Theory and ideas and explanations about what dowsing is.

The History Of Dowsing

The History Of Dowsing

When people talk about the history of dowsing, they usually want to explore how far back it can be traced. This has led to interpreting Bible verses and even prehistoric rock art. None of this is provable. But that does not deter people from proclaiming what they feel is their ‘truth’.

I take a different view on the history of dowsing. I don’t believe that it needs to have a history, or even that any history can be produced for it. The reason for this stance is based on the idea, which virtually ever dowser agrees with, that dowsing is a natural human ability.

Given that idea, then it becomes an impossibility to point to a time when dowsing was not used in one form or another throughout human history, whether it was written or not. At some point, some early human found that he or she could ‘know’ where water was, or whether a particular plant was healthy to eat or not. Or they ‘knew’ which way to go in a strange country, or where to dig for metal ore.

In this sense, dowsing is very much like breathing; everyone can do it, it’s not unusual, so why mention it as something special?

In that sense, dowsing needs no historians. It is a continual presence in humanity. However, that doesn’t stop people trying to prove it has a long and wonderful history.

However, there are two other better reasons for looking at the history of dowsing. The first is to see how it has been perceived over time and the second is to see how it has changed in that time.

The first is easier to answer. Dowsing, because it lacks a clear explanation and has no single accepted theory about how it works, has usually been viewed with skepticism. Such skepticism has either been outrightly hostile: the Catholic Church, for example, or it has been ignored and dismissed as the work of charlatans whose only interest is to hoodwink the public. Dowsing has been identified as the work of the devil, even though some of the best dowsers as well as the best objective investigators have been members of the church. In the vast majority of cases, dowsers have been viewed with suspicion and any successes they have had have been put down to luck or chance.

The second way of looking at the history of dowsing is to examine how it has been used over time. The earliest competent references speak of using it for ore location. Later, it was used more extensively (i.e., it was noted down) for water dowsing. Although there were some references to what was, at first, referred to as moral dowsing (dowsing about other people and what they had or had not done), the nineteenth century saw an explosion in varieties of applications. Health dowsing became very popular and so did a whole slew of other applications, so that, by now, dowsing is being used in a vast range of activities which would never have occurred to its earliest recorded practitioners.

To gain a better overview of this subject, refer to The Dowsing Encyclopedia which is able to give a far better treatment to this and many other dowsing subjects.

What do you think about this version of the history of dowsing? Add your comments in the section below.

Dowsing – An Introduction


This is something which can cause a lot of arguments. People want explanations about how dowsing works, they want a theory about it so they feel they can understand it. Of course, there are those who will always think and believe that dowsing is a fraudulent activity, carried out by scoundrels on unsuspecting members of the public.

I am not interested in trying to persuade those people about dowsing. You will either choose to believe that it is real and genuine or not.

For those who do so choose to believe that there is something of interest, something worth exploring in dowsing, many of them will want to have a believable explanation as to why it works.

It has to be said that there are plenty of theories behind dowsing, theories about how dowsing works. However, you should also be aware that no one single theory has been found to satisfactorily explain what goes on when dowsing takes place.

Dowsing has been around for many thousands of years. It’s earliest recorded use was for locating minerals. Only later was it used extensively for locating water, which is now the most widely known application of this skill.

In all that time, there have been many, many theories put forward to explain how dowsing works. Electricity or magnetism, or some aspect of quantum physics or a connection with something more spiritual, have all been offered as theories. Is any one of them correct or are all of them wrong?

Nobody knows for certain. Those who have been interested in examining dowsing have usually put forward a theory which, they feel, would explain just that one aspect of dowsing. The trouble is that there are so many different applications of dowsing that what would be acceptable as a theory in one application won’t work for another. For example, dowsing for water by actually being on site requires an explanation. But that explanation would, in all likelihood, not fit dowsing for water by being miles and miles away from the location and using a pendulum over a map of the area. Nor would it satisfactorily explain something like health dowsing.

Perhaps it will end up with there being one major theory behind dowsing and several subsets of that theory to explain the different applications.

If there is to be a workable theory, then it might be that it involves a clearer understanding of what we all know and accept in our everyday lives. I’m referring to intuition. We have all experienced it and know what it is and that, more often than not, it works. But none of us really know how it works.

That is similar to the situation dowsers find themselves in. They know that it works well for the majority of the time. They know it works in various areas of life, but none of them really knows how it works. But the point is, it does.

What is your theory about how dowsing works? Do you think we even need one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below

Dowsing For Beginners

Dowsing For Beginners

There are two ways of looking at this subject. One is to give simple, clear instructions on how to dowse using a pendulum, as that is the popular tool most closely associated with dowsing. So it would really be about pendulum dowsing for beginners.

The other way would be to look at dowsing from a wider perspective and help any beginners gain a better understanding of what this skill is really about instead of focusing on the tool or tools.

It might even be possible to put the two together. Let’s see!

Firstly, dowsing is a simple, natural human skill whereby you can get answers to questions which your brain cannot answer. When you see someone dowsing for water, they are getting an answer to a question about where to drill for water.

Without a good, precise question, any dowser will not get a good, precise answer. Forming a good, precise question takes some practice and we have another video about that you can watch.

Secondly, and this is really important, you have to be in the right state of mind to ‘get’ the answer. By that, I mean a calm, unemotional, detached state where you don’t care what the answer is, just that you are curious about what it is.

Those are the two most important things to remember.

Notice that there has been no mention of any tool such as a pendulum. The reason for that is, you don’t actually need a tool in order to dowse at all. As it’s a natural human skill, then your body is the best tool to use. If you are using a pendulum, if you are pendulum dowsing that is, then you should understand that the pendulum moves because it is your body, your arm and hand, which are making it move. The pendulum just exaggerates the movement. But you don’t need it.

Dowsing for beginners often becomes way too complicated and reliant upon tools and yes/no questions, making it seem so simple that anyone can learn to dowse inside ten minutes. But here’s something important you should know, if you are just starting out dowsing with a pendulum and it’s rarely acknowledged. But it’s important enough to emphasize right now.


Dowsing is simple, without a doubt. But, and it’s a big, important but, just because something is simple does not make it easy. Take tennis. Hitting a ball with a racket is simple. Hitting it hard, over a net, with spin or slice, to land in a very precise area time after time, is not easy. Yet, the same principle is involved, that of hitting a ball with a racket. Tennis is simple, but not easy.

The same thing applies to dowsing. Asking a question and getting an answer sound simple. But doing those things right consistently is not easy. Dowsing for beginners looks easy, but it requires practice to make it actually become easy. And the reason for that is that dowsing is a skill. And skills require practice.

Do you think dowsing is understood to be a skill you need to practice, or not? What about the way you were taught? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below.

How Dowsing Works

(Transcript is below, if you'd prefer to read)

How dowsing works

This is one of the most common questions about this simple skill. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest to answer.

And the reason for that is that nobody really knows the answer. Many people have ideas, guesses and suppositions, but nobody really knows for sure.

So, if you’re looking for the one and only really true answer to the question of how dowsing works, then I can’t tell you.

I can’t tell you how any sort of dowsing works. Whether you use a pendulum to dowse with or no tool at all, the answer is the same: I don’t know how it works. I do know how the pendulum moves but that doesn’t explain why it moves.

But, don’t be disheartened. Just because there is no simple and clear explanation doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to suggest ideas!

So, let’s have a look at one idea in particular.

If we recall that dowsing is a simple and natural skill which provides answers to questions your brain can’t provide, then, in order to answer the question about how dowsing works, we really have to talk about where those answers might come from.

Now think about intuition. We all have intuition. It seems to be something which is basic to being human. And we all have intuitive hits. I guarantee you have had the experience of knowing something without understanding how you knew it. It could have been a feeling, a voice, a flash of a vision about something. Whatever it was, it did not seem as though your mind was involved in it at all.

And that is just the same as in dowsing. The only difference is that, when you have an intuitive hit, it could be about anything and at any time. It could have been the answer to something that had been bothering you all day long, or about suddenly realizing what you need to do about a certain situation. We accept that as normal and natural. But, in dowsing, because we ask a specific question and have the right mindset to allow the answer to appear, it seems, somehow, more magical or less understandable. In other words, in dowsing we expect the answer. When we have an intuitive hit the answer is unexpected.

But, really, is there any difference in where the answers come from?

It’s doubtful.

Rather than waste time on working out how dowsing works, it might be more useful to accept that it really does work. And, more than that, it really does work for everyone. It’s a simple, natural and above all, useful skill which every one of us can use in our daily lives.

I don’t know how a cellphone works, but that doesn’t stop me from using one. And that should be the same attitude we should all have about dowsing.

Happy dowsing!

Do YOU have a favorite theory about how dowsing works? Why not share it in the comments section below?

Does Dowsing Work?

Does dowsing work?

(Transcript below, if you prefer to read)

This question is nearly always asked by those who haven’t yet got into dowsing. Sometimes, it’s a polite question asked by someone who is totally skeptical about the whole thing.

The implication behind it is that they are really wondering whether dowsing is 100% accurate. And, maybe that’s exactly what you have in mind and that’s why you are watching this video.

But, if that’s what you are asking, then it’s not really a fair question. After all, if I were to ask you whether your car worked all the time, you would say, yes. But what about that one time when it didn’t start? Or when you had a puncture, or ran out of gas? These are times it doesn’t work.

It’s pretty much the same with everything in life. Nothing is 100% certain. Or, as Benjamin Franklin said, ‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

So, if we accept that as true, then it’s a little easier to give a fair answer to the question, ‘does dowsing really work?’

First, take water dowsing. It’s about the best known use of this simple, natural skill. Not everyone is great at finding sites for water wells. But, amongst those who are good at it, their percentage  success rate is in the mid to high 90’s. That’s pretty phenomenal.

Of course, if you are skeptical about water dowsing, then you’re not really interested in finding out whether dowsing works or not. I have no interest in trying to persuade anyone that dowsing works. You have to come to that conclusion yourself.

Of course, for myself and Maggie, this is really a no-brainer. We obviously believe that dowsing works because we have seen the results of it so often in our lives. We’ve also seen it being used successfully by many of our clients.

The only way you are going to get an answer which makes sense for you is to actually try it for yourself.

But, if you are going to try it, then be fair and go about it in the right way. That is, learn to ask a very specific question and then get into the proper dowsing state, which is a state of emotional detachment, and then dowse.

Once you can do those things successfully, you will be in a better position to answer for yourself the question about whether dowsing works or not.

From the success of many, many people over time and around the world, it would seem true to say that dowsing is a simple and natural skill which is accessible by every human being on the planet. Whether or not anyone chooses to use it or not is, of course, up to them.

I hope you do use it for yourself!

Happy dowsing!

Do you think this is a valid question to be asking about dowsing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Many Definitions Of Dowsing?

Shakespeare was right. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. But does that mean we don't need to agree to a name for that flower?

What if you thought a Peace rose (a particular variety of rose) was white, and someone else thought it was red and yet another person thought it was yellow? When you had a discussion about a Peace rose, you might even get into an argument, because your assumption about color didn't match the other person's assumptions. That is where defining your terms comes in.

Check your dictionary, and you will find that define means: ‘state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of; mark out the boundary or limits of'. A definition makes something ‘definite, distinct or clear'.

How can anything have more than one definition? It can't. By definition, it can't. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.) A Peace rose must be a certain agreed upon color or range of colors. By definition: ‘The cultivar has large flowers of a light yellow to cream color, slightly flushed at the petal edges with crimson-pink.'

What would happen if someone came along and started pointing to a dark crimson rose and telling all his followers that was a Peace rose (whether through ignorance or for a personal agenda)? What if his followers, through trust and ignorance, told others that a Peace rose was red. What if that went on for years? At some point, you would have camps that were committed to the perception of Peace roses being red and others to the correct definition. Would it be proper to then say both colors were Peace roses?

I had such an experience today, when surfing the net looking at various dowsing sites. I ran across this statement on the site of the American Society of Dowsers: “There are many definitions of dowsing.” ( I am not taking this out of context.) How could anyone not understand that a definition makes something definite, distinct or clear?

Perhaps the person meant to say ‘there are many applications of dowsing'. We all know this to be true. You can use dowsing in an infinite variety of ways, but it is always the same thing: asking a question and getting an answer. Dowsing is a way of getting answers to questions your rational mind cannot answer. That's the definition of dowsing.

You can tweak that definition to make it even clearer by adding a phrase or using better wording, but the intent and meaning will remain the same. That is all dowsing is and all it will ever be.

I am sure some readers will think it is being picky to write a post about something like a definition, but in the past 15 years we have seen people unilaterally decide to redefine dowsing, to use the word ‘dowsing' in ways it was never intended to be used.

Some people want to call healing or intention dowsing, simply because they have a pendulum in their hands. More than any other factor, this movement to change the definition of dowsing has led to the decline of dowsing, to the perception of dowsing as chaotic and scattered, to mis-communication and conflict among dowsers and to downright wrong teachings about dowsing that have now reached the highest levels of dowsing organizations, as seen on the ASD site.

If we all agree to use the proper definition of dowsing, we will be better able to communicate among ourselves about this exciting skill. We will be able to teach it better. We will attract new people with our clarity of thought and not confuse them with fuzzy thinking.

It's time to be impeccable with our words about dowsing. Pendulum healing is NOT dowsing. Intention is NOT dowsing. Both are wonderful things, but let's stop mis-communicating and calling them dowsing. Let's call them what they are.

Have you found that not all dowsers mean the same thing when they refer to dowsing? Have you ever read a book or gone to a presentation about dowsing, only to find it wasn't what you expected? Share your experiences in the Comments below.


Why Dowse? Why Bother?

Dowsing v Running

Why dowse? What's the purpose behind it all? So many times you see excellent reasons about what things you can do with dowsing, but hardly anybody takes the time to try to tell you why dowse in the first place!

So, let me give you an analogy. Let's take exercise and look at that. But, more specifically, walking, jogging, and running. They are all just ways of moving, so let's bundle them all under the heading ‘running' for argument's sake.

People know the benefits of running. They know it's good for them in various ways. They know there are various levels, from the occasional stroll to Olympic marathon and everything in between. There are all sorts of things you can buy to help you; clothing, shoes, monitors, plans, diets and drinks, for example. They are all built around making your running experience better for you or to encourage you.

Yet, the one thing central to all this is that everyone who does running, to whatever level, knows and appreciates that it is good for them. It is beneficial in various ways. That's the central theme, if you like, about running.

So, if you were to ask someone why they were running, they would answer using that beneficial argument.

Why dowse?

But, if you were to ask different dowsers why they dowse, they would give you different answers which would be all over the map! And that is because the central reason for dowsing, the reason ‘why', has been lost in the ‘how' and in the ‘with what'.

The central benefit has been lost in the fanfare of techniques and tools.

Why dowse? Have you really thought about it?

If you run, you do it because it's healthy. That's a given. But you dowse because…..

Well, there is, in fact, a central reason, an answer to the ‘why dowse?' question, which is simple, elegant, plain and true. Dowsing is so practical, so immensely useful, so utilitarian, that not dowsing is like blindfolding yourself. If you don't dowse, you are cutting yourself off from something which enlarges and enriches your life because you are depriving yourself of an extra sense, an extra ability.

It's not what you do with dowsing that's central to it all. It's that you dowse which is more important. Because, no matter what you do, no matter what your life is, dowsing fits, dowsing complements and enlarges it.

In the same way as you walk, jog or run for your health, you dowse to enrich your life. It's that simple.

What answer would you give if you were asked, ‘Why dowse?'. Let us know in the comments section below

What is a dowser?

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A Simple Question

The question, ‘What is a dowser?' will often be asked by someone who is either a total newbie (and that's OK, we all were once), or someone who only heard of dowsing in the previous 5 minutes.

It is a question with two possible answers, either of which can be correct.

What Is A Dowser? Two Answers

One of the simplest tools you can make to dowse with is a small nut on a piece of string or dental floss of what-have-you. It has led to the description of dowsing as being about ‘a nut on the end of a piece of string.'

That description is, of course, deliberately double-edged. The nut on one end of the string is the tool. and that could also be called a dowser, because it is the thing which shows the dowsing response.

On the other hand, of course, the other meaning of the ‘nut' is the person holding the string. And that person can also be called a dowser, because that, presumably, is what they are doing.

So the answer to the question ‘What is a dowser?' can be found at either end of the tool. :-)

But don't think you have to be a ‘nut' to dowse. Far from it! In fact, I think it takes a good deal of sanity to start dowsing…

You can watch this video about what is a dowser to see the answers to the question.

The Evolution of Dowsing

Where Is It Going?

Dowsing has been around for at least hundreds of years. In all cases, dowsing is depicted as a process using some kind of tool for finding water and minerals. While some may argue that dowsing for water is bunk, it has been scientifically proven to be the real deal.

Credibility cover
For in depth information on a scientific investigation of water dowsing, see “The Credibility of Dowsing” by Professor William Barrett, edited by Nigel Percy.

What's really interesting is that dowsing didn't change much at all for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Then sometime in the mid-twentieth century, a new wrinkle was added to dowsing. People started using dowsing to find not only water and underground minerals and pipes, but lost objects and information about all kinds of subjects. Suddenly they realized that dowsing has always been about asking questions and getting answers via a non-rational method. So why not ask about other stuff besides where to find water?

These new dowsers, “New Age” dowsers, tended to use a different tool from water dowsers. Since they were sitting while dowsing, they didn't need cumbersome L-rods, or Y-rods that can slap you in the face. A simple weight on the end of a string gave a nice yes or no response. These pendulums had many historical uses not associated with dowsing. Perhaps the most common was during hypnosis sessions. But that fact was soon to be lost…

Naturally, these new dowsing enthusiasts wanted to differentiate what they were doing from boring water dowsing. So they called it ‘spiritual dowsing'. They dowsed all kinds of cool things, like the types of energies at sacred spots, causes of health issues and even realized that they could communicate with animals and advanced beings using yes/no questions, which really pushed the envelope.

Still, at that time, everyone realized dowsing was just about asking questions and getting answers you cannot get rationally. But people are human. And what happened next was perhaps predictable. Dowsing had always been categorized as a psychic power. This didn't give it credibility. Quite the opposite. But it had one big effect. Suddenly it seemed possible for anyone to be psychic, because anyone could swing a pendulum. This was not true of other psychic powers, which seemed unattainable to the average person. And that opened the floodgates.

Dowsing is just a natural human skill. Anyone can learn it. Like all skills, it takes training and practice to become good. Like all skills, some people are better than others at it. But since it was labeled psychic, and since almost anyone can get a yes/no answer with a pendulum in 5 minutes of ‘training', lots of people were attracted to the idea of dowsing.

The problem with evolution of dowsing…

Unfortunately, those who promoted dowsing were so eager to expand the interest in it that they downplayed the practical and the real. They made dowsing out to be a pendulum and a yes/no answer, just to keep it simple. Dowsing came to be associated with the tool, as if anyone holding a pendulum was dowsing. Maybe many of them didn't realize the inaccuracy or disservice they were doing to dowsing in the long run. They saw it as magical, and they sold the sizzle, not the steak, a typical mlm tactic. Harry Potter fans loved the idea of a pendulum as a magic wand. Now a normal person could be Harry Potter. Some gurus took the next step and began to tell people that was the case. Just swing your pendulum and you can change the world to whatever you wish. Suddenly, dowsing was not dowsing at all anymore…

Of course, people will always be attracted to silver bullets and magic wands. We all want easy solutions to our problems, even though we know at heart that they don't exist. We all have an innate laziness and desire to do things the easy way. This isn't bad, but we need a dose of realism, or we get snookered. This attitude of selling dowsing as a magic wand has lowered the credibility of dowsing and steered people away from using it properly and meaningfully, which is really a sad thing. It has caused them to believe they need no training or practice to become good dowsers. It has steered them away from honing their skill and using it practically to change their lives.


We'd like to see dowsing be understood as originally intended. Dowsing is asking questions and getting answers. It isn't intention. It isn't a healing method. It isn't a transformational method. This whole swing a pendulum thing is out of control. Just today I saw in a dowsing forum that a new member underwent a past life regression with someone who had a pendulum and thus called the process dowsing. She was wondering how dowsing does past life regressions. Sheesh! You can do anything with a pendulum, but unless you are asking questions and getting answers, it is NOT dowsing. The pendulum is NOT dowsing. In fact, we don't use tools for dowsing much at all anymore. We don't teach dowsing with tools until we've taught it without them. It's too easy to confuse the tool with dowsing, as history has proven.

It may be a long road to restore the integrity of dowsing and get people to regard it as it really is. Even in the 90s, when I was learning dowsing, many of the courses I attended had elements of confusion in them, saying that the use of intention while holding a pendulum is dowsing. It took me years to unravel the many things dowsing is called and understand the real truth. It may be a losing battle to try and share this with others, because what we say asks people to study and practice and be impeccable with their word. And that isn't sexy. We're selling the steak, not the sizzle. But we believe there are lots of people out there who want to do dowsing the right way, and we look forward to supporting them in discovering just how powerful real dowsing can be. And in the end, it does open doors to transforming your life in ways you never imagined. So it is actually quite magical. You just have to work a bit to discover the magic.

Do you agree with this assessment of the evolution of dowsing? How do you see it developing (or not) in the near future? Share your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below