Dowsing & how I dowse

I have used dowsing in periods in my life – and also these days – so I thought I would say a few words about it.

My background

As a kid, I learned to dowse for water from my father. We used the classic stick approach, holding sticks of woods and noticing where they would turn and cross each other. I remember it seemed to work and we got the same results when we explored different areas of the garden. (I think we did blind tests.)

Later, when I lived at the Zen center in Salt Lake City, my friend Danny from London gave me a pendulum (I still have and use it) and we did some similar blind experiments and tests. One of us would check something first, and then the other, and we would compare notes. We checked ground energies, food intolerances, and I think even relationship possibilities (!), and we consistently got the same results.


Here are some of the guidelines I use for myself when I dowse, and I suspect much of it is pretty universal for people who use dowsing.

For me, dowsing is a way to amplify my intuition or inner knowing and make it more visible. This means I often don’t need to dowse in order to sense what my inner knowing tells me, but it can also be helpful. It helps me trust my inner knowing a bit more.

The information I get from dowsing is just one piece of information I use when I make decisions. Depending on what the topic is, I use a variety of other sources, most of them the typical sources anyone would use (experience, information, advice from others, etc.).

Although I take the results I get from dowsing seriously, I also hold it very lightly.

When I dowse with a pendulum, I typically use a semi-circle that goes from 0 (bottom left) through 5 (top) to 10 (bottom right). I ask a simple question, move the pendulum, get a sense of which direction(s) there is resistance and which direction there is no resistance, and make a note of the number. (Some chose to wait until the pendulum moves “on its own”. I like to “test-move” it in different directions to see which place on the scale it points to with no resistance, or where it “wants” to move.)

The answers are not more clear than the questions, so it’s important to find clear and unambiguous questions. If the pendulum seems hesitant or confused, it usually means the question I asked is not the right or best question. Perhaps it’s too general and can be split up into two or more questions, or perhaps there is an underlying question that’s more important, or perhaps my real question is slightly different from what I initially asked.

It’s always good to check with someone else and to do it blind (without the second person knowing the first person’s results).

When I dowse, it’s usually for practical things where I am not too invested in a particular answer. (If I am too invested, I don’t trust the answer and I may choose to not dowse or I ask someone else to see what they get.)

These days, I typically dowse on questions relating to my health. For instance, which herbal medicines seem helpful if any, and in what dose. Which supplements? What to prioritize in my diet? Which parts of my energy system is it most helpful to work on? Which emotional issues? And so on.

Again, it’s important to be clear in the questions so I typically ask what would help my health and healing the most, go through a list I have already made, and make a note of the number I get for each. If I am uncertain about some of the results, I often re-check the next day.

Accessing inner knowing

There are many ways to access our inner knowing, and dowsing is just one of them. Another I am enjoying these days is the I can if I want test.

I can do X if I want, and I want. I can do X if I want, and I don’t want to. Try each one and see how the body responds. Does it get more tense or dense? Does it relax and feel lighter? Relax and lighter is a “yes” from the part of the mind connected with the body (or the part of the mind that is the body).

Image from Cosmographia by Sebastian Münster printed in 1550.

Initial notes….

  • Dowsing
    • one source of information, see in context
    • answers not more clear than the questions
    • a way to amplify intuition, inner knowing, the quiet inner voice
    • often good to check with someone else (blind)
      • when learn, when a more important question
    • mostly use for practical things where I am not too invested in a particular answer
      • diet, supplements,
      • prioritize issues to work on
      • prioritize approaches to a particular issue
    • can also check with the body using the “I can… if I want, and I want/don’t want” and see how my body responds
    • ….

These days, I typically dowse to prioritize approaches to my health and I usually do it to check my sense of what’s helpful. For instance, I check different herbal medicines, supplements, and diet. I prioritize which parts of the energy system and which emotional issues to work on.

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