All About Water Witching

Water witching, also known as dowsing, is a process that has been known to help individuals locate ground water for use as a well. It may also be used to find buried metals, oil, ores, gemstones, grave sites, and various other objects or resources. While it is a technique that has been used for centuries, water witching is considered to be a pseudoscience; a claim or belief that is incorrectly presented as being scientific.

There is no scientific proof that dowsing is an effective method of locating water; however, there are many people all over the world who practice this technique and believe that it is the ideal way to find natural resources. In order to find out just how accurate water witching is, it is best to learn more about the history of this time-honored tradition.

The History of Water Witching

Dowsing began in Germany during the 15th century. At that time, it was primarily used to find metals in the ground. Originally believed to be an evil practice, water witching later was declared to be a superstitious ritual in the 1600's. Many who witnessed the act were unsure as to how the process worked, which led to misuse and deceitfulness. In the South of France, the technique was used briefly to track criminals and in the study of heretics. The abuse of the process led to officials forbidding its employment for justice purposes.

In the late 19th and 20th centuries, water witching was used to help farmers and ranchers locate water on their property. During the Vietnam War, there were some US Marines who used the technique to find hidden weapons and tunnels. And in 1986, after an avalanche in Vassdalen, Norway, the Norwegian Army used dowsing to help locate 31 trapped soldiers.

Scientific Explanations for Dowsing

Although there has been no scientific evidence proving that water witching is effective, there have been many studies performed throughout the years in an attempt to explain how dowsing works. These days many people believe that the movement of the tools used is linked to the ideomotor effect, which is a reflexive response that can take place during a psychological phenomenon.

The Betz study, held between 1987 and 1988 in Munich, involved 500 dowsers who were tested for their skill. Those over the study chose 43 of the best water witchers to help with further testing. Over two years there were 843 tests performed. Results showed a high rate of success, eliminating the theory that water witching is simply based on chance.

Other studies that have been performed on the subject of dowsing include the 1990 double-blind Kassel study that took place in Germany. This three day test had 30 dowsers attempt to find water in plastic pipes where water flow was controlled and directed. The results of the test simply showed that their attempts were based on chance and no accurate conclusion was provided.

How to Find Water Using a Dowsing Rod

Equipment that is used during water witching include forked dowsing rods, L-shaped rods, or a pendulum. The Y-shaped dowsing rod has been used for many years and is the preferred tool of choice for many dowsers. Hazel twigs and witch hazel branches are most commonly used in Europe and the United States. Branches from willow or peach trees have also been used. The two ends of the forked branch are held in each hand while the stem points straight ahead. Typically the branches are held palms down as the dowser walks slowly over an area where minerals or water may be found.

Today, many dowsers use different types of dowsing rods, including a pair of L-shaped metal rods. The dowser holds a rod in each hand, with the short arm of the L held in the upright position. When water or resources are found, the rods will cross, one over another, creating an X over the area where the object can be found.

The Pendulum can be made of crystal, metal or other types of materials. This object is suspended on a chain and can be helpful with locating water or minerals. The dowser uses the pendant determine the direction in which to begin their search. It may swing left to right or up and down to indicate either yes or no. While this is not the most common method of water witching, it is a technique that has been used many times in the past.

Well-Known Dowsers in History

Dowsing is an interesting subject that still raises many questions, even in our advanced modern age. The pioneers of this technique have left behind a curiosity that is still frequently practiced today in various parts of the world. Some of the most recognized dowsers in history include Otto Edler von Graeve, A. Frank Glahn, Karl Spiesberger, and Ludwig Straniak.

Water Witching Resources

Water Dowsing -The USGS Water Science School

Use this resource from the USGS website to learn more about water dowsing and the history thereof.

The American Society of Dowsers, Inc.

Useful information, tips and advice on water witching according to dowsers from all over the United States.

The History of Pendulum Dowsing

Pendulum dowsing is a popular form of dowsing that has been used to find not only water, but other natural resources and even had military and maritime applications.

Ohio Buckeye Dowsers

A website for dowsers located in the state of Ohio discusses techniques, share experiences and educate others.

The Pseudoscience of Water Witching

This resource offers information on the unexplained process of dowsing.

How to Use Divining Rods

Learn more about the basics of using dowsing rods and their uses related to finding items, testing the flow of Chi, and divining the unknown.

Find Water Using a Divining Rod

MotherEarthnews.com provides Instructions on how to locate water by using a divining rod.

American Witchhazel - USDA

The USDA Forest Service offers detailed information on the American Witchhazel tree and how its branches are used in dowsing.

Hazel - The Goddess Tree

The branches of the Hazel tree are used in the UK for water witching practices.

Historical Treasures - Dowsing Rod

The history of the dowsing rod and how the tool has changed over the years.

Deviceless Dowsing

Deviceless dowsing is the practice of dowsing without the use of any rod or tool; this article offers more detailed insight into this art.

The Phenomena of Dowsing or Witching

This organization offers a bit of basic information on dowsing and how it works.

The British Society of Dowsers

British Dowsers is a helpful website dedicated to the dowsers of the UK.

Finding Water with a Forked Stick may not be a Hoax

This is an interesting article That presents another different view of dowsing and its validity.

Debunking Dowsing - Smithsonian

James Randi of the Smithsonian offers his insights on dowsing. This resource includes a couple videos.

The Canadian Society of Dowsers

The Canadian Society of Dowsers is an organization and website filled with information provided by the dowsers of Canada.

Toronto Dowsers

An educational site with information about the dowsers of the Toronto area as well as the history of the process and details on how it works.

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