La Verge de Jacob (Jacob’s Rod)

As a diversion from the BSD journals, I wanted to draw attention to the following addition to the ‘Books’ section of the website:

It is Jacobs rod : A translation from the French of a rare and curious work, AD 1693, on the art of finding springs, mines and minerals by means of the hazel rod. Translation by T. Welton 1874. The author was a French dowser named Jean Nicolas. This has been added to the books section of the site.

The translation comprises two sections: the translation followed by additional material added by the translator. Only the translation is included here.

It is surprising to read that many of the dowsing methods mentioned in the early BSD journals were in use more than two hundred years earlier. For instance, he mentions the use of the Y rod in preference to the first dowsing rods, which seemed to be simply sticks, the Y rod having better movement possibilities. He also describes the use of samples, These might be attached to the end of the Y rod, or perhaps the rod was touched against an example of whatever was sought.

He mentions some applications of dowsing, other than simply water divning. For instance, searching for stolen goods, settling boundary disputes. His main areas of interest appear to be minerals, ie seeking mines, underground streams. But the rod could also be used for retrieving stolen goods and the perpetrators or settling boundary disputes. But

One particularly interesting point in the text, is that he seems to be the first to write about “the Bishop’s rule” for depthing water (page 41) (this has often been erroneously ascribed to the bishop of Grenoble and the French dowser Bleton, in 1770).

Finally, regarding explanations for the dowsing effect, he afirms that these are of a physical nature, but then in his day, suggesting that it was due to the “emanation of subtle bodies”. But the alternative was to suppose it was some supernatural work, perhaps of the Devil!