Pitfalls for the Unwary

by Ann Procter

Editor Dudley has asked me to offer you some of the insights Roy and I have gained over twenty five years of teaching and practising dowsing in relation to healing. Some of these wilt be familiar ground to some of you, but they are offered in case they can set you thinking and hopefully improving your own practice. We all have to learn from our mistakes, but sharing our discoveries can enable a few short cuts, especially for beginners.

Unambiguous Questions

Time and time again we need to remind ourselves and students to ask clear and unambiguous questions when dowsing. The question has to be answered by a yes or a no For example It is no good asking “what colour is the carpet?”, you must ask for each specific colour in turn, perhaps speeding things up by asking your dowsing reaction to give you the nearest while running through the seven colours of the spectrum, adding black, white or brown. As you get more experienced your pendulum or rod (or whatever else you use) may give you a signal which is not exactly a yes or no but wobbles about in a different pattern. This can mean “yes, but…” ,or “question not clear enough, try again”. It sometimes helps to imagine that you are asking your questions of another person who cannot speak, only nod for yes, shake for no or give you a quizzical took when the question was not clear enough. The equivalent of various other facial expressions may emerge with practice.

Clear Concept

Closely related to the above is the need to have a clear concept of what you are asking about. If you ask for the whereabouts of THE car keys you may find some which are for a different car! We had an example very early on in our dowsing practice when a colleague was asked to help locate our daughter’s lost wedding ring. His dowsing of our house plan was very thorough and he described the position of a four drawer chest (not marked on the plan) on or in which he thought the ring would be found. He had located a ring of mine made by the same artist ! He would probably have done better if he had been provided with a picture of the ring showing its unique design. Identifying the object of search mentally requires concentration and focus. This is why so many dowsers prefer a witness or photo, or something to key them in more closely When asking about material objects this is a reasonable way of making sure your search is narrowed down to THE object you are looking for, especially water or minerals.

Intangible Areas

But what about intangible areas of search? Earth energies, and various allied phenomena whose terminology escapes an exact definition which is universally acceptable, are notorious for being found differently by different dowsers. (Sig’s first law says that this is likely even if the dowsers have been taught by the same teacher !) I think we proved this point when we gave a talk to the E.E.G. near Glastonbury in April 2000. ln advance we had asked 21 experienced dowsers to map the earth energies at the Chalice Well, a sacred site with a spring of healing water. Some did it by map dowsing, some local residents did it on site. The correlations were tenuous, and concepts of energies very varied – some lines straight, some curved or wriggly, some spirals, even some “big blobs of love”. There seems to be something about the levels of vibration which individual dowsers key into, or was it related to their personal concept of earth energies? So there is no right or wrong about their findings, which the scientific mind finds very difficult!

Different Dowser’s Results

When mapping earth energies for our work in “Healing Sick Houses” we readily find lines which are different from other dowsers, but over the years have realised that if the healing is done on the basis of the findings of the same dowser, then it works. If we try to heal using someone else’s lines (or vice versa) then it doesn’t work. Soon after learning these techniques from Bruce MacManaway back in the 1970’s we exchanged mappings with a fellow student on Bruce’s course, with the aim of checking up on each other while we still had our “L” plates on. There were some friendly discussions/arguments out of which emerged the above respect for differences, and we now treat our H.S.H. students similarity. When they ask for checks on their work after the course we simply dowse to enquire if the healing has been effective and adequate, we don’t check on whether they have drawn the lines in the “right” place.


The issue of timing can provide the dowsers with a number of pitfalls. Our answers seem to be coming from somewhere which is to a certain extent outside time and/or space. Is it O.K. to dowse for the future? We have heard some stories about people dowsing for wins on the horses, becoming more and more daring with success, then coming a big cropper. Somehow using a sacred skill for that purpose doesn’t sit well with us. Anyway, because we all have free will and are continuously creating our future, all sorts of events can occur between the dowse and the time dowsed for. Supposing your chosen horse was withdrawn from the race between your dowse and the event? Supposing the jockey sneezed at the beginning of the final straight and lost concentration? If you are dowsing for a time you need to be very precise, is it a.m. or p.m., clock time or G.M.T.? I sometimes use psychological astrology in my work, and a precise birth time is vital to an accurate horoscope – an hour out, or even a few minutes, due to slack dowsing, makes a nonsense of it. If you are dowsing about something you want to know NOW, make sure you state that. We once made proper fools of ourselves looking for some treasure. Some psychic writing indicated where treasure had been buried. We dowsed the exact spot, and found the container to be ceramic, but on digging found no treasure, only fragments of broken brick (i.e. ceramic) drain. The question we had asked was “where was the treasure buried and we think we got the right answer, judging by the nature of the spoil excavated! What we should have asked is “where is the buried treasure NOW?”. Someone had been there before us ! Timing becomes an issue when dowsing for the whereabouts of something which moves. Unless its a terrier stuck down a rabbit hole, a dog whose position you pinpoint NOW can be somewhere else by the time you go to that place. We once led some people a merry dance all over Anglesey trying to locate their large white Pyrannean(???) mountain dog, who returned home unaided.


What about the ethics of looking for a missing person? Supposing a man asks you to find his wife who has disappeared. You get out maps etc and locate, say, 22 Acacia Avenue, Newtown. So he goes there and knocks on the door, finding her shacked up with another bloke. Where does the dowser stand in the ensuing fracas? The same sort of thing applies to missing belongings. An ace dowser, whom some of you will know, helps the police with finding hidden “recreational” drugs. The dealers are not likely to be friendly towards her ! It seems to us essential to have the permission of the person about whom, or about whose property or interests, we are dowsing. Otherwise it might be taken as an intrusion on their privacy – like reading someone’s diary without their permission. I wrote about a case of dowsing a house for a prospective purchaser in my article about protection in E.E.G. Newsletter…???. 2003. We nearly came to legal grief over that one ! Its probably my psychotherapeutic training, but we are also careful not to name our clients without their permission. People don’t always feel comfortable with anyone else knowing they have consulted a dowser or healer (or psychotherapist). So we suggest you keep your clients names to yourself and let them tell whom they may.

Body Positions

We find that quite a lot of people, especially in the early stages of their dowsing practice, are very susceptible to body positions affecting their accuracy. The left and right sides of our bodies have different polarities. You can test this by holding up your hands with palms facing and moving them apart and together. A subtle magnetic attraction or repulsion or other slight sensation is usually felt at some point in this motion. So we teach pendulum dowsing keeping the dowsing hand strictly to the same side of the body, the legs uncrossed and the spare hand out of the way on its own side. Experimenting with moving the pendulum hand over the other side of the body often results in reversed signals. This can be important when relating with a person sifting beside you when you are dowsing rather than in front of you, or if you are holding your pendulum over a dowsed object (not necessary in our experience) and move over to the other side The effect is certainly not universal, but its worth being aware of the possibility, especially if results are poor. Some people have learned to hold the pendulum directly over the other palm in front of them. This is perfectly valid, and makes use of the body’s polarity in another way, but it occupies both hands, and it can be useful to have a spare one to point at objects or witnesses being dowsed. Some people are very particular about orientation when dowsing: one woman insisted on dowsing only with her back to the sun. We didn’t find this necessary but respected her need. Others when map dowsing place the map so that it is directly matching the compass in the place where they are dowsing, i.e. north on the map points to north where the dowser sits. Again, important to some, but not to us. Most people seem to need two L-rods to make use of the body polarity, and to hold them shoulder-width apart, but we meet a number who dowse accurately with one rod only, even beginners (we are not all Hamishes from the start though!).


When dowsing for food it is all too easy to get the answer you WANT rather than the answer you NEED. lf there is a tempting dish in front of you, setting your saliva flowing, and you ask “it is safe for me to eat this now”, you are more likely to get a yes, even though the food might be unsatisfactory for you, than if you dowsed “blind”. That means writing appropriate food items down on several bits of paper, turning them face down and shuffling them about, then asking the question pointing to each paper in turn. You don’t know what is written so you are not biased towards the foods you fancy. And what is your concept of what is safe for you to eat? If you are concerned with unhealthy bacteria in the food, that is fairly straightforward. But there is a huge range of reactions possible from a dangerous allergy (e.g. people who go into anaphylactic shock if they eat nuts of suffer a bee sting) to something like a mild headache or sneezing if you consume, for instance, chocolate or red wine. The latter does no real harm, and may be worth the risk! Your dowsing questions need to be couched accordingly. I have met a number of people who have got themselves into a malnourished state and caused considerable catering nuisances by denying themselves all sorts of foods, not realising that a mild or medium reaction might be only temporary. It may only matter today, of even only this morning, so long term denial is inappropriate.

Emotional Bias

It is important not to allow an emotional bias to take over your dowsing, not only when checking for food. lt’s not easy to keep your feelings out of the picture especially if they are strong or urgent. You are asking your intuition (inner tuition) for help, and if its confused by your “gut feelings” the chances of accuracy are sorely diminished. If the chakras mean something to you, look to the brow not the solar plexus to inform you.

Vibrational Remedy

Dowsing can be very useful for choosing a vibrational remedy. By this I mean a remedy which has only the energy of a substance in it such as a flower or homoeopathic remedy. Narrowing down the choice by grouping them together on cards for dowsing blind can speed up the process. Homoeopaths who have come on our courses tell us that they often have a few possible prescriptions which might suit, so dowsing helps them to find the best one among them. I think it is important to dowse for these remedies on written lists or separate papers, not with the actual bottles present As they work on vibration principles, it seems possible to incorporate the vibration of the person you are dowsing for into the remedy as you make the connection, which might not be good for the next person taking it.


It is possible to experience “interference” when dowsing. If your answers are not making sense, suspect this, particularly if you are dowsing a house for earth energies. If there is a presence in the house it may be alerted by your enquiry, and not at all sure that it wants you to put your nose in, let alone alter the status quo. lt may feel that “the bailiffs are at the door” who could be distracted if they can muddle your dowsing. Recently a student kept having silly answers when she had only been dowsing for a short while, though initially she was very accurate. It turned out that her deceased husband was trying to get through to her, so work needed to be done on that situation before her dowsing could work in a sustained way. Go very carefully when there are entities or presences about: it is all too easy for interfering presences to latch onto the dowser and drain his/her energy. Anyway, if you suspect interference, stop. step up the protection, and start again, or wait until you can do that particular bit of work in company with others.


Protection is a whole subject in itself, which is why I wrote that article in a previous newsletter. Please consider it as part of this review of pitfalls.


Last but not least, use a checking formula before each session of dowsing, and then between subjects or at intervals if you go on for any length of time. Various formula are taught: we find a very simple one suffices: 1. Please give me a yes. 2. Please give me a no. 3. Am I fit to dowse now? 4. May we talk about ? naming your subject in precise detail. Dowsing reactions can change, causing errors and confusion, so need checking frequently. If you are not fit to dowse (don’t forget the NOW) you won’t get accurate answers, so make yourself fitter if you can – e.g. a short meditation, a drink of water, go to the loo, go for a walk, take a shower, or whatever suits you, then try again, or leave it till another time. Some subjects are suitable for enquiry, some not. If you get no to question 4 it may not be the right time or place to enquire about your subject, or it may just not be your scene. You have to respect this or you risk inaccurate answers and may do harm.

It feels alien to me to bring up so many snags. Dowsing can be enormously rewarding, useful and fun, so please don’t be put off, just avoid at least some of the pitfalls. We have fallen into most of them ourselves at some time.

Happy Dowsing!

© 2004 Ann Procter & BSD EEG