divining rod

divining rod

divining rod or dowser, stick used in searching for underground water or minerals. This form of divination is still in common use in many parts of the world. The instrument is typically a forked twig. The operator holds the forked ends of the twig close to his body, with the stem pointing forward. When he walks over a spot under which water or the desired mineral lies, the stem of the divining rod is supposedly pulled down. Impartial research, however, has indicated that successes in this method result mostly from chance and possibly also from a heightened sensitivity to visual cues of which the diviner is unaware.
A divining rod (also known as dowsing rod) is an apparatus used in dowsing. There are many types of divining rods:

  • two brass "L" shaped wire rods (commonly made of brazing or welding rod, but glass or plastic have also been accepted) that are to be held one in each hand. When something is found, they cross over one another making an "X" over the found object. If the object is long and straight, such as a water pipe, the wires will point in opposite directions, showing the direction the object is pointing. Brass is commonly used.
  • A forked (or "Y" shaped) branch of a tree or bush. The two ends on the forked side are to be held one in each hand with the third pointing straight ahead. Often the branches are grasped palms down. The pointing end turns up or down when water is found. This method is sometimes known as 'Willow Witching'. Hazel or willow branches were commonly used; these were called virgula divina.

Divining rods are used in dowsing, a type of divination that claims to be able to find ground water, oil, and other mineral resources by non-scientific means. Expert dowsers are allegedly capable of dowsing exact depth measurements of water veins, electromagnetism, currents and telluric phenomena. They are also allegedly capable of measuring blood toxicity, white cells, and sugar levels, and detecting human illness and health. Expert dowsers are allegedly not limited to any specific time and space, claiming the ability to dowse any material at any given time from any location.

Virgula divina

Virgula divina, or Baculus divinatorius, was a form of divining rod created from the forked branch of a hazel tree, used in the discovery of underground mines, springs, etc. The claimed method of using this Y-shaped branch involved the following: the user walks very slowly over the places where he suspects mines or springs may be; effluvia would then exhale from the metals or the water, impregnating the branch's wood, making it dip or incline. Such motion was supposed to indicate a discovery.

Many experiments alleged on its behalf, authors searched for the natural cause. The corpuscles, they said, rising from springs or minerals, entering the rod, force it to bow down, in order to render it parallel to the vertical lines that the effluvia created as they rose. In effect, the mineral or water particles were supposed to be emitted by means of subterraneous heat, or of the fermentations in the interior thereof. The virgula, being of a light, porous wood, gave an easy passage to those particles. The effluvia, driven forwards by those that follow them, and driven backwards by the atmosphere incumbent on them, are forced to enter the tiny regions between the fibres of the wood, and by that effort oblige it to incline, or dip down perpendicularly, to become parallel with the little columns which those vapors form in their rise.

An epigram by Samuel Sheppard, from Epigrams theological, philosophical, and romantick (1651) runs thus:

Virgula divina.
"Some Sorcerers do boast they have a Rod,
Gather'd with Vowes and Sacrifice,
And (borne about) will strangely nod
To hidden Treasure where it lies;
Mankind is (sure) that Rod divine,
For to the Wealthiest (ever) they incline."

References

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