Category:Dowsing, Doodlebugging, and Water Witching

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A dowser walking land with a Y-shaped stick

Dowsing, Water Witching, Doodlebugging and Radesthesia are terms used to describe a variety of forms of divination in which a dowser or water witch uses a simple tool or device such as a dowsing rod, dowsing sticks, doodlebug, pendulum, plumb bob, or divining rod to attempt to locate hidden water wells, underground streams, oil reserves, lost septic tanks and leach fields, caves, utility lines, water and gas pipes, buried metals, ores, minerals, gemstones, people, pets, or missing objects for their clients.

Many dowsers specialize in the types of things they will attempt to locate for clients. The most common kinds of dowsing in America are water witching preparatory to the digging of wells and doodlebugging during exploration for minerals and oil.

Because dowsing is a practical form of divination, it is generally not performed at an altar, but most spiritually-minded dowsers do keep their dowsing rods with their spell-casting tools and handle them with both reverence and respect.


Dowsing Devices

Dowsing with a Y-Rod

A dowser using a Y-shaped stick to locate water
A pair of dowsers' L-rods used to find lost or hidden objects
Aaron, the Jewish High Priest wearing his breastplate of precious stones, carrying an incense thurible, and holding his budding rod
A gold-plated Cameron Aurameter used for finding the edges or auras of energy fields
An array of metal pendulums; some are made in two parts and can be unscrewed in order to place a small sample or witness of the material being sought inside
A couple using Y-rods to field dowse an uninhabited area near an old church
Peter Taylor demonstrates map dowsing to the Slimbridge Dowsing Group of Gloucestershire, England; photo by Peter Callaghan
Remote dowsing of a client's situation with a pendulum, a dowsing chart, and a card deck

The most common divining rod is a Y-shaped branch cut from a tree or bush. Old style dowsers and water witches in the United States prefer branches from the witch-hazel, willow, or peach tree and often favor rods of freshly cut or green wood because "wet wood recognizes water."

The dowser holds the Y-shaped dowsing rod with one short end of the Y in each hand and the long end of the Y pointing forward.

Exercising a slight outward pull on the forks of the Y to keep the end under tension, the dowser steadily walks over the area in a regular grid pattern, carefully covering the entire territory to be searched. When the dowser passes over or near the searched-for material, the dowsing rod points down, showing the spot.

Some dowsers clam that they can determine not only the place where the item will be found, but also its depth, as indicated by the strength of the downward pull on the tip of the Y-rod, or the speed at which it "dipped" when they approached the area.

Dowsing with L-Rods

Some dowsers prefer to use a simple pair of L-shaped dowsing rods. These may be made of metal, and generally have loosely fitted metal, wood, or cardboard tube handles which allow the long arms of the rods to spin loosely when the handles are tightly gripped. Professional dowsers often prefer their L-rods to be made of particular metals, especially brass and copper, but many a learner has picked up the practice with a home-made "starter" set of L-rods made of coat-hanger wire sheathed in tube-handles made from discarded and cut-down paper-towel cores.

The dowser holds one rod in each hand, with the short part of the L held in the hand and the long part of the L pointing forward. Walking the territory in a regular grid, the dowser observes the rods. If they turn to the right, the dowser walks to the right. If they turn to the left, the dowser walks to the left. When the dowser passes over or near the searched-for material, the two dowsing rods will either cross or uncross. If the rods stop pointing straight ahead and form an "X," the dowser marks the spot. The field may be walked several times, confirming the marked spot, until the dowser is satisfied that the L-rods have accurately presented the sought-for information.

A single L-rod that has been outfitted with a coil-spring and a bobber tip is known as a Cameron Aurameter after the name of its inventor, Verne Cameron. This type of L-Rod is sometimes used for dowsing the body for signs of health problems.

Mosaic Rod, Rod of Aaron, Wand, or Bobber

Divining rods are also used as revelatory devices. A rod or wand will be held up in the air, and the diviner or rodman will ask a question. If the rod moves, the answer is considered a “yes.” If the rod does not move, the answer is considered a “no.” The rod is believed to be moved by either a spirit or God.

A divining rod of this type is referred to as a “Mosaic rod” or a “Rod of Aaron”, in reference to the Jewish prophet Moses and his brother Aaron, who both used rods given or blessed by the Lord. In addition to its use in divining, the rod of Moses assumed special importance as a magical tool, for as long as Aaron and Hur supported the arms of Moses as he held the rod aloft, the Israelites would win in battle.

When a rod is used for "yes" or "no" divining, its function closely resembles that of a pendulum used in divination.

A rod with a weighted tip is called a bobber, a name that describes its bobbing motion while it is in use.

The Cameron Aurameter

Verne Cameron, a dowser in California, was famed for his ability to find water in the desert and to locate productive oil fields. He also had a bent for engineering and over the years he developed a series of unique dowsing tools, which he manufactured and sold. These included the Cameron Aurameter, a single L-rod containing a coiled spring and a weighted bobber tip; the Cameron Petroleometer, in which a pointer at right angles to a rod rotates freely in a ball-race and is governed by a brake; and the Cameron L-Spring: a home-made device consisting of a long screen-door spring which has been deliberately bent and deformed to the shape of an L-Rod.

Of these inventions, it is the Aurameter which has most assured Cameron's respected place in dowsing history for, after his death, other people manufactured the device or logical variations on it, and it has become renowned as the most sensitive dowsing device for establishing the edges of energy fields. Such fields may include underground streams or rivers, oil pools, or veins of ore, but the Aurameter has also found use as an effective tool for diagnosing health issues by indicating "dips" or "defects" in the magnetic or spiritual aura that radiates outward from the bodies of living beings. In the hands of a trained dowser, these dips can be used to identify specific organs or skeletal landmarks in need of attention, and will locate them more quickly than any other dowsing tool.

Dowsing with a Pendulum

For more information, see Pendulum Divination

Pendulums made from surveyors' plumb bobs, as well as specially constructed hollow pendulums that can contain a small sample or "witness" of the item being sought are used by some dowsers.

Dowsing pendulums, with or without contained witness samples, may be taken into the field, but more often they are hung on a chain or bit of string and employed in the practice of map dowsing or remote dowsing.

Additionally, pendulums are used for the purpose of answering questions or for predicting the future, by establishing mental or spiritual contact with distant or deceased people. They may also be used to answer "yes" or "no" questions, or, if a pendulum board or chart is employed, they are adaptable to in querying the universe or one's own inner senses about open-ended questions, for instance, by inquiring as to the suitability of working with certain people or consuming certain foods or medicines.

Dowsing Methods

Field Dowsing

Field Dowsing is a technique in which the dowser uses a Y-Rod, L-Rod, Aurameter, or pendulum while walking on the land, in order to to locate water, minerals, oil, persons, or old constructions. The movements made by the rod or pendulum while the dowser walks methodically through an area or walks the perimeter and notes the reaction of the tool, will lead the dowser to select a certain location in which the desired or looked-for object or item is to be found.

Historically speaking, field dowsing is the oldest form of this work, but beginning in the 19th century, as accurate maps were developed and made widely available, some dowsers found that they could transfer their gifts to a map. Even today, however, despite the development of Coast and Geodetic Survey Maps, GPS tracking, and satellite imagery available for free on the internet, most water-well dowsing is still conducted in the field.

Map Dowsing

Map Dowsing is a technique in which the dowser uses a pendulum, plumb bob, or a single L-rod over maps to locate oil, minerals, persons, water, or old constructions. The movement of the pendulum or rod over locations on the map indicates to the dowser where searched-for materials can be found. The dowser first determines which direction (left-right, up-down) will indicate “yes” and which “no,” and then moves the pendulum or rod over the map and notes the reaction over certain geographical areas.

Although map dowsing with a pendulum superficially resembles pendulum divination, especially divining the sex of a baby by hanging the pendulum above a pregnant woman's belly as she lies on her back, it is a separate art, as the answers sought are not to "yes" or "no" questions. Rather, the map is used as a stand-in or proxy for the territory to be dowsed. The pendulum indicates areas of interest, which may later be searched in person.

Likewise, when a single L-rod or Aurameter is used to dowse a map, the dowser is generally looking for indications of coordinates to search in the field at a later date. The L-rod may be held with the handle up rather than down, and as it is moved slowly across the map's edge coordinates, the diviner observes "dips" or "lifts" in the rod. The marked dips or lifts along two edge coordinates are then graphed to a plotted point on the map, which is further searched in person.

Map dowsing can be used to pinpoint a location, but it finds more general use as a way to narrow down a large area, in order that the dowser may avoid walking a grid over a several-acre territory. In these cases, the map dowsing draws the dowser's attention to productive smaller areas that may be walked and dowsed in the field for confirmation of the indications first found on the map.

Remote Dowsing

Remote Dowsing is quite similar to map dowsing except that it need not include a map. Rather, the dowser may simply visualize the territory to be dowsed from memory.

Remote dowsing can also be done over the photograph of a person, animal, or location. When it is used over a half-circle pendulum chart laid upon a table, the pendulum can be encouraged to give results much broader than a simple "yes" or "no." By creating different pendulum boards or chartsthat address specific ranges of questions, complex replies may be obtained and assessments may made of a client's situation.


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See Also


  • Divination and Fortune Telling by Dowsing, Doodlebugging, and Water Witching

AIRR Readers & Rootworkers Who Perform This Work for Clients

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Pages in category "Dowsing, Doodlebugging, and Water Witching"

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