Tuesday 23 April 2024

Craft: Making Divining Rods from Twigs & Using Them

Divining or dowsing rods are a traditional tool used by witches and cunning folk to find water, lost items, and even buried treasure. There are many kinds, but the easiest type are simply made from local twigs. 

All you need to do is go for a walk in a wood, park or your garden after there's been a storm and pick up a suitable fallen branch with a Y-shaped fork. Trim it down to a suitable length so you can use the two branching parts of the Y as handles and the single stem as the pointer. About 30-45cm is probably about right, but you can leave it longer or cut it shorter if you prefer. 

You can use wood from any tree, but hazel and willow are customary. The ones in my photo aren't either of them. One is silver birch from my garden, one is horse-chestnut from my nearest park. I picked up the third in the park too, but I'm not entirely sure what tree it fell from. Some dowsers say that "green" freshly cut twigs are best, but please don't go pruning branches from any tree without permission of whoever owns the land, and from the tree itself.

The best way to find out what kind of wood works best for you is simply to make a selection and try them all out. Here's how to do it.

How to dowse with wooden rods

Hold the handle part of the rod with your palms facing upwards and your thumbs towards you. It feels a bit strange at first, but it is the traditional way. I believe the reason is that resting the handles in the V-shaped gap between your thumb and index finger allows the rod to pivot easily at the slightest movement. 

  • Take a deep breath and clear your mind, then focus on what it is you are trying to find. You can close your eyes if it is safe to do so for a moment or so, then open them again. 
  • Holding your rod, walk slowly over the ground you are exploring. 
  • Allow your intuition to direct you.
  • Keep your attention on your hands and any sensation you are feeling
  • The rods should feel as though they want to dip when you are approaching the target of your search. Let them.
  • Approach the same area from another angle and note if and when you get a similar response. That should indicate the place to look more closely.

An easy way to both test your rods and learn to feel how dowsing works is to put a bowl of water visibly on the ground first. Once you've got the hang of how dowsing works with a visible bowl, have someone set out closed boxes, some of which are empty but a few with bowls of water in them. Walk around them to train yourself in finding hidden things. 

Some people seem to be able to dowse naturally, but for most people it can take a lot of time and practice to develop the skill. My dad was a keen dowser, and very good at it. He taught me when I was a child, but I spent many frustrating hours learning to be sensitive enough to make divining tools work for me. Be patient.

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