Dowsers ae perhaps famed for their ability to discover
underground water, but there are a number of articles in the BSD journals that
describe another ability – that of diverting the flow of underground
water, without any apparent physical interaction. This ability was reported in
the early days of the Society’s existence, when the work of dowsers was largely
focussed on divining for underground water, or minerals. Note that a dowser
walking along the ground experiences one or more a dowsing reactions
above an underground stream. The idea in the early days, was that water gave out some sort of “emanation”,
or radiation, which was picked up by the dowser. From these actions and using
their experience, they can deduce where to drill for water and how deep to
drill. From the beginning there was uncertainty about whether it was the
dowsing reaction that was being diverted, or the actual “stream” of underground
There is another aspect to this. As time has progressed,
water divining has become a fringe activity in dowsing, replaced by concerns
for health. The notion arose that underground streams could be deleterious to
one’s health, if they passed under homes or places of work. For instance, there was the idea of the
“black stream” that was particularly nasty. So much attention in recent times
has been paid to the detection of these streams and how they could be diverted
away from the places they supposedly flow under.
I have outlined the discussion below, based on articles
in the BSD journal. This whole area of
dowsing is confusing and opinionated. Apologies for the length of the post, but
I think it is possible to tease out some interesting conclusions related to
In the first article,
“Dowsing experiences in Australia”, the transcript of a talk given by a
Mr Hawker to the BSD in December 1938.
The article is an interesting account of one diviner’s
20 year, during which he helped to find 300 successful boreholes. In the
article, he mentions another dowser (probably the renowned dowser, Mr H. Busby), who demonstrated an
extraordinary ability. It seemed that he could apparently divert the flow of an
underground stream, by placing a flat stone on the ground immediately above the
centre of the stream, and then striking this stone with a hammer for several
minutes. In fact, what was actually observed was a divergence in the dowsing
reaction felt at the surface, indicating the path of the stream. After the
hammering was stopped, the stream appeared to take up its original course
Several months later, this observation was taken up by
one of the greatest diviners of the 20th Century – Evelyn Penrose (the
life of whom has already been descried in the blog posts of 31-12-2020 and
01-01-2021). She penned an article “An experience and a difficulty”.
In this, she described repeating the hammer and stone test
over an underground stream, with two other diviners. After several minutes
there was no effect. But after an hour, she recounts that despite the bedrock
being granite, the water signal had diverted into a semicircle around her of 9
feet radius, and the water depth had risen by 70 feet. However, she was still
unsure whether she had actually diverted the water, or only the dowsing
reaction. Therefore, she suggested that it was necessary to repeat the test on
an underground stream that clearly issued from the side of a bank or cliff. Any
effect on the water might then be observed.
In his article, in issue No26, p65, “The Radial Track”,
Mr A. Cook took up the report of Miss Penrose and performed some experiments of
his own. He concluded that, “The water is not affected with the striking of a
stone above any stream, but the radiations from the stream are.” Here the
“radiations” refer to what he considered gave rise to the dowsing reaction at
the surface. He also concluded, “It is not necessary to have a stone to strike
– just beat the earth with a hammer or stick, or even stamp heavily with the
foot.” And in one instance the hooves of cattle had diverted the path of a
stream which he had earlier surveyed.
Over time, other dowsers became interested in the
In a letter to the editor (issue No36, p83), a Mr
Morton claimed to have diverted two streams using the hammering method.
J. Wheeler wrote a letter to the journal, about “displaced
He had dowsed the line of an underground stream and a
borehole was being put down, but for various reasons, it was not positioned on
the dowsed streamline, but 10 feet to one side. He noticed that during the
drilling the course of his dowsing reactions over the stream had moved to lie
along a path directly over the bore hole, but when the drilling stopped, the
reactions relocated to the original path of the stream. Later, by banging on
the ground to one side of the streamline, he was able to reproduce the movement
of the line of reaction.
It was sometime before a dowser found a convenient
stream to test miss Penrose’s ideas. R. Erlank, wrote to the BSD (issue No49,
p231), about their test on an underground stream, with a reasonable flow, that emerged
from underground. It seems that this dowser successfully displaced the path of
the stream by several feet, but this had no obvious influence on the issuing
flow. It appeared to them that the movement was only the stream indication at
the surface and not the water.
Several months later, Miss Penrose wrote another
article “Unblocking wells”.
It tells of her experiences using the hammering technique to unblock a well, in which the previously good supply of water flowing into the well, was now only a “trickle”. By dowsing, the blockage appeared to be 10 feet from the well. She used the hammer/stone technique to draw the water back to the blockage point and beyond, at which point no water was seen entering the well. From this she concluded “… it was an absolute proof that water could be stopped from running in the ground.” She then drove the water a further 16 feet away from the blockage, before ceasing the hammering action and allowing the water to return towards the well. She monitored the return journey by dowsing. The water passed the blockage and entered the well, but this time water entered the well as a stream. She had successfully unblocked the well.
In issues No81 and No103, p30 are reports by the
dowser Countess Anka Von Knoblauch.
She appeared to specialise in diverting underground
streams. Such streams, she considered harmful, if they flowed under homes or places
of work. This was an idea that had been introduced into European dowsing in the
1930s. She seems to have heard about “..an Australian dowser who found he could
shift underground streams by beating two stones against each other..”. For her, hammering a piece of iron seemed to
work faster, so she used a hammer and specially made steel hand anvil. She
never appears to test for the actual presence of water through drilling and seems
to have relied solely on using her dowsing reactions. One has to ask, was the
dowsing effect really due to the actual presence of water?
Michael Guest submitted an interesting review article
“Through dowser’s eyes. A survey of Deraying Techniques” (see also the blog
entry – 16-06-2020 – Clearing energy lines)
In which he reviewed the new interests amongst British
dowsers from the late sixties /early
1970s, where the search for underground streams was increasingly replaced with
the notion that underground streams are somehow deleterious to health, especially
if they flow under homes or places of work. Their “intent is to nullify or divert the influence
: later it becomes to divert the streams themselves, in a literal physical
sense.” Interestingly as we saw above, he comments that early methods used
“sonic means”, such as “striking the ground with an iron rod”. This was later
superseded by a host of less violent/physical methods and the introduction of
more passive “devices”, such as crystals and coils.
What to conclude from all of this? Well, it is not a
huge body of evidence, but I would like to posit the following conclusions.
Considering for the moment just underground water, it
seems that the dowsing reaction is not caused directly by some physical
influence arising from the water, eg radiation effect. Rather, it appears to be
more a manifestation created by the mind of the given dowser, as if the dowser
is interpreting the information about what they are seeking and reducing this
to some sort of “guide”. Incidentally, rather
than treating the dowsing reaction along a line as a metaphor for the water
flow, it is more often taken literally, to represent an actual stream flowing underground.
This often incites criticism from hydrologists who ague that water does not
flow this way. In the post of 30-09-2020
– The Single-handed rod, there was a discussion of the reaction bands on
each side of a streamline, and how these may be used to obtain the depth of the
stream (The Bishop’s rule). But for some dowsers, eg the former BSD
chairman, Dr Arthur Bailey, the side-bands represent only half the stream
depth, ie the true depth is double the distance of the first reaction band from
the central stream line. This fits better with the idea that the dowsing
reaction arises from the dowser’s unconscious, based on their presumptions
about the significance of the reaction (either conscious or unconscious). If we
are dealing with a fundamentally mental phenomenon, then the intention of
diverting the dowsing reaction is perhaps more understandable. The banging
process is simply some ritual behaviour to reinforce the intent, and could be replaced
with any ritual which has the appropriate significance for the dowser.
The idea that the dowsing reaction to underground water
appears to be mentally derived is quite intriguing. It is not only locating the
water, another aspect is estimating the depth of the water using dowsing, for
which many methods have been used. For instance, simply standing over the
stream and counting down in some unit of length, until a reaction is obtained,
to the more elaborate “The point depth method”, see the post of 02-09-2020 – How
long is a piece of string? All the depthing methods utilise an anticipated
dowsing reaction when the correct depth has been reached. The complexity of the
depthing exercise collapses into a single action. It’s the same mechanism as that
of locating the water.
And then we might ask, is there any real difference between water and any other object a dowser may seek? We might extend this idea of reducing the complexity of the problem to any dowsing problem. And then we have to consider the so-called Earth energy lines, or whatever term is used for these lines or patterns that span the globe. This is too thorny an issue to consider here, but it does begin to seem that there is something of a social construct underlying these, see the post of 19-06-2020 – The Beadon Cube controversy.
There is another conclusion to make; what about the
observations of Miss Penrose, when she was observed to halt the flow of water,
if not necessarily having diverted it? This does suggest a type of psychokinetic
(PK) action at a distance. It would be nice to have more accounts from other dowsers.
However, within the BSD journals, we do find quite a few instances of the
apparent application of PK in various situations, from movement of the dowsing
instrument to perhaps even affecting the weather. We know that Miss Penrose was
an extremely psychically talented individual, and so we might draw the
conclusion that, at least a few exceptional individuals, are able to actually to
control the flow of underground water.