Who Speaks for the Earth? – Tom Lethbridge (review)

review by Anne Silk

Dr Tom Lethbridge was a great man, in every sense of the word. Professionally he was an ar­chaeologist and Keeper of Anglo Saxon Antiquities at Cambridge; he was also a historian, a practical visionary and a dowser and he had curiosity. Before he died in 1971, he had written several books on phenomena from a strictly observational and analytical point of view in addition to many research papers. He listed in the clearest possible language the effects, both good and bad, of earth energy that have ever been published. But in the 25 years since his death and with the immense progress in geophysics and seismology, it is now time to look again at his work and set it into the framework which he, ahead of his time, did not live to see realised.

Let us look again at the places where he and Minna experienced “high strangeness” occurrences and at the analyses he gave of perceived phenomena. And when with hindsight we can consider the effects on the brain, on emotions, of high-energy seismic sites. These can, as Minna and he found, be very small in area.

27-1-63 LADRAM BAY is in a highly faulted area on the coast of the English Channel, 2 miles SW of Sidmouth. The rock is Red Sandstone, Lethbridge wrote. “I passed into a kind of blanket of fog, depression and fear. His wife Minna said “something frightful is here, I can’t stand this place any longer”.

3-2-63 LADRAM BAY at the same place again felt the same depression, over the point where the streamlet ran over the pebbles to the sea. At the other end of the beach he wrote that the feeling (of the ghoul) was at its worst. “It was so strong as to make me almost giddy. It felt not unlike one feels with a high temperature and when full of drugs. It had definite limits that you could step in a single stride. There is an air of unreality about it.

21-2-196? HOLE HOUSE. This house, Lethbridge’s home, is on the North-South uplift on the coast in this area. Both Tom and Minna noted that they experienced ‘blurred vision’. Both experienced what they described as ‘an electrical tingling’ in the atmosphere and again ‘muzziness of vision’. The axes of uplift occur in a North-South direction near Branscombe Mouth.

SKELLIG M1CHAEL. On this tiny island 6 miles off the Kerry Coast in Ireland, Dr Lethbridge felt, as he was climbing down the cliff ‘as if someone wanted to push me off. On top of the cliff again he stood looking out to sea. Suddenly he experienced a total collapse and went flat on his face on the grass. If the human motor cortex is subjected to a transcranial magnetic field of specific strengths, both the muscle behind the tibia in the leg, and the soleus, the muscle in the calf of the leg, will contract sharply, leading to collapse. if the person is standing.

If the production of serotonin (an amine neurotransmitter) is suddenly either accelerated or depressed, effects on mood, attention, sleep, memory can be triggered. Both serotonin and noradrenaline are used in two very particular but enormously widespread pathways in the brain. The cell bodies of both systems lie in small clusters deep in the brainstem, at the base of the brain. So a sudden surge of current can affect emotions. mood. Putting it simply, as Professor Cohn Black-more writes in ‘The Mind Machine’ depression is due to under-production of serotonin and noradrenahine, and extreme behaviour is due to their overproduction by the brain. So we may visualise the Lethbridges’ walking along the beach and by the streams, being subjected to a momentarily high electric field, from the ionised water flow, and equally momentarily undergoing extreme depression, gloom, even urge to commit suicide -in other words the ‘ghouls’ – yet these dread feelings pass rapidly on leaving the bad zone. Interestingly, sudden burred vision is another effect of abnormal serotonin levels, as is the weird effect of looking at a scene, or street and ‘all appears dead’, ones limbs may appear distorted and a veil-like lacy curtain can appear over objects. These are all transitory effects and are apt to be misinterpreted as paranormal.

Effects he reported in these places:

  • ·          ‘Ghouls’ his term for oppressive feelings
  • ·          Self harming / suicidal thoughts
  • ·          Drop attacks
  • ·          Visual hallucinations
  • ·          Auditory hallucinations
  • ·          Immense feeling of sadness
  • ·          Sudden extreme depression
  • ·          Sense of Presence

Lethbridge came to the view that the medium involved in these effects is some form of the natural magnetic field, closely associated with water on a damp atmosphere.

The brain is a never-sleeping electrochemical factory, producing neurotransmitters, enzymes, essential chemicals such as melatonin (a cancer preventing agent) and serotonin (involved in sleep, emotions). These chemicals and the func­tions control all human emotions, happiness, ecstasy, panic, depression etc. It gave the writer great pleasure to realise that the very clear, but at that time anomalous, descriptions of such emotions by Tom Lethbridge, fitted exactly in which the Romans called genius loci, the spirit of place.

Prof. Trazska of the Environmental Protection Agency in Poland made many highly relevant observations on dowsing, at a scientific conference on Biomedical Effects of EM Fields in October 1995. He states that in a series of tests, dowsers were found to display sensitivity to hy­drogen resonance (1,420 MHz) at sensitivity far below 0.01 microV/m. He found that it was the magnetisation of water, which the dowsers were able to detect. Further he found that the relaxation time was proportional to the applied magnetic field intensity. In other words his study found an effect of sensitivity to magnetic fields far below that generally considered as applicable to man.

Were Lethbridge still alive he would have read with greatest interest the solid scientific text written by Professor Koenig (Munich University), Dr. Krueger (School of Public Health, University of California), the late Dr S. Lang and Dr Walter Sonning of Munich, ‘Biologic Effects of Environ­mental Electromagnetism’s. In the 280 pages of this extremely well researched text Lethbridge would have delighted in such chapters as that on ionised columns of energy from faults, and flowing water, biological reactions measured at these sites, natural electrophysical forces, biological activity of static fields. Not only is the speed of the walk of the biolocater (dowser) vital to perception, but magnetic saturation (very high field levels) can negate the effect.

The human body acts as an antenna, and will pick up and absorb both earth and manmade energies, depending on the polarisation (direction) of the energy and the height and position of the body itself. The prone or sleeping body will maximally absorb horizontally polarised energies, and the standing body will maximally absorb vertically polarised energies. Then there are elliptical. circular polarisation with varying effects and absorption rates. This is not the place to go into eddy currents in the brain and effects of energy on deep structures such as the amygdala (emotions such as fear, terror etc.) the hypothalamus (the temperature control of the body), the pineal which produces melatonin, an oncostatic agent, the pituitary (many hormones, neurotransmitters including those affecting food demand). If the ulnar nerve gets a ‘zap’ of energy, however sourced, the individual will feel as if he has been pushed from behind, exactly as Lethbridge described in Skellig Michael.

The BSD Earth Energy Group is currently examining these natural mechanisms for anomalous effects, and why the biolocation methods work and how they are triggered. Tom Lethbridge would have been delighted to see his views vindicated albeit several decades after his death.

Imagine how strange it would be if you could only see those whose names began with ‘M’. You would never see Queen Elizabeth, Elton John would be invisible and the humour of Rowan Atkinson would be wasted on you. But Madonna, Maradonna and Mozart and Marilyn Monroe would all be there. So it is with the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We see one another through a tiny window of visible light. Yet there are infinitely wider bands of frequencies, the non-ionising from static RF, MW, IR and the ionising from UV, through X-rays, Gamma rays. Until fairly recently conventional science had thought that the lower regions of the spectrum were virtually imperceptible to man. No longer so. Static electricity from earth energies and mag­netism has been felt by man since he stood upright and walked on the earth. Animals who walk on all fours are hypersensitive to such energies. For those whose knowledge of electricity stops at pushing the TV switch it may come as a surprise to realise just how responsive is the human body to ambient electrical and magnetic fields.

Evidence continues to accumulate in scientific papers, such as that by Professor Baker in ‘Nature’ in 1983 ‘Magnetic Bones in Human Sinuses’, magnetite has been found in man in the sinus region above and behind the nose. In this area deposits of ferric iron have been measured up to 13 times the amounts in other parts of the body. Interestingly in very anaemic people, the levels were very low is it possible that those who are unable to dowse, or dowse poorly may be anaemic?

Prior to his death in 1990 I had the privilege of working on seismic energy with the late Dr Bill Sutherland, the medical physicist. He was a brilliant scientist working in oncology and also a dowser with extreme sensitivity. We were working on hot spots where the incidence of a specific condition is statisti­cally very much higher than average. With his specialised knowledge and equipment Bill was able to bring frequency analysis to his findings; a very significant factor in health effects, both adverse and beneficial. Are dowsers also working on these lines? Energies may be positively charged, negatively charged, and even null and magnetic fields will vary depending on type of rock, buried ore bodies, type of fault. These magnetic gradients are of the greatest significance to body charge and production of eddy currents in the brain, as the body moves across the gradient.


Natural currents are always present in the earth; the field strength of these depends on many factors including rock type, presence of ions in the pore water, and position in relation to springs and streams. Natural potentials of up to 1.8 volts have been measured but 500 microvolts is more usual. Small potentials not exceeding 100 microvolts and often less may accompany ground water flow. It is generally stronger in the region towards which the ground water is flowing, rather than the source area. That is to say, near springs and streams the earth is more electropositive.

Branscombe Mouth, just under one mile from Hole House, where Lethbridges dowsing and psychic knowledge became so keen is on what the British Geological Survey describes as an especially important axis of uplift running North-South, with a 20 degrees dip fault where chalk is on a junction (discontinuity) with Upper Greensand. Further the River Bran runs down the valley to exit on the beach.

Master Dowser Verne Cameron in “Aquavideo” by Bill Cox (1989) describes positive and negative polarity in humans. Interestingly he has found a few people to be totally neutral. Verne Cameron also points to the link with volcanoes, geothermal energy and artesian water. (“Aquavideo” – locating under­ground water Bill Cox El Caiso USA 1989).

As the seismologist Bruce Walker has stated “with its layered panoply of materials the earth responds to the impact of an earthquake by vibrating in a maelstrom of wave forms of all frequencies, sizes and velocities. If the frequencies were audible it would be as though a full sized symphony orchestra were blaring out all the notes of all its music at once. every instrument playing fortissimo in every possible key, producing utter cacophony. When depicted visually on a seismogram, the earthquake’s tumult of conflicting and overlapping seismic waves presents an apparently bewildering hodgepodge of zigzag lines”.

Far below us today, the crustal zone of the earth is slowly grinding along each fracture. You will have heard of the San Andreas Fault. You may not have heard of the Great Glen fault in Scotland; the straight band that runs from Inverness right across Scotland. from Inverness through Loch Ness to Fort William. You may not know the bands that run from Green­wich under the Thames. Another under Tower Hill from Deptford and on into Essex. Hundreds of these seismic faults have been found in the UK and it is the energy released from these faults when they move which concerns us. I must stress that we are not looking at the great works of Nature and eruptions of energy from major earthquakes and volcanoes but the subtle energies. In the UK this energy is way down in the extremely low frequency very low frequency and radio frequency bands. Rarely it can reach the microwave bands. Acoustic energy is transmitted and thus is heard by some (depending on the frequency) as a groaning or a crying, or musical tones, murmur or the sound of breaking glass. Much depends on the type of rock or earth below the ground.

Curiously one of my own patients who had been aware of unusual visual effects told me of her feelings at a small village at the end of a valley North of Buckfast. She said she and her family became aggressive when they visited the village and frequently heard a buzz in her ears. The family (in the house of a relative) was awoken by knocks on doors when no one was there. She and others found certain places extremely cold and in general, although the village was pretty and unspoilt, they felt gloomy and depressed. Her watch also misbehaved when she stayed there. By sheer chance at a City Dinner some years after this two colleagues were discussing the genius loci. One said that as a boy as he was at boarding school and his parents lived abroad he used to stay with an Aunt in this same village during the holidays, he told me that he always felt cold, angry and “different” when he stayed there. Now this could be attributed to missing his family and natural resentment, except that he made it very clear to us listeners that when he stayed with another Aunt in the North he found none of these problems. This village lies on a sandstone bed 100’ deep, rock, which contains many large quartz pebbles. In addition there are areas of strontium, a radioactive ore (named from Strontian, the village in Scotland which also has this formation).

Lethbridge suggested that there are several types of earth field connected with different elements:

He called a field of force about a tree a ‘dryad field’, one about a stream a ‘raiad field’, one connected with mountains an ‘oread’ and the sea a ‘nereid’.

He writes “Little people are seen now and then by many races of Man. They are seen in Africa, where they are just like tiny Africans. I do not doubt for a moment that they are seen, but I do doubt the interpretation placed on the seeing. Ordinary men and women all over the world have seen the little people, but I do not believe they really exist as such…. they have seen something which appeared to their mind as a little man.”

He proposed the theory that the force fields of the earth are concentrated at certain natural features such as waterfalls, springs, streams. Lethbridge thought that the human body could interact with this natural force field at these sites. Flowing water carried energy and generated negative ions (the ‘good’ ions) as against positive ions (the ‘bad’ ions). The magnetic field at the earth in the UK is at an average 50,000 nT (50 mG) but both highs and lows are found, especially over basalt, haematite and magnetite. A massive sulphate deposit containing pyrrhotite would be dense, and both magnetic and electrically conductive. At these places compasses may swing, watches, cameras, video recorders may malfunction, and the sensitive human body will give several signs of magnetic gradient.

As Lethbridge wrote “both archaeologists and an­thropologists have become so specialised that few men or women remain who are capable of letting their minds range widely about the world”. 25 years later there are now many other specialities where his comment applies. Nevertheless, at the end of the 20th Century some are ‘letting their minds range widely’. The Earth Energies Group of the BSD is one such group, where multidisciplinary researchers are carrying on the ideas he proposed, with field measurements and academic programmes. Tom Lethbridge left in his writing clear signposts for paths of future research ‘…like Pens’ wands, when pointing out the road’. How far along his path have others travelled?

© 1998 Anne C. Silk & BSD EEG