There has long been disagreement about what kind and how much of a role dowsing can play within the left/right brain approach of earth mysteries, and NE is generally wary of an over-emphasis on dowsing as evidence for anything other than objective or visualisable targets like water, minerals, specific objects, etc., and we have long been more than cautious over the concept of ”earth energy’ or ‘energy lines’. Please see other articles on our website, including The Alt-Antiquarian, about desire lines and remanence, for our own hypothetical outlook.
Here, however, noted and skilled dowser Sig Lonegren persuasively put the case for dowsing intangibles, suggesting that the matrix is big enough to hold both poles of investigation, in terms with which we can find little disagreement.
A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less. A generalist is someone who knows less and less about more and more. While each of us come to these mysteries from different points, different consciousness and therefore use different specific or general tools to look at them, I really like the analogy of the puzzle that I heard last August at the Society of Ley Hunters annual meeting in Salisbury.
As explorers of these mysteries, the awareness of what we discover is but one piece of a big puzzle, and together perhaps we can see the whole picture by putting the pieces together. So we can be specialists, but we must also be able to think as a generalist.
I am a dowser, and I feel it is of critical importance to also say that I came to the Earth mysteries through my desire to grow spiritually and through association with the New Age, which, like dowsing, has been severely drubbed in the past by others who were involved with these mysteries for reasons other than dowsing. I have no intention in this article to open old wounds, but rather to point out the importance of the New Age as one of the important pieces of the EM puzzle.
I came to Glastonbury, the Heart of the New Age in Britain, in the mid-eighties, because I was on a spiritual quest. I had been dowsing for twenty-five years when I arrived, and had earned a Masters Degree in the study of Sacred Space, which included archaeoastronomy, sacred geometry and the Earth Energies. So I was well primed for what I encountered on my first day in the Land of Avalon – the first Glastonbury Earth Mysteries Samhain Gathering. For me, it was a life-changing experience in that, as a foreigner (Yank) coming into town for the first time, I ended up leading a Native American type ceremony on Chalice Hill!
While there were many errors made by members of the New Age in that wonderful whacky time of the mid-eighties, and it was way too right-brained (intuition was all), it was an important step away from the totally left-brained rational methodology that we had all been brought up with, that had such clear limitations. I am saying this because the New Age was and is important to my dowsing, my interest in the Earth Mysteries, and to our collective future. If the events of the past several years on the world scene have shown us nothing else, I trust it is clear, dear reader, that we do indeed need a New Age. And, like dowsing, it has gotten a bum rap, primarily by those who are stuck in the Old Age.
For the first half of my dowsing life, I was engrossed with finding Earth Energies – I looked for ‘energy leys’ – 6-8ft-wide straight beams of yang energy that have a direction of flow and sometimes run concurrently with Watkins’ leys – alignments of holy sites. Where these ‘energy leys’ cross, I found the yin side of this energy system, veins and domes/blind springs, underground primary water. But by the late eighties I began to find with increasing frequency that other dowsers were not finding what I had been taught to find. In fact, nobody was finding what anybody else was finding! And so, at that time, I began to develop something that I now call ‘Sig’s Hypothesis Number One’. (I know it sounds high-faluting – especially as I do not have hypotheses Number Two or Three, but it is what I called it):
‘Even if they were trained by the same dowser, when dowsing for intangible targets in sacred space, it is quite probable that no two dowsers will ever find the same thing’.
Why is this so, and what are the implications of this lack of repeatability in the realm of earth mysteries? I need to begin to answer these questions by pointing out that another word for ‘dowsing’ is ‘divining’. For the spiritual pilgrim interested in the earth mysteries, this is an important clue. Dowsing can tune one in to the Divine, the spiritual realms. And this is exactly why I first got in to dowsing. I have always seen it as a tool that can enhance my growth as a spiritual pilgrim. I would go so far as to say that my main goal in life is to be consciously at least one step closer to my Maker when I die than I am today. And dowsing is one tool that I am using to achieve that goal.
Why Doesn’t Every Dowser Find the Same Things?
Between 1000 BCE and 1000 CE, there were a number of people who saw their Maker and came back to tell us about it. Some of their names were Mohammed, Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna, Confucius and Lao Tsu. They all saw God (or didn’t see him in the case of Buddha), yet they came back and all told a different story! They all saw and experienced the One differently. Even Christians look at the same man (Jesus) and see him differently – Gnostics, Catholics, Baptists, Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Methodists, Holy Rollers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. etc. We all see the One differently, but some Christians band together, say, as Anglicans, and agree to see Him in that way; but even here there is High Church and Low Church, and the conservative wing that doesn’t want to ordain women. We all ‘see’ the spiritual realms differently. This is due to a number of reasons. First, a dowser finds what s/he has been trained to find. It also depends on each dowser’s individual level of consciousness, and what they are ready to see. These are all factors that are involved in any spiritual activity.
Another way of looking at the problem of dowsing and repeatability has to do with scientific tests. Not one scientific test of dowsing that I know of since the early 1900s, when there were three pipes, and dowsers were asked which pipe the water was flowing through, has worked. Later on in the last century, Master British Dowser Bill Lewis was asked to dowse a number of electrical switches, to determine which one was on. Obviously he thought, based on his previous dowsing results, he could do it, or he wouldn’t have taken the challenge. It didn’t work. It never has.
Dowsing doesn’t work for proof. It works for need. God/dess doesn’t move a needle on command.
Look at major dowsers of the last half of the last century. Guy Underwood found aquastats and track lines – nothing straight. Tom Graves found haloes. Hamish Miller finds twisting kundalini-like lines. There are the Hartmann and Curry Grids. Bruce MacManaway and Terry Ross found straight lines and veins of underground water. I find energies similar to what these last two men found because they were my teachers. But on many different occasions, Terry and I found different energy leys at a given site. It’s like the story of the three blind men and the elephant. They each see a different part of the elephant, and we each see different aspects of Earth Energies. That’s not only ok, it is the way it is.
So, How Can Dowsing Be A Useful Tool?
If none of us ever find the same thing, how can dowsing be a useful tool in this field?
Let’s look at dowsing in crop circles. Essentially, each dowser finds something different in these enigmatic rings. I feel that one of the big problems here is that many who expound on what they are finding in crop circles have not had much experience in dowsing for other intangible targets in sacred space. Thus they can’t tell if what they are finding is similar to what they would find in sacred space.
I have been dowsing in sacred spaces since the early 1970s, from the underground stone chambers of Vermont in the US where I began, down to the Nazca figures and Inca stone buildings of Machu Picchu in Peru, and up to the labyrinths and ship settings of Scandinavia (not to mention the sacred spaces of the British Isles). I see the same Earth Energy ‘elephant’ in all these places – underground domes/blind springs and veins of primary water that conform to the shape of the sacred place, and energy leys that cross like spokes of a wheel over these domes or blind springs. I don’t find these patterns in crop circles. So this lack of similarity tells me that crop circles are not the same as the sacred spaces I have dowsed around the world. There are other reasons why I say this as well, but this is not the place to get in to this.
The point here is that if a dowser develops enough familiarity with how s/he sees the sacred space elephant, s/he can then know when it is not sacred space that is being dowsed. It is this lack of repeatability that causes more academically-inclined researchers in earth mysteries to have difficulties with dowsing. But, again, keep in mind that dowsing is not a tool of science. It is a tool for the spiritual pilgrim.
So then, how can dowsing be of most assistance to someone into earth mysteries who intends to grow in the spirit at earth mystery sites? I would argue that there is something more important than what Earth Energies are, and where. Perhaps the most important thing dowsing can do in sacred space has nothing to do with Earth Energies. It is to find the most powerful point in a given sacred space, where the dowser/spiritual pilgrim needs to be to best experience spiritual growth.
Dowsing is not a tool of science. Its findings are not repeatable, any more than one’s spiritual experiences at a sacred space are repeatable by others. But it is an exceptionally powerful tool when used by the spiritual pilgrim in sacred space.
Researchers vs Spiritual Pilgrims
Now, research and the spiritual path are not necessarily mutually exclusive – while the spiritual intangible aspect of these mysteries are my major focus, I am very open and anxious to hear about the latest developments in the left-brain research in these areas. Both approaches are integral to my search. They are both parts of the puzzle. For me, it comes down to: what is truth, and who gets to decide?
As a result of my work with intangible target dowsing, I now see that each one of us gets to decide what truth is – for ourselves. So it’s not ‘Jesus is the only way!’. This is the statement of someone who feels that their vision of the Truth is the universal one.
On the other hand, I can fully support, ‘Jesus is the only way – for me’. This could be applied to landscape studies:
Science is the only way. vs. Science is the only way – for me.
I would defend anyone’s right to the latter, and no-one’s right to hold the former.
The Devolution of Consciousness
I have come to the conclusion that the enforced focus on the rational left-brain method of determining truth/reality that Western society has been using more and more for the past two thousand years has led him into a blind alley. I believe that we really cannot benefit from going further on this lop-sided path. The totally rational approach is an inappropriate one as we move into the twenty-first century, and, I trust, into the New Age – of thinking, of consciousness and of our relationship with our Maker.
I’d be so bold as to suggest that the answer is to do what dowsers do best – use BOTH sides of our brain. In dowsing, one has to phrase the question correctly (left-brain) to get the right answer (right brain). I call this Gnowing (hard ‘G’) after the Gnostics (soft ‘G’), who employed this option two thousand years ago. Unfortunately, operating in this mode of consciousness has led to divisiveness within the area of landscape studies and earth mysteries. And divisiveness in landscape studies has clearly never really helped anyone.
It is time to see the researcher/pilgrim dichotomy in terms of the sacred geometrical concept of squaring the circle. In sacred geometry, the square represents the physical world. It can be described totally empirically. I can describe a square whose side is one inch, and you can create an identical square, with an identical side and area – one square inch. (I am using inches instead of metric out of deference to the modern founder of earth mysteries, John Michell, who championed the anti-metrification movement. “Don’t give an inch!”). On the other hand, the circle represents the spiritual in that its circumference cannot be described with the same degree of accuracy as the perimeter of the square. If the side of a square is one inch, the perimeter of the square is exactly four inches. But with a circle, if a circle has a radius of one inch, its circumference (c=pi x r2) is 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 etc. inches, ad infinitum. And there’s the rub. If someone has a spiritual experience, they can come back and describe it, but not exactly. Others cannot have the exact experience as they have.
In sacred geometry, there have been numerous attempts to create a physical (square) and a spiritual (circle) with the same perimeter/circumference. To bring the spiritual and the physical together. One can get very close, but not exactly.
This divisiveness between two very conscious ways of looking at our ancient landscape, between those who would describe it with physical tools and those who would employ dowsing and other methods to experience its spiritual dimensions perhaps can never be totally reconciled, but I feel it is time to make it come together as close as we can. It is time for the three blind men to get together and share their perceptions of the earth mystery elephant so we all can get a better idea of what it looks like.
If the study of earth mysteries is to stop its left-brain-centred devolving spiral, it’s time for us to square the circle. Because it requires both analytical skills (asking the correct question) and intuitive ones (getting the best answer to questions that are not immediately available to the rational process), dowsing can be an important tool in this new mode of consciousness.
Published NE100 (Winter 2004), pp.15-19