By Ginger Lane

Yes, we need rain and I am also wishing for water, but I really mean witching. Its also called dowsing. My parents have lived in their house for 38 years. They live in the country and have a well. Their well is located where their neighbor, Mr. Manley, told them to dig. Its never run out of water. Never.

Back in my hometown, and back in the day, thats how everyone found his or her water. I was surprised to find many people who have not even heard of it. Ive witched for water myself and Im a believer. I know roots find their way to water, so it just makes sense that witching is just two things of nature talking to each other. I was also surprised to find that there has actually been a lot of money spent researching to decide if it works or not. Good grief! All they had to do was go to Pittsburg and ask my family.

Anyway, here is the history of witching and how it works and what the scientists have to say about it.

You hold a y-shaped freshly cut twig, by the  part one in each hand, and walk slowly around until the tip bends towards the ground. Professional water witchers, like Mr. Manley, could tell you how deep it was. He told my parents water was 12 feet down and thats exactly where it was. The tip dipped down 12 times and that is how he knew. Ive tried to locate a water line when I had a leak and found it by witching. You can even use a straightened coat hanger!

Case histories and demonstrations of dowsers may seem convincing, but when dowsing is exposed to scientific examination, it presents a very different picture. For instance, what does it mean to say that a dowser is successful in 8 out of 10 cases? The dowser may find water, but how much and of what quality? At what rate can it be withdrawn? For how long and with what impact on other wells and on nearby streams?

The natural explanation of successful water dowsing is that in many areas water would be hard to miss. The dowser commonly implies that the spot indicated by the rod is the only one where water could be found, but this is not necessarily true. In a region of adequate rainfall and favorable geology, it is difficult not to drill and find water! Some water exists under the Earths surface almost everywhere. This explains why many dowsers appear to be successful. Numerous books and pamphlets have been written on the subject of water dowsing. Some of these publications report on scientifically controlled experiments and investigations. From these findings, the U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that the expense of further tests of water dowsing is not justified. (

Dowsing as practiced today may have originated in Germany during the 15th century when it was used to find metals. As early as 1518, Martin Luther listed dowsing for metals as an act that broke the first commandment (as occultism). The 1550 edition of Sebastian Mnsters Cosmographia contains a woodcut of a dowser with forked rod in hand walking over a cutaway image of a mining operation. The rod is labeled Virgula Divina  Glck rt (Latin: divine rod; German Wnschelrute fortune rod or stick), but there is no text to accompany the woodcut. By 1556, Georgius Agricols treatment of mining and smelting of ore, De Re Metallica, included a detailed description of dowsing for metal ore.

In 1662, dowsing was declared to be superstitious, or rather satanic by a Jesuit, Gaspar Schott, though he later noted that he wasnt sure that the devil was always responsible for the movement of the rod.

In the late 1960s, during the Vietnam War, some United States Marines used dowsing to attempt to locate weapons and tunnels. (