The Idea of Dowsing

Is this WHY dowsing seems to Work?

A zoom presentation by Nigel Twinn

Jointly to the Tamar Dowsers and the Devon Dowsers

The project that became Fraying at the Margins/The Idea of Dowsing stemmed from three main sources.  Firstly, the insight of deviceless earth energy dowser Billy Gawn that at a fundamental level all of reality (or all of Creation, as he would term it) is composed of ‘information’.  Secondly, the question asked in 2014 by founder of the Cardiff Dowsers, Andrew Edgar ‘What must the world be like if intuition – our sixth sense – was our primary, or perhaps even our only, means of perception?’.  Thirdly, the experience of co-author and retired psychiatric social worker, Bill Kenny, that most of his clients weren’t insane, but just saw the world from a slightly different perspective to the rest of us. 

Anyone reading this write up will be aware that dowsing works for them, at least up to a point.  It may be improbable in conventional terms, but it is a demonstrable craft, widely used throughout the world.  For some it is just a tool, a bit like using a chainsaw, but for others it is an entry point, a portal if you like, to another way of understanding themselves and the life they see around them – it is a concept, it is a world-view, it is an idea.

In this talk, I sought to show that we, as human beings, desperately try to stay in a centre ground on which we can get a decent grip; a place of stability and refuge, somewhere solid, reliable, explicable.  Yet all the time the world – and its miscellaneous crew of inmates – is in constant motion, subject to flux and change; evolving and developing.  Even time and space morph gradually and inexorably into something else.  Holding on to that centre ground of any philosophy, any outlook, any lifestyle is always work-in-progress.  The warp and weave of life’s tapestry is always fraying at the margins.

Just as the seemingly rock-solid mediaeval understanding of ourselves as a flat-earth society, girdled by the heavens was upended, first by Galileo and Copernicus, then by Newton and his fellow-researchers, so their new core of tightly-knitted ideas was acknowledged, but mercilessly unpicked, at the start of the last century by Einstein and his colleagues.  Yet even the inspired patent clerk of relativity, could only describe the findings of his emerging successors as ‘spooky action at a distance’ as his own mathematically sound and algorithmically robust descriptions were gently pulled apart by the quantum revolution.  All things must pass – or at least become part of their own history.

In an attempt to bolt together the essential core of who or what we think we are, we construct numerous myths (in the sense that they seem real, but turn out to be at best half-truths in the spotlight of hindsight).  We see the human body as static and changeless; of it containing the person we believe we are; of our life being essentially quite simple; and our perceptive abilities to be comprehensive and accurate.   Given a little thought and a degree of perspective, all these assertions, and many more, turn out to be mere approximations, held dear in the quest for survival in a world full of unfathomable possibilities.

Billy Gawn’s revelation about the world being composed of information (a concept now espoused by philosophers and scientists across the globe, albeit with no deference to the experienced Ulster dowser) underpins the nature of this ever-churning ocean.  Information seems to be ‘infinite’ in that there is more of it than we could ever conceive, and it is being crystallised out of the bedrock all the time – every time we speak, do anything, even think, information is being created, or at least rearranged.  Yet such a vast field – or cloud – of information should be incomprehensible to the modest sensory abilities of humans, given that we have apparently unlimited access to it via dowsing and other similar modes of information retrieval.

Following on from Andrew Edgar’s question, mentioned at the start, for dowsing to operate at all, there must be at least some structure in the information ‘field’, and the dowser must need to find well-defined, objectively-specific aspects of it.  Additionally, rather like being faced with a vast library of books with a biro-written note in hand, without some sort of referencing, scaffolding and (dare-I say-it) assistance, the task would be way beyond our meagre means.  Some dowsers will use theological terms for these stereotypically-bespectacled librarians, while others prefer the guise of earth spirits, totems and guardians.  

Yet all of this retrieval process would be rendered meaningless but for the presence of a medium through which this ‘information’ could pass from super-massive field to the modest processor of the human brain.   We contend that this medium is the elusive plane of consciousness.  While debate rages across the spectrum about the absolute nature of consciousness, its existence is self-evident (if you will excuse the pun).  The core of the argument is, on the one hand, whether consciousness is only present inside the human mind/brain, or whether it pervades the whole of reality – and on the other whether consciousness, as we know it, arises from matter (ie is somehow created by the neurons in the brain) or other whether it is consciousness that is the seedbed from which all matter, including the mammalian mind/brain emerges.

For dowsing to operate as it does, consciousness would need to be ubiquitous, present throughout the cosmos, including each and every living thing – and for that consciousness to be the virtual primal soup, from which the ‘stuff’ we experience as our tactile reality evolves.

At this point, dowsing – together with shamanism, mediumship and divination of many kinds – starts to become a comprehensible, even an inevitable, outcome of the process of living amid constant change.

It’s a big ask to take all of this in but, as philosophical thought is being drawn back from the dark recesses of academia and recast into the debating chamber of everyday life, it is becoming that little bit more accessible to the likes of journeymen dowsers like Bill and I – and hopefully to you, too.

Nigel Twinn  Tamar Dowsers, August 2020

Books mentioned in the session:

Why Materialism is Baloney                        

Dr. Bernardo Kastrup                iff Books   (2013)

(A very readable book for the lay quester)

The Idea of the World                               iff Books   (2019)

(A more profound work, aimed at scientific academics)

Information: A very short Introduction

                Luciano Floridi                        Oxford UP (2010)

Fraying at the Margins/The Idea of Dowsing

                                      Bill Kenny and Nigel Twinn  (2020)

Beyond the Far Horizon                        

Billy Gawn and Nigel Twinn      Penwith Press (2012)