Introduction to Dowsing

by Hank Innerfeld

Dowsing is a natural and integral tool of man. It’s history is as old as humanity itself. The phenomenon of dowsing has been accessible throughout the ages to individuals (both male and female) who chose to pursue and develop this innate aspect of self.

Dowsing is simply the ability to connect to one’s higher state of guidance… ask questions and get answers. From a simplistic scientific perspective, it is the ability to access information available through the right-side of our brain (in the Western world most individuals operate almost exclusively through the left-side of their brain). So by expanding our abilities to utilize a greater proportion of our brain… whole new possibilities are now available to us in our lives.

Every language spoken on planet Earth has at least one word to describe dowsing. The French called the dowser sourcier – one who locates water sources. The Swiss called the dowser brunnenschoncher, or ‘water seeker’ and the dowsing dueten, meaning ‘to point the stick’. The Danes’ name for dowsing was finklerut, the Swedes’, dalkarl. In Mexico, dowsers are called burros because the latter are also known for their ability to find water in the desert.

The early Chinese called dowsing ‘talking to’ or ‘seeking’ the “dragon flow” with the “claw of the dragon”, or dowsing rod. Dowsing was also called fungshui or fing, meaning ‘wind’, and chi meaning ‘water witching’. Similarly, here (in the US) and abroad, dowsers have variously been called “water devils”, “rod wielders”, “doodle buggers” and “water diviners”.

More modern labels for dowsers include motorscopists, psychoscopists, psychogenic water locators, psychometrist geomancers, radionics and radiesthesics. Dowsing has also been called scanning and rhabdomancy, the latter derived from the Greek words rhabdos (rod) and manteia (prophet). In recent times, the phenomenon has come to be called dowsing almost universally. In the British army, those who practiced dowsing have come to be called “first-class well diggers”.

The tools used by dowsers over the ages have variously been called Jacob’s rods, divining rods, shining rods, leaping rods, trembling rods, rotating rods, dipping rods, transcending rods, superior rods, sticks, wands, forked sticks, pencils, L-rods, pendulums, motorscopes, and medicine sticks. Also used as dowsing tools have been scissors, Spanish needles, pliers, crowbars, shotguns, whale bones, barbed wire, clothes, welding rods, rings and other jewelry, feathers, candles (both lit and unlit), conch shells, medicine bones, aurameters, a Chinese diagram called “the Pakoua” and last but not least… fingers and hands!

Historical Roots of Dowsing

In 1949, in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, the French discovered cave paintings of ancient peoples… which scientists using radiocarbon dated at 9,000 years old… one of these cave paintings showed a man using a dowsing rod. Similarly, a rock carving in Peru found (also dated 9,000 years old) depicts a man holding a forked dowsing stick.

The writings of Confucius (2500 B.C.) mention dowsing. A statue of Chinese Emperor Kwang Yu (2200 B.C.) portrays him holding a forked stick (commonly used for dowsing). Similarly, the oldest Egyptian stone drawings and carvings show men in exotic headdresses holding forked sticks or pendulums. The Romans, Celts and Teutons also evidenced interest in dowsing. Various books produced in Germany from the 12th to 14th century examined the phenomenon of dowsing. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603), English landowners brought dowsers from Saxon Germany who obliged them by locating the rich tin fields of Cornwall (which are still producing tin today).

German scientist Georg Agricola, a pioneer in scientific classification of minerals, authored De re Metallica published in 1556. This classic work examines dowsing and its applications. Dowsers played a vital role in the construction of the early castles on the Rhine. Before the castles could be built, water had to be located beneath the stone mountain tops which they were to occupy. Dowsing was used universally to locate these underground water sources.

Visitors to the early Spanish mines in Southwestern United States can observe that each mine features only one hole instead of many. The reason for that is, that prior to drilling, the Spanish used a dowsing tool called “Spanish needles” to locate these rich ores — with impressive accuracy. The early Sioux used feathered medicine sticks for dowsing. Sulu witch doctors used bones for dowsing to locate “evildoers” in their tribe. Dowsing was particularly popular among the New England colonists… a PA newspaper Oil City Register in 1865 profiles one of them, “Doodle Bug” Smith.

The rod, the reed, and the staff – all symbols of dowsing – are mentioned many times in the scripturess. The ancient mystery schools, which pre-date the dawn of Christianity, taught and trained their followers in dowsing. The dowser was regarded as a highly intuitive or illuminated being, who achieved this level of awareness through dedicated study and practice of the mysteries.

Dowsing in Recent Times

The American Society of Dowsers (ASD) was founded in Danville, VT in 1958. Today its membership is growing throughout the United States and around the world. Many dowsing organizations far older than the ASD are active in other countries. Most are dedicated to furthering human knowledge in this field. There are active dowsing societies in Great Britain, Kenya, Israel, New Zealand, Argentina, Austria, Sweden, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, the West Indies, Switzerland, Rhodesia, South Africa, and Vietnam. Germany has two active dowsing organizations, both of which require that members serve a period of apprenticeship before they can call themselves “dowsers”. In India, the principal dowsing organization, Raj Yoga, consists of divisions representing applications of dowsing in the agriculture, engineering, and medical arenas.

In France the first dowsing society (of radiesthesistes) was organized between World Wars I and II. Since then, dowsing has become a full-time profession for many. In 1954, France’s dowsers organized a national union in which annual dues (of $250/member) are paid to the French Ministry of Labor. The French dowsing society publishes a journal quarterly, like the ASD in the USA. Dowsers in France largely concentrate on finding missing persons, and even more importantly, on healing. Nearly 50% of all practicing doctors in France (we’ve been told) use some form of dowsing in their treatments.

Also significant is that virtually every major water pipeline and public utility both here and abroad had a “diviner” on its payroll. The Southern California Edison Company is said to employ a dowser who, over his more than 20 years with the company, claims to have found some 8,000 wells. The Puget Sound Power and Light Company in Washington State is reported to have a dowser formally on it staff, as does the Canadian Ministry of Agriculture. Noted dowser Evelyn Penrose was retained by British Columbia to locate oil and water resources…during 1931-1932 she also located 392 water wells for homesteaders.

In Russia it is reported that 150 Soviet geologists are using dowsing in their work and have vigorously defended its value. Both Moscow State University and the University of Leningrad have established training schools in dowsing in cooperation with the Russian Army. The use of dowsing in the military extends to the Chinese Army, which for years has used dowsers as advance troops to scout the terrain and locate enemy sites as well as to determine optimum areas for advancing forces to encamp each night. The Czechoslovakian Army maintains a permanent corps of dowsers. The Canadian Army Engineers also rely on dowsing.

During World War II, the British and Australian navies discovered that with dowsing they could successfully locate German submarine “wolfpacks”. Dowsing was used by the US Marine Corps in both Korea and Vietnam. Dowsers have been used to detect booby-traps and message drops as well as to locate tunnels and buried telephone lines and supplies. They proved able to locate tunnels of sappers at Khesan when the electronic detectors were inoperable. A member of the ASD proved the value of dowsing to the Marines at a USMC training center in Virginia by successfully locating all of the concealed underground installations, much to the amazement of camp officials. He did this by dowsing a map of the training center the night before the actual “run”. At USMC Camp Pendleton on Southern California, young enlistees have been screened for their dowsing ability. A reported one out of five was found to be able to dowse

Modern Applications of Dowsing

Dowsing has been successfully used in many different applications. The most common use is to seek and find water. But dowsers are often able to determine more than just location of water. They frequently can report its volume, depth, flow direction and potability. Dowsing can also be used to locate existing water pipelines and buried septic tanks. Dowsing has been used successfully to locate oil. Unknown to most people, a number of oil companies and speculators rely on dowsers. Some members of the Southern California Chapter of the American Society of Dowsers (ASD) receive regular royalty checks for the wells they have located.

Dowsing has been used to successfully been used to track down wanted criminals, and used to effectively to locate hidden drugs in Connecticut. Fireman in Springfield, MA have reportedly used it to determine whether victims are trapped inside burning buildings. This not only saves them critical time in rescuing fire victims, but it makes such rescues safer and more successful.

A chiropractor reports having used dowsing to locate subluxations in the bodies of his patients and prefers it over x-rays. A dentist has reported using dowsing to find hidden cavities in the teeth of his patients with great success. Dowsing has even been used by the victim of a rare, little known ailment to find the name of the right medical specialist to treat it… using a telephone directory! It has also been used to detect pregnancy, to describe personality, to measure intelligence, and to analyze character… as discussed in the book Psychometric Analysis by Max Freedom Long.

Others have reported using dowsing to find ghosts, and more scientific uses of dowsing have been applied to detecting energy points, such as acupuncture points on the body, and energetic fields of all types – emancircuitry, polarity healing, and numerous kinds of energy measurements. In a variety of law enforcement searches in recent years, dowsers have determined the heights, weights, and ages of wanted kidnappers and rapists. They have also found which of a series of suspects is the guilty one. Dowsers have also located stolen goods and lost items.

The Norwegian Red Cross is reported to use dowsing in conjunction with its avalanche patrols to find victims buried in deep snow. An English engineer reports that he uses dowsing to identify potential hazards at prospective building sites. The exact location of an Andes plane crash was pinpointed by an elderly dowser just hours before the rescue team found the survivors.

Dowsing has been used to find ancient drainage systems of “buried” cities, obliterated by time. Similarly, archeologists have used dowsing to find Megalithic sites as well as Indian artifacts. An East Coast taxi driver/dowser was hired by a well-known anthropologist in a successful effort to locate the long-houses of the Iroquois nation.

Dowsing has been used to detect energy fields, increased gamma ray counts, sources of contamination, underground outlets to lakes, radio towers and frequencies, magnetic fields, human auras, bad employees, worthless checks, shorts in electrical wiring, broken pipelines, to diagnose mechanical problems in cars and locate lost graves.

An article in Fate magazine describes the activities of a car-theft ring in Arizona. The ring members baffled the authorities by stripping the cars they stole and burying the remains in the desert. No one could identify the thieves because they left no traces. However, a dowser heard about the case and located the buried auto-graveyard of the gang. Clues found there enabled the police to apprehend the thieves and bring the operation to a halt.

Dowsers have successfully located obscure boundaries and markers, both in the field and while dowsing maps. With map dowsing, they have delineated sources of oil and mineral deposits. The rich iron deposits today known as the Kennebec iron ore range in Wisconsin was located by dowser Mary Hays Chenowith using this approach. Map dowsing also located the famed Gibbs whaler, abandoned in the Arctic during a bitter storm, and sunken beneath eight feet of ice.

A skillful dowser need never be lost. He can tell time, distance, and directions (east, west, north, south). One popular account is about an Arctic bush pilot who was downed in a snowstorm. He used his pendulum to dowse which direction to go and how far. Following the directions he took 65 steps northwest and found a cave. He then dowsed that he would be safe for the night and found by rescue teams the following day. The heavy snows stopped that night and the rescue teams found him the following afternoon. In another true account, a dowser lost in the wilderness proved that dowsing can be used to distinguish between those wild berries that are safely edible and those that are poisonous.

One of the most impressive uses of dowsing was by Floyd Benkins (a member of the Southern California ASD) while viewing the landing of the first American Astronauts on the moon on television. He not only determined the composition of the moon rocks as the astronauts gathered them – long before they were brought back to earth – but accurately assessed the physical conditions of each of the astronauts, as confirmed by later newspaper accounts.

Countless lost objects ranging from keys to embroidery hoops to diamonds, have been located using dowsing. A member of the ASD who is a professional realtor, uses dowsing to locate suitable houses for his clients and to check out the condition of each house in advance. Dowsing has also been used to locate “healing” earth and minerals, to find the nearest good campsite, game and fish, whether there are poisonous snakes in the area. One nurseryman uses dowsing to determine whether the plants are “happy” or needing nutrients, sunlight, water, etc.

Dowsing has often been used to locate buried treasure, usually by means of map dowsing. It is important to first determine whether the treasure us there now, since most treasures have been hidden and found long before people ever learn about it. For this reason, people often dowse and find an indication of treasure, then assume it is still there… they dig and expend much heavy labor only to be disappointed when they find no treasure.

Some of the most satisfying uses of dowsing are the simplest. Many people enjoy the sweetest watermelon by dowsing which fruit is best at the supermarket. I have used it many times to determine which foods most honor my body and which nutritional supplements and dosages are best for me. I also use dowsing to choose the best route to travel when taking a long trip… many times I have avoided heavy traffic/accident areas using this approach.

When teaching a class in Charleston a few years ago my hostess took me to a local restaurant to eat… and while I love crab cakes, through dowsing I was guided not to order them that day… my hostess did order them and left the restaurant with food poisoning. Once someone develops their dowsing abilities there is no limit to how it can creatively be applied to simplify and assist in one’s life experience

Frank Innerfeld  | (303) 679-620  |

Hank Innerfeld is a gifted alternative healing practitioner, dynamic motivational speaker, author of two books on awakening consciousness, and spiritual teacher schooled in a number of unique modalities of healing.  He currently lives in Colorado, works with clients globally, and provides workshops, presentations and teaches classes throughout the United States. Hank is an ordained minister who has been a spiritual seeker for over 35 years… he is passionate about sharing insights and understandings, and a myriad of tools and techniques, which allow us to embrace our power, and our choices, far more decisively in our lives.

Hank has expertise in a variety of healing modalities which he has practiced over the past 18 years. He has been formally trained in Spiritual Response Therapy (SRT) and Spiritual Restructuring (SpR), and has been previously certified by the Spiritual Response Association in Washington to teach these forms of spiritual healing.  He has successfully worked with thousands of clients using SRT and through creative application of multiple healing modalities.