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Observations placeholder

The Wisconsin engineer Volume 69 - Various Witching Methods - The Forked Stick



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Smith, Robert (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer  Volume 69, Number 1 (October 1964)


  There are several methods used for witching. In this country the most common is the forked stick.  The type of wood used for the rod does not appear to be very important and apparently is decided by the varieties of trees most common to an area. The rod may also be made from baling wire, coat hangers, copper wire, or, in an emergency, poison oak will do.

  The palms-up grip is the standard method used for holding the forked stick in America. This means grasping the two branches of the forked stick, one in each hand, palms up, with the neck (or bottom of the "Y") pointing away from the body somewhere between horizontal and skyward at 45f. A considerable amount of tension is then applied to the rod.

  When the forces are applied to the rod as in Figure 1, [not present in source] it can easily be shown that only a very slight movement of the wrists is necessary to make the tip of the rod deflect either up or down.

  In an actual dowsing, the dowser will pace back and forth over the property until the tip of the rod begins to quiver. Then he will slowly move about this spot until the rod goes down (sometimes up). The rod will twist downward with such force that the bark may peel off. If the rod is held tightly enough, the skin on the dowser's hand may well peel off.

For Mr. Smith, when the rod goes down, his whole body shakes and trembles. Miss Penrose states:

".... the actual finding of water is exhausting. It is as if some power or virtue goes out of one's self ... Sometimes, when finding large quantities of water, and more especially when finding oil or minerals, I have been seized with violent physical sickness, which I have finally had to call in a doctor to stop ... The first indication I get of oil is a violent stab through the soles of my feet like a red-hot knife. When over the oil itself, the action of the rod is so violent that I am turned and twisted about like a doll on the end of a string, and can hardly keep my feet."

The source of the experience

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