Dowsing at Ardtornish

By Fiona Carnie |

Locating underground water sources can be transformational for remote communities both in the UK and much further afield in places where there is limited or non-existent access to water. And so it was that a water diviner in the shape of Grahame Gardner was invited to Ardtornish for the 2015 Water Weekend to lead a workshop to give participants the opportunity to learn a new skill to supplement the intense cerebral activity of the weekend. Fifteen or so would-be dowsers signed up to participate. Would we / wouldn’t we be able to learn how to dowse ourselves?

After half an hour inside hearing about the theory of dowsing and practising with pendulums made from nuts, bolts, pebbles and all sorts of other diverse materials, we ventured outside to apply what we had learned. State of mind appeared to be key: we needed to believe that we were able to dowse so that we were open to the possibility of locating water.

Advancing across the Ardtornish lawn in unison, brandishing our dowsing rods, held at precisely the correct angle to the ground, we were astonished to come to a halt more or less in a row in response to apparent activity signalling the presence of water underground.  Had we struck a burn? a pipe? According to our tutor it was an underground watercourse running in a straight line from the house in the direction of the loch. After apparently identifying different areas of water activity in the gardens we then all set out in different directions to see what we could discover; this ancient skill having sparked a fascination in all those who took part.

The scientific jury is out on whether and how water divining works and there are a range of theories such as electromagnetism to explain it. It remains the case however that many have been successful in locating sources of groundwater with the help of a dowser. Whether a new cohort of dowsers has been initiated as a result of the 2015 Andrew Raven Trust Water Weekend remains to be seen.

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