Daddy Was A Dowser

Yes, in case you were wondering, my Daddy was a dowser (divener, water witch). It was not his occupation but his hobby. He dowsed for water for over thirty years.

When my father was a boy he used to listen to his father and other adults carry on conversations about dowsing and was curious. He decided to try his hand at it and dabbled with it for many years.

He did this as a free service to a rural community. It cost a lot of money to have a well dug. If the driller did not hit water, the land owner was still charged and charged each time until water was hit, and thus the well was drilled.

I have seen him use two rods, coat hangers, and forked branches. All of which brought him equal results…a vein of water. However, his tool of choice was a forked wild cherry branch.

When one walks over the stream of underground water, the two rods cross over or the forked rod bends downward. It is a force that is unexplainable.

My father doesn’t know how it works, but just knows that it does. At least it does for him.

I’ve tired it a few times. It worked for me as well. I was intrigued as well as frightened by it. It was not a tradition I cultivated because it left me feeling unsettled. I don’t like to mess with things that are not easily explained by science, math, etc…

While attempting to dowse, I experienced no responses, slight tugs, and full spun branch pulls. I even tried by sheer strength to hold the branch tight to prevent it from pulling down. It was to no avail as it tore the flesh from my hands as it jerked toward the ground. It is a force for which I have no personal explanation or understanding. I only know that my father can do this. And so can I – or at least, I used to be able to do it. I have not tried it in many years.

I have been told that many dowsers can actually estimate the depth a driller must go to reach water. My father never did that. He learned through practice that the stronger pulls proved to be areas where the water was closer to the surface.

Many people are interested in the process and respect the concept of dowsing. Of course, many also ridicule it because it can’t be explained and therefore claim it to be evil.

I see it as my father having provided a free service to many people. He did not use it for malevolent or criminal means nor did he profit from it.

When my father reached about seventy years of age, he found a new comfort in religion. This religion shuns the practice of dowsing as it is considered arcane. My father has not dowsed since, but he is at peace with his life. His present and his past. I don’t think one could ask for more than that.

This is a poem I wrote in my own effort to understand/explain this process.


The Water Witch’s Daughter

The Man flows
With the pull of gravity
His daughter gravitates
From the pull of the flow

Vein of life
Piercing like a dart
Through the palm of her hand

Vein of life
Pounding his soul
As he walks the land

He divines for streams
Beneath grass, stone, trees, hardened clay

She divines for dreams
Lost in the night and carried into day

Earth – flesh
Rock – bone
Water – blood
Where did she begin?
Where was she to end?

The river runs through her family blood
The river runs through her
The river runs

16 thoughts on “Daddy Was A Dowser

  1. Fascinating! I have heard of dowsers; they played a big role in Texas where the water is scarce. I am so intrigued hearing first hand from someone who has actually experienced the pull of the divining rod. I remember reading about it when I was a girl and it always seemed so mysterious. I doubted its authenticity, but I do not for a second now. Really quite amazing. And your poem was lovely — it transmits your connection to your father and to the natural world.

    I work for a science-based enviro group that works on water issues, and it’s all science, law, economics and politics. Pretty wonky. But the people who work on the issues have real heart and love for water. We should never lose our respect for the beautiful mysteries of the earth. Your post has given me a fresh reminder that we don’t know everything, by a long shot.

  2. I’ve read about this. Chris Bojalian has a novel where a character is a dowser. I find it so mysterious and fascinating. Especially that you share this skill with your father. Thanks for sharing this. It’s so intriguing.
    Lovely poem as well!

  3. Another good one Suze. As I recall he tried it with each of us and 1/2 of us could do it and 1/2 could not. You, me and Monkey could and the other 3 could not. Is my recollection correct? You know, with my CRS sometimes I cannot be sure! LOL And I also share your feelings for the ability to do it. I found it oddly liberating to share that “talent” with our father but also terrifying because I could not be sure where the “power” to be able to do it came from. I also remember trying to hold the branch so it could not move and it almost ripping the flesh from my hands from the force of the pull. And how when it did do it I wasn’t sure whether to smile because I could do it or run screaming because I “had it” too! I haven’t tried it since either.

    • And the question remains…is it a gift? I think Daddy used it as such. Did you mean Monte? You said Monkey which might imply me, again! I actually thought Kay was the other one who could…but sometimes I suffer from CRS, also. Another family trait, maybe another blog!

  4. So sad that dowsing is such a lost art.

    Hubbies uncle used to do it and of course tried to teach hubby, but he was too young and really didn’t find it interesting. He regrets that now and on ocassion has tried it. It worked for him once and I got to witness it, I admit I thought it was freaky but cool!

  5. Yes, it was a gift for Daddy. I’m not sure what it is for me other than ONE more thing to freak me out! LOL And yes, I did mean Monte (I THOUGHT it was him because I thought Kay was mad that she couldn’t do it?) And I called him Monkey because when my kids were little they referred to him as “Unka Monkey” which I assume meant Uncle Monte. Not sure if they were trying to be cute or just had a speech impediment? Maybe they just thought he WAS a monkey because he always acted so goofy? Maybe yet ANOTHER family trait! LOL BTW… I did scan that book we talked about you making where you called yourself the monkey I wished for. Was gonna post it on FB but some pics are rather unflattering….

  6. Hi Suzicate,

    Thank you so much for writing about this. I really loved the experience you shared here.

    And I would like to share a few things with you….

    First off, honestly you do not have to be afraid of anything when it comes to dowsing water. (Dowsing with a pendulum depends on the person’s energy field, etc… and can be a littler trickier) but water dowsing not.

    What we know in the metaphsyical and quantum sciences today is that the Universe and everything – EVERYTHING – in it is energy.

    Some people are more sensitive to different energies and more perceptive of them. But this has nothing to do with any kind of evil. I know for centuries any unexplained forces were just automatically pushed aside as “evil” when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

    True evil can only come from within and attract other,I wouldn’t say evil, just darker energies. Loving beings who radiate with true light and love don’t have to fear anything. The Universal laws such as that of attraction indicates that like attracts like.

    Thus a loving being can only attract loving things. And people with anger, jealousy or any other kind of negative energies attract more of that. So if one resonates at those frequencies than I wouldn’t recommend any kind of metaphysical work.

    The way I see your dowsing gift is you are extra sensitive to the Earth’s energies – specifically that of water – it is a very special gift.

    I am not telling you in the end to do it or anything, but just to know that should you choose to in the future, you have nothing to fear 🙂

  7. Pingback: The Rooting Of My Muse « The Water Witch's Daughter

  8. This was very interesting to read – these days I’m really not sure exactly what I believe, but I do know there are things that aren’t easily explained – can’t help but wonder…. the meaning.. the how.. the why of it all…. I wish I knew…

    Thanks for sharing with us. 🙂

    p.s. I’m going to add you to my blogroll 🙂

  9. There was an article in theReader’sDigest of November, 1991. entitled ,”My Village’s Water Witch”. about a doser from Vermont. I thought you may likre to go through.

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