Dowsing and Divining. A woman uses a pendulum in a temple setting.

Difference Between Dowsing and Divining

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What is the Difference Between Dowsing and Divining?

I’ve always wondered is there a difference between dowsing and divining? Do the terms mean the same thing, or is there differences that set them apart?

In this article, I’m going to examine what these terms mean within the world of dowsing, and see if I can come to a greater understanding of what the difference between dowsing and divining really is, if any.

What the Dictionary has to Say

These terms are often used interchangeably, sometimes in the same breath. But let’s check what’s already written online. According to WikiDiff, dowsing is a synonym of divining, meaning different words but with similar meanings. So dowsing and divining is the same thing. Yet, I feel there are subtle differences between the two.

Dowsing and divination are two practices that share some similarities but also have distinct differences. To understand these distinctions more clearly, let’s further explore their definitions and methods of operation.

Dowsing and divination are two practices that aim to uncover information or insights beyond what is readily available through conventional means,

via the five senses. However, they differ in their methods, purposes, as well as historical contexts. While both involve seeking out hidden knowledge, neither should be considered interchangeable.

What is Dowsing?

Dowsing - Hand holding a pendulum.The method of dowsing involves using various tools such as a pendulum or rod to locate water, minerals and other objects. The dowser interprets the movements made by these instruments, which could include swinging, pointing or tilting in order to pinpoint their location accurately. This technique is commonly used for locating underground resources like oil wells or gas pipelines with great precision. With practice, anyone can learn how to use this skill effectively, but it requires dedication and perseverance.

Traditionally, people have used dowsing for practical purposes such as locating water sources or lost objects. Many people associate dowsing with tangible targets that they can physically detect. This technique involves using intuition and instinct to locate these items by sensing subtle changes in the surrounding environment.

Despite its widespread use throughout history, it remains a topic of debate among scientists today who question whether there is any scientific basis behind this practice. Nonetheless, many people continue to rely on dowsing methods for various reasons, including spiritual beliefs or personal experiences with success when using this method.

Despite being considered pseudoscience by the scientific community, dowsing has gained acceptance in certain cultures for specific purposes such as water witching. Despite this, its validity remains questionable within mainstream science circles.

Tools Used: Dowsing rods (Y shaped or L shaped or Bobbers), pendulums, and sometimes sticks or other simple tools are employed. These instruments play a crucial role in locating underground water sources.

V or Y Dowsing Rod
Classic Y or V Rod

What is Divination?

Divination has many tools, tea leaves, tarot cards. the I Ching , astrology, crystals, to name a few.This method is a broad category that encompasses various techniques and instruments such as tarot cards, astrology, I Ching, rune casting. to name a few. Divination involves interpreting signs or symbols to gain insights into questions or future events.

The primary focus of divination is often associated with spiritual, esoteric, or personal insights. These could be predicting the future, understanding hidden truths, and making decisions about one’s life. It serves to provide guidance in these areas by offering clarity on complex situations that may be difficult for individuals to navigate alone.

This approach allows people to gain a deeper understanding of their own lives while also helping them make informed choices based on what they have learned through this process. Ultimately, it helps individuals find peace within themselves, which can lead to greater happiness overall.

Perception and acceptance frequently intertwine with religious, spiritual, or mystical practices. People have integrated these beliefs into various cultural traditions and spiritual convictions. They play an important role in shaping people’s worldviews across different societies around the globe.

Divination involves using various tools such as cards (like tarot), astrological charts, tea leaves, runes and crystals among others depending on the specific type of divination. Using these instruments allows practitioners to gain insight into different aspects of life.

Dowsing and divination are two methods used by practitioners to access information beyond their immediate sensory range. While dowsing is typically associated with physical objectives, such as locating underground water sources or finding lost objects, divination focuses on spiritual guidance or personal advice. Both practices exist outside mainstream science and face skepticism from the scientific community at large.

Forces at Work

Use of a pendulum in dowsing and divination is an intriguing topic that blends beliefs about metaphysical phenomena with human interaction with objects. Two distinct perspectives exist on this practice – one suggests the possibility of mental training enabling responses while another posits external forces influencing movement. These divergent interpretations highlight how complex our understanding can be when it comes to spiritual practices like these.

Mental Training of the Pendulum

A visualization of the ideomotor effect and a pendulum.When first learning how to dowse, we’re often instructed to first mentally program the pendulum. You do this to understand the pendulum’s movements when asking carefully phrased inquiries that will give a “yes, no, or maybe” response. An advanced dowser will recognize other movements and attribute meanings to these variations.

The principle behind this approach is based on the belief that users can train their minds and bodies through practice and intention to respond to specific questions with subtle physical movements. These involuntary and imperceptible movements are known as ideomotor responses. This technique provides an opportunity for individuals to enhance their cognitive abilities while also improving overall wellbeing. There is an interesting study found on the National Library of Medicine, website, titled, “ask the pendulum: personality predictors of ideomotor performance,” makes for an interesting read on the subject.

The ideomotor effect is a fascinating psychological phenomenon that can lead to physical movements being influenced by unconscious thoughts or expectations. In the context of pendulum dowsing, this means that practitioners may find their subconscious mind influencing how they use the pendulum – potentially leading them towards certain outcomes without realizing it!

It’s important for anyone interested in exploring this practice to be aware that unconscious mental thoughts can manipulate the pendulum’s movements and take steps to minimize their impact on results.

After setting the conditioned responses, the dowser focuses on the object of inquiry, and the pendulum autonomously provides a pre-programmed response. Once the conditioned responses have been set, the dowser concentrates on the object of inquiry and the pendulum responds freely with a pre-programmed response.

The skeptic perspective suggests that the pendulums movements are not caused by any external metaphysical forces but rather result from small unconscious muscle movements made by the user. This viewpoint suggests that one’s expectations or thoughts have a stronger influence on these movements than on anything else outside of ourselves.

Following the above statement, expectations can influence the pendulum’s movements. But as I stated, the mind should be empty, with the focus on the object of inquiry.

This brings up another topic. The confidence one may have in the response’s correctness. I’ve noticed some dowsers with a high degree of confidence in their skill may actually be wrong in the answer obtained, but their belief is so high that they falsely believe their answer is correct.

The principle behind this approach is based on the belief that users can train their minds and bodies, through practice and intention, to respond to specific questions with subtle physical movements. Experts refer to these involuntary and imperceptible movements as ideomotor responses. This may be a scientific explanation that satisfies some, but anyone who has used a pendulum before knows that pendulum movements vary from subtle to gross, and does not reflect ideomotor effects because in actuality, the hand is allowed to move. Despite this, it’s not uncommon for the layperson to believe otherwise. I know when I’m in a dowsing session with a client, they’ll be staring at my hand and declare, because they saw my hand move, that I’m in some way cheating or providing false information.

From my perspective, I’ve learned to ignore the stares and keep true to the accuracy and feedback to my dowsing system. Ultimately, it’s the quality, accuracy, and interpretation of the information that counts.

Dowsing for Water

A man dowsing for water using a forked tree branch.Further to investigating the difference between dowsing and divining, I want to take a moment to examine dowsing for water.

Dowsing for water, also known as water witching, is a traditional practice where individuals use a dowsing rod, not a pendulum. Traditionally, individuals use a forked tree branch as a dowsing rod to locate underground water sources. The belief is that these rods, often cut from specific trees like willow, or hazel, can detect the presence of water, often attributed to the sensitivity of the branch to an energetic field created by the water. Here’s a general overview of how it’s said to work.

Selection of the Dowsing Rod: Dowsers often use branches from trees like willow, hazel, or peach, believed to be particularly sensitive to water. The dowser typically holds each fork of the rod in one hand.

Comment: Traditional beliefs in dowsing suggest that certain types of wood, like willow or hazel, are more sensitive to water and thus more effective for dowsing. This belief implies an inherent property of the wood itself.

Modern dowsing rods are made from plastics or metals, challenge this view. If these materials are also effective, it suggests that the success of dowsing might not be inherent to the material of the rod but could instead relate to the dowser’s skill, or other factors.

Mental Preparation and Intention: The dowser usually focuses their mind on the task at hand, which is finding water. This mental preparation and intention is important in aligning the dowser’s energy with the task.

Comment: The focus and intention of the dowser are often considered crucial in dowsing practices. This emphasis implies that the dowser is not merely a passive holder of the rod, but actively engaged in the dowsing experience, possibly through subconscious cues or sensitivity to environmental factors.

If the dowser’s mental state is crucial, then the rod, regardless of its material, might indeed function primarily as an inanimate instrument that responds to the dowser’s subtle physical or psychological cues.

Physical Movement: The dowser walks over the area where he suspects water might be underground. As the dowser walks, he observes the movements of the rod. It is believed that the rod shows a reaction when it comes over a water source.

Rod Reaction: The traditional belief is that the rod will dip, twitch, or oscillate when it detects the presence of water. The reaction is interpreted as indicating the location of underground water. Some dowsers believe the rod reacts to changes in the energy field caused by the presence of water.

Interpreting the Signals: Experience dowsers claim to interpret not just the presence of water, but also its depth and flow rate based on the rod’s movement. Further, an advanced dowser may include in his intention-setting to only find potable water.

Energetic Sensitivity: The explanation often given is that water, being a conductor of electricity, creates an electromagnetic field underground which the rod, and through it, the dowser can detect. Some believe that the rod amplifies subtle energies or reactions that the human body is sensitive to.

Comment: The theory that underground waters create a detectable electromagnetic field and that rods respond to these fields is unproven scientifically, but is worth consideration. However, wood is not a good conductor of em fields. However, scientists have proven that the human body is sensitive and responsive to em fields.

Another idea, there is a natural resonance between the dowser’s body (largely composed of water), and underground water sources. This idea aligns more with metaphysical understanding, i.e. more closely considered divining than dowsing.

Psychological Aspect: Some theories suggest the ideomotor effect plays a role. This is a psychological phenomenon where a person’s subconscious thoughts or feelings cause them to make movements unknowingly. In the case of dowsing, the dowser’s subconscious expectations or knowledge about where water might be located could influence the movement of the rod.

Comment: The ideomotor effect suggests that the dowser’s subconscious expectations or knowledge might influence the movement of the rod. This psychological phenomenon is a well-documented explanation for involuntary subtle movements.

But, if the rod is responding to actual environmental factors such as em fields or water presence via resonance, the ideomotor effect would be irrelevant.

Another factor that would nullify the ideomotor effect playing a role in dowsing, is a dowser, searching for water outdoors, will travel over various terrains, and so I would suggest the subtle or gross rod movements are to be expected.

Further Thoughts on Water Dowsing

Determining Specifics Like Water Depth and Quality:

The ability of dowsers to ascertain details like water depth, volume or potability exceeds simple location detection and enters a realm of specificity that challenges conventional understanding. It suggests a level of sensitivity and precision in dowsing that goes beyond the mechanics of a dowsing rod. This implies a connection beyond the five senses.

Dowsing vs Divining:

It seems to me that as I examine common statements made about dowsing, there are many common statements that, after a deeper consideration, seem to find an explanation in the super-sensible world.

Dowsing, particularly water dowsing, often involves a physical search for tangible resources (like water or oil), and may incorporate beliefs about physical reactions to environmental influences.

Divining, on the other hand, is generally more associated with a connection to an unseen world, where science cannot measure, and as a result tends to dispel for lack of scientific explanation. But it’s becoming obvious to me that there is a direct connection to something greater than the mere physical.

This becomes self-evident when seeking spiritual insight or answers to broader questions, often involving metaphysical topics.

Musings on Ideomotor Movements and Dowsing

The ideomotor effect is a fascinating psychological phenomenon that can lead to physical movements being influenced by unconscious thought or expectations. In the context of pendulum dowsing, this means that practitioners may find their subconscious mind influencing how they use the tool, potentially leading them towards certain outcomes without realizing it. It’s important for anyone interested in accurate dowsing to be wary of this pitfall and to acknowledge its possible effect on results.

People that are skeptical think the pendulum’s movements are not caused by any external metaphysical forces, but rather result from small unconscious muscle movements. According to this viewpoint, one’s expectations or thoughts have a stronger influence on these movements than anything else.

Divining Force Influence

Divining interacts with invisible forces.Some practitioners believe the pendulum serves as a conduit for external forces or energies – whether they be spiritual, paranormal, or otherwise. This could involve communicating with spiritual entities or accessing universal energy sources through metaphysical concepts. The idea is that these outside influences can provide answers, guidance, and insight into our lives.

Many people often regard the pendulum as a mystical tool that transcends the physical realm and grants access to higher knowledge or spiritual entities. The dowser acts as an intermediary between these external forces and themselves.

This perspective emphasizes the power of dowsing to unlock hidden information about ourselves and our surroundings. With a mindful development of self, anyone can learn to tap into this intuitive approach to access information using a pendulum. However, since an intuitive approach defies logic, many people will remain skeptical. Again, I reiterate, it will be the quality, accuracy, and interpretation of the information that will judge whether dowsing with a pendulum is a credible activity.

Despite the popularity of dowsing as a means to divine information, skeptics will argue there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness. Critical analysis suggests that any perceived accuracy in responses may be attributed solely to chance occurrences. Cognitive biases such as confirmation bias could contribute significantly towards false readings that may not be confirmable while dowsing. Therefore, I suggest considering any information gathered before drawing a conclusion.

Testing Vitamins or Locating a Lost Wallet

Vitamins on a wallet.When faced with certain situations, such as deciding which vitamin is necessary for health, or finding lost items like wallets, people may turn to dowsing techniques using a pendulum. However, there are two distinct approaches: dowsing and divining. Dowsing implies simply relying on the pendulum itself, with no spiritual connection, whereas divining tapping into one’s intuition while holding the object either physically or mentally as an image in one’s mind.

I could say that dowsing is simply relying on swings of the pendulum, but I think I’ve already established that dowsing is not a separate process without connection to the mind and spirit. Remember, we’ve consciously trained or programmed the pendulum. Scientific explanation is that we’re subconsciously under the effect of the ideomotor effect, but I think that’s to be expected, considering the programming of the pendulum. Does ideomotor effect answer why the pendulum moves clockwise, counter-clockwise, or in north, south directions? But, as mentioned earlier, one has to be careful not to influence the swings, which are responses, mentally. For example, I can make the pendulum move the way I want; but how will that help me find answers to things that are unknown? This is why dowsing takes practice and patience to develop a consistent level of competency.

A New Understanding of Dowsing and Divining

When I first began writing this article, I originally thought dowsing and divining meant the same thing, albeit with some subtle differences. But as I continued to write my thoughts down, I realized the topic was not as clearly defined as I had originally thought, and I found myself debating commonly accepted ideas.

I quickly realized the focus wasn’t really on the type of pendulum being used, but on the forces at work within. That’s not to say that the forms and shapes of pendulums don’t play a role, or influence the dowsing experience, but it’s secondary to using a pendulum. If your dowsing system is unreliable, no pendulum, no matter the type, will help you.

Conceptualization of spiritual inner forces at work using a clock analogy. The Clock Analogy: I often give the clock analogy. The hands of a clock may be large or small, made of gold or plastic, ornate or plain. But their only function is to point to the correct time. Behind the scene, a motor moves the hands; and behind that is a crystal that keeps its measure. But to think that the hands move by themselves is an incomplete understanding of how a clock works.

Similarly, to think a pendulum moves on its own is an incomplete understanding of the art of dowsing. I sometimes meet people who say “my pendulum is not talking to me,” or “I’ll ask my pendulum.” I assume they are half joking. I have never heard my pendulum say anything, and when I put it to rest on my desk, find it makes a poor paperweight. Kidding aside, just as the motor drives the hands of a clock, we’re the force that directs the movements of the pendulum.

There are many methods that we can use to access information, such as tarot, the I Ching, as well as dowsing, among others, I have to conclude that dowsing is a sub-category of divination, each with its own specific set of rules.

Going Beyond Divination

But even labeling dowsing as a form of divination seems unsatisfactory as a final definition. I’ve often made the comment, “I’m learning how not to dowse.” Subconsciously, I’m alluding to something deeper.

Using the Body to Dowse: Sometimes, you’re in a situation when you don’t have access to a pendulum or restricted from using it openly because the client may be resistant to dowsing and how you access information.

There is another dowsing method called “Body Dowsing,” where you’ve trained the body to respond to questions using programmed responses. For example, you might use a finger pulling technique, or have the body rock a certain way in response to certain questions. Here, we’ve dispensed using an extraneous tool to signal cues, and instead substituted the body as the tool.

A conceptualization of how inner forces apply to dowsing.Bio-kinesiology, or Muscle Testing, are also systems using the body as an instrument to gain information on matters that are outside accepted scientific practices.

Everything I’ve talked about so far, lead to a new understanding. If we agree that an inner force moves the hands of a clock, and if we agree that an inner force directs the body to behave in certain ways under certain conditions, then we agree that there is a separate force at work affecting the body and by extension a pendulum.

The Body is an Instrument: Identifying with the bodily concept would be an inaccurate understanding. The body is a temple that houses the spirit and soul. This is you and all follows from there. The body becomes animated because you live in it. But even so, every cell in the body is conscious and in communication with the you.

As we increase our frequency, our vibration, the need to use crude tools to gain information, may no longer be necessary. But, it may be that in the meantime, as we learn to get access to inner information, we will use these instruments with that understanding. I know when I’m using a pendulum in my healing work; the pendulum is not doing the healing. It may be an object of my focus, but ultimately the spirit is working through me, and it appears I’m doing the work.

Dowsing and Divining are not the same thing. Dowsing is a subcategory of divination, which in itself is a word used to describe a spiritual action in a material world. And like all things, we’re somewhere on the road to mastering this inner expression as a spiritual being having a human experience.

In summary, while traditional beliefs in dowsing attribute special properties to certain materials and posit sensitivity to environmental factors like electromagnetic fields, scientific scrutiny raises questions about these claims. The role of the dowser’s focus, intention, and subconscious responses (ideomotor effect) is significant in understanding how dowsing might work. These factors, coupled with the lack of consistent scientific validation, suggest that the rod is more likely an extension of the dowser’s own sensory and psychological processes rather than an independently functioning tool. This analysis supports the view that dowsing and divining, while related to seeking information beyond conventional means, are not synonymous and involve different underlying principles and practices.

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