Dowsing Misconception #1: What Dowsing Is...

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Dowsing Misconception #1: What Dowsing Is...

Post by Maggie » Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:36 pm

Caveat: I have named the subject line with an eye towards eventually having a series of posts of a similar nature, so that if you like this post, you can easily follow subsequent threads in the series. I am not naming 'misconceptions' as a judgment of any kind. They have to be called something. It doesn't involve any blame or judgment.

My posts are not going to be short. I don't believe in Sesame Street and sound bites as a way to learn or discuss things. So be prepared to read.

I'm not terribly interested in promulgating just my beliefs, especially those I can't prove or give evidence or serious ways for you to think about them. I will be discussing things that are perspectives and attitudes and ideas, and all those things are subject to change. Any idea you or I have can change in the face of evidence and experience. The important point is that what I'm going to say are things that you can test. You can ask yourself, "Does that make sense?" And if you say no, you can ask yourself why you feel that way, and try to find a logical way to express yourself.

I am not trying to change anyone's beliefs, but I do feel, based on experience, that the place to start anything is at the beginning. And when discussing a topic, definitions are vital. Most communication that ends in anger or fights is mis-communication. What I mean is, it's not a case of who's right and who's wrong. It's that people aren't starting at the same point, so of course, they end up arguing, and there's no need for that. It's caused by not talking about the same thing, not holding the same values, not having the same goals. In this and related threads, my goal is simple. I have noticed in twenty plus years of dowsing that dowsing has not advanced, meaning, most people get excited about it, dabble a bit, then lose faith or interest or give up and move on to the next shiny topic. Why do you think that is? Why in all the years I've used dowsing in amazing ways have most people never gained confidence, never become accurate, never used it to change their lives, never used it in a regular and everyday fashion? This series answers that question.

If you don't understand what dowsing is, you cannot master it. If you are hearing several totally different definitions of what dowsing is, you cannot fixate and follow through and learn. What we have in dowsing in the last twenty plus years is a Tower of Babel situation. Interest in dowsing proliferated too fast, expanded too quickly with no real foundation, and as a result, it sank into the sands of New Age vagueness and confusion.

The questions I see in every forum and at every event for the past twenty years, and I've answered many, are 99% the same. People are stuck at the newbie, doubting and confused level. So let's get started demystifying what dowsing is so that doors open to advancement and understanding. What follows is meant to stimulate you to think critically. Don't ever just accept what someone says. Think about it. Does it make sense? Can you explain it to someone else so they understand it? Does it give you a foundation for succeeding at your dowsing goals, whatever they are? Or is it smoke and mirrors?

What Dowsing Is...And What It Is Not

Ask anyone what dowsing is. You'll hear someone say it's a healing method. Others will say you transform energies with it. Still others will say you get answers to questions. Or it's a past life regression method. Someone else will tell you it's talking to an advanced being to get information. Another person will say it's a psychic power and you either have it or not. Someone else will say it's just getting a yes or no with a pendulum. And Nigel and I will say it's a natural human ability that is a skill that you can master for improving your life, a way of answering questions your brain cannot answer. Whom do you believe and why?

My first point is that dowsing cannot be all those things, because those are vastly different things. But does that help you? No.

Why are there so many definitions? The rapid proliferation of dowsing without any true expert leaders led to a variety of 'factions' believing dowsing was this or that. Mostly those beliefs were based on other beliefs rather than any real thinking. As in dowsing is a psychic ability. That's parroting the internet. Others who didn't have a clue where the answers came from assumed dowsing was a method for talking to spirit guides and advanced beings. Well, that's channeling, folks, not dowsing, but most dowsers, especially newbies, are confused about that one.

Those who first used dowsing to identify root causes of disease often used intention, statements of intention, to heal a situation. They would then spin their pendulum (invariably they used pendulums; if they did not, this misconception could not have occurred) to tell when the process was complete. The pendulum wasn't doing the work. One can and should dowse without a pendulum. Pendulum healing uses a pendulum to heal, and that's a very new healing method. But it isn't dowsing. It's healing.

When I used a pendulum or other tool to dowse energies in an environment and what method to clear them with and to confirm they were cleared, that was dowsing. The actual clearing is done with intention, often anchored with something physical, like a peg or crystal or color. Though intention is what powers the clearing. Dowsing isn't intention. Any dictionary tells you the difference, but you can start a riot on a dowsing forum or at an event by saying that. Sorry, but it's a fact. Dowsing is not intention. They are two different things.

If we want dowsing to ever mature and evolve into something many people have mastered and use a lot, we need to start with an agreed definition of dowsing. I do not accept that we can each define it as we wish. There would be no communication, no laws, no society, no way of interacting with each other if this were universally the way, and there is no reason to say dowsing should get a dispensation from having a definition.

So here's my definition, and it is based on the historically accepted definition of dowsing, and one way to prove it works is that it applies to every single application of dowsing you can imagine. That is not true of many recent 'definitions' of dowsing.

Dowsing is a natural skill for focusing your intuition to get answers to questions your brain cannot answer.

Any variation of that works for me. It's a great starting point, because even a rank beginner can see what dowsing is. Looking for water? You're asking 'where's the water?'. Want to heal yourself? Dowsing can ask questions about why you're ill, what will cure you, how long it will take and what side effects there are. Lost your wedding ring? 'Where's my ring at this time?' Every single dowsing application fits that definition. This is manifestly untrue of many other definitions of dowsing.

So you may ask, 'What about those other definitions? Are those people wrong?' We don't want to get into blame or right or wrong, really. If we all agree to the above definition, we can talk about dowsing and teach dowsing and all be on the same page. Here are some examples in shifting definitions to allow for more precision and better and more meaningful communication among dowsers without blame:

You may have been told dowsing is about contacting your spirit guide, angels or some advanced being. That's channeling, and it's a method I do NOT advise rank newbies attempt. Take a course. Channeling is real. It is also risky. It is powerful. Esther Hicks of Abraham fame is NOT dowsing, guys. She is channeling information from Abraham. Even though in the beginning, Jerry had to go through the alphabet letter by letter to get the messages, she wasn't dowsing. She was channeling. You could argue that he in a sense was dowsing or sifting through the letters, but the dowsing had nothing to do with what she was actually doing. It was a tool to interpret the message.

I admire good channelers and wish them luck. I just wish they would never say they are dowsing. Use the term channeling. Check dictionaries if you aren't sure you agree with me. The two are very different things. It's not me saying it.

OK, as a dowser, if you aren't talking to God or the angels, where do the answers come from? No one knows, but in terms of our stated definition, it is safe to say that as a natural skill we all have, and because we feel that we create our own reality (or co-create it), the answers that appear to be 'out there' are actually within us. Everything out there is a reflection of us. So let's say we aren't sure exactly how it works, but the answers exist, and we turn inward to seek them. Let's try that, because it's empowering, natural and uses a natural faculty--intuition. No mumbo jumbo or New Age nonsense.

What about dowsing as a healing method? I mentioned the confusion that comes from using dowsing during a space clearing or healing and what the client sees is a pendulum swinging and a result. Did the pendulum do that? Of course not. You can and should dowse without a pendulum or other tool. When you do a healing or space clearing without a tool, it becomes much clearer to you and the client that you are using intention. Intention is another natural skill that must be mastered for bests results, and most people unfortunately never get training, and thus, never become good at it. By splitting these two ideas apart, as they should be, we allow you to see that, oh dear, there is something else to master. (Sorry about that.) You have to study to do Reiki, right? Did you complain or feel disadvantaged because you couldn't instantly do hands-on healing successfully? You have to study to learn jin shin jyutsu. Of course; you accept that, because you see those things as skills you must learn. But no one told you that you have to study to learn to power statements of intention. Big oversight. But think about it. Why should saying something you wish be all you need to do? If it's that easy, we'd all be rich. Wishing is not intending. But that's fodder for another post.

Raymon Grace, a past big name in dowsing in America, used to sell Silva Mind Control (so I've been told), a very expensive course for....the powering of intention, among other things. He then went on to dowsing, and his most common statement is, "I've done this, and it works for me. Try it." He seems to neglect to mention his expertise in the powering of intention. He combines statements of intention with the use of a pendulum and doesn't differentiate between dowsing and intention. I personally see that as an unfortunate oversight that leads to misconceptions.

I can dowse really well about health issues, but I won't tell anyone to start dowsing about health until they master basic dowsing technique. Just because I can do it doesn't guarantee you can. Why not? Because without mastery, the complexities of health dowsing soon yield confusion and disappointing results, even dangerous ones, and people give up. Yet, many people don't want to hear that they need to master basic dowsing first. But it's the truth.

Intention is a very powerful tool we often use. The main caveat is you have to learn to power it, and most people haven't done that. And in any case, it's a tool like Reiki, which also must be mastered, and it is separate from dowsing. That's the main thing for this discussion. Intention works and is powerful and wonderful. It just isn't dowsing. Check the definition above and the one in dictionaries and convince yourself.

I saw someone doing a past life regression using a pendulum for the hypnosis. Pendulums can be used in other methods, but the use of a pendulum doesn't mean dowsing. Can you see the logic of that? A pendulum has many uses. Dowsing is one. Not all people using a pendulum are dowsing.

Pendulum healing cannot be done without a pendulum. Dowsing can easily be done without a pendulum. Proof positive they are not the same thing, but let's start a riot by saying so, because I've had people take exception to that very logical statement. Logic doesn't always seem to win out, but think about it. If you don't need a pendulum to dowse, it is not the same thing as pendulum healing, which requires one. It really is that simple, and no one is dissing pendulum healers. We're just saying let's be impeccable with our words.

Hypnosis experts: you don't need a pendulum to hypnotize someone, but it works. So does just about anything similar to a pendulum. Is hypnosis dowsing? I actually had someone in a forum I moderated state she was using dowsing for past life regressions when she was hypnotizing folks while they looked at a pendulum, then asking them questions. You do not need a pendulum to do that, nor do you need to dowse to do past life regression.

Hypnosis and pendulum healing are great. I just ask that if you are using them, you don't fold dowsing into them, because they are not dowsing. It adds to confusion.

In summary: If we all agree on one definition of dowsing that fits all applications of dowsing, then it becomes easier and less argumentative to talk about dowsing and to teach dowsing and to guide dowsers. We won't be giving them conflicting answers, and we won't confuse them. As dowsers, most of us have other areas of interest and expertise, and we can use dowsing with them, but as responsible dowsers, we need to point out to folks that dowsing is one thing, and healing is another. Dowsing is a powerful tool in my toolkit, but I use many other methods in combination with it. Tell them that hypnosis is one thing and dowsing, another. That channeling is one thing, and dowsing, another. By removing this first misconception about dowsing, we lay a solid foundation for all future discussions and trainings. What do you think?

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Re: Dowsing Misconception #1: What Dowsing Is...

Post by Grahame » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:10 pm

Wow Maggie - way to jump in at the deep end! :o

I can see this being a contentious post with some people, which should make for an interesting discussion. So I'll start...

I both agree and disagree with what you're saying. Yes, dowsing is an innate human ability. Yes, it's primarily about detection and getting answers from your subconscious. Anything else involving a dowsing tool, such as applying intention for healing, psychic work, spirit release etc. is applied dowsing. This is mainly why I bill myself as a dowser and geomancer.

But dowsing is also technically a form of divination. People still talk about water divining for example (I'm not saying that's a good term, and it's one I don't use myself). In the early days, people would seek answers from spirit by dowsing letters, similar to a Ouija board. Now you are calling that channelling, and I would too. But 'channelling' is a trendy 'newage' term that is a bit woolly and usually refers to direct mediumistic contact without necessarily involving a pendulum. Yet people do use dowsing to facilitate dialogue with - let's just say 'the other' for the moment to avoid getting into any further linguistic pitfalls. Dowsing is the method used to moderate this contact, although it's not the act itself. But where do we draw the line? I would argue that the definition of dowsing has widened over the years and I think we need to accept that.

By very strict definition, dowsing used to be defined by the BSD as:

The use of pendulum or rods to find water or minerals.

If you go to Wikipedia (not that I'm citing that as a reliable source as the dowsing page is constantly edited by sceptics), the definition is:

A type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites and many other objects and materials without the use of scientific apparatus.

However, over time, word drift occurs. This happens with any term as new concepts arise. For instance, geomancy originally was used to describe a medieval system of divination involving sticks or stones thrown on the ground then arranged into patterns and interpreted on an astrological chart. But when Jesuit missionaries in China saw Feng-Shui practitioners doing their thing, the closest analogy they could think of was the European practice of geomancy, so Feng-Shui became a form of geomancy, and by extension the term is now applied to a range of disciplines relating to earth healing, of which dowsing is just one.

Similarly, I would argue that the definition of dowsing has broadened somewhat. The modern BSD definition of dowsing is this:

Sensitive responses in humans reacting to absence or presence of substances and entities. It can be used to seek those things that are hidden from our everyday senses.

Even this doesn't specifically mention intention, yet applying intention is so implicit in dowsing work today that I think we need to just accept it as part of the picture. Even when dowsing for water sources, you set your intention to find the best possible supply for the client.

I rather like Susan Collins' definition:

Dowsing is the detection and transformation of energy using simple tools and the power of thought.

I think that pretty much sums up where things are today; even though the term 'energy', widely applied in dowsing work, is completely woolly in this context. There are a lot of those terms in dowsing, like 'earth energies' and 'ley lines' - we need better terminology. But we (dowsers) understand what it means.

However, to most of the general public, when you mention dowsing they still think of it as someone walking across a field with a forked twig in hand searching for water; and this is a problem when we're trying to promote dowsing and make it more accessible. It's not very marketable, and this is why some people call what they're doing something else to make it more trendy, such as John Living's 'Intuition Technology'.

So, do we need a new word to describe what we're doing, or just a new definition?
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Re: Dowsing Misconception #1: What Dowsing Is...

Post by Maggie » Fri Nov 29, 2019 7:31 pm

"Do we need a new word or a new definition to describe what we are doing?" I see this as a very good question to start with, but probably, many on this forum are thinking, "Who cares?" They think that's just semantics and what difference does it make? Words and their meanings change, as Grahame has pointed out. That is an incontrovertible fact. When I say that I believe dowsing would be better off if it stuck to the historical definition, I can present arguments in that regard, but what good is that? There are people who now post on dowsing forums and say that anyone should be able to define dowsing the way they want. They become angry if you try to explain that you cannot teach or discuss somethingwhen we don't all agree on what we are talking about or teaching. This is why I call it a foundational problem.

The fact that the BSD and other experts in dowsing try to define dowsing shows they understand the necessity of having an agreement about what dowsing is. It's a starting point for everything. We can't teach what we can't define. We can't promote that which we can't define. We can't attract the right people if we can't explain what we do.

I have absolutely no doubt at all that my opinion will not prevail as to the direction dowsing goes in. Nigel and I will continue to teach and promote dowsing as it was historically taught and talk about it in terms of how it has historically been used, but the boat has sailed in terms of where dowsing is headed. I think if enough people wanted, it could be turned around, but I don't see that desire. People seem happy with the new view of dowsing. We all have a right to our beliefs, but as someone who teaches dowsing, I still will say, I believe that the historical definition serves us best in terms of our goals.

But let's face reality. Let's look at what the reality of how most people want to think about dowsing has given dowsing momentum in a certain direction. When we broaden the definition of dowsing, what happens? Grahame made an excellent point when he says that the average person sees dowsing as someone wandering around a field with a forked stick, and he pointed out this is a misconception that makes dowsing look boring, plus it is an incomplete and outdated picture. We do indeed need to present dowsing completely and in an attractive way. But how you pitch it will be based on your definition of dowsing, won't it? That determines whom you attract. And more importantly, how you teach dowsing is based on what you think it is. So making a good definition of dowsing is the first step before you create your syllabus and your organization and its goals.

Are we making a fuss over nothing? How does our understanding of 'what dowsing is' affect how we teach dowsing? Does it make it harder or easier? And also, how does that understanding, based on defining dowsing, affect dowsing mastery? Does it make it harder or easier to master the skill? Also, will a broader definition of dowsing appeal to more folks, be easier to teach and eventually get more people dowsing in ways that change their lives? Will it attract the 'right' people? Oh, God, did I really just say that? I meant people who will love dowsing and stick with it and use it. That's all. :D

I submit that the results are in, but apparently, people aren't connecting the dots. Dowsing organizations can barely stay afloat. In the US, chapters have dried up all across the country. The Sedona chapter is gone, which tells you a lot. Now, instead of Walt Woods or William Tiller, we've got a speaker telling us how to hook up to a car battery to make ourselves healthy--no evidence, no proper technique, no nothing. I am not making this up; it happened at the Prescott chapter meeting a few years back. We quit attending the Prescott chapter's meetings after that one. If we're going in a good direction, shouldn't the opposite be happening? Let me ask that again. Shouldn't dowsing be stronger, growing and attracting more people and evolving in terms of how it's seen if we are going in a good direction, or is that too much to ask? Why am I playing Cassandra? I know I can't change anything, but it's sad, and I can't help but try.

In the 1990s and the very early years of this century, Walt Woods (ASD President) and William Tiller of Stanford spoke at the Sedona dowsing chapter. These guys are noted scientists and engineers. Is dowsing as it is now defined attracting as many left-brain dominant types as it once did? No. By 'broadening' the definition, dowsing authorities have added so much woo-woo stuff that dowsing is now pushed into a woo-woo corner, relegated to the fringe, because it wants to add 'power of thought' and healing and energy transformation, all of which are wonderful, but let's face it, not left-brain ideas and thus, making dowsing more like all the other New Age fuzzy stuff that doesn't appeal to rational types. I contend that broadening the definition of dowsing in that way has limited the attraction to a smaller segment of people--the people who don't really care if they're considered nutters, who don't care if they can't begin to explain what they're doing because it just feels right to them, and who even don't seem to care about measuring results. Unfortunately, those attitudes do not a good teacher make.

Is that in itself the issue? Not really. The issue is, if dowsing is a natural activity, anyone can do it, regardless of which side of the brain they use most. And in the old days, that was what dowsing was, the only New Age method that used both sides of the brain significantly. It appealed to woo-woo and scientific types. The woo-woo types had their strengths, and the scientists, theirs. Together, they were a fair representation of people at large. Left brain types are more analytical and often make more organized and articulate teachers. Right brain types tended to be more emotionally appealing and inspiring and more willing to favor intuition and not be able to explain everything. Huge generalizations, but pretty valid overall.

But like any marriage of opposites, it was bound to lead to contention with one side gaining ascendancy. The woo-woo has won out, but in winning, has dowsing become stronger? Has it spread to more people and is it being used more often in meaningful ways? We have done surveys time and again on thousands of people over the years, and this is what they say over and over: the vast majority of people who claim an interest in dowsing don't trust their dowsing and have no confidence in their accuracy and basically don't use it much as a result. This is the single most consistent truth in dowsing today. If dowsing is becoming more successful, that should not be the case. To me, this is what needs to change. We need to not just sell the sizzle of dowsing and spruce it up as a Holy Grail for all your ills, but present it so that it can be taught and learned as easily and as well as possible, with a goal of getting people to use it to improve their lives in ways they can measure.

My concern is that the broader definition including 'power of thought', meaning the use of intention, and including healing and energy transformation not only makes it less broadly appealing to people, but more importantly, makes it much harder to teach and master. Susan Collins must be happy with her definition of dowsing, but how does one teach and demonstrate expertise in the power of thought in addition to training others how to dowse? Raymon Grace supposedly sold Silva Mind Control (an expensive system for using the power of thought) before he became a dowsing guru, my point being he must have believed that the use of intention requires training. Yet I'm not seeing dowsing gurus teaching this subject, not even him. And are the ones who talk about really experts? More importantly, do they teach it effectively?

I think that it is disrespectful to shamanism, healing, power of thought, channeling, etc, if we don't acknowledge each of these is a powerful method that requires skill and effort to master. Do we serve dowsing by adding these things into our definition of what dowsing is? I choose to say no for that very reason: it makes teaching and mastery too hard, even if I give up and accept the new definition.

If those who have chosen to broaden the definition of dowsing don't find ways to address these issues, dowsing will sink even lower, relegating it to the fringe, keeping it unattainable in terms of mastery, making people visit the village wizard and pay for dowsing, when I believe they could be dowsing for themselves, and pay the wizard if they want space clearing and channeling and healing and other techniques. Not to say you can't learn all that, too, but I refuse to believe one tool does it all. Go out and learn a healing method and a clearing system, etc. But acknowledge it's yet another skill. Life requires a diverse toolkit. You can't get by with just a screwdriver.

At the very least, we need to separate these advanced applications--which I see as separate skills one can use with dowsing, but not a part of dowsing--and create courses in those skills that are worthy and actually give mastery that is measurable. By that, I mean they crank out actual healers, actual energy transformers and people who get results.

Reiki attempted to become more accessible, but in the process of making Reiki accessible to people who had no money or very little, it also seems to have diluted the power and success (effectiveness) of those who take the courses. As a Reiki Master Teacher, I saw that happen in the past twenty years to where now you can get a Reiki attunement as easily as you can buy a metaphysical PhD. I was grateful the courses were affordable, but the fact is, I believe, based on my own experience and what I've seen, that you can't wave a wand and make someone a good Reiki healer. I think you should apprentice with a master. That's the way to get mastery. If someone paid $10K, they had a right to expect ongoing training and assistance, but if you pay $99, you don't get anything much after the course. There's a whole other post, about why our society, being based on buying stuff, has limitations in terms of people mastering various skills. Or at least, in terms of turning out lots of true masters.

Dowsing may turn out to be very much the same way as Reiki or even cabinet making. I have struggled with this thought for many years now, because it seems to me that what we are doing just isn't giving us the results we want. So few people follow through and master dowsing. This was true even when it was less complex. This is, of course, a whole new subject to discuss... Nigel and I recognize that one of the failings of dowsing training is the lack of support and ongoing interaction with masters, so we offer ongoing support to those who buy our course. That hasn't solved anything. Hardly anyone asks for help. They don't even know where to begin, I think. We are aware there is no affordable way in modern society to create apprenticeships, that our efforts are not equivalent to that, and so, it may be that no matter how we define dowsing, the way we teach it is never going to help achieve the goals we all have for getting more people to use it, because when they go home, and they try to dowse, and they fail, they inevitably give up.

There is no organized way, no wonderful source, no system of apprenticeship with a master in this culture of ours. Social media and forums haven't worked; we had a forum on Facebook with 2K members, and it was totally moribund, and people aren't on FB to learn and actually seemed to take exception to anyone trying to teach them anything. We had free forums on websites, and everybody just 'lurks', so you can't get any discussions going. I just don't know the answer, but I do believe this aspect needs addressing.

So when we decide what dowsing will finally consist of, we can begin to look at how to teach it, how to turn out confident and successful dowsers who can in turn train others. I feel certain we all have the same goals for dowsing, and that means that no matter how we choose to define it, we want to see it spread and grow and empower lots of people. How can we use our definition of dowsing to do that successfully and turn things around? That's what really matters.

Posting and talking about subjects always--at least for me--has the benefit of making me think why I think the way I do. It makes me look at my goals and consider alternatives for reaching them. It challenges me to see things in new ways and to ask what really matters most to me. I love hearing what others think, and I do believe that we all pretty much want the same thing. The question is, how do we reach our goals, and how can we turn around this decline in dowsing?

Maybe I'm wrong, and clarifying our definition and keeping it simple isn't the best way, but one thing is certain. If we don't change the course, dowsing is going to sink into oblivion. It's well on its way, and maybe it's all for the best. I have to think that whatever is happening is somehow for the best, but part of me just doesn't want to believe that.

I'd love to hear how others think of dowsing, what it is, and how they think their definition of dowsing can be used to develop marketing and teaching strategies that turn out lots of good dowsers who use it all the time. Or if maybe you think the Universe is protecting dowsing, not allowing it to get like Reiki, keeping it occult and esoteric and used only by the few, like us, who commit to learning how to use it. That certainly is a possibility. I sometimes think that selling personal empowerment is a losing cause.

For my next post, I'll pick something simpler. But I still want to hear what forum members think about this topic. Thinking about something helps you crystallize your goals and beliefs and can be very helpful. We don't have to all see things the same way, but I do think we all need to think...

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