Map Dowsing with Pendulum or L-rod

Copyright 1999, Sam R. Scafferi

(This article was originally published in the Treasure Hunter Confidential, Volume 15, Number 5, May 1999, and except for a few minor changes, is reproduced here in its entirety.)

In general, my opinion of dowsing is quite critical, and that is reflected in the various articles and information that are available on this site. However, I have not come by these opinions and conclusions through close-mindedness or a lack of research and experimentation. On the contrary, I have diligently looked for reasons and evidence to support the dowsing hypothesis, as opposed to looking for reasons why it can’t work. Up to this point, at least, I simply have not located sufficient evidence to convince me that the practice (art) of dowsing yields results that are any better than "chance" selections (I’m still looking…). (Naturally, other researchers may have different opinions.)

Nevertheless, dowsing remains a fascinating topic and hobby, and affords many individuals a true source of enjoyment. In that light, I offer the following article, which explains how to dowse a map or sketch. For those who are new to map dowsing, I hope this information will be useful in helping them to try it for themselves. One should experience something of this nature before passing judgement on it, and the information I’ve provided here should give the beginner plenty of good starting material.


All dowsing, by its very nature, is subjective. That goes for field or location dowsing, as well as map dowsing. Many individuals will exhibit what they believe to be an inherent dowsing ability, by experiencing a few successful locations in the field. However, successful dowsing experiences in the field can sometimes be attributed to other reasons, besides pure dowsing. Sometimes water dowsers will subconsciously correctly interpret various characteristics of the land and geology, and in combination with their local knowledge, the dowsing instrument will indicate in a positive manner. This will, for all practical purposes, appear to be a successful dowse.

maps.jpg (4096 bytes)In either event, whether a dowser truly has an inherent talent, or they merely appear to have such a talent, a lot of these practitioners are hesitant to try map dowsing. Their hesitancy is based on a general belief that field or location dowsing is somehow accomplished by utilizing a different phenomenon, than what they believe is employed in map dowsing. Some of the more common theories are that in the field their dowsing instrument is somehow being directly influenced by the sought after target, and is being acted upon directly through some form of magnetism, aura interaction or similar physical property.

There are many popular theories to explain dowsing in conjunction with some physical entity. However, it is my opinion that the practice of dowsing, whether it be on location, or over a map; is accomplished by utilizing basic psychical (or paranormal) powers. Although there is no single explanation for how dowsing works (when it appears to), one of the more generally accepted theories is that the subconscious mind is somehow interacting with the sought after target. During this interaction the subconscious is making known to the conscious mind, certain information, manifested by tiny movements of the hands. These ideomotor reflexes, in turn, create various movements of a dowsing instrument, and the operator interprets these movements so as to obtain positional, or location type of information. (Location information is only one type of information which is obtained through dowsing, there are other types of information which many dowsers claim to be able to ascertain, such as material composition, flow of water in gallons per minute and other characteristics of the sought after target.)

If the assumption is made, that all dowsing is accomplished through some interaction between the dowser’s mind and the sought after target, then there is no reason not to believe that dowsing "remotely" over a map, is just as likely as dowsing on location. The only difference being that the map becomes a representation of the physical location, and provides the dowser a visible focal point.

Map dowsing is done in any one of several different ways, and each dowser probably has a favorite method that works best for them.

Here is a method that I learned many years ago, and involves the use of a pendulum (a weight of some sort, suspended from a string, cord or small chain). This method could just as easily be adapted for use with an L-rod, and I’ve seen it done that way also.

Pendulum.gif (24367 bytes)When using a pendulum as a dowsing instrument, most dowsers establish a "Yes" and "No" response with their pendulum. That is, they have practiced some period of time with known objects, or questions, of which the answers are known; –and have established a reliable Yes/No response from their pendulum. As an example, Yes might be indicated by clockwise rotations, whereas No might be indicated by counterclockwise rotations.

When map dowsing, it is generally a good idea to shorten the amount of chain that is dangled below the thumb and forefinger. The dowser should determine the optimum length, but generally I find that about 6 inches provides the best sensitivity. Merely hold the excess chain, or string, in the last three fingers of your hand.

  1. Obtain an accurate map or sketch of the area you want to dowse, and lay it out on the table in front of you. Lay it out at 45 degrees to you, so that one corner is closer to you, say the lower left hand corner.
  2. Lay a yardstick down at the far left corner of the map. Then, while watching the pendulum for the predetermined "YES" response, begin moving the yardstick (or ruler) from the left corner of the map to the right corner of the map. It may be necessary to experiment with how fast to move the yardstick, as not everyone displays the same reaction times. (Note: A variation of this method is to have an assistant move the yardstick, while the dowser, with their back to the map, watches the pendulum.)
  3. When a positive, or "YES" response is obtained, stop and lightly draw a pencil line along the edge of the yardstick. (I usually draw it along the left edge of the yardstick, but it really doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent.)
  4. Turn the map 90 degrees, and repeat steps 2 and 3 again.

Keep turning the map 90 degrees, and obtaining a response, and drawing a light pencil line. The lines will generally not make a perfect "X" over any one spot, but generally there will be a specific area that will begin to reveal itself.

After a brief rest, begin working on just the specific area where most of the lines drawn are crossing. This is done by touching the map with a small pointed object such as a pencil eraser, and watching for a "YES" response. Generally, certain spots will appear "hotter" than some others. These should then be investigated further, with field dowsing, and finally with more conventional geophysical prospecting and locating methods, in order to confirm the existence of the sought after target.

Map dowsing is often used to make preliminary investigations in those areas which are hard to get to, or which would require extensive travel. If an individual finds (or believes) they have an inherent talent for location or field dowsing, there is really no reason why map dowsing shouldn’t work equally well for them. The method outlined here is an excellent starting point, and provides an easy way to experience map dowsing.