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Observations placeholder

Tom Lethbridge, the pendulum and truffle hunting



Type of Spiritual Experience


This is a description of how Tom Lethbridge's experiments in dowsing were extended by using a pendulum

A description of the experience

Colin Wilson - Mysteries

Most dowsers use a short pendulum; Lethbridge decided it might be more interesting ro experiment with a longer piece of thread. He made a ball of hazelwood, with a hole through the middle, and attached it to the end of several feet of string. The other end of the string was wound round a pencil, so its length could be adjusted. Next, he placed a silver dish on the floor, held the pendulum over it, and carefully proceeded to lengthen the string. When it reached twenty-two inches, the pendulum stopped swinging back and forth and went into a circular motion. So it seemed that twenty-two inches was the 'rate' for silver.
Then, following the neighbour's instructions, he stood in the court-yard, where he suspected there might be some buried silver coins, with the pendulum in one hand, while holding the other arm straight, with the first finger outstretched. He slowly moved the pointing arm across the courtyard.

At a certain point, the pendulum in the other hand began to circle. This suggested he was pointing in the direction of buried silver. Noting the direction of the line, he went to another point in the courtyard and did it again. The place where the two lines crossed should be where the silver was buried. He stood over it and tried it again; the pendulum immediately went into its circular swing.

He cut out a square of turf with the spade and proceeded to dig cautiously. He soon came upon two pieces of old pottery. Tested again, the empty hole gave no reaction. That meant, presumably, that
he had already dug out the silver, and that it must be in the pile of earth.

He tried the pendulum over this; it went into a circular swing. He sifted carefully through the heap, using a small trowel, but found nothing. At this point, he concluded the pendulum was a fraud, and prepared to refill the hole. But as he shovelled the earth back in, he paused periodically to test it with the pendulum. Finally, with only a tiny pile of earth left, the hole was still giving a negative reaction and the earth a positive one. He broke it up with his fingers-and found a fragment of pottery that his trained eye recognised as seventeenth-century Rhineland stoneware. He tried the pendulum over it, and it went into a circular swing. So this was the 'silver coin'? What had gone wrong? Some early stoneware was glazed with lead salts, and old lead might well contain silver. Was that the solution?

He tried the pendulum over a piece of lead, and it went into a circular swing. So that was the solution: lead was on the same 'rate' as silver, twenty-two inches. And German seventeenth-century stoneware, unlike English medieval pottery, was glazed with lead. The pendulum had revealed a useful piece of historical information.

Lethbridge tried again, and located another piece of lead in the courtyard-a bit of an Elizabethan window. He tried the pendulum over a copper pot and discovered that it responded to a rate of thirty and a half inches. Using the same technique of establishing cross-bearings by pointing, he quickly unearthed a small copper tube. It was very tiny, yet the pendulum had located it without any

Lethbridge was understandably excited. 'The pendulum was absurdly accurate, as accurate as the finest voltmeter. And if it could find copper, silver and lead, it could probably find anything. In a burst
of scientific enthusiasm, he spent days testing different substances to discover their 'rates': sulphur, aluminium, gold, milk, apples, oranges, alcohol, sand, garlic, diamonds . . . There seemed to be no limit to its uses. He even tried locating truffles.

An enthusiastic naturalist, he found a rare beetle that lived on truffles-an underground fungus of great scarcity. How could you find the rate for truffles? He remembered that this culinary delicacy is contained in pate de foie gras. He opened a small and expensive tin of this, and picked out the tiny shreds of truffle. With considerable labour he extracted enough to make a small pile and tried the pendulum over it. The pendulum gave the rate for truffles as seventeen inches.

Truffles are usually found in woods. Lethbridge stood outside the front gate, the pendulum in one hand, the other arm pointing at the wood. Half an hour later, he and his wife had dug up a small dark
object the size of a pea. They sent it to the South Kensington Science Museum for identification.

Two weeks later the reply came back, they had found an exceedingly rare type of truffle.

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