An­cient art sur­vives

The art of dows­ing has a his­tory stretch­ing back cen­turies and as reporter Danielle Street dis­cov­ers, the an­cient prac­tice is alive and well in Auck­land.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

For many peo­ple the word dows­ing con­jures up im­ages of a man bran­dish­ing a Y-shaped stick, scour­ing a dry stretch of land for hid­den wa­ter.

It is some­times known as di­vin­ing and has been prac­tised in this man­ner around the globe for cen­turies.

But the ex­er­cise is not lim­ited to track­ing wa­ter and the sim­ple hand­held tools, such as dows­ing rods and pen­du­lums, can ap­par­ently be used to de­tect items in­clud­ing ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­mains, tun­nels and oil.

The prac­tice has long been the tar­get of scep­ti­cism, but Ali­son El­lett from the NZ Dows­ing & Ra­dion­ics So­ci­ety says dows­ing changed her life.

‘‘Things come up now and be­fore I would brush it off, but now I’m like ‘gee whiz did that hap­pen to me for a rea­son?’,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s made me re­ally aware of each mo­ment of life.’’

Mrs El­lett has been ‘‘swing­ing a pen­du­lum’’, as she calls it, for about 20 years.

She was drawn to dows­ing while work­ing as a homeopath.

‘‘While search­ing for an elu­sive rem­edy I saw a friend and she said ‘oh I wish Dr Pop­ple­waite was still alive, he used to just run his fin­ger down the page and he would be swing­ing his pen­du­lum at the same time and that would be the right rem­edy’,’’ Mrs El­lett re­calls.

‘‘I said ‘he what?’ and out came a pen­du­lum. Well, she yanked out a hair and her ring. I didn’t look back from then.’’

Th­ese days Mrs El­lett uses dows­ing for all man­ner of things, in­clud­ing mak­ing de­ci­sions about her health.

While hold­ing one of her nu­mer­ous pen­du­lums she will ask a closed ques­tion such as ‘‘do I need to see the doc­tor about my hip?’’ The pen­du­lum will then swing to­wards the right for a pos­i­tive re­sponse, or to the left for neg­a­tive.

Mrs El­lett says dows­ing is best de­scribed as de­vel­op­ing your in­tu­ition.

‘‘Some peo­ple have a strong bent that way any­way so they just pick it up and run with it. Oth­ers need to per­se­vere and prac­tice,’’ she says.

‘‘To pick up a pendu- lum and get it swing­ing is quite dif­fi­cult at first, but when you pick up a rod and ask if my name is Rumplestilt­skin, it will point to no.’’

Mrs El­lett and her hus­band Ren make their own dows­ing rods in a workshop on their farm.

There is al­ways a set of rods in her car and pen­du­lums are scat­tered through­out the of­fice, bed­room and her purse.

How­ever, she says she has de­vel­oped her own in­tu­ition to the point that she doesn’t al­ways need a tool.

‘‘If I’m out and I need to know an an­swer I’ll let my left arm drop and I’ll ask the ques­tion. My arm won’t swing but I’ll feel the en­ergy go right to pos­i­tive or left to neg­a­tive,’’ she says.

‘‘So ev­ery­one de­vel­ops their own per­sonal ex­ten­sion. It’s once you have seen it and be­lieve it you can fit it into your world as it suits you.’’

The dows­ing so­ci­ety has around 60 mem­bers around the coun­try, a few dozen of whom meet at a cen­tral Auck­land hall once a month.

‘‘It’s amaz­ing the peo­ple who come into dows­ing. They be­come very strong in their spir­i­tual be­lief of god or what­ever higher power.

‘‘We are not a re­li­gion. We are not a sect. But it does bring out that as­pect of peo­ple.’’

Pho­tos: DANIELLE STREET

Swing­ing sis­ter: Ali­son El­lett uses pen­du­lums for most of her dows­ing work and has been ‘‘swing­ing a pen­du­lum’’ for about 20 years.

Heal­ing power: One end of this rare ‘‘pitah’’ pen­du­lum is said to pull neg­a­tive en­ergy out of af­flic­tions like bruises, the other end puts pos­i­tive en­ergy in to scars and cuts.

Photo: WIKI­ME­DIA COM­MONS

Long his­tory: A wood­cut from around the 16 cen­tury de­pict­ing a dows­ing scene.

Sim­ple tools: Ali­son and hus­band Ren make much of their own dows­ing tools. This set of L-shaped rods is crafted from wire and old coins.

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