. In fact, the use of the intuitive senses in general can greatly enhance results when working with animals, as opposed to using only scientific methods. When you use your intuitive senses, you commune with animals on their own ‘turf’, as they are highly intuitive beings. You see things from their point of view and open yourself to a better understanding of their needs, wants and feelings.

Dowsing and the use of intuition also have the value of being self-empowering. By learning to listen to your inner voice, you can know what is right for you without always having to consult ‘experts’. Dowsing will help you rely as much on what you know (gnow) as on what society expects you to think. The recent scare over West Nile virus is an excellent example. There were cases of vaccines being promoted inappropriately during this scare. Mosquitoes transmit the disease, and yet areas with no mosquito activity were being blitzed by radio ads that promoted fear about this virus. Dowsers could easily tell if their horses would be helped by the West Nile virus vaccination, or harmed by it, or neither. The empowerment of dowsing is of inestimable value. It can help you to make calm, accurate decisions rather than blindly following fads.
But dowsing is more than a way of getting information. Those who use dowsing and employ their intuitive senses in general find that they bond more closely to their animal friends because they are able to see things from the animal’s point of view. One drawback of the scientific viewpoint is that it tends to look at living things as glorified machines. In my opinion and from my experience, animals are far more complex than machines, and they don’t operate from a rational point of view. They are far more attuned to instinct and intuition than to analysis. Therefore, dowsing (an intuitive technique) is a great way to commune and communicate with animals.

There are probably countless uses of dowsing to help animals, but what follows is a sampling of some of the ones we have used ourselves or for our clients. Anyone can use dowsing for these purposes. It requires a certain level of skill, which can be developed through practice. It also requires a level of detachment, which also can come through practice. So start using dowsing to get in touch with your animals.

Please note that we are not suggesting that you should substitute dowsing for competent professional help of any type for your animals. However, it is a useful adjunct as part of a program of proper nutrition, training and health care.

Environmental energies affect your pet. We spend a lot of time doing space clearings, and we have had many cases where noxious environmental energies affected the health of our human and animal clients. You will find that if you dowse to locate and then clear those energies, your pet’s health and behavior may improve dramatically. You should clear your space and the space your animals inhabit as regularly as you vacuum your house or wash your clothes. Dowsers can do this rather readily, though it helps to have experience with this particular type of dowsing if you want to have optimal success.

Diet is one of the most important aspects of your animal’s health. Dowsing is an excellent way to check your pet’s food and water. Most grocery store pet food is very poor quality, as is tap water. Animals can tell this better than humans and often refuse to eat or drink questionable food or water. If you have an apparently finicky animal, dowsing will help you determine why your animal is refusing to eat what you offer. Dowsing will also help you craft the best feeding program for your animal friend, and modify it over time as her needs change.

Nutritional supplementation is becoming a popular way of improving the health of humans and animals alike. Dowsers can check the level in effects (efficacy) of supplements, dowse for appropriate dosage and dowse if the animal can tolerate the supplement or if there will be side effects. Just because a supplement dowses as being highly beneficial, it does not automatically follow that the animal will assimilate it or adjust to it without any side effects. Remember that things change on a daily basis, so dowse daily for your animal’s supplements.

Medicines (prescription and nonprescription) and vaccines are routinely accepted as being helpful for animals, but an increasing amount of evidence points to side effects that can be damaging. Dowsing will allow you to determine if the medicine/vaccination will be effective, if it will have side effects, how well your animal can tolerate it and what dosage is safest. Not all animals can tolerate drugs and vaccines, especially if they are older or ill. Your veterinarian often bases recommendations on what is THOUGHT to be good for MOST animals, as his or her knowledge of your pet may be limited. Your animal may fall into the central part of that bell-shaped curve, or not. Use dowsing to find out how appropriate the recommended treatment is for your animal companion.

Therapies of all kinds are now available for animals. Acupuncture, massage, Reiki, chiropractic; the list is endless. Use dowsing to determine the level in effects on a +10 to -10 scale and to note any side effects. You can dowse to see how many treatments your animal friend will need before you see progress or resolution of the problem. You can also dowse to see which therapy you should use next.

Surgical procedures of all kinds are also becoming more available for animals. The price, however, is often prohibitive. Instead of letting money determine whether your pet will have surgery, use dowsing to determine the level in effects of that procedure for the condition. Will the procedure solve the problem but create new ones? Is your animal healthy enough to tolerate the trauma of surgery? What do you need to do after surgery to help her regain her health more quickly? Is there an alternative to surgery that will accomplish the goal more easily, safely, cheaply, quickly, with fewer side effects? Dowsing will help you answer these questions.

Breeding your animal for fun or profit is a serious decision to be undertaken after much reflection and research. Dowsing will help you determine if your animal wants to be bred (and this is more important than you may think), whether she is healthy enough to be bred, and to whom she should be bred and when. You can obviously use dowsing to determine the sex of unborn babies and the number as well, if you are interested.

Showing or competing with your companion animal is likewise a serious undertaking. The first thing you want to dowse is whether your animal wants to do this type of activity. If your animal is emotionally unfit for competition, you are likely to traumatize it or, at the very least, waste your time. You can check the health and the training program of your animal athlete using dowsing as well, as an animal needs a certain level of physical fitness before participating in competition. Dowsing is also a way of checking which competitions you should participate in for best results.

Training is a vital aspect of having a good relationship with your pet. Check with your animal about whether he wants to participate in a particular type of training program. Then evaluate the available programs and /or trainers by dowsing.

Behavioral issues are very common with companion animals. Dowsing will help you determine if nutrition, health problems, emotional issues, stress or environmental energies are contributing to the problem. You can also use dowsing to craft a program to resolve the issues and sometimes to clear them up.

Physical challenges are becoming more common in our animal friends. They are succumbing to or reflecting the poor nutrition, lack of exercise and high level of stress common in our culture. Dowsing will help you determine what is energetically behind the symptoms, and whether the cause is internal or external. These root causes can then be cleared. Often, this will relieve or even remove the physical symptom.

Finding lost animals is a common use of dowsing, and can be done in person or long distance through map dowsing and communication. You will get better results if you ask in advance if the animal wants to be found, as some animals run away on purpose. This use for dowsing is usually challenging, as it involves the animal in a more dynamic and emotionally charged way than the above examples.

Animal communication can be done through dowsing. Just ask simple questions that have ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses. Make sure you aren’t attached to what the answers might be, or you may get faulty responses. As with using dowsing to find lost animals, this application can be a bit challenging, since you are directly working with another living thing. If you communicate with animals using dowsing, you will discover that sometimes they lie, sometimes they don’t want to talk with you and it can be a challenge to interpret your results. In spite of these potential drawbacks, dowsing to communicate directly with your animal companion is preferable to not communicating directly at all. As with all types of dowsing, your results will improve with practice.

There are some important points to remember when you dowse to help animals:

  • For best results, remember to ask the animal for permission before doing anything.
  • Be very careful how you word your questions. Learning to ask the right question is vital in dowsing of any kind.
  • Adopt a detached interest so that you are open to whatever the answer is. Be curious, not fearful.
  • Always dowse the level in effects of what you propose to do on a +10 to -10 scale and only implement solutions that rank above +5.
  • Practice is an important part of success with dowsing, so use your dowsing on yourself and your animals daily if possible.
  • When you use dowsing as part of a therapy to help your animal, remember to protect yourself from taking on any of your animal’s ‘stuff’ by using intention or another appropriate method.
  • Have a dowsing friend check your answers if you are unsure of their validity.

If you begin to use dowsing regularly with your animal friend, you will certainly improve your understanding of him or her. You will have a more harmonious relationship. You will save money (lots of it). You will enhance the quality of life for your pet. And you will be empowering yourself tremendously. So use your intuition and dowse to help your animal friends.

Maggie Percy and her husband Nigel own Walking Three Paths, Inc. in Northern AZ. They offer services for humans and animals that include dowsing, animal communication, personal and space clearings, nutritional and behavioral counseling. On their website, www.walking3paths.com, they sell dowsing tools, books and CD courses including “Intuitive Animal Care” and “A Course in Dowsing”. They may be reached by email at walking3paths@cableone.net or toll free in the U.S. & Canada at 1-800-383-5702. Outside of the U.S. or locally in AZ they may be phoned on 928-649-1343.