The Intelligent Aether – Towards a Mechanism of Dowsing

by Jim Lyons


The turn of centuries encourages the brave or foolish to make great claims about the state of understanding of the human race. The end of the 19th century led leading natural philosopher James Jeans to state that there were just one or two things to tidy up and then man would know all there was to know about Science. This was near the close of the so-called Classical period in the Natural Sciences.

Within five years, two new theories had appeared on the scene – The Theory of Relativity and Quantum Theory, now the main pillars of modern science! Respectively, they are theories of the very big and the very small, each developed from completely differing assumptions or axioms. One would assume that at some dimensional scale, both these theories would coalesce to form a tidy united Theory of Everything (TOE). The approach to unite these was assumed to be to quantise Relativity to yield the discrete Nature of the quantum world. Some 70 years later, with an army of researchers still searching for this Holy Grail, the long sought unity is nowhere in sight. Despite this, it did not stop Stephen Hawking pronouncing in the 1990s that there were just one or two things to tidy up and we would then know it all!

History continues to generate a wonderful cyclical behaviour pattern.

So what happened in the last decade to turn our world upside down yet once again? Rapid advances were, and are still being made in the Quantum scenario that dramatically change our world view (I will return to this later). A key area addressed seriously for the first time by Science in general was -The Brain. Despite many a skirmish by very talented individuals such as Carl Jung and William James several decades earlier, what drove this latter day push was progress made in imaging the internal mechanism of the brain.

The question this activity posed which is still prevalent is – How does all the electrical activity in the neurons give rise to the phenomenon we call Mind? Needless to say, this in the trade is called – ‘The Hard Question`. I will address comments in this article not to trying to answer the question but simply to debating if this is even the correct question to ask?

A Historical Perspective

Despite this latest interest in trying to identify the brain’s function, its intimately related epiphenomenon1, Consciousness, is not even considered a part of Science. The prevailing Paradigm views Matter as the only meaningful Reality with four forces controlling the movement of its associated mass. The fact that we cannot find well over 90% of the mass of the Universe to explain the current state of the Cosmos seems to be no more than a slight irritation – it is supposedly hidden in so called Dark Matter. The striven for unifying Theory of Everything completely ignores the conscious process.

Was this always so?

Far from it, for the Ancient World embraced truly everything including the crucial parameter of the state of Experience – how we sense the world. Our current historical perspective assumes that recorded history begins with the Sumerian Civilisation of the fifth century BC, which gave us our number system and knowledge of astronomy. We now know from recent and sometimes contentious archaeological evidence that under the sea in certain parts of the world, there exist lost cities of some standing. (see – Ed.) One area of modern day India is being linked with the very early days of the Vedic Tradition with its all embracing philosophical texts which are as relevant today as when they were compiled.

To the ancient view, man was and is very much a part of the Cosmos to which he is intimately related – the origin of  ‘As above, so below’. Knowledge was gained by meditation directly from the Cosmos, the holder of all knowledge and wisdom.

Despite the seemingly quaint beliefs that were originated in these early days of civilisation, there nevertheless appears to be more than a shred of truth in them when presented in modern terminology. The key notion that Consciousness was an everyday part of the Cosmos did not seem to be queried. The Yogic tradition was thus born which still offers a unifying philosophy to this very day. It was also a period in which man elsewhere in the world started to create sacred sites, which despite vast differences in distance and historical time, show remarkable unifying properties in their layout and construction.

By the time we reach the well-documented periods in history, particularly the Egyptians, the knowledge and understanding associated with the Conscious/Cosmic link had entered the domain of the privileged few, the high priesthood. However, the knowledge has been handed down through centuries and empires to emerge as the Hermetic Principle – the technique all organised religions have striven to keep secret. Through the Greek and Roman periods, the knowledge was held in the Mystery Schools alongside the other sacred techniques used primarily for divination purposes such as The I Ching and what we now call Dowsing. That Consciousness and mental access to a knowledge base were unquestioned cornerstones of the early Civilisations.

This understanding, although having to suffer several inquisitions at the hands of various religions over extended periods, still emerged intact from the fervour of the medieval period and became in the hands of the Templars a source of wisdom even if somewhat subliminal up to the late Renaissance period.

If one has to pick a date when all things changed, then 1600 is as good a date as any. For it was at this time that Francis Bacon first laid out the philosophy for a process of knowing. It was an attempt to break away from the world of superstition and myth. For the first time, the concept of a mechanistic universe emerged to culminate in the Laws of Newtonian dynamics. It was a few decades before this event however that Descartes had presented his philosophical view of the separation of Mind and Matter that gives us still our current scientific Paradigm. Whereas Descartes fully embraced the mechanical analogue view of the world, Newton came from a very different background. He was also steeped in the ideas of Alchemy, the ancient art of Knowing, and Theology, and wrote equally on all three topics.

Today, we teach our budding scientists and technologists only the rudiments of his natural philosophy encompassing physics and mathematics. His other works of a more mystical nature remain virtually unknown. A key fact is that, whereas in his main scientific work – Principia, he made no reference to an explanation of one of his main theoretical discoveries – Gravity, in his alchemistic works he describes the source of gravity as an all pervading subtle energy. This is a view which is starting to align strongly with modern ideas!

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the classical theory of Natural Philosophy was developed by a host of eminent scientists who laid the foundation for much of what we understand today. In particular, the mathematical foundation of the calculus – the key to understanding dynamics, was refined, based on both Newton’s and Leibniz’s early work.

From the perspective of the potential application of the calculus to dowsing, the dynamics of fluid flow must rate very highly. As we shall see, the theoretical treatment of subtle energy fields is succumbing to the analytical techniques originally developed for understanding the flows of gases and liquids.

There were two major factors which created enormous difficulties for finding accurate solutions to many real practical fluid problems. One was the compressibility of the fluid itself, the other the more nebulous problem of its viscosity, the apparent ‘stickiness’ of some fluids, a more obvious extreme example being that of treacle! Today, there are very special fluids that exhibit no viscosity whatsoever. Needless to say they are termed Superfluids and are deemed to play a significant part in understanding the Aether and hence in dowsing and indeed in all conscious processes.

Major developments took place during the 19th century related to the theory of electricity and magnetism. Practical studies by Faraday showed how magnetism could be described by fields of energy. We can all remember the ubiquitous pattern generated by iron filings scattered in the vicinity of a bar magnet. This self same mathematical pattern, the so-called dipole field, can just as readily be generated using a pair of dowsing rods and a pair of separated everyday objects acting as the poles of a magnet!

What came out of Maxwell`s later work on investigating the dynamics of the electric and magnetic fields was the Theory of Electromagnetism which showed how these apparently two separate fields were in fact one combined field. Experiments showed that the velocity of the travelling waves associated with this field was in fact the speed of light. The waves were deemed to propagate through a medium termed the Ether! Much research was initiated at the time to discover the properties of this medium. Early theories of dowsing have on most occasions claimed that the EM field was very much involved in the dowsing process. As we shall see, although it has to be involved, its contribution is much more subtle than originally thought! The 19th century closed with the general opinion that there was little new to be discovered in Natural Philosophy – just a general tidying up was needed.

The Modern Era

The year 1900 has also come to be associated with a dramatic change in world view. Whereas 1600 ushered in the origins of the Scientific Method, 1900 brought forth the first cracks in the existing cosy facade of classical Physics. In this year, to explain deficiencies in the existing theory of the spectrum of energy emitted by a hot body, the German physicist Planck introduced the concept of energy being emitted not continuously as waves but as packets of energy which became known as Quanta. One great pillar of 20th century physics was born- The Quantum Theory.

It soon became clear that on an atomic scale, the quantised world was dominant. Individual particles of electricity – electrons, were observed to orbit the nucleus of atoms in well defined orbits. Whereas planets orbited the sun in well defined orbits following basically a logarithmic separation, it appeared at least for simple atoms that the orbits were more arithmetically arranged, corresponding to discrete changes in energy levels. This early atomic model due to Bohr has become the classic description of the atomic world. It was during these early phases of research that Einstein completely revised the work of Newton to account for not only the apparent factor that light appears to be a limiting velocity in the Universe but also the fact that the existing Theory of Gravity broke down in high gravitational fields. The Theory of General Relativity was born.

It turned out that in order to solve Einstein`s equations describing this new field of gravitation, the need for an Ether (Aether) through which waves could travel was not necessary, since gravity was considered to be a curving of Space itself. Einstein`s own view was very clear – he said that though an Ether was not needed to solve his equations, it did not necessarily mean an Ether did not exist. It could simply be that it is different from what to date had been conceived.

Einstein in addition to his research in Gravity also undertook pioneering work in the field of photo-electricity, a topic in which light irradiating a metal releases photons or particles of light. Einstein showed this to be a quantum effect for which he in due course received his Nobel prize. The developing world of Quantum Physics led to further developments in establishing notions of the sub-atomic particles having wave like properties. Sometimes particles appeared to behave like waves as judged by the way they interfered with each other; creating characteristic wave patterns already known in classical physics. (see Fig. 1).

Figure 1

This is the double-slit experiment of Thomas Young carried out in the early 1800s. It was the wave nature of the particles that prompted de Broglie to derive his standing wave model of the atom whereby the orbits of electrons could be described as harmonic levels or radii relative to the atom’s nucleus. A comparison with the multiple dowsable rings around an object raises a fair comparison. In the atomic world, the reconciliation between the model of the atom as solid particles circling a nucleus compared with the idea of a standing wave in a harmonic orbit could only be achieved if it were assumed that the position of the electron were describable in probabilistic form.

This interpretation of the Quantum world led Einstein to declare his famous phrase, “God does not play dice”. His long standing debate with Bohr over the philosophical foundations of Quantum Theory have become legendary. When Schrödinger derived his model of the atom in terms of a superposition of waves which somehow seemed “entangled”, this became a key experimental fact of the late 20th century. The reason is that, in the two slit experiment, if the rate of flow of photons through the double slit is so slow that each photon can be (almost) observed, the argument dissolves into the question of which slit the photon went through? Whatever the outcome, it turns out that the photon, when interpreted as a wave, interferes with itself, creating in due course the characteristic interference pattern on the screen! It is as if the photon had gone through both slits. This experiment and its successors raised the question of how do the photons know what do? How do they communicate? How does the role of the experimenter come into the equation, deciding which hole any photon should penetrate? Now it is becoming possible to see how this situation could have strong links to the dowsing scenario. We are at last talking of conscious processes, declaring intent2 and non local objects3.

Einstein made one last attempt to ditch forever the concept of uncertainty in the quantum world in proposing what is known as the EPR (Einstein, Podolsky. Rosen) thought experiment. In principle this was a double slit experiment in which he tried to use the ideas of entanglement to question the completeness of Quantum Theory. He disliked the idea of the observer in any way disturbing the process such that the accuracy of measurement could not be achieved. He insisted on the experiment in some way describing physical reality. The process of entanglement he regarded as spooky action at a distance – a term levelled at Newton and his force of gravity. This EPR proposal remained on the table for over thirty years before the technology needed to undertake the appropriate experiments and resolve the paradoxes could be undertaken.

Modern Perspectives

It would seem from even a cursory study of the history of science that the turn of the centuries introduce both crises and opportunities into the research scenario. The latter part of the 20th century was no exception. Stephen Hawking claimed that we were nearly there in finding the Theory of Everything, i.e the final frontier of linking the two great theories which describe the Universe, namely Quantum Theory and the Theory of Relativity. The Holy Grail is the Theory of Quantum Gravity (see Fig. 2).

Figure 2

It is at least appreciated that the quantum description is the best way we have of understanding the world despite its bizarre character. Joining seamlessly the two theories is however proving very difficult; armies of researchers have been at it so far for 70 years! String Theory is seen as the ultimate answer to the riddle. This replaces the idea of particles with small loops of vibrating energy at the quantum scale of the Planck length – way below the size of the atom. This pathway along the Reductionist approach is however changing. There are now signs that a more holistic philosophy is emerging.

Other dramatic discoveries which have taken place during the late 20th century include Chaos Theory which is now a popular marketable topic even if few really understand its implications. After some 30 years of intense investigation, it is being realised that in its anti-chaos form termed Emergence, it is beginning to offer a very sound description of the vast range of the patterns we see in Nature. It addresses the problem of how through a process of bifurcation and a generalised form of geometry termed Fractal Geometry, the shapes we see around us have emerged. It embodies not only the known constants of Nature, namely Pi – 3.141592… and Phi- 1.6180349… but also a new constant of chaos, Delta – 4.6692016. A study of the Ancient world from the Egyptians onwards indicated the presence of two of these numbers. Certainly Pi and Phi were known but Delta appears to be implicitly embedded in their related geometries – something we are just now discovering.

One other topic emerged as of importance during the 1990s. This was the first real study of Consciousness. Medical imaging techniques have enabled us to study the structure of the brain in great detail. It is hoped that this work will at long last enable us to understand what has come to be known as The Hard Problem – namely an adequate description of personal experiences, usually of an emotional kind, in terms of the electrical wiring schemes of neurons in the brain. Although much has been learnt in the process, the key answer still eludes us.

The problem is posed most often in the form – How does the wiring of the brain give rise to the concept of the Mind? This is the current paradigm which assumes that the brain is essentially synonymous with the mind. There is much tantalising evidence to suggest that this is far from a reasonable assumption. Not least is the fact that there is no place for memory in the brain, at least not in the terms of something like a hard disk as in a computer. There is evidence to suggest however that memory is a form of a spatial holographic effect which is associated with but does not reside within the brain itself. It would seem that some form of non-local effects are taking place. Attempts are being made to describe these observations in terms of quantum effects but the results to date have not been widely assimilated.

While these studies have been underway, the Quantum Physicists have been having a field day. Experimental techniques have allowed them to proclaim an almost complete rebuttal of Einstein’s deterministic universe.It would seem that using lasers and mirrors, the quantum world is truly a non-local phenomenon which links or entangles particles however far apart they may be!

It is now known that large numbers of atoms and indeed molecules that have once been together (entangled), when separated, exhibit identical behaviour. Changing the property of one particle produces an immediate identical response in its distant relative. At this point in time, it does not mean energy can be transmitted at speeds greater than the velocity of light though again there are tantalising results which show that this may not be truly universal.

The coherence of matter on a macroscopic scale has also now been discovered. The so-called “Bose-Einstein Condensation” predicted in the 1920s that matter under certain conditions could behave as a coherent whole. This is analagous to watching an army marching on the parade ground in perfect order compared with say the general bustle of people making their way on the High Street. This effect occurs at very low temperatures in gases and is a form of superfluid effect.

What if anything does all this mean for Dowsing?

An Emerging Model of Dowsing

We are now in a position to view the Dowsing process in the light of new concepts in fundamental science. The key feature about dowsing is that it is a conscious process. Although many of us use dowsing tools for undertaking precision work, we know that these are certainly not necessary. We can use the stiffening of a body muscle in response to a question as providing us with a digital answer. It could be the use of other parts of the body such as finger stickiness or an eyebrow reflex. This is of no consequence to this model as these are mere indicators, not inherently part of the data processing. Although much effort goes into analysing the dowser’s response to an object, the question does not have to address the presence of a material object. The whole process could be one of a thought, though this has to be structured if meaningful information needs to be extracted.

It is clear that Dowsing should not be considered as a subject in its own right. It is part of a spectrum of human capability which embraces such phenomena as Remote Viewing, Synchronicity and indeed Telepathy. The evidence base for these topics is now voluminous such that their existence is growing increasingly difficult to deny. The real challenge is in adjusting our paradigm of the Scientific process to accommodate these effects. As hinted above, the cracks in the facade of existing Scientific dogma are now starting to open up.

How will the particular topic of dowsing fit snugly within this emerging paradigm? It is clear that previous attempts to describe the dowsing process by postulating the existence of some special field (it has been termed the Dowson Field) is no more than a cul-de-sac.

All theories will eventually have to integrate with the emerging unified field model, whatever form it ultimately takes. Can we at long last begin to pick out relevant concepts from mainstream science that interface directly with the dowsing facts we are all familiar with?

The answer to this question is a very definite Yes but only with the proviso that science embraces the concept of Consciousness as an integral element of the Scientific Method. There is great hope that this will take place in due course, since the two key foundation stones have already been laid. As hinted at above, the dominance of the quantum perspective will forever grow. The Universe is inherently quantised as seen clearly now in all experiments undertaken at the quantum level.

However, more than this, the discovery of macroscopic manifestations of quantum effects on an everyday dimensional level is now being investigated. Even biological cells seem to behave as Bose-Einstein Condensates. Coherence effects in DNA processes are now being identified. In materials such as Superconductors and Superfluids, these effects are very well known. On a Cosmological Scale, observed quantum effects in objects such as Galaxies and Black Holes are now regarded as normal.

If all of this is happening, what is the emerging view of the underlying unity of all processes, be they ponderable substances or simply the thought processes of biological material? It is at long last being recognised that the space in which all existence materialises is nowhere as simple as our current models imply. Judged from Einstein`s viewpoint, it is only the large scale variations in the fundamental curvature of space itself that are of importance. Yet at the smallest scales, it is known, much of it from Einstein`s own work, that space is a teeming source of energy. Because of its mathematical structure, it is hardly surprising that it is termed the Quantum Foam. Models of its geometry suggest a strong relationship to the well known models of classical Greek geometry, namely the Platonic Solids. Its inherent random motion generates enormous amounts of energy density or pressure and it is seen as the source from which the identifiable short lived sub atomic particles emerge.

The study of the so called Quantum Vacuum is currently one of the hottest topics in Physics. Einstein termed this the Zero-Point Energy (ZPE) Field because of its retained energy even at a supposed temperatures of absolute zero. Its existing temperature of just below 3 deg. K ensures it has the driving power to sustain the Universe. This field is becoming known as the modern Aether, a term which is slowly creeping back into Physics. The structure of this field is dramatically different from that envisaged by Maxwell in his study of Electromagnetic waves. Whereas the 19th century investigators regarded the (A)ether as a passive medium through which waves travelled much like the transmission of sound in air, the modern perspective is a `substance` which is active, i.e it participates in the propagation of waves, much like the Mexican Wave so prevalent at football matches today where every spectator intelligently participates in the process. Active media continue to be a source of immense stimulus in the study of dynamical systems. In Chemistry, they generate spiral waves in certain chemical mixtures which look remarkably like the spiral patterns found at Ancient Sites such as Newgrange. These patterns are archetypal in nature and are now well understood as characteristic of processes known as Reaction-Diffusion Systems. It is now thought that these shapes which are often found in Sacred geometry are also inherent in Subtle Energy processes such as Dowsing. Our modern view is thus converging on many of the ideas of the ancient world – see Fig.3.

Figure 3

The challenge for researchers from now on is how do our conscious brains, which generate the dowsing questions, interact with this all pervading Universal Energy Field. This is an element of coding information in a generic fashion. This coded information, once declared by intent to the Field is then through the holographic process of the Universal field available anywhere in space. Since the Field from its inception stores information on all activity within the Universe, this amalgam of processed information is available to all who care to interrogate it in the appropriate manner. Additionally, since the Quantum world operates in terms of potentials, the question of time as we understand it does not arise. The Universe is thus the largest Quantum Computer that ever existed.

Viewed from this perspective, the task of locating a distant object seems remarkably trivial. The detailed mechanism for doing this is now becoming ever clearer within the ground rules of the New Physics. One hint is that the particle physicists are slowly losing their supremacy in the world of Physics. The condensed matter physicists, those who investigate matter such as Superfluids, are indicating that Relativity may be an emergent property of space itself. The original energy source remains totally quantum in nature. This has profound implications for the role of human consciousness in the activity of the Cosmos in general and dowsing in particular. How the mechanism works in practice and the mathematics behind this will be the topics of future articles.

© 2003 J W Lyons & BSD EEG

  1. An epiphenomenon is a secondary phenomenon resulting from another. – Ed []
  2. Declaring intent in dowsing has remarkable similarity to the concept of the Collapse of the Wavefunction in the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Physics. This means the Observer (Dowser) selecting one option from a number of possible outcomes. []
  3. Non Locality in Quantum Physics refers to connectedness between the properties of separated entangled particles, c.f the dowser and the dowsed object. []