One supposition of paranormality often ignored is its relationship to the environment. The paranormal is thought of as a human practice, involving interactions with humans, sometimes alive and sometimes dead.
Yet there is a wealth of evidence that paranormal talents extend beyond the mere human and also have a close relationship with the environment. And nowhere is this better expressed than in Dowsing.
OLD OR NEW?
Dowsing - the supposed ability to find water or minerals by mind power – can be an eccentric pastime. Using a forked twig, pendulum, in one case even a German sausage, the dowser walks an area of land and when successful the twig twitches or the pendulum spins.
Dowsing is often thought of as a recent paranormal innovation, but this is not the case. In the 17th century the French Baroness de Beausoleil first adapted the dowsing rod. But in the Bible, Moses is portrayed finding water with his staff.
In Medieval times the practice was used for finding coal, and Agricola’s treatise on mining, ’De re metallica’ of 1556, discusses dowsing. Hence, it has been practiced way back in history.
SCEPTICS AND BELIEVERS
As usual, James Randi was successful in showing up a group of dowsers in Australia in 1980. Hiding boxes and pipes in a field, some containing objects, others not, he tested a group of dowsers, and predictably they failed to perform adequately. Whether this disproves the ability to dowse, or simply proves those dowsers were not very good on that particular day is open to question.
To 19th century dowser John Mullins such arguments were an irrelevance. He set up a dowsing company to find water and thrived. In 1938, dowser L L Latham adapted dowsing to archaeology, successfully mapping out some dig sites.
During the Vietnam War, US Marines adapted dowsing to finding mines with a high degree of success. But if proof were needed of its ability, oil companies provide it. They employ dowsers to find oil.
The fact that they continue to do so, and pay huge amounts for skilled dowsers, shows there is something to it. If something doesn’t work, big business soon drops it.
Several theories have been offered to explain dowsing. In the 1640s German Jesuit Athanasius Kircher put forward the well accepted idea that it was unconscious muscular activity that caused the rod to twitch.
In 1906 the French Abbe Alexis Mermet blamed radiations for dowsing. Man, having his own radiation, intuited the radiation of other bodies by walking into their field. This was taken up by modern mathematician John Taylor who thought the answer was in the electromagnetic spectrum. Predictably, when he could find no such influence, he denied dowsing existed.
The problem with such ‘physical’ theories is that it does not cover the whole subject of dowsing. For instance, Abbe Mermet popularised map dowsing, where a pendulum is held over a map in order to find, not only water and minerals, but people too. The Abbe claimed that twenty times he had successfully located murderers or missing people and animals.
Even in the late 20th century such abilities continued, as seen in the Priddy Project, and the antics of five dowsers in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. Told to dowse the course of pot holes through dowsing, as a final test, they also had to locate a group of cavers, somewhere in the underground labyrinth. One dowser, Bill Lewis, positioned his flag directly above them.
The problem with dowsing is here exposed. It seems to have nothing to do with any intuition into the geology of the Earth. Rather, it is best understood as a wider form of extra-sensory perception.
This brings us back to the point raised in the beginning, and a kind of symbiosis, if you like, between man and his environment. Dowsing demands the question: just how far does a paranormal mind extend? If, of course, it exists at all.
The occult enshrines the notion of the ‘anima mundi’, or ‘soul of the world.’ Theosophy proposed the Akashic Records – records, on a psychic plane, that record everything that has ever occurred since the beginning of the universe. Is this intuition of a wider mind, interacting with everything?
IT’S A GAIA THING
In the 1970s James Lovelock offered his view of the planet as a co-ordinated mechanism, where all elements work together to produce the whole, including life. In his Gaia Hypothesis he encapsulated the idea of a fundamental relationship between man and planet.
This relationship has been pursued by other theorists and philosophers, but no ‘mechanism’ has ever been found to support a way things interact without physical contact.
But the fact that they do is incontrovertible. From man’s effect upon the planet, to the reality that cells co-ordinate into living organisms without apparent physical connection, life and the universe can only exist because of this unknown interaction.
Knowing that such an influence must exist, isn’t it about time science seriously considered how it might work? And I can think of no better area of study than dowsing – a practice that not only shows interaction between man and environment, but discloses otherwise unknown information thereof.
© Anthony North, July 2007
Source : Beyond the Blog