By Robin M. Strom-Mackey
When I pull out my dowsing rods at an investigation I get a mixed reaction, from those extremely interested in their use to those who feel the rods are useless and wonder why a paranormal researcher would bring a tool for finding water to a paranormal investigation.
A little research into the subject shows, however, that dowsing rods are an ancient tool that have been used to find, not only water deposits, but minerals, metals and petroleum. At the same time they’ve been used by occultists as a tool of divination. And yes, many paranormal researchers are incorporating them into their investigations.
The rods are a tool used by the dowser to tap into energy sources, which are believed to be channeled through the user’s subconscious, and manifested by the movement of the rods. Carl Jung, noted Swiss Psychiatrist theorized that the subconscious was the portion of our psyche capable of tapping into the collective human pool of knowledge. It’s also the portion of the psyche many believe capable of picking up and interpreting psi or ESP information. In other words the rods are thought to be a tool that reads messages from the user’s subconscious, and is therefore divining that which the user directs it to divine.
Spinning Rods and Yes/No Communication
In the About.com article by Stephen Wagner entitled, Dowsing: Subconscious and the Paranormal, Director of Western New York Paranormal of Rochester. Dwayne Claud explains, “researchers will often use these instruments to demonstrate through a physical means a reading of spiritual energy.” For example, the dowser will ask the instrument to ‘show the energy in the area,’ and their pendulum or rod will spin. The faster the spin, the more energy that is registering in the area.
Another way to use the rods is as a form of Morse Code communication with the spiritual world. The user can set simple parameters of communication and then ask a series of questions, the simplest allowing for yes/no responses. For example a yes response is often the rods crossing, while a no response is the rods uncrossing. I’ve often seen dowsers use the uncrossed position as a neutral position as well, directing the rods to return to the uncrossed position in between questions in readiness of the next question.
Using an EMF detector to measure the electro magnetic energy in the area can further confirm any unusual energy fields. Therefore, it’s usually recommended that the rods be used in conjunction with an EMF detector. The Long Island Paranormal Investigators group list dowsing rods on their website as a tool they incorporate in their investigations. The group gauges the range of dowsing rods as reactive to energy fields 0 – 2 feet away from the user, and estimate that the field increases up to a ¼ mile, if a body of water is in the surrounding area. The article also suggests that while the rods can be made of any type of material, such as wood or metal, that users seeking electro magnetic field anomalies should use rods made of metals.
Holding and Working the Rods
No rods? Most experts agree that rods can be made as easily as purchased, although many apparently believe brass to be the metal of choice. Several suggested bending metal coat hangers into a L-shape. Obviously a piece of wood in a Y shape can also be pressed into service.
When using L-Rods, the rods should be held with hands as flat as possible, not tilted, so that gravity can’t be counted as a contributing factor in the spin or movement. Hands should be loose around the rods so as not to restrict their movement in any way. Brian of Nature Sprite.com suggests in his video that arms should be held straight out from the body, so that the rods don’t pick up the user’s energy. He further instructs the user to use the index finger to curl around and hold the rod just below the bend, and to rest the handles against the palm of the hand. The hands should be held about 9 inches apart with the palms of the hands facing each other vertical to the floor. The dowser can either walk about with the rods in order to test different areas of the environment, or stay in one spot with the rods and invite whatever energy is in the area to come to them.
Learning and Calibrating the Rods
Several sources suggest that some type of meditation or prayer is necessary before using the rods. Whatever the user’s spiritual background, all the sources I found agreed that the user should be in a relaxed state before attempting to use the rods Sherry Sims, in the article Dowsing Rods on Spiritual.com contends that the use of the rods is not a matter of control but of channeling. When using new rods she suggests the user ask the rods what is a “yes” response and which a “no” first, allowing the rods to dictate to the user the way in which they should be used. Sims says that after each question and response the user should thank the rods mentally for answering.
It has already been established that the rods can be used for yes/no communication. Sims suggests that after the yes/no signal has been agreed upon by user and rods, that the new dowser should then warm up to the use of the rods by asking simple, direct, non-emotional questions such as, “is today Monday?” or, “is my sweater blue” She indicates that the questions need to be specific. For example instead of asking the rods whether or not you will buy a new car, ask instead if you will buy a car in the next three months. It is important that the dowser be unemotionally attached to the question, in order to not direct the rods but to allow them to channel for the proper response.
In the Wikipedia article “How to Use “L” Type Dowsing Rods” by of Jack H et.al. you can train or test your ability to use dowsing rods. Make a few number cards, and then place them on the floor, face up, in a line with the cards about 1-2 feet apart. Starting at one end of the line, hold up the rods as indicated and ask the rods to identify one of the numbers with a yes response. For example, you might ask the rods to give a yes response over the number three. Walk slowly down the line until the rods give you the correct yes response for the number.
Next, close your eyes and visualize the number you would like the rods to find. Again walk down the line and wait for the yes response, pausing over each one and see if the card you requested is the one to which the rods respond.
Finally, take the cards and shuffle them randomly, placing them face downward on the floor 1-2 feet apart. Visualize or ask the rods to find a number, and walk the line pausing over each card. When the rods give the signal for yes, see if the response was correct. If the rods are not responding properly the author suggests several reasons; either that the user is not relaxed enough, is holding the rods improperly, is psychically challenged or is simply too skeptical of their usage.
Cheats and Sneaks?
I’ve spoken with many investigators that have gone on ghost tours and seen amazing things that left them questioning the validity of the experiences. A question that seems to come up on message boards and blog sites often, is whether the rods can be cheated. To them I say yes, certainly it is a simple thing to cheat with the rods. A simple, subtle flick of the wrist, hardly noticeable by watchers, can set the rods spinning. Again, before seeing is believing one should confirm activity with an EMF detector. However, we are a society mired in scientific dogma, believing anything electronic must needs be more reliable than divining rods. Before putting all your faith in EMF detectors, please note that these too are easily cheated. EMF detectors detect electricity - any electricity. That includes live walkie talkies and cell phones. Put a live walkie talkie in your pocket and move a K2 meter in front of it, and voila you’ve got spikes. I would suggest if you pay the price of admission at one of these ghost tours you consider what you experience as entertainment not valid spiritual activity.