Thursday, October 09, 2008

My Grandfather was a Witch.

Well, a "Water Witch", though I don't remember him referring to himself in those terms. He just called it dowsing, and I remember him walking around his property in Vermont with my bother, sister and I in tow, each of us with bent sticks in our hands, waiting for them to move. I was reminded of this by a story in the New York Times this morning. I found it interesting the society of dowsers, such as it is, is located in Vermont. Maybe it is especially "witchy" up there, I know I have a couple readers who are expert in that area, maybe they can fill us in.

When he wasn't parading us around his yard for laughs, he actually used a method I didn't see in the article. He would straighten out a coat hanger, cut it in two and bend each length of wire about five inches from the end so he had two "L" shaped pieces. Then he would hold these loosely in front of him, like two pistols. When the two pieces came out of parallel and moved toward each other, I believe that meant he was on to something.

Articles like this give me hope that if we do begin to crawl backwards as a society, maybe we will at least pick up some of the cool things from the age before television, where"ordinary" people like my grandfather could build their own house, dowse for water, can whatever produce wouldn't keep in the root cellar, play hundreds of songs on five or six instruments without reading a note of music, and have night after night of good stories to tell.


  1. I'm hoping we're not crawling backwards, but if we do it's nice to know there are people who still have skills outside of texting.

    PS. Be careful who say you descend from witch blood around- there are, it seems, still witch hunters out there.

  2. hey... my mother is a dowser and she uses the bent wires method -- though she has a set that she has kept around forever that the gauge of is quite a bit more than a coat hanger -- and I think they may be copper???

    I tried it a lot as a kid, but I don't remember knowing I was successful -- I suppose given a need I would try again though

  3. We had a well dug on our property when I was a kid and I remembered the fellah and his brother who worked on the well used divining rods and such to "double-check" their work for hydrology.

    As for society, I'm for two steps back and one forward.

  4. My grandmother, dad's mom, taught me about dowsing when I was little. I vividly remember walking around her yard, forked stick in hands.

    However, it's my mum's side of the family that traces its roots to the Salem Witch Hysteria. Make of that what you will.