Dowsing For Water Pipes

dowsing water diviningProbably the most important aspect to learning to dowse for water, is practicing. No amount of reading about it will give you the skill. Once learned though, you will use this skill for the rest of your life to position water pipes and other under ground cables and pipes.

Before you can start practicing you need some kind of instrument, and also some idea of what to do with it. Most dowsing reactions show themselves as small movements of the hands - movements often too small to be seen or felt - and so dowsers use a variety of instruments as mechanical amplifiers to make these movements more obvious. Most of these 'mechanical amplifiers' are simple enough to be made in a matter of minutes from things lying around at home: 'angle rods' - consisting of two pieces of bent wire coat hanger.

Making angle rods

The easiest way to make divining rods is to cut up a pair of old wire coat-hangers. Take one of these and cut the bottom rail at one end with a pair of pliers or wire-cutters. Cut the opposite arm about five inches up from the bend, so that the hanger is in two pieces. Throw away the part with the hook - it's the part with the bottom rail that you want. Bend the short arm of this part back at a right-angle to the bottom rail. Now cut up the other hanger in the same way. The two L-shaped rods you should now have are your angle rods.

Holding the rods   

The short arm of each L is the part you hold: it should be held in a loosely clenched fist. At least, that's the simplest way, though you can use some kind of sleeves for the short arms to turn in, like lengths of thin tubing, or else doweling with a small hole bored down the middle - but a stack of two or three cotton reels for each rod will do just as well. Either way, the idea is that the rods can swing freely from side to side, and hence the need for loosely clenched fists or for the sleeves.

So take a rod - with or without a sleeve - in each hand. Let your arms hang limp by your sides for a moment, and just relax. This is important - just why I'll explain later. Now bring your arms up so that the rods are roughly horizontal. Keep your wrists well apart, say about body-width: if you bring them close together and tuck your elbows in you'll cramp yourself, Which won't help. When you've done this the long arms of the rods should be pointing away from you and roughly parallel to each other. This is their working or 'neutral' position.

The rods' movements       

Before you start on any practical exercises it would be a good idea to look at what the rods do. Note that it's your wrists, or more precisely your wrist-movements, that do the 'doing', the moving. The rods, being held in a simple balance by your hands, will respond to any movements your wrists might make, but even though it may (and indeed should) feel like it at times, they cannot move of  'their own accord. So first twist your wrists slightly inwards in a vertical plane: both rods will swing inwards and cross over. If you reverse the movement both rods will swing outwards, and if you twist both wrists in the same direction both rods should swing, roughly parallel, to point in the same direction. And though that's about all that the rods can do, you'll see later just how much you can tell from these three reactions.

The other point you should note is that the nearer you hold the long arms of the rods to the horizontal, the more sensitive will they be to those twisting movements. Tilt the rods downwards a little - say ten or fifteen degrees from the horizontal - and twist your wrists to get the rods to swing as above. Note how much you have to twist to get the rods to cross over. Now hold the rods nearly horizontal, and you'll see that you only have to twist your wrists a small amount to get the same degree of cross-over. If you tilt the rods too far up though, you'll find it difficult to keep them in the 'neutral' position - so find for yourself an angle at which you can keep them stable.

A matter of balance     

Holding the 'neutral' position of the rods will seem fairly easy when you're sitting or standing still; but it's quite another matter to hold them in that position when you're walking along. If you allow the rods to sway about all over the place, you won't be able to tell if they're reacting to something interesting or only to your own lack of balance. So the first exercise is to learn how to handle the rods in practice, how to maintain a fairly stable 'neutral', and generally to see what happens when you use the rods in practice.

  • Get up out of your chair and relax for a moment before holding the rods in the 'neutral' position.
  • See if you can maintain that 'neutral' while walking along. Do this indoors or outdoors - either will do. Relax: don't try to force the rods to remain stable by rigidly clamping your hands, as you'll find that only makes things worse. The trick here is to watch the tips of the rods and rest your mind, so to speak, on the idea of the rods remaining parallel. just relax and let your eyes, your hands and the rods sort it out them- selves.
  • Strike a balance between holding the 'neutral' and letting the rods swing if they seem to want to. Don't hold rigidly to the 'neutral'. If any change or reaction occurs, just make a mental note of what happens, when and where; don't concern your- self for the moment with why or how it happened. Theorising about real and apparent causes for the rods' movements at this stage will only be confusing and discouraging - so give yourself a chance, and don't!

Before you read any further, get up and do this now.

Well, how did it go? I imagine you were able to hold the rods fairly stable after a few minutes, but did anything else happen? If nothing else happened, don't worry about it, and certainly don't be discouraged. The balance between holding the rods stable but yet still allowing them to move is a subtle one - it does need practice, but it's no more difficult than, say, balancing the clutch and accelerator pedals when learning to drive a car. The trick here, as I mentioned earlier, is to rest your mind on the idea of keeping the rods stable - don't try too hard. If you can get that part sorted out, the rest. with a little practice, will follow.


Just repeat that exercise from time to time in as many places as you can. Don't take it too seriously as yet. Treat your practice as a light-hearted game - a game with yourself rather than with others, for you may find that having people around you will tend (albeit often unconsciously) to be a discouragement rather than a help. Do be patient, give yourself a chance, and don't question everything as it happens - or doesn't happen! After all, your body has to learn a new skill, to learn what muscles to move when. Incidentally, don't practise too long at any one time, for you may find it surprisingly tiring at first, mentally if not physically.

If after quite a bit of practice the rods still only remain in neutral' and refuse to move 'of their own accord', there are three things to remember. First, check whether you're holding the rods in such a way that they can actually move! Secondly, remember to relax, both physically and mentally, and to allow the whole thing to 'work itself. And third, practise at different places and different times, preferably alone, so that you have the maximum scope and the minimum interference.

Remember too that the idea of this practice is for you to learn the 'feel' of the rods. It's only the overall 'feel' that will tell you if the rods are just wobbling about or if they are moving 'of their own accord'. But learning that is all you should be doing or expecting at the moment - don't expect too much!

Interpretation and Meaning

When you find that you can tell the difference between what seem  'to be 'true' and 'false' reactions - between those seemingly caused by something outside of you and those caused by yourself or by the wind catching the rods - move on to practical applications. In other words, this is the time to move on to interpreting the unlikely wigglings of your two pieces of bent wire.

Interpretation is finding the meaning of something that would otherwise be meaningless. And the rods' twitchings are of themselves meaningless: it's the interpretation, the meaning that you derive, that you divine, from those twitches that enables you to find water or whatever else it is that you're looking for. Hence water-divining, of course.

There are two kinds, or possibly two levels, of interpretation, one analytic and the other intuitive. The intuitive kind is based on inherent meaning, a sense of 'rightness' or 'wrongness' carried over by the reaction itself. It's somewhat too complex to explain further at this stage, and I'd rather leave it until later. But the analytic kind of interpretation is simpler, for it's based on repeatability: if a dowsing reaction is repeatable under the same conditions it is held to be 'true', and the meaning of that reaction is then derived from the conditions under which it took place. To give an example, one of these conditions is place, or position: if a reaction repeatedly occurs at the same place, you can infer that something is causing the reactions at that place. And so on, other conditions of time, of number and other tests giving other meanings to the reactions. So by changing the conditions (done, among other things, by using different techniques) you can build up a picture of whatever it is you're looking for - its position, its size, its depth, its composition and qualities, in fact anything you need within the limits of analysis. But obviously it's best to start with something simple, and so to apply the experience of the exercise you've already done I'd suggest that you start with basic water-divining: finding the branch water-main that leads into your house.


Or, more precisely, finding the position of the pipe relative to the surface.

  • Repeat the previous exercise of holding the rods in the neutral position while crossing and re-crossing the front of your house, or several houses. As before, don't question what happens, just let the rods 'work themselves'.
  • Mark or mentally note any reaction points - a reaction point being the place directly beneath the rods at the time they react.

Your results, if you have been practicing the first exercise, will probably have some good contacts which are obvious lines of contact as well as some more spurious contacts. To use a radio analogy, some of these marks will be 'signal', or meaningful, and the remainder 'noise', or apparently meaningless. But which ones? Some of the marks form clear zigzag lines, the marks being moved slightly away from a straight line in the direction the dowser was moving each time. Now one of these lines could well be a pipe, because while a zigzag pipe is most unlikely, many beginners react rather slowly, and thus tend to overshoot the 'true' reaction point - a sort of 'bracketing' effect. So let us consider the two clear zigzag lines as 'signals', and, leave the rest, for the moment, as 'noise'

Do this exercise several times, and then compare the results to see if there is a repeatability of reaction at the same place. But don't go out expecting the same results each time, because among other things you might have been mistaken the first time, or else the lines may only have been 'noise' after all. Some things in dowsing have a nasty habit of not being what they seem - so beware! And so each time you do this exercise - or any dowsing exercise, for that matter - think of it and treat it as the first time every time.

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