Clipped by the Moon – August 2017

Clipped by the Moon

Slightly Eclipsed at Merrivale

Not wishing to give Mr Trump our tourist dollars, we opted to sit out these few minutes of celestial totality at home.  I wondered about remotely dowsing a place in the United States – maybe Plymouth Massachusetts – from here in Tavistock UK, but it all seemed a bit too contrived. Dowsing a routine partial eclipse of the sun indoors seemed somehow more authentic, and certainly a lot less hassle.

Then my friend, Mike Mason from St Buryan, asked if I was doing anything locally for the event – and if so, could he join me?  So it was, that the two of us ended up at Merrivale (between Tavistock and Princetown) sharing dowsing experiences in the early evening glow, and waiting for the moon to arrive.

The western edge of Dartmoor is always windy, often quite violently so.  There are no walls, trees or windbreaks between the Merrivale landscape platform and the open sea about 20 miles away to the south.    Yet, this evening everything was still, almost eerily so.  The loudest things we could hear were our own voices and the constant burble of the old leat that separates the stone rows. It was so still, it was actually rather warm – and the air was full of flying ants. Very strange.

Not having dowsed an eclipse – not even a 5% smidgeon of one – on open moorland before, I had to think about what was feasible.  The tried and trusted tape measure and lollipop sticks were inappropriate on wet, uneven vegetation, so it was down to BSD standard-issue flags and walking-boot paces this time.

At home, we are blessed with various energy features, but at Heather View there are no leys nearby, so could it be that an evening at Merrivale might prove instructive? It certainly was, albeit not quite as we might have expected.

For those who do not know the site well, the Merrivale complex has two double rows of modest stones erected almost precisely east/west, a low stone circle, one last surviving – but quite substantial – menhir, a veritable village of hut circles and a decimated reave (a boundary work, allegedly).

Given the soggy state of the land, I chose to measure the two earth energy lines that weave their way through the jagged-toothed stones of the southern row, and the ley that stops abruptly at the eastern ‘blocking’ stone.  I flagged the energy lines beyond the ‘blocking’ stone, where the currents are a bit less complicated. Unsurprisingly for an ancient sacred site, we had both a female and a male line. However, both were 80/20 for their gender, which is unusual.  Great balance, but very strong and not at all stable. We can call them Terri and Jerry, for short.

I flagged the ley inside the southern stone row, more as a control really, as my past experience had shown that leys don’t respond to eclipses – but hey, we had the option, so why not give it a try?  Without giving it any thought, I used orange flags for the apparently inconsequential ley – but no offence intended to any Lib Dem readers!

As ever, I should have been prepared for the unexpected. As you can see from the attached table, Terri and Jerry behaved much as one would have expected. Both reached the point of gender balance, and both contracted to some extent.

We were both delighted to see the clip taken out of the sun for almost an hour, as the disc of the moon sidled by below it – and, of course, care of our recycled, but checked-by-dowsing, eclipse spectacles.  An itinerant walker was fascinated by our activities, but even more astonished that he, too, could see the moon-bitten sun through our specs.   He thought the eclipse was in the US – well, it was, but there was no time for a more detailed explanation!

The next passers-by were a Cornish dowser, and her friend from California – who opened her dialogue by apologising for the words and actions of her President.  I replied we had our own issues too, but it seemed it was a matter of scale.

While all this was happening, the energy lines were contracting – but, most unexpectedly, so, too, was the ley. In fact, it moved proportionately almost as much as the energy lines themselves.  It’s at moments like these that you have to jump out of the eclipse-induced reverie, and try to understand what is actually going on.  Had I got an energy line rather than a ley?  Was it a different kind of ley?   Had I lost the plot entirely? Was the universe having a laff with me?  Seemingly, it was none of these, but I had a result that has thrown my previous experience of eclipse impacts on leys into some confusion.  I have a feeling that I was being shown something profound here but, so far, I can’t fathom out what.

Given the tiny visual manifestation of the eclipse, I felt pleased that I could get such a strong dowsable impact across each of the fields that I measured.

Our visit and discussion raised some other interesting questions, aside from the eclipse itself.  The most important of which concerned the age of the stones in the rows. In Brittany, I had found that the biggest stones dowsed as being far older than the smaller ones. So, I was prompted to put the same question at Merrivale.  Despite my hundreds of visits there, it had never occurred to me to ask if two adjacent stones were actually erected at the same time.  Applying my results from Brittany to Merrivale, it seems that the smallest stones are about 1,000 years newer than the biggest remaining ones.  If, as some feel, the larger ‘blocking’ uprights are astronomical and/or calendrical markers, what about their more diminutive cousins?   The small stones gave a weak response to ‘ritual’, but maybe my idea of the word is different to that of the ancient Celts.

By 20.45, Terri, Jerry and the orange ley were all easing back to rest; the set sun had rendered the skyline into a sharp, silent silhouette and the wispy clouds in the western twilight had melted into a pink-washed melange.

Nigel Twinn

Tamar Dowsers, August 2017

Mike Mason writes abut dowsing in Dartmoor News.


Partial Solar Eclipse (maximum 5%)

21st August 2017

Merrivale – Tavistock/Princetown,  Devon, UK


Terri Jerry Ley
Width Paces Gender (F) % Width Paces Gender (M) % Width Paces
19.00 2.5 80 2.7 80 3.0
19.15 2.5 80 2.7 80 3.0
19.30 2.0 80 2.7 80 3.0
19.45 2.0 76 2.4 75 2.5
20.00 1.8 59 2.0 73 2.0
20.07* 1.5 50 2.0 51 1.7
20.15 1.5 59 2.1 61 1.7
20.30 1.8 80 2.1 71 2.2
20.45 2.4 80 2.4 80 2.5


* time of maximum eclipse