"The mystery comes in when researchers begin to look beyond the unexplained to discover where these answers are coming from," believes Dwayne Claud, director of Western New York Paranormal of Rochester. Claud asks, "Are the users simply moving their hands to answer the questions? Is there something more in control of the dowsing then meets the eye?"
From an extensive survey of the literature, the first unmistakable reference to the dowsing rod was in 1430. And from this time in history, there has been a variety of exotic instruments used by dowsers, including scissors, pliers, crowbars, and even German sausages. Today, probably the three most common instruments used are the forked stick or Y-rod, the pendulum, and the L-rod, usually made of a piece of wire or rod bent in the shape of the letter "L."
"In paranormal investigation," Claud explains, "researchers will often use these instruments to demonstrate through a physical means a reading of spiritual energy. For example, the dowser will ask the instrument to 'show the energy in the area,' and their pendulum or rod will spin. The faster the spin, the more energy. Dowsers can use these same means to point to spirits and communicate by assigning specific movements of the instrument to signify certain answers."
These activities led Martin Luther to think of dowsing as the work of the devil. But is it?
"Accurate answers are given to dowsers on subjects they know nothing consciously about. I believe there is a physical and spiritual explanation for how these forms of dowsing work," says Claud.
Let's first take into consideration the actual physical movement of the dowsing instrument. The movement of the dowsing instrument has been a very controversial subject. It has been suggested that the instrument moves in response to the magnetic field and energies that surround them. According to Claud, "It's a sound theory if you were just looking for a response and not a specific response."
If a dowser is working in an area searching for water and the rods respond when they walk over a water source, then the theory would hold true - but what happens when the instrument is used to elicit certain responses, such as yes and no? Logic would then suggest that something else is controlling the instruments. But if the dowser does not consciously know the answers, and is not consciously moving the instrument, then how does the process happen?
"In 1641, a Jesuit priest by the name of Father Athanasius Kircher first suggested that the dowsing instrument is being moved unknowingly by the dowser," states Claud. Further research has shown that a dowser can hold rods, for example, completely still to the eye with complete concentration not to move them, and yet they will still respond to what the dowser requests. According to Claud, "It's not psychic ability, its biomechanics. The rods move through unconscious micro-muscular movements. The subconscious is in control of the responses the dowsing instrument provides."
There are many theories on where the subconscious retrieves the information from, to elicit the correct responses to the dowser's questions. One theory is that the subconscious is merely a collective library of everything that you have known in this life, past lives, and others' lives. The answers come from that database.
"Another theory," according to Claud, "is that the subconscious is the conduit for communication with the spiritual realm. Psychic individuals tend to rely on dowsing materials in the infancy of their abilities. As they grow, they begin to trust their inner voice (subconscious) and build more and more complex responses. Instead of the subconscious using a form of Morse code with dowsing instruments, it begins to use its voice." This theory also begins to shed some light on the process of automatic writing. The subconscious writes what's in the data bank for it to access.
When used properly, dowsing instruments are the stepping stone to a higher spiritual path, believes Claud. "There's no magic to dowsing. Dowsing is a combination of a powerful subconscious and biomechanics."