My first experience in seeing a divining rod work was in the fall of 1966 when I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Mason County. My aunt’s father-in-law cut a small limb in the shape of a Y from a plum tree. The elderly man held the branch by the two small limbs, one in each hand. The base of the Y pointed straight up. He then started walking at one end of the yard. When he reached a certain location, the pointer went straight down as if a powerful force was pulling it. All of us who were watching looked on in disbelief.
The next day, I asked my physics instructor about how a divining rod works. His answer was somewhat unbecoming.
Divining or dowsing, as it is called today, originated in Germany in the 15th century. This device is mostly used to locate underground water. However, large deposits of oil and metals have also been located with divining rods. Just why or how this arrangement works has any known explanation.
Another type of divining rod is two metal rods, both shaped like an L. They can also be made of glass or plastic. The dowser holds one in each hand by the short ends.
When something is found, the long ends will cross over one another making an X over the found object. If the object is long and straight like a water main or pipe, the wires will usually point in the opposite directions showing the direction of the object.
Several years ago, I remember reading an article in “Popular Science” magazine about divining rods. I do not remember much about the article in detail, but I do remember reading about a city having a lot of trouble locating old water mains because of inaccurate courthouse records. This city was in the middle of a large-scale construction project. When they brought in divining rods, the construction engineers were able to locate all of the old water mains.
In the 1960s during the Vietnam War, United States Marines used divining rods to locate several of the tunnels used by the Viet Cong. In these tunnels, the Marines often found large caches of weapons manufactured in Communist China or the Soviet Union.
Around the garden, divining rods are useful for finding underground pipes and other utilities. Theoretically, dowsing works by detecting naturally occurring energies that surround us and everything else. Many tools are available for dowsing, but divining rods are considered the best because they are easy to learn and use.