Mr Benjamin Tompkins, a water diviner, gives an account of his 30 years of practice. In it, he tells us that he assisted Sir William Barrett who wrote one of the first in-depth studies of dowsing the results of which were published as “The Divining Rod”. In this book, there is a short biography of Tompkins, in which he is described as one of the successful professional English dowsers of the early 20th century. He came to dowsing purely by chance, having observed the work of another famous dowser named Mullins, and without any tuition, it seems that he had instant success. This led him to advertise his services and he received many engagements in most parts of the country, and as far afield as South Africa. His list of patrons is very long and impressive.
He appears to be firmly of the opinion that water radiates some signal, relating to its presence, which enters his body through his feet. Perhaps this was because he felt the dowsing effect like a “current” passing through his body. He must also have thought that this signal was electromagnetic in nature, since he asserts that insulation between the feet and ground stopped the dowsing action in him.
When attempting to locate the best position for a borehole, he utilised his observation that several underground water courses, each of which he “felt” with the movement of his rod, would converge on to a point, that he termed the “head of the spring”. Interestingly, he notes that when he stood at this spot, his (Y shaped) dowsing rod would continue to revolve in his hands (this is an effect noted by many dowsers in the literature). There must have been quite a force at play in the rod, since he seems to have a difficult time in preventing it from revolving. To me, this suggests the possibility of a psychokinetic effect on the rod.
He is a little vague on how he measures depth, it appears to rely on a feeling, rather than using any “rule”. Perhaps this is professional concealment? Regarding quantity, he seemed to estimate it by measuring the number and size of flows into the spring head.
Finally, he says that water diviners are born and not made, and asserts that his own family have better talent than most and indeed the effect on one of his sons seems truly overwhelming, suggesting a well-developed dowsing sensitivity.
His article is “The theory and practice of water divining by the divining rod”: