Maybe you already know what a dowser does.
I had heard of them, I had a vague notion of what they were. But last week, when it got time to dig the well for our new home in Massachusetts, I had a chance to see for myself what a dowser does. I am here to tell you that it is an amazing process. It makes you understand that there are people out there who can detect planetary energy in the physical world.
There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of dowsers: highly sensitive -- or psychically gifted -- people who use divining rods to find water. So says Wikipedia: "Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesite, and many other objects and materials without the use of scientific apparatus." Read Wikipedia's fascinating history of dowsing -- it's hundreds of years old. It was used in the Vietnam War by Marines trying to detect weapons and tunnels. At some point in history, dowsers were thought to be Satanic.
Meet Craig Elliott,
The first instrument has two brass handles, attached to two long pieces of stiff wire.
He began to walk the hillside, holding tight to the handles of his diving rod. The two wires remained parallel to each other for quite a while and then whammo -- the wires went crazy and started swinging left and right, crossing each other back and forth.
He smiled. "It looks like we found water," he said. I just stood there. He never moved his hands. The wires seemed to have a life of their own.
The way Craig describes it, the wires are the antenna and he is the instrument, sensing the water beneath the earth.
"Can I try it?" I asked and he was happy to hand the instrument over to me. I held onto the brass handles and walked back and forth. Nothing happened.
"Don't feel bad," Craig said. "Nine out of ten people cannot do this."
The second instrument is made of white plastic, and is V-shaped. Craig says this instrument used to be made of whalebone but no more.
He sets each branch of the device against his closed eyelids. Then, he scrunches up his face and turns red and to himself, begins to ask what the rate of water flow will be.
He asks himself, "Is it one gallon per minute, is it two gallons per minute and so on." And when the white wishbone points downward, he gets his answer.
Craig -- a third generation dowser -- says he has performed more than 700 divinations, and he has been wrong (meaning there was no water where he said it was) only 23 times.
We will see whether he is right about our water! He says the driller will find water 150 feet down, and the rate of flow will be nine gallons per minute (which is a terrific well!) The person who recommended we use Craig is the engineer who is designing our septic system.
And there are dowsers who don't even need instruments. One woman that Craig met at the annual dowser's convention in Vermont uses just her hand to sense the presence of water.
Well, so, the well will be dug within a few weeks. And I will be back to let you know if Craig is right!