The topic of water witching came up while the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit was in town, and we heard several interesting accounts of personal experiences. We asked D Scherer to do some research and he wrote the following article.
The process of “witching” is also called dousing or diving. It dates back to the 15th century in Germany where it was used to find metals. The term then used was dousing; the term witching probably came from the days of Martin Luther who said the act broke the First Commandment as an act of the occult. We believe that the term “diving” probably was used by those who did not want to be branded as sinners. This process has been used to find water, metals, oil, graves, buried treasure, and many other items.
Many tools can be used in witching. Branches are very common, but other items used include pencils, scissors, welding rods, bent wires, bent hangers, and many more. The most common branch used is a forked peach branch, but there are other types of branches used also. Some believe the term “Witching” came from using witch-hazel branches.
Those of us who attended L.T.H.S. in the 60’s and early 70’s and studied drafting under Woodrow Wesley may have learned witching from him. We used a pair of welding rods bent in an L shape. One rod is held loosely in each hand with the short arm held upright. We searched the campus in front of the high school and when we would come across a drainage pipe or other pipe, the welding rods would cross to the center. Occasionally the rods would point away from each other; some think this is a sign of a long straight object such as an underground pipeline.
The process of “Grave Dousing” is a nice tool for genealogists. There are stories of people using this to find now unmarked graves of ancestors. There is one “Douser” who says she could hold one wire out in front of her and if she was finding a female grave, it would turn left and a male grave would make it turn right.
The only agreement on witching, dousing, or diving, is that there is no scientific proof of how it works or even if it does work. This is the most interesting explanation I have been able to find, “It works because of the interflunctional reaction caused by the disruption of X axis quarks’ conflicting influence between the subject target and the emitted quarks given off by the handheld mechanism.” Whatever you believe, get a couple of welding rods or branches and give it a try, you may be convinced.