Witching For Water

I spent yesterday at the office working-up the case histories of three people I’m scheduled to evaluate next week.

And while I was hammering away at the keys, the fellow across the hall asked me whether I had a coat-hangar in my office.   I did not.  A little later he and the husband of one of the secretaries walked back in from the building’s side-exit, and I asked the husband, “Did you get your keys locked in the car?”

“No.  Ron was showing us  how he witches for water,” the man said.

Thats not Ron Smith, its just an image Ive cadged from deseretnews.com

That's not Ron, it's just an image I've cadged from deseretnews.com

“No way,” I said, “You’re kidding, right?”  I mean, water witching is something you see on television reruns of Bonanza or Republic Pictures two-reelers when you’re a kid staying home sick from school and you’ve got a TV that gets UHF.

But Ron said, “That’s how we find water lines around houses.  It’s how we find where the lines go in to the house.”  Ron has purchased, rebuilt, built, and sold dozens of houses over the years, so I thought that if he wasn’t pulling my leg, he might really make use of this occult art.

“Okay, show me,” I said.

So we walked back out the side door and across the parking lot to Ron’s pickup truck.  As we neared the pickup truck’s bed, Ron said, “Ordinarily, a coat-hangar’s best.  You open it up and make an ‘L’ shape to hold out.”  Ron got a length of roughly L-shaped metal tubing, held it loosely in his right hand with his arm outstretched and the long end forward.  As he walked slowly across the parking lot thus holding the instrument, I observed the long end turn to the left as he walked over the asphalt near a drainage grate.

“It (the dowsing rod) will always turn in the direction the water’s flowing,” Ron said.  “There’s a drain-pipe that runs from there (the grate) to that pond out back, and the  water flows this way (pointing to the pond).”

“So, Ron,” I said, “do you think this is some weird, demonic phenomenon?”

“No, I think it has something to do with magnetic fields,” he said.

“Well let me try this out,” I said.  Ron showed me how to hold the pipe, instructed me not to grasp it too tightly,  (is ‘tightly’ correct? It’s not euphonious) and to walk forward slowly.  No joy.  “Maybe my charge is reversed, let me try it with my left hand walking back the other direction.”  This time, as I walked back toward where I’d started from the first time, I observed the rod to turn in my hand sharply to my left of its own volition.  As if  it had met with some resistance and had to pivot in my hand.  I felt no resistance whatsoever.  I was interested to note that the rod, pivoting, turned in the opposite direction, toward the street to my left, as opposed to back toward the drainage pond behind our building.

Ron tried it, then, left-handed, and it turned for him in the direction of the pond.  Then, walking back to our original starting point, he held the pipe in his right hand, and  it  turned in the direction of the  street.  He said that seemed odd to him, but I opined that maybe the water was not flowing, but maybe  standing shallow in the pipe below.  Heaven knows the building’s architect and contractors did some shoddy work, and there is no reason to suppose they managed to lay the drainage pipe with adequate slope to prevent standing water.