Dowsing is an ancient form of divination using a pendulum, forked stick, or bent wire. The technique is used to locate people who are lost, missing, or murdered; to diagnose illness; to locate underground water, mineral, and oil supplies; and even to find missing objects.

Dowsing was commonly used by the Chinese and ancient Egyptians. During medieval times, it was commonly used to find coal deposits in Europe and Britain. However, it is unclear how Dowsing actually works.

Using a Dowsing rod, the dowser or fortune teller would begin to search. At the right location, the stick or wire twitches, occasionally violently, in the diviner’s hand. Some people believe that these divining rods respond to vibrations in the Earth’s force field.

Over time, it was discovered that dowsers do not need to be physically on-site. It is possible for the diviner to use the rods in conjunction with maps, far from the actual scene. The American army used dowsers during World War I to find dangerous unexploded shells and minds. Dowsing was also used by troops in Vietnam for the same reason. Even today, modern oil, gas, and mineral companies often use dowsers in conjunction with more conventional methods of geological analysis.

Dowsing using the pendulum technique is commonly used to diagnose illnesses in alternative medicine. A pendulum, usually consisting of a ring tied to a thread, is suspended over the patient. As the ring moves and rotates, it indicates which areas are healthy and which are unhealthy.

A dowser, from an 18th century French book about superstitions. Courtesy Wikipedia.