This article, written by the American Ground Water Trust was originally published in THE AMERICAN WELL OWNER, 2001, Number 4]


"Water witching" refers to the use of a forked stick, rod, pendulum, or similar device to locate underground water. Although tools and methods vary widely, most water witches (also called diviners or water dowsers) still use the traditional forked stick, which may come from a variety of trees, including the willow, peach, and witch hazel. The witch hazel tree is so-called because of its preferred use by water witches. Some dowsers may use rusty fence wire, heavy gauge copper cable, welding rods, thin galvanized wire (sometimes twisted in a “special” way), sections of discarded automobile brake cable, pendulums or bottles.

While there is no statistically valid evidence that water witching is successful, there is enormous interest in the topic. A simple response to somebody wanting to know if divining works is “show me a wealthy water diviner whose income is derived from the power of witching.” With high drilling costs, and a worldwide thirst for the development of water sources, any person who could consistently and reliably find successful drilling sites with a stick could be a multi-millionaire.

If incorrect concepts about the occurrence and availability of underground water camouflage basic, straightforward scientific facts about ground water, then non-scientific decision makers may be less inclined to give serious consideration to ground water development and protection.

Virtually all witching stories are carried verbally. Not only can the level of the diviner’s success become blurred in the retelling, but also there is a high likelihood that only “success” stories make it off the well drilling site. Would clients, drillers or water witches talk about their failures? Another point to consider is that it is possible to find ground water almost anywhere. The true test of a diviner’s powers would be to drill where NO water was predicted, and count the dry holes as proof of the power of sub-surface discernment.

For more information on dowsing, please visit the following web sites: 1) http://dowsers.new-hampshire.net/ 2) http://www.twm.co.nz/dowsing_jse_com.html 3) http://www.scientificexploration.org/jse/articles/betz/12.html 4) http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/~btcarrol/skeptic/dowsing.html 5) http://www.csicop.org/si/9901/dowsing.html

[© American Ground Water Trust. This article may be reprinted for non-commercial educational purposes provided it is used in its entirety and that reference is made to its source as an article in THE AMERICAN WELL OWNER, 2001, Number 4]