DOWSING & DRUIDRY – THE ESOTERIC DIMENSIONIntroduction
I don’t want you to think that I am a one-trick pony by continuing with my discussion of the concepts of combining dowsing with druidry. Far from it - there were many topics that I considered writing about for this seminar slot, but as the time approached I realised that I had “unfinished business” relating to the previous seminar, even though that seminar was far longer than intended. So, here is the ‘glue’ if you like, that brings the fundamentals expressed in the previous article together with the concepts that have suffused from that work.
In this article I will take you through some of the mental and spiritual concepts that are common to the disciplines of both druidry and divining. These concepts are less about the practicalities of how dowsing can help your druidry, and more about the qualities that the two disciplines share - their common principles. It is my hope that you will easily see how the two concepts intertwine. What will emerge is their common platform. I have designated the common ground as 'crossing points' because they are the concepts that bring druidry, dowsing and many other esoteric disciplines together.
What is this term "esoteric"? When I talk of the esoteric I refer to the conceptual elements of the work, it's ideas, its intangible qualities, its more spiritual aspects. In the previous article "Where Paths Cross" I talked about the practical and physical commonalities between the two disciplines. In this seminar I will be dealing with the way in which those crossing points are in fact points of confluence where ideas gather together to form epiphanies, and the mind can move forward having established an understanding upon which further progress can be made towards full understanding, or enlightenment for want of a better term.
In a way I will be using dowsing as a metaphor in this discussion. I will also be assuming that you want to make some kind of spiritual progress, and have some intellectual curiosity. I even hope you may be open to ideas because I will be attempting to demonstrate that the principles that allow a dowser to operate effectively are also the same principles that allow a druid to progress spiritually. There may be some "sloganeering" and "intellectualisity", along with a requirement to accept made-up words.... You may be badgered and hectored - that's not as painful as it may initially sound, but it is a disgusting ritual that the pagan community ought to outlaw very soon. Viewers of a nervous disposition or who are feeling frail and delicate may wish to consider this escape point, because we're about to get serious.The First Crossing: Gnostic Knowledge
Dowsing has been used for a long time, since before history was recorded, The remains we have, the sacred sites and timber circles that are scattered across our lands, they show an amazing level of astronomical knowledge, to say nothing of the masonry skills, the transportation and the building skills. How was the knowledge of how to do this acquired? My answer is simply - gnosis.
So what is gnosis? Gnosis is simply the concept that knowledge can be obtained by insight into the divine, an intuitive understanding, a knowing that insists itself upon one who contemplates things whilst in communion with the fundamental forces of the universe. It is a means of acquiring understanding without going through a long-term process of analysis, rational discourse and a dualistic disintegration of the object being scrutinized.
To make use of gnosis one has to simultaneously be free of thought and therefore receptive, yet must employ a focus of attention on the objective at hand. Inherently then, gnosis involves the ability to work with two completely disparate concepts at the same time - to be open and focused, to be attentive but relaxed. It is the apprehension of the paradoxical, the cognition of the inconsistent, a balancing of beliefs.
The gnostic mind is the very same mindset required for dowsing, and it is the mind that we still see being displayed within the world’s remaining tribal communities. Here they practice ‘deviceless dowsing’ - dowsing without implements, operating by intuition to find places, people, animals, energy, water - whatever they need. These tribes find such things only when they tune into the vibration of the world around them, when they listen to the land and by using the 'divining mind' to guide them. The tribal shaman or his equivalent uses gnosis to locate food and water for his tribe; it is used to find the places of power at which to meditate in order to commune with the ancestors or deities; such a skill can also look outside of time in order to make better decisions.
All of these tasks require the skill of gnosis as a core element of that activity. We have a remainder of this in the tracking skills of the remaining African tribesman, who just happens to know which way to go to find the herd, and how to locate the water holes that sustain the hunting trips. It was knowledge that could mean the difference between success and failure, between life and death, between glory and humiliation. We see it reflected in the myths and stories that we druids prize from our own ancestors in the Western civilizations.
What does this tell us about the modern druid, though? It tells us that at the heart of human potential there is an ability to make a connection with Nature, to utilise some higher functions of the human mind, and to draw down through that connection some knowledge – some ‘special’ knowledge. Special in the sense of “difficult to acquire”, “impossible to know” even; a knowledge that may be ancestral, instinctive, or ancient, but could equally be futuristic, novel and life-changing. Knowledge seemingly plucked from the very flow of existence outside of time – from the global Collective Unconscious, from the Flow Of The Universe, or from another world – The Otherworld.
Whatever you are using dowsing for, whether it be for divination, to find a lost object, to follow a trail, or to learn something currently not known, dowsing is forming a bridge between your consciousness to a source of knowledge that is beyond your usual capacity to access. It is a Gnostic act performed in a trance state, and as such it has many of the qualities you may recognise from your work in druidry - communing, ancestor worship, the appreciation of Nature's energies and forces, its cycle of the seasons, time, space, and magic.
Once we become aware that there is a source of knowledge “out there” somewhere that we can gain access to, it’s like re-discovering ourselves. It’s like being re-born. The world seems suddenly more mystical and incomprehensible, yet knowable in a new way. Yes, the scientists are smashing atoms apart and telling us how they think the universe began in the first few seconds of its existence, but once you access the storehouse of knowledge in The Otherworld, you’ve opened up Pandora’s Box and things are never the same again. You can know things for yourself – you can just... know.This is our first crossing point: Gnosis forms a bridge to the Otherworld.The Second Crossing: Trust
There is no way to differentiate between the need to check the veracity of one's spiritual progress from the actual progress itself. Verification is part and parcel of the move into the unknown that takes place when you cross over the boundary line from your safe world into a world where you are unsure of the rules, unsure of the participants, and uncertain about the outcome of being in what I will term The Otherworld.
The Otherworld is the other dimension of thought - the dream-like archetypically-decorated mind-space that exists within you , without you, through you and beyond you. Just take a moment to orient yourself to those co-ordinates before you continue!
When you first make that connection to The Other, to another world, you feel a bit lost. You may come back and begin to doubt how you managed to obtain the knowledge. Was it a fluke? Coincidence? Something "made up"? Something inexplicable but ultimately unrepeatable? Doubt begins to creep back in. This is a genuine issue when first starting out on any spiritual path, or working with any ancient knowledge or skill. In the modern world these skills lack the empirical evidence to back them up, after all – there’s never been a successful dowsing test – James Randi or Richard Dawkins have demonstrated that with their "catapsi" testing environments. [definition for 'catapsi' - http://www.experiencefestival.com/catapsi
The quintessence of doubt is something felt by both dowsers and druids. That “What am I getting myself into here?” feeling. At the heart of the issue is Trust. To what extent can you trust this source of knowledge? Can you ever trust yourself to not delude yourself? Can you trust an "other" whom you don't (or I would say can't) comprehend their intentions towards you? Those intentions towards you can be reconciled, but only through a development of trust over time.
One of the major unhelpful influences when divining is the interference of the rational faculties. Many times the outcome or response is predicted by reason or convention, and bound by cultural expectation and conditioning, which leads either to a rejection of the information or its obfuscation. Often there is a confused interpretation of the response when the rational contradicts the intuited. It just doesn’t make rational sense that one should be able to access this higher information source, this Otherworld, and reliance upon it is therefore jeopardised due to a lack of trust in the source.
Intuition is at the core of this trust issue. When one starts to develop an intuitive sense by allowing life decisions to be based upon trusting that immediate response, more often than not, in the early stages of development of intuition the rational mind overrides the intuited decision. The mind does not have a store of trust to draw from.One has to learn to trust in the answer – the answer is as presented, not what you shape that answer to be afterwards. Trusting your intuition is like sculpting clay blindfolded.
When you start out with a new search for knowledge, if you can’t get the answer you’re looking for it leads you to give up on it, or to denounce it as ‘flaky’, or a product purely of your own mind. You have to learn to overcome this and persevere with your development because your intuitive mind is more capable than your reason! I once tried to dowse the lottery numbers early on in my dowsing career - I got none right. Years later I tried again, reasoning that I was a better dowser. I got one number, and now I KNEW the other numbers were wrong, even before they appeared, but that still didn't mean I could dowse for all six winning lottery numbers - it just meant that I could tell when I the response was correct. The dowsing wouldn't give any other response except the wrong ones! I had to learn to trust that winning the lottery was not on my spiritual path, and not something that I could force to happen through dowsing. A harsh but valuable lesson in the reality of gnosis, spirituality and dowsing!The second crossing point: Trust opens the door to genuine knowledge.The Third Crossing: Belief
In order to make dowsing work for you it is necessary to suspend disbelief – to cross the sceptical boundary – and this is the same for druidry. It is necessary to gain self-belief in what you are doing. Ridicule and scepticism from other people can be damaging to one’s ego, but this is not about ego. It’s about mystery, and no-one can question your access to the mysteries of life – they are yours, but they require belief to sustain and nourish them.
Sacrifice is an essential component. In a way one has to sacrifice an inherent scepticism that has built up over time through exposure to ridicule. By believing in anything one sacrifices a certain ability to shield oneself from criticism, yet one needs a level of commitment and confidence in order to make such a sacrifice. Attempts to work druidically, or with dowsing, will not provide rewards until such a sacrifice is made of reason. This is NOT to lose ALL reason, but to lose the attitude that “I know best as a human” in favour of “I am open to whatever information comes my way from wherever, THEN I will analyse it later to determine how useful it is FOR ME.” That’s a longer aphorism, for sure, but it is much more accurate! Do you see the receptive quality of that statement? You are a receiver, not a crafter. The craft come after the inspiration.
It takes a certain amount of self-belief, of bravery to stand up in the face of all those who have never experienced what you have experienced, and to say to them - “Your belief is not mine. I believe what I believe because my experiences inform that belief.” It is an unwise undertaking to try to back up your beliefs without a repository of gnostic knowledge, without having established trust , and without being prepared to sacrifice some of the things you once clung dearly to. Only by having gone through those experiences and having opened new channels can one gain the certainty of belief.
If there's one thing that Science has usefully taught the spiritual pilgrim it is that our model of the universe it simply less wrong as we acquire knowledge, but it is always incomplete. Trust, and bravely admit that your model will appear flawed to everyone else, then continue to acquire knowledge to build your own unique perspective based upon a body of direct experience.The third crossing point: Belief is built first on trust, then on bravery.The Fourth Crossing: Connectivity
Having done the groundwork to build up a repository of experiences (even thought they may still be tagged 'inexplicable'), then to have established a trust relationship with this font of knowledge, one then has to make some progress towards enlarging and affirming that connection. What I mean is, it's fine to dabble in having experiences of a supernatural kind, say you dowse a little or speak to a tree once a year, but if you're going to really make this part of your life then the next stage is to open up the channels of communication fully, in a trusting fashion, and reach out to the Otherworld to begin to make connections.
Connectivity is at the heart of both druidry and dowsing, In order to find anything interesting or to gain insight into new areas of knowledge the dowsing method requires a connection between the dowser and the dowsed. As druids we aim to develop a working relationship with Nature in order to form a two-way communication between our divine sense and our sense of the divine. We take our bravery, our belief, our trust and our desire for new learning experiences, and we place them open to the connections that will feed those channels with gnostic knowledge and deeper, more regular experiences.
For communication you need meditation. Only meditation affords the necessary mindfulness combined with the essential silent space that allows connectivity to these Otherworldly resources to happen. Stilling the mind leaves the pathways to deep connection clear and prevents distraction - remember that 'focus whilst relaxed' concept I mentioned earlier? This is where it becomes essential and deeply meaningful.
Dowsing is the perfect tool for location and confirmation. It's binary 'yes/no' format and 'x marks the spot' capabilities make it the perfect tool for locating the best places to meditate and the best times to do so. It is also able to work through lists of possibilities to determine the most suitable answer for you, or to determine what is true about a subject.
Here are some examples of types of questions that dowsing can be applied to:-
1. Find a beneficial location, e.g. "Find the best place to meditate nearby" - then follow some dowsing rods until they cross.
2. Choose a suitable date for working, e.g. 'Is this the best day to perform this meditation/ritual?' If not, 'Which month/day is the best astrologically?'
3. 'Determine the strength of energy, e.g. "What strength are the energies at this place on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the weakest and 10 being the strongest?'
4. Find a suitable entity to work with, e.g. "'Are there any sentient entities present at this place that will work with me?"' Yes or no.
You can see that dowsing allows you to go into a situation with some prior knowledge and thus allows you to prepare. It can even warn you when you should not engage with particular places or entities because it would not be to your benefit. You can see that without some form of intuitive or divinitory capability there is every chance you will sit in a stone circle that isn't good for you, on a day that has no useful energy, placing offerings to an entity that is not there!
The list could go on for several pages of the types of esoteric questioning that can take place once the channels to the dowsing mind have been opened, and the speed and quality of the druidry work that is then performed are quite remarkable. It doesn't take much work subsequently to research the answers to these questions a bit more and to begin to build a repository of useful information. For example, the last three times I have asked when was a good time for me to work I have noticed that the moon is full and Mars is in the sky. Or, every time I go to a forest the dowsing rods lead me to the same tree as the best place to meditate. Perhaps you find that you work really well with a spirit of a particular location. The list will have endless permutations, and will always be personal to you. There are few rules. You simply have to experiment for yourself to find out what your own boundaries of possibility are, and don't be limited by anything that has gone before - make up your own types of questions to suit your particular needs, and make up the rules for how the answers should arrive too. What rules there are, are your rules!
When dowsing I try to visit places where the earth energies are strongest and most active. These can be ancient sites such as stone circles, long barrows, dolmens and even ancient trees. When I am in these places I am seeking the numinous, the Otherworldly, the sentient entity, the deep knowledge of Nature's ebb and flow. Without making this contact with Nature's forces then what purpose does a visit to a sacred place serve? Such a journey would be purely selfish and is unlikely to feed spiritual progress. You would simply become another tourist.The fourth crossing point: Dowsing inspires the confidence to connect to the Otherworld
.The Fifth Crossing: Relationship
Having made a crossing to The Otherworld, the world of information beyond your five senses, what can you expect to find there? What you might not expect, but which you will inevitably find, is a sentient intelligence. However you wish to name or classify that intelligence, it exists. There are so many stories, tales, myths, legends and experiences that can be told about this that we have developed entire religious systems on the basis of it. Most people, at some point in their lives, encounter it. Most dismiss it, or simply store the experience to be filed under "inexplicable".
One of the first dilemmas encountered when one thinks about how dowsing could work, or how communing works, is "Who is answering these questions?". I have found that the safest resolution to that, one that will not drive you insane, is to simply say,"Nature" and leave it at that. "Nature" is so difficult to define that it actually helps to leave it that obviously omniscient but impossible to define. It doesn't really matter how you identify this force - it might be you, your "higher self", or some vast repository of information, Akashic Records, The Global Unconscious, some Jungian archetype, God, any of the gods, a force of Nature, or any other subdivision that you care to make. Honestly, it doesn't matter except to your way of accepting it.
The more important question to make progress is "How reliable is the information?". That's where it becomes essential to develop a relationship with this Other force. Irrespective of what you understand that force or source to be you should make a sober pact with it that you will not attempt to cheat or trick it, and it should work with you in the same manner – a relationship of mutual sober respect. You must agree to use the knowledge for only the most noble purposes, for spiritual progress not for material gain. Your gain comes from your spiritual progression in the course of your work, not from the wielding of the powers available to you as a druid or dowser. I know this sound moralistic, but I have tried getting around it (see the earlier Lottery results episodes). It's some kind of Cosmic Law. Try it out for yourself, of course, but don't waste too much time on it.
The stronger the element of TRUST and respect for the power of the Other the more purposeful and useful the information and the experience becomes. Trust is an aspect of forming a meaningful relationship with The Other. In return for trust the relationship blooms and the flow of information is stronger and more...emotional and meaningful. That's the best I can describe it.
Having a ‘path’ (i.e. aligning oneself to a life purpose) makes the whole exercise of either dowsing or druidry purposeful, and opens up other aspects such as what Paul Devereux calls “the animistic mental model“, e.g. acquiring knowledge from listening and talking to Nature. The path is therefore a quest, and the tools of divination and druidry become a means to progress along that cryptic path. “Cryptic” because no matter which tools are chosen they way is never illuminated all at once, instead it is a steady progression at a pace that you can cope with. We are gently guided along our course in harmony with the Flow of the Universe. With this deep connection life becomes easy, druidry becomes a lifestyle and ceases to be an interest, dowsing becomes a tool for higher wisdom and not a quirky hobby.
Dowsing can help us to interpret the responses of the sentient forces we meet along The Path. I have had many experiences where Nature has informed me of the next steps in the form of a riddle. Dowsing has always been a part of the tool set that I use to understand those responses, to answer peripheral questions that home in on the eventual answers to these riddles. Its divination capability is a minor form of revealing and enlightenment within itself, and indeed many people through history have been perfectly happy with this much from it.The fifth crossing point: Our true spiritual pathway can be found in the relationship we establish with Nature.Conclusion
In conclusion I will list of the ways in which I think dowsing can substantially improve your spiritual work. Here are some good reasons why dowsing can assist with the work of druidry:-
* Dowsing helps you gain an understanding of the workings of Nature – the energies of trees, at ancient monuments, sacred sites and spaces, the flow of earthly and human energies
* Dowsing acts as a guide on your spiritual journey – answering questions to show you the right way, leading you down paths, creating opportunities, making you question things rather than accept other people’s ideas
* Dowsing can literally lead you to places and to find things that you would never otherwise have encountered
* Dowsing enhances one’s ability to trust intuition, thereby developing that faculty through information, affirmation and confirmation.
* Dowsing informs your magical work by ensuring that you perform when you and your surroundings are at their most energetic to increase the probabilities of your work succeeding.
There comes a point in working with any tool when intuition has been sufficiently developed, and Otherworldly relationships have been firmly established, and one begins to simply feel the energies of the planet, the rhythms and directions of the universe's flow. At this point I would say that it is time to dispense with tools, and to use the body as the instrument of dowsing. At this advanced stage one has become a true master of energy work, and druidry becomes a life's work. How I live for those moments!
If you have come to the end of this seminar and are now intrigued and want to begin to experiment with some of the ideas that I have been talking about, then here are some resources that you can use to get you going. These are only my personal favourites, there are many more books covering these subjects, many with completely different theories in them concerning dowsing, druidry and magic.
1. Learning to dowse
Most people can learn to dowse within ten or fifteen minutes. Seriously! It's just a question of understanding the basics, and then experimenting with some of the concepts I have been discussing.
Here is a page explaining the history of dowsing [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A3373175]
The British Society of Dowsers also hold regular courses on how to dowse [http://www.britishdowsers.org/learning/bsd_organised_events.shtml]
2. Dowsing theories
"Ley Lines and Earth Energies" by David Cowan
"Spiritual Dowsing" by Sig Lonegren
"Needles of Stone" by Tom Graves
3. Earth Energies
"Healing Through Earth Energies" by Julie Jacka
"Earth Energies" by David Furlong
"Earth Energies" by Serge Kahili King
4. Natural Magick
"Real Magic" by Isaac Bonewits
"The Druid Magic Handbook" - John Michael Greer
5. Combining Druidry and Dowsing
The only place that does this online, to my knowledge, is my own blog "The Hedge Druid" [http://www.hedgedruid.com
]. There are three years worth of posts (over 350) with tales of dowsing and druidical exploits at sacred sites all over the land. There are articles on theory, a comprehensive bibliography, a gazetteer of sacred site locations, a podcast, a gallery and much much more.
I hope you have enjoyed this article, and that it has raised some points of interest for you, and suggested some aspects that you may still not have explored yet in your own spiritual path.
May your path wind, and your rods follow