Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dowsing: using the magic rod

A Little-Used Method
Abbe de Vallemont, La Physique Occulte.
Author's Collection
Rhabdomancy may be an unfamiliar word. But it is an ancient practice. The prophet Hosea said “my people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them.” (Hosea 4:12) Psalms 25:3 tells us “the Lord will not let the rod of the wicked rest upon the lot of the righteous.” These verses can interpreted as referring to rhabdomancy – the art of divining with sticks. Moses, as a means of knowing where the leader of his people would come from, inscribed twelve rods, each with the name of one of the tribes, and put them in the Tabernacle of Witness.

The wand is an important part of magic and occultism. Moses was a great magician – instructed in all the sciences and secrets of the Egyptians. When he performed his miracles, he had his rod. Staffs and rods accompanied the prophets, a king’s scepter is an emblem of power, a bishop has his staff, and every the  magician has his wand. Rhabdomancy may be said to be part of every occult operation. Duncan-Enzmann’s history of astronomy traces these devices back to ancient astronomers who used a stick’s shadow to determine north and create the first sundials. Ashera poles were used to measure the movement of the stars, and with them the Vanir mariners divided time and calculated longitude ca 5000 BC. The rod has a long and prestigious history of working magic for those who knew how to use them.

In the sixteenth century rhabdomancy was practiced mainly in Germany, where it enjoyed considerable popularity. Even now it is so, and to some extent blessed by science. By the seventeenth century the term referred to a method of looking for metal deposits or underground springs. This process became a common and important part of any normal mining operation. By the end of that century its powers were acclaimed in France – writers and philosophers discussed the art and its mysteries. Soon the rod was used for tracking down robbers and murderers.

Explanation of the Divining-Rod
Abbe de Vallemont,
La Physicque Occulte
Author's Collection
A great debate developed over whether or not there was demonic influence in the working of the rod. Scientific theories were offered to counter this idea; explanations as to why a piece of any kind of wood could be influenced by any number of materials, or even by something not physical at all. Some suggested radioactivity or corpuscles as the reason for such odd attraction; corpuscles that would rise above springs of water, or in exhalations of minerals. Even those rising over the footsteps of fugitive criminals would cause the divining rod to turn. A century later, at the Munich Academy, the power of the rod was attributed to a phenomenon analogous to galvanism (the induction of electrical current from a chemical reaction).

Soon other tools were experimented with. Tyorlean Campetti was the first to replace the rod with pyrite fragments suspended by a thread, creating a little pendulum similar to a plumb-bob. This is still employed. The action of the divining rod has now entered the domain of science, yet it is still not clearly understood. Psychologists have investigated it, and de Givery himself writes that he had the rod twist in his own hands. It still holds some mystery though it has lost its marvel. Sorcerers are numerous, and rather than calling an engineer to dig a well, country folk will use the services of a good wizard and his rod, to assure success at the least possible cost.

Today we know these magic wands as dowsing rods, witching rods, or divining rods – sometimes even a pendulum is used. They are commonly used in the search for ley lines. Doodlebugging the search for petroleum, or specifically for water. Dowsing rods are popular among adherents to radionics (using substances like hair or blood to heal from afar), and disciples of Charles Fort. How these wondrous tools work is not known, even by those very experienced in their use. Einstein was convinced they do, saying that the rod shows a reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown. So, believer or skeptic, these magic wands have an ancient and prominent history.

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and tracing them to their roots. She is an author, columnist, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:

    Symbology series:

Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge  
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: My Art and Symbols 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images 
Symbology: World of Symbols  
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

Fairy Tales: 

A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn
A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid
The Fairy Tales: Once-Upon-A-Time Lessons First Book

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