Monday, May 4, 2009
Dowsing, Pendulums, Ouija Boards, and Smudging
It would be remiss of me as someone who writes about ghost hunting theories to not mention some of the “New Age” tools that are being utilized in the field by fellow hunters.
I’ll admit that when I first started hunting actively in 2003, I was willing to try anything a few times just to see if there was more than coincidence involved. I made some divining rods with delicate metal bars bent at right angles, bought a pendulum with a crystal in a cute little rock shop, dusted off the childhood Ouija board, and even tried smudging.
The use of bent metal bars to find water (dowsing/divining) has long been a favorite way to decide where to dig a well. I’m a huge advocate of utilizing Earth’s energy, geology, and magnetic fields and believe there could be something subtle at work here. It’s primitive, but it could be the basis of an extraordinary invention in the near future.
What I did find when using divining rods, is that I had consistency. I used them first in my home and found them to cross in the same spots over and over and over again no matter how many times I went back and forth. I stopped for weeks on end and then tried it again to find them cross in the same spots. The skeptic in me wondered if I had subtly changed my movements in anticipation of where I knew they had crossed before. So, I had two other people use the rods in the house without mentioning where they crossed. They crossed in the same places for them. They tend to do so over top of water pipes and in front of windows. That definitely got my attention because it was objectively verified and because of the places they crossed. It seemed to be something earth-based might be at work, something akin to finding well water. It also got me sidetracked learning more about feng shui and it’s place in hauntings and cleansings. So, even if one tool doesn’t end up staying in your bag, it could lead you into other directions.
Still, not knowing the origins of how we get information from dowsing rods, I’ve put mine away. Divining rods are just too much of a subjective tool. For example, it’s impossible do discern if a person intentionally moves a planchette on a Ouija board or if he subconsciously answers from a psychic level, or if in fact a spirit does take over and help him move it. So the source of this information is not verifiable. The same is true with divining rods. It’s impossible to verify what I’ve found without digging up the ground and I certainly wouldn’t base any conclusions in an investigation upon what the rods showed. In regards to EMF meter measurements in conjunction with the crossing of the rods, I haven’t yet found any consistent correlations. Here is an article about divining rods.
Now, on to pendulums. These are devices that are usually a delicate chain with a crystal or a weight on the end. These are used sort of like divining rods. One holds the pendulum out and asks a question. If it moves clockwise it’s “yes,” counterclockwise it’s “no.” One of the things that confuses me about this is that some folks believe back and forth movement is “no,” and circular movement is “yes.” With so many different ways to interpret, it’s kind of like staring at tealeaves. You’ll get 100 different people with 100 different interpretations. I like my pendulum. It’s a bit of a novelty piece for me, but knowing that you can’t control the shakiness of a hand or repeat holding it in the same way for each question, it’s rather unreliable. Here is an article that explains the use of a pendulum.
Ouija boards are one of those mixed bag of nuts. If you pull one out and use it, folks will be polarized; on one side of the room they’ll freak out that you have some kind of hotline to the Devil and the other half of the room will be shivering in anticipation for answers from the other side truly believing all the answers are from an unquestionable source. That being said, I’m certainly not afraid of Milton Bradley’s board games, so Ouija has nothing in the least to make me uncomfortable (honestly, I’m more scared of Monopoly—it takes so long to play!), but then I also don’t rely on the answers either. The problem here is, by sitting in front of a mass-produced board with letters on it and asking questions, are you truly getting to the spirit world? Is it really that easy? You can get to the subconscious level of those using the board, however. I used one at the Gila County Prison and we got the name and personality of a young man who was mentally challenged who cleaned up at the prison in the early 1900s. Later on that evening I saw a full-body apparition that I absolutely felt was the man we “contacted” on the board. The question is, did we contact him? or did I as a psychic get information and somehow will the board to show what I knew to be true? Once again, not a tool with any great merit, but it sure makes everyone uneasy and that’s something I always enjoy. To learn more about the Ouija, go here.
Now, onto the arena of “cleansing” an environment. One of the most often used techniques is “smudging” or the burning of certain kinds of herbs to scare away spirits (the favorite is having the house blessed by a religious figure/prayer). Supposedly, spirits really hate the smell of sage. And so do I. Be careful when you decide to use this, as your house will smell like you’ve been burning an entirely different kind of “weed.” That being said, from a logical point of view, I seriously doubt the olfactory sense is a hugely important one to a spirit, nor do I think the scent could linger long enough to be of much good even if they did have big schnoz’s. Still, I will admit that upon moving into a new place, I’ve enjoyed the ceremony involved in a sage smudging. I think it’s really along the lines of a house blessing or any other ceremony that says officially “this is my place, good energy only, please.” It has a way of neutralizing pre-existing scents and so you can lay down your own. Man is an animal, after all. It’s more satisfying for the living than for any “evil spirits” that might lurk, a kind of a benediction for your house. Here is a good article about smudging.
Whether you find these tools useful for not, it’s always good to learn about all the areas of ghost hunting if you’re pursuing this interest. When we become limited with what we use, we really lose sight of the desire to expand the field. When I began to realize my EMF meter was just too unreliable, I didn’t toss it out. I simply decided not to use the findings as evidence of a paranormal occurrence. In the right hands, some of these New Age type tools can actually be quite impressive. Still, I’m not in the ghost hunting field as a spiritualist, but as someone looking for good proof of phenomenon and even better documentation. I think, for my own purposes of ghost hunting, spiritual tools are not going to be effective to prove phenomena, but I respect people who find them to be valuable in their search. We are all on our own journeys in the field. In fact, I’ve hunted with folks who want to prove their grandparents made it to heaven, others who want to help trapped souls, and still others like me who want to document and prove phenomenon before we decide its origins.
at 8:11:00 AM