An ancient form of divination using a forked stick, bent wire, or pendulum to locate people, objects and substances. The technique can be used to find underground water, minerals, oil, pipes and cables; it is also used to locate lost objects, missing persons and murder victims, and to diagnose illnesses.
The ancient Egyptians and Chinese used dowsing, and during the Middle Ages in Britain and Europe it was a common technique for finding coal deposits. It is not clear how dowsing works. When the dowser finds the right location, the dowsing stick begins to twitch in the dowser's hand, sometimes violently.
The notion that divining rods somehow pick up vibrations from earth force fields, does not explain the ability of those who use maps in their homes, far away from the actual field sites. In World War I dowsers were used by the army to help find mines and unexploded shells; dowsing rods were used by American troops in Vietnam to locate mines, buried mortars and booby traps; some oil, gas and mineral companies use dowsers to complement conventional geological analysis.
The pendulum technique is often used for diagnoses in alternative medicine. The pendulum is suspended over a patient's body, changes in its movement and rotation indicating healthy or unhealthy areas.
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Sources: (1) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (3) The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition Handy Volume Edition, Oxford University Press; (4) Bailey, Nancy (editor), The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Spells and Magic, Sterling Publishing.
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