What is Dowsing

Dowsers Society of NSW IncContact usAbout DowsingTeachingField TripsLinks of Interest



 Meeting's are held on the 3rd Sunday of every month. Information concerning our speakers and meetings contained in the calendar above.

The Art of Dowsing, also called 'divining' or 'radiesthesia' is a means of obtaining information which is almost as old as humanity.

Neolithic cave paintings have been found depicting figures holding what are (to any dowser) dowsing rods, and the fact that dowsing is practised by remote African and aboriginal tribes suggests that its practice is widespread and naturally occurring. Pendulums have been found in the pyramids, and it is thought that Moses was very probably a dowser.

Dowsing is usually thought of in the public mind as 'water divining,' i.e., using a forked stick to find underground water, but in modern times finding water forms only a small part of a dowser's activities unless he or she is a farmer, or dowses for farmers.

On the rare occasions when a dowser is sighted practising in public, he or she may be using a forked stick, known to dowsers as a 'V-rod,' looking for something underground' or may be using an 'L-rod,' consisting of one or two L-shaped wires to locate earth currents.

The Pendulum

But what dowsers use more than any other tool is the pendulum.

The beginner in dowsing usually starts with a pendulum, which instrument will remain the dowser's main tool throughout their lives. The pendulum is used to obtain information and answer questions pertaining to almost anything.

The length and size of the pendulum are unimportant, and it will consist of anything that works for the user. Many dowsers like to use a crystal pendulum or one made out of a natural substance, such as wood, depending on taste. The pendulum itself is only a tool, and dowsers believe that they are contacting their Higher Mind or Higher Self, which is part of the Universal Consciousness and therefore has access to all information, and the pendulum's response will be guided by this. The pendulum does not work by itself, and is guided by movements of the dowser's wrist.

The beginning dowser must establish a 'yes' and 'no' response from the pendulum before it can be used to answer questions. There are several ways of doing this. One method is to put two saucers in front of you, one holding vitamin C, and the other holding coffee. Hold your pendulum over first one and then the other, and ask 'Is this substance good for me?'

With the vitamin C you will get a 'yes' response, and with the coffee you will get a 'no' because the body regards tea and coffee as toxins. Another method is to hold your pendulum over the cord of an electric appliance. When it is off, the pendulum will give a 'no' response. Turn it on, and the pendulum will give you a 'yes.'

The pendulum's response will vary with each individual. Usually the response will take the form of a back and forth movement, and a circular movement, and it will be apparent to the beginner what constitutes his or her 'yes' and 'no.'

The pendulum can then be used to answer questions on almost anything, but it needs to be borne in mind that the Higher Self is only going to give such information as is needed for the occasion, and will not necessarily answer unrelated questions.

Usually a dowser will ask 'Can I?' 'May I?' 'Should I?' before dowsing, and will say 'thank you' afterwards.

One of the most frequently uses of the pendulum is to test food you are unsure of. On one occasion I had picked some healthy looking mushrooms from an oval (n0-body else wanted them) and in response to the question "Is this food fit for human consumption?" The answer was "no." I tried the mushrooms anyway, and they tasted terrible. Apparently they had been spraying the lawn. So the whole lot had to go out.

Pendulums are used for map dowsing, which is usually a preliminary to field work of any sort. Map dowsing consists of using a pendulum on a map to locate the desired object, be it underground water, minerals, ruins or a sacred site, and the area of the map will be steadily expanded until an approximate location is found. After that it is followed up in the field.

Pendulums may also be used to clear an area of negative energy, or to confer a blessing.

Pendulums are subject to suggestion. If you want a particular answer strongly enough, you may well influence the pendulum response to give it to you. When dowsing it is necessary to be detached and relaxed.

According to an article on dowsing in BBC Focus for May 2008, many dowsers stress the need to keep their minds in a relaxed yet alert state while dowsing, and brain scans performed on dowsers preparing to begin a search are said to show activity similar to that achieved during meditation. [Which is a way of contacting your Higher Self.]


L-rods or angle rods are L shaped rods usually made of wire and usually made from wire coat-hangers. Their length may vary depending on the user's need. The L-rod is usually held loosely in the hand (or if two are used, hands) where it can swing freely in response to energy lines encountered.

Energy lines criss-cross the Earth's surface in the same way as acupuncture meridians cross the body. They may be positive, negative or neutral, and very often connect sacred sites and places of power.

What usually happens is that the dowser asks to be shown an energy line and then walks in a pre-determined direction, and the L-rod will swing round when the dowser reaches the energy line. This practice is particularly useful for determining energy lines that may be passing through a house and affecting the occupants, or ideally for finding the energy lines on a site before one is built.

 Negative energy lines passing through bedrooms will usually affect people sleeping there, who may sleep badly or become sick, or both. Sometimes a house will get a reputation because successive people living in it all seem to develop cancer. The dowser will establish how thick the energy line is, (breadth will vary according to phases of the moon) and sometimes the solution will be as simple as moving the bed a few feet out of the energy line. Sometimes it will be necessary to change bedrooms, or even move out of the house. Negative energy lines can be re-directed, but this is not always permanent, and proper responsibility must be shown in the sense that the negative line must be re-directed down the road, and not into the next door house!

Negative energy lines are re-directed by inserting short sections of copper piping lengthwise into the ground. A few years ago in Adelaide some dowsers found a powerful negative energy line going directly into a block of migrant housing, with dire consequences for the occupants as it was causing quarrelling and anti-social behaviour.

As everything stood on government land it was necessary for them to insert the copper piping surreptitiously and conceal it in case somebody stumbled on it and pulled it out. But thereafter the housing block saw a distinct improvement in attitude and behaviour.

Dowsers can also ask the L-rod to point in the direction of something they are looking for, or find something, such as a sacred site. L-rods can be used for finding water or objects buried in the ground, in which case the dowser will use two L-rods and ask them to cross when the object has been reached. With some people the L-rod will respond in one hand much better than the other, so they may be seen as one-armed dowsers.


The V-rod or rods is the modern form of that traditional dowsing tool, the forked twig. The modern V-rod will usually consist of two thin, light flexible rods, usually made of plastic and joined by eyes at the end.

The V-rod is used for finding underground features, such as underground water, ruins or minerals, or caves, or treasure.

To work effectively, the V-rod must be tensioned by holding it on the palms of both hands, but so that the rod is still able to dip or rise, which it will do when the feature is reached, which is why it must be flexible. The dowser will then use the pendulum to get an idea of the depth.

The present writer has found when using a V-rod that the rod goes up when finding an archaeological site and down when finding water.

Dowsing for minerals is used extensively in Russia, as is dowsing for archaeological features, and success has been recorded by dowsers dowsing from aircraft flying over sites. Dowsers are called in to archaeological sites on some European and American digs, sometimes with psychometrists (clairvoyants who can see the past.) Very often features will be found where the dowsers have indicated they are, and much time and energy saved in locating them. Unfortunately Australian archaeology is still in the Stone Age, and archaeologists known to be dowsers would be regarded as lunatic fringe and suffer professionally. Likewise, geologists who are dowsers may risk damaging their careers if it becomes known that they dowse.


Bobbers are comparative newcomers to dowsing practice.

A bobber, as its name suggests, is a flexible rod with a knob on the end. It is held horizontally and its movement will indicate the edge of an energy field, or if charka is spinning properly, or the location of a tree spirit or something similar on a tree trunk. The movement may be clockwise for positive or anti-clockwise for negative, or it may move up and down, or sideways.

Dowsing first became public property in the 1920s with the publication of Alfred Watkins book The Old Straight Track. Watkins discovered that a great many towns and sacred sites in Britain were linked by straight lines, for which he coined the term "Ley line" because many of the lines he discovered went through towns whose names ended in "ley" or "leigh." This term is not always used by dowsers who prefer the term "energy line" since it is difficult to define exactly what a 'ley line" constitutes.

Previously dowsing had been confined to individual country practitioners, many of whom were hereditary dowsers, who ran the risk of persecution for witchcraft. To try to gain acceptance during the Middle Ages, dowsers would sometimes bring their rods to be baptised to demonstrate that their work was bona fides. Of course, many witches and druids practiced dowsing, and still do.

Reputable dowsers will not dowse for show and will not try to prove anything to anyone using dowsing, believing that people who are sincere will find out for themselves. Usually the sceptic who demands proof will remain unconvinced anyway, and will insist that the dowser obtained the information another way!

Need or Greed?

Dowsers for the most part believe that dowsing should be used to obtain information, but not necessarily for profit. It is acceptable to use it in a healing practice, and may be acceptable to use it to find gold, but it is not necessarily acceptable to use it to use it to dowse for the Melbourne Cup Winner. Somebody who tries this may find that this is not acceptable to their Higher Self, and so their dowsing may go awry.

Dowsers tend to be mature people and are usually long lived because they believe in being in harmony with nature. It is not at all uncommon to find dowsers still practicing and teaching dowsing well into their 80s and 90s.

Many dowsers are healers and use dowsing in their healing work. Most dowsers are very aware of health and environmental issues, and are sensitive to earth energies.

Religiously speaking dowsers come all types, but most will have studied new age philosophies of one sort or another and are open to new ideas.

There are active dowsing societies in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

In Sydney the Dowsers Society of NSW meets every third Sunday at 2pm at the Community Hall, 44 Gladesville Road, Hunters Hill.

In Melbourne the Dowsers Society of Victoria President Lyn Wood may be contacted
on (03) 9729 2624

Or check the internet.

Gordon de L. Marshall




The opinions expressed by the various authors contained within this website are their own and not necessarily of the Committee and Members of the Dowsers Society of NSW. No responsibility will be accepted for anyone acting or failing to act upon any information offered. Please contact the respective authors for all enquiries and not the society.