When Hamish Miller first dowsed his way through the Hurlers back in the 1980s, the earth energies he found there were a bold, new concept to much of modern mankind. However, he would have been the first to dismiss the idea that he had discovered something novel: he was just recovering an ancient, perhaps ageless, way of sensing an invisible aspect of the world we inhabit.
By the time HM, and his colleague Paul Broadhurst, reached the Hurlers for the second time they were tracing the two long distance planetary threads that we now call Michael and Mary – running across Britain, from western Cornwall to eastern Norfolk. Hamish was learning as he journeyed, and today we are still building on the platform that he provided.
We now take very much for granted arguably the most significant of Mr Miller’s rediscoveries; namely that the energy of the planet responds to our activity – and probably to our intent – and we to it. When Hamish first described this hypothesis in The Sun and the Serpent it seemed revolutionary, to the point of being quite outlandish. Today, is a given part of the bedrock of modern dowsing experience.
Finding a quiet place to interact with the earth in this way is both enjoyable and life affirming. However, the dowser has to be constantly wary of the ideomotor effect – the fear that you are only finding what you want, or expect, to find. It is therefore a priceless opportunity to re-examine Hamish’s work, when someone else (and in this case a cadre of fifty-odd someone elses) is doing the activation, leaving the dowser just to sense and to consider the resulting effect.
This year, the winter Solstice dawn fell on December 22nd. In recent times, local woodswoman and musician, Anne Hughes, has ably enthused and marshalled a substantial group of choristers and celebrants to sing in the Samhain sunrise (which was, as it often is at this time of the year, a little shy). By the harsh standards of Bodmin Moor, the weather at the Hurlers was almost balmy. The forecast mizzle kept its distance long enough, and the persistent, blustery, withering blast was no more than ‘normal for Minions’.
The dowsers were in the vanguard – plodding through the uneven terrain in the barely lifting gloom, to measure the earth energies of the stone circles at rest, before the start of the main event. Mary was flagged into place, coursing up from the south west, while Michael was located striding purposefully south to north – much as Mr Miller himself had found them a generation earlier.
For good measure, the radial lines emanating from and entering the centre circle were counted, Hamish-style, as an approximation of the ambient energy of the place. There was a surprisingly high tally of 63 of them (although subsequent enquiry uncovered that there had been around 40, prior to a ceremony taking place at the stones the night before). During the Solstice singing, the radial count rose to 80, then to 83, where it plateaued – before dropping back as the group drifted away.
Around the cluster of performers a ‘bubble of energy’ was dowsed, which grew with the input of the participants. Quite how far the bubble stretched down either or both of the lines would be difficult to determine, but suffice it to say that both Michael and Mary responded directly to the human presence. Firstly, to the arrival of the dowsers, then to the purposeful gathering of the clan, then again to the sonorous singing and to their clockwise processing.
The reaction of both ‘lines’ was immediate and easily detectable. While any hope of technical accuracy was blown away by the force of the wind, the positioning of the marker flags told their own story. At each stage of the proceedings the lines expanded – and when the ceremony was over they dropped back almost as quickly as they had blossomed. This was actually a bit of a surprise. Typically, lines enhanced by intent tend to have a memory, a remanence, which only fades gradually over time. The fact that some of the energy boost provided the previous evening was still there to be sensed on Solstice morning was an example of just that phenomenon in action.
Another unexpected difference at this Midwinter was that Michael broadened out as much as Mary. Last year, Mary had led the reaction, with Michael playing a more minor role. Was this just an example of geological or cosmic forces in action – or was it something to do with the composition of those attending (with a greater proportion of men in the group this year)? So many questions.
Perhaps the most profound talking point, form a dowser’s perspective, was that both Michael and Mary appeared to have moved to some extent from their typical alignments. This is a common enough finding in open countryside – the earth is a dynamic entity, after all – but it is not at all common to sense it at a pivotal nodal site such as the Hurlers. Fascinating stuff!
While Bodmin Moor may not be the world’s ideal laboratory for the reductionist examination of physical phenomena, what it lacks in finesse, it provides in spades the scale and raw energy that makes dowsing research so exciting. It is an elemental kind of place, where the extremes of the weather and the power of the postindustrial landscape provide fuel aplenty to inspire the diviner.
When Paul and Hamish came here, dowsing was still generally regarded as something to do with finding water using some unknown pseudo-scientific procedure. Post Miller, and his exploits at the Hurlers and elsewhere, people all over the world are approaching the subject as part art, part craft, part philosophy, part rational thought process – with tentacles reaching out towards the psychic and the spiritual. Our understanding of reality really is changing.
Many thanks to Anne Hughes for organising the East Cornwall diaspora to set up this event, to the Cheeswring Hotel for miraculously feeding the (somewhat disheveled) fifty, and to all those who turned up in the dark to provide us dowsers with priceless material to mull over after the New Year festivities.
Nigel Twinn, Tamar Dowsers, December 2015