How to Use a Dowsing Rod

Man using dowsing rods

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When it comes to divination, there are a number of different options that practitioners may have. Some people have mastered the skill of dowsing, which is something you might want to give a try. Although the etymology of the word dowsing is uncertain, in general, it means a process by which someone searches for things that are hidden. It’s nearly universally applied to the process of finding water, although some people use dowsing to discover buried treasure as well. There are also a few people who claim the ability to dowse for human bodies.

What Is Dowsing?

Dowsing involves a very simple tool, called a dowsing rod. According to the British Dowsers Society, the tools “are simply an extension of the human response giving clearer signals than can sometimes be detected without them.” The dowsing rod, or rods, typically are made in a V-shape, which is held with a prong in each hand, or they may come in a pair of angled L-shapes, which are held parallel to each other during a dowsing search. Some dowsers opt to use a pendulum rather than rods, or simply a straight wand.

While there are some dowsers who insist that dowsing rods have to be made of a certain material, such as copper, there are others who disagree. LoRhenna is a practicing witch who lives in the hills of western Kentucky, and she comes from a long line of dowsers. “My mother and grandmother both were dowsers, and my great grandfather too, and they never used copper or metal rods because it was hard to get. So they just used sticks. My grandmother swore by willow branches but I use all different kinds, just whatever’s available.”

Although some people swear that only those who are psychically gifted can dowse successfully, many others agree that anyone can learn how to do it. In fact, there's a common perception among dowsers that children actually are the best at the practice. This may be because they haven't yet learned how to disbelieve the supernatural, so they're not as metaphysically blocked off as adults who might question their own skills.

Tools of the Trade

Once you’ve got a dowsing rod, or rods, the process involves a few simple steps. Some dowsers like to talk to their rods before they begin—you can either ask the rods to help you or if you’re more comfortable doing this, you can ask the gods of your tradition to guide you. Either one is fine.

While holding the rods out away from your body, begin walking slowly. You can either walk in a pattern—some people like to take a gridlike approach—or you can just let your instinct guide you. As you walk, focus your mind on the target—what is it you’re looking for? Are you seeking water? Buried treasure? Make sure you concentrate on the goal.

When the end of the V-rod starts to move—or the two L-rods start to cross over one another—it means the target is near. In most cases, the movement gets more noticeable as you draw closer. When you feel like you’re in the right spot, it’s time to stop and check to see if you’re right.

If you feel as though you’re not having any success—the rods aren’t reacting, you’re just walking in circles, and you’ve dug ten holes but haven’t found anything of note—then you need to take a break. Try coming back another day, or even a different time of day. You may also want to try a variety of tools–some people have more success with one type of rod than they do with another. You can even use a pendulum for dowsing.

Dowsing for Beginners 

Most dowsers will tell you that anyone can develop skill at dowsing, but just like any other psychic exercise, it takes some practice. You can work on your own skills with a few simple practice methods. You’ll need a friend to help you with all of these.

  • Ask someone to hide something specific in your house, such as a piece of jewelry, a small jar of coins, etc. Using dowsing rods, see if you can locate it.
  • Use a map of your neighborhood for dowsing. Ask a friend to go to any spot in your neighborhood, without telling you where they’re headed. Use a pendulum, held over the map, to determine which part of the neighborhood they’re in. Call their cell phone to see how accurate you are.
  • Have a friend bury a bottle of water somewhere outside. Since humans are naturally drawn to water, according to many dowsers, this should be a good way for you to practice dowsing.
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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "How to Use a Dowsing Rod." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, Wigington, Patti. (2020, August 26). How to Use a Dowsing Rod. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "How to Use a Dowsing Rod." Learn Religions. (accessed February 4, 2023).