dowsing 'explained'


Pendulum dowsing poses a particularly puzzling scientific conundrum, since it is still not clear how and why the pendulum works (Conway, 2001; Eason, 2005; Graves, 1989). Pendulum (and other) dowsing methods are a way of receiving and transmitting information (Eason, 2005). Arguments about how it works seem to converge on the suggestion that the dowser is responding to energy fields in some form, but the exact form is nebulous.


Some argue that it is responding to the earth's electromagnetic field (Eason, 2005); others suggest it acts somewhat like a radio antenna, "receiving information from the vibrations and energy waves emitted by people, places, thoughts, and things" ( Still others suggest it is a bridge between the logical and intuitive mind, a way of accessing insights inaccessible through thinking that manifest through micro-movements in the body (Redden, personal communication, October, 2007). Other explanations include the pendulum as an access point to knowledge from spirit (Hepburn, personal communication, June, 2006), or the consciousness of a plant species (Redden, personal communication, October, 2007).


Because pendulum dowsing does not fit 'normal' ways of understanding the world, it is often dismissed by lay people and scientists alike (Graves, 1989). Yet the point is that it works, even though the mechanism of action has still not been pinned down. As Graves argues, ultimately, regardless of whether one assumes it is guided by magnetic fields, intuition or spirit, the pendulum works, "if you let it" (p. 113). And, I would add, if you are disciplined enough to learn to use it safely and effectively.


Like Thomas Edison, who supported the use of the light bulb even though he didn't fully understand how it worked, there may be much value in extending the use of a pendulum to both simple and complex decision-making processes. It may just (as it did for me) help move beyond limitations of current thinking and contribute to effective problem solving in complex situations.