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Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites,[1] and many other objects and materials, as well as so-called currents of earth radiation (Ley lines), without the use of scientific apparatus. Dowsing is also known as divining (especially in reference to interpretation of results),[2] doodlebugging (in the US), or (when searching specifically for water) water finding, water witching or water dowsing.[3]

A Y- or L-shaped twig or rod, called a dowsing rod, divining rod (Latin: virgula divina or baculus divinatorius) or witching rod is sometimes used during dowsing, although some dowsers use other equipment or no equipment at all.

Dowsing appears to have arisen in the context of Renaissance magic in Germany, and it remains popular among believers in Forteana or radiesthesia[4] although there is no accepted scientific rationale behind the concept and no scientific evidence that it is effective.



Dowsing as practiced today may have originated in Germany during the 15th century, when it was used to find metals. As early as 1518 Martin Luther listed dowsing for metals as an act that broke the first commandment (i.e., as occultism).[5] The 1550 edition of Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia contains a woodcut of a dowser with forked rod in hand walking over a cutaway image of a mining operation. The rod is labelled "Virgula Divina – Glück rüt" (Latin: divine rod; German "Wünschelrute": fortune rod or stick), but there is no text accompanying the woodcut. By 1556 Georgius Agricola's treatment of mining and smelting of ore, De Re Metallica, included a detailed description of dowsing for metal ore.[6]

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