In this seminar I want to discuss those areas of modern druidry that have direct correlations with dowsing, to talk about the kinds of mental processes they have in common, and most importantly to discuss the way in which dowsing can enhance, enliven and affirm one’s approach to the lifestyle that we call druidry. If you have never thought to consider using dowsing to enhance your druidry activities then some of the ideas in this article may surprise you; most I hope will encourage you to try them for yourself, if you haven’t already; or perhaps you may see the activities in a new light.
Like the two strands of the double helix shape it is my contention that the disciplines of dowsing and druidry have many points at which they meet as they intertwine around each other. Dowsing is the left-brain discipline - a study in extracting knowledge from some divine source through the power of the questioning intellect. Druidry is its right-brain counterpart - a discipline of gnostic inquiry(with a small ‘g’ indicating the method rather than the theology), intuitively and creatively guided towards belief and understanding. Yet I suggest that students in either field would be equally happy with either of those definitions of the qualities of their chosen discipline, for they have much in common. I choose both disciplines, because I feel that the best progress is made when both sides work together in harmony, and I believe the two disciplines have a great deal of synergy.
Dowsing is an ancient skill, and is an activity of which you are probably quite aware. In that sense I’m not intending to go over old ground (no pun intended). I will merely provide a cursory definition and we can move ahead. I hope you will not be too disappointed that I will not be covering the subject’s history or its practicalities – all that material can easily be found elsewhere, and there are some references to material at the end of the seminar that will provide you with a good background, should you wish to follow it up.
Please bear in mind that the information contained in this article represents my current best information and my most complete models of the paradigms of the subtle energies and their manifestation. These cannot and should not be taken as fact, but rather considered to be a working hypothesis, all of which is subject to change, as this is the nature of Nature and the Universe within which we operate. I do not claim to have a holistic interpretation of all aspects of my work. Instead I hold dynamic models based upon my latest research. All information presented, however, is based upon my own experience, and has been derived from first principles whilst trying to build a framework with as few gaps as possible.
Some terms that I use throughout the article should be explained. When I talk of "earth energy" I am discussing the subtle energy that arises from within the earth itself. I believe that this energy is a product of many processes, including
- the action of water flowing over crystalline structures in rock
some chemical processes within soil
the earth's inner fusion processes
I also talk about "radiant energy", which is a similar form of 'subtle' energy. I say 'subtle' because this indicates how science is currently unable and unwilling to test for and thus detect this energy form. Radiant energy is my classification of the forms of energy produced from direct or reflected sunlight or other solar emissions. This also includes the light energy from other stars and the reflected light from planets too. It thus refers to the energy emissions of all cosmic bodies whose energy reaches our planet.
Another term I refer to is the concept of the "aura". This is a field of energy that extends beyond the boundaries of the physical object that emits it. The aura is composed of various layers of energy that have a light component, and thus can be characterized by a scale of colours in the same way as a rainbow emits a spectrum of colours. The size and strength of this subtle energy field appears to be an indicator of the health of the living entity that emits the aura, and that can encapsulate humans, animals, plants and even geological features.
When I refer to "magical processes", or "energy work" I try to differentiate between the term "magic" and "natural magick". I define magic as being a set of rituals, tools, visualisations and vocalisations which are intended to bring about change at the behest of, and for the sake of a human. I contrast that with "natural magick", which is a term I use to stress the inter-relationship of Nature with the human being in order to co-operatively bring about a change, and a change that flows with the natural order and direction of a divine process, whether one defines that as a telelogical, ontological or eschatological process.
The energy that I talk of through this article has many names, and has been known to all human civilisations at all times. Ironically, it is only in our own time, when we have seemingly the most powerful tools of analysis and enquiry, which we seem to be losing the ability to feel and work with this energy. Perhaps, one could say, at a time when we need it most?
This energy is 'subtle'. It is not visible, although it can be made manifest. It has no form, although it can be contained and directed. It has no obvious impact upon us, yet it influences us every day. It is chi, prana, mana, orgone, od, vril.... and a host of other exotic names. It is all around us in Nature, and it is most definitely a natural energy - in other words, it does not exist in man-made materials such as plastic. Curiously, one of its unusual properties is that it is contained by iron!
Beyond this I cannot tell you what this energy is. There is no scientific equipment that can measure or detect it. Like The Tao, if you knew what it was, you wouldn’t be dealing with The Tao. As Douglas Adams once wrote about the Universe itself, if it were known it would undoubtedly change its essence into something infinitely more complex. However, this subtle energy can be worked with. It forms the basis of all magic. It can be moulded and directed by the human mind, although it will not bend to its will, I have found. When this subtle energy is accumulated then feats of magic become more possible. When the energy is directed and infused into the land, then the land can be made fertile or barren. This energy has the power to give gradual life or leech it. It can affect the elements. It can balance where there is imbalance. It is the force of natural magick, and thus should be of keen interest to anyone professing to take on the mantle of being a druid in the modern era.
It is the Blood of Gaia pumping to the Pulse of the Universe.
I’m sure that if you’ve visited any sacred sites that you’ve inevitably seen those people walking around with little metal rods, and you’ve possibly even chatted to them about what they’re doing and why. You will undoubtedly have come away with a variety of answers: looking for water, or finding an archaeological structure (like Time Team without Tony Robinson), treasure hunting, perhaps. They may have told you they were tracing the paths of earth energies, or even findings the traces of ghosts of previous presences at the site. Oh yes, dowsing goes from the mundane to the esoteric ends of life’s spectrum alright!
Dowsing is certainly a tool with a very ancient provenance. Despite what some sources may tell you, we don’t really know how far back it goes. One thing we can be assured of – the megalith builders, whoever they were, would undoubtedly have used a method such as dowsing to locate, orient and validate the structures they built, in addition to the techniques of surveying under the jurisdiction of the Dodman. So that’s pretty early then – before the farming communities developed, before it was considered something unusual to do. Some think that the early proponents might not even have needed tools such as dowsing rods to do this because they could just sense the earth energies. Nowadays that’s a skill that takes many years to develop, and a lifetime to explore.
Other Divination Tools
Other divination tools can also assist you in similar ways when working in the field of subtle energies. For example, crystals provide focus and protection when working with energy; tarot cards can reveal information in symbolic form that dowsing cannot (except through lots of questions which are quite hit and miss), but tarot cards are hard to use outside on windy, wet and cold days! Dowsing rods and crystals are much more practical. There is the sense of intuition, of course. Developing intuition should be the end goal, but dowsing can help whilst you do this to a level you feel confident with. Dowsing is not an end, it is a tool that you should aim to render unnecessary eventually. Dowsing is definitely not the only tool that will help your druidry, but it is one of the easiest to learn, the least esoteric, and most practical to employ regularly. In the next sections I will take you through how dowsing can help in this way.
Druidry is also the discovery of, and understanding of Nature. If it only had that element to it then this would make druids simply nature-lovers, or biologists, but there is one additional dimension to the understanding of Nature, and that is an appreciation of its spiritual dimension. Druids have a relationship with Nature in which the divinity of Nature is acknowledged. As a philosophy, a concept of the divinity within Nature has also been called pantheism, but I consider pantheism to be different from druidry. Druids are not seeing gods in every part of Nature: for Druids, Nature IS the divine. This is an important distinction, I feel.
The patterns we discover and appreciate in Nature are the same patterns that we can discover when dowsing. Dowsers and druids alike venerate the energies of Nature and both seek to understand these energies better, knowing that natural forces could offer us a safer and more harmonious future than the forces that mankind alone had unleashed upon the planet recently. Dowsing and druidry offer a path of intergation, not disintegration - appreciation, not depreciation.
Druidry is a mental, emotional and spiritual relationship with an "Other" force or consciousness - a sentient otherness, which we might call Nature. Whether you think that divinity is within you, outside of you, or that you are encompassed by it - it is an individual decision, but not one that prevents you from participating. Either dowsing or druidry alone are powerful tools for psychological and spiritual development, but taken together they re-enforce each other in so many ways. In this section I will explain some of the practical levels at which I believe the disciplines of dowsing and druidry coincide.
The Path of Energy
The flow of Nature, its divine imperative, proceeds unabated irrespective of whether our focus or intention is directed toward it. When we "go with the flow" things become easier because we are working in harmony with this intended flow. This is not a "laissez faire" attitude - this is not attitude of The Dude of The Big Lebowski. Becoming tuned to the direction and meanderings of The Flow is not an easy process - it involves attention, a willingness to accept constant change, and a belief that the outcome will serve a purpose. Both dowsing and druidry can assist with making choices that move us closer and maintain us in The Flow of the Nature's divine intention.
- The Paths of Learning
The Fringe: Dowsing and druidry as fringe activities
Spiritual purpose and direction
Dowsing can quite literally find us paths through Nature, i.e. trails, tracks and lines of energy connecting sacred sites or centres where these energies accumulate. Druidry can be seen as one of humankind's methods of finding a path towards enlightenment, or a greater understanding and clarity of how to work with Nature, and a process of discovering (or acknowledging) and working with the powers of Nature. In former times, so we are led to believe, Druid Colleges took children from a young age through up to twenty years of training in order to develop them as competent masters of the art of druidry - a 'calling', and a life path indeed.
The crossing of paths can also mean the positive response from two dowsing rods crossing when something is achieved. Nothing is more positive an experience than seeing the look of shock and surprise when a new dowser tries dowsing for the first time and gets the rods to cross, knowing that they were not the ones consciously responsible for making the metal move. It begins to call into question the whole edifice of their existing belief systems. Many of those who have been called to study the path of druidry will recognise this feeling - at once something familiar, welcoming and re-assuring, yet which causes great philosophical upheaval in our search for acceptance in a social structure.
Where paths cross in dowsing terms is a special place where the flows of the two forces interact. They may combine harmoniously to amplify or complement each other, adding to the complexity. They may overlap each other producing a new effect. They may disrupt each others' flow causing re-direction, or inharmonious conjunctions. Whatever happens, the conjunction is different from the singular path.
Dowsing is undeniably still a fringe 'pseudo-scientific', nay paranormal activity, and is viewed with great suspicion by the dominant scientific community at large. Similarly, I feel, druidry is regarded as a 'fringe religion' by many of the spiritual or religious communities, who distrust the stories they hear of naked cavorting and quasi-satanic rituals. Yet people within dowsing and druidry know this to be at the very least a narrow-minded mis-representation, and at worst a slander.
Both dowsing and druidry are paths for the brave - those people who dare to go their own way and to be a bit different - those who care little for the regard of most others, but who tend to have a high regard for Nature.
Spiritual purpose and direction
Consider "purpose" and "direction". Both dowsing and druidry suit the metaphor of The Path - the journey towards something strived for, towards enlightenment, with the travel more important than the destination. What is learned along the way determines the future direction. Dowsing follows the "life force" and Nature generates it, and frames it in a meaningful way, giving it direction and purpose. This may seem a little overblown, or may strike you as hyperbole, but it is in the nature of the divine to bring about wholesale changes in one's life - it can be that intense and challenging. I have seen people try dowsing once and walk away stunned, their minds in turmoil, reeling at the implications of those rods turning without their direct input and against their expectations.
In my own spiritual path I am continually reminded of a phrase from Carlos Castenada's series of books, in which the character Don Juan Matus, a Yacqui Indian shaman, continually reminds Carlos that the only compass necessary upon the journey through the hardships and delights of shamanistic training is to decide whether the path upon which one treads is "a path with a heart". A sound moral compass.
We all demand a little space. We each preserve either a special place known only to ourselves as being special, or we preserve our own body space from the invasion of other people. From time to time we crave the opposite of this space, and we seek sacred union, but often we seek solitude and a space to call our very own. The special space within which we can be free we might call our sacred space.
Some people are able to overcome their social inhibitions and congregate in a communal sacred space where they can feel free to show how much they are in synchrony with Nature. Many of us reserve such behaviour for our own sacred space.
In this section I discuss how to define such a space, how to find a suitable place energetically, and a simple druidic concept to make the space sacred. There are, of course, as many ways as there are people, and you must find your own, but I present a common process.
- Auras and nemetons
How to find the most energetic place
Marking out the directions
Protecting the space energetically
One of the first things I learned to look for when dowsing was something's 'aura'. I must have read this somewhere - living things had auras. I discovered that people have auras and that some people can see them as colour fields around people. As I began to dowse the extent of these fields around people I came to understand that the aura is indeed a set of coloured fields that is closely associated with several key energy points of the human body.
When I found that I was able to have some control over the size, strength and quality of the aura that I had around me then I understood that it governed the area of 'influence' that a person controlled. I was able then to turn my investigations to other living species and find similar, if not the same, living subtle energy fields surrounding those entities too: animals and trees in particular. I practised dowsing for the edge of the aura of trees to see how large they were, how strong, whether obstacles influenced their shape, and what influenced their quality.
After reading Emma Restall Orr's highly influential book "Living Druidry" I became familiar with the concept of the "nemeton".
The nemeton is the equivalent of a sacred space:
Emma talks of being enfolded under the protective nemeton of friendly trees, cosseted in their cape of subtle energy that can only be felt by one prepared to spend the time attuning to such things. I learned to do the same, and after some initial feelings of reluctance (on both sides) I became friendly and attuned to many types of tree, and have felt the benefit of that ever since, in terms of their protective qualities and their knowledge. If I can attune to the tree I will use its protective spread as a living nemeton, able to let go of my mind in order to fully engage with Nature."The nemeton may be a physical temple, stone circle or forest grove, but more often in this spiritual tradition where most people practise alone, it refers to a far more personal idea: it is the sacred haven of the individual. It is the place where we go in order to let go of the world, where it is easier to feel safe and free, to breathe in the beauty of the earth." (p64, 'Living Druidry' by Emma Restall Orr - Piatkus Press)