Dowsing Terminology

This glossary is from An Encyclopedia of Terms created by William A. Gawn of Templepatrick, Ballyclare, N. Ireland.
member of the British Society of Dowsers, Earth Energies Group, 1998. American dowsing terms added in 2002
by Marty Cain, life member and former Board member ASD.

AQUIFER:  A rock layer containing water that may be released in appreciable amounts.  The rock contains water-filled spaces, and when fissures connect the spaces, the water is able to flow through the rock in underground streams.

AURA:  Another name for an energy field but generally looked upon as the energy field around a living body.  It is multilayered and it reflects the well-being of the person on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.  Where illness is present in the body a hole or weakness in the aura can be dowsed adjacent to the position in the body where an illness exists.

It is considered that weaknesses in the aura will many times occur prior to clinical evidence of an illness, therefore dowsing of the aura can be used to give early warning of a forthcoming health problem.

Sig Lonegren in Spiritual Dowsing refers to seven layers of the human aura.  They are the Physical, the Astral or Emotional, the Mental, the Spiritual with three outer layers, the Causal, Monadic and Divine. The Divine covers the entire Cosmos and links us with the Creator.

BENEFICIAL ENERGY:  A type of energy that is dowsed as being of benefit.  This requires further definition to determine to what it may be beneficial as certain energies may be beneficial to one species and harmful to others.  Energies that are dowsed as beneficial to humans also can be subdivided to determine the part or spectrum of our being that is most affected, i.e. the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.

CIRCADIAN RHYTHM:   An observable rhythm or energy movement that can be measured over a period of twenty-four hours or one day length.  However the term is also loosely used to describe any cyclical movement of energy that corresponds with the phases of the sun, moon or planets and may be more than one-day length.

DETRIMENTAL ENERGY:  A type of energy that is dowsed as harmful.  This requires further definition to determine to what it may be harmful as certain energies may be harmful to one species of life and beneficial to others. Energies that are dowsed as detrimental to humans also can be subdivided to determine the part or spectrum of our being that is most affected, i.e. the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.

DIMENSION:  A level of existence that can be experienced through the physical, mental, emotional and the spiritual.  An energy can manifest in more than one dimension at a time.  The energy in each dimension can have a unique set of characteristics such as wavelength, polarity, strength, form etc.

DISTANT DOWSING / REMOTE DOWSING:  Remotely dowsing the site or person under investigation: this can be done with the use of a map, photograph or as a purely mental process through visualization.

DOME / BLIND SPRING:  A vertical shaft of ascending water that does not rise to the surface of the earth but disperses through several horizontal streams that can be at various depths.  Dowsers identify blind springs as several (usually an uneven number) underground streams radiating from a central point.  They are found under many ancient sites and churches but are also to be found elsewhere throughout the countryside.  There is an associated energy field that is unique to a water dome or blind spring as well as the water component.

DOWN SHOOT (ENERGY):  This is where energy descends vertically into the Earth. It is usually in the form of a spiral or vortex but can also be as a pillar and occurs at some crossing points of underground water veins and grid crossing points. The spiral can rotate in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction.

DOWNSHAFT OR DOWNER (WATER):  This is where water from a horizontal subterranean watercourse descends vertical down a fissure before flowing onwards, horizontally, usually as a single vein. This is the opposite of a blind spring where the water rises. There is a unique energy field associated with a downshaft of water which can be identified through dowsing.

DOWSING:  The art of discovering the presence of energies, substances, objects or missing persons or things not apparent to the senses, usually by using rods, pendulums etc. Dowsing can also be carried out without the use of tools.  This is called deviceless dowsing.

Dowsing is generally divided into three categories; physical or site dowsing, map or distance dowsing and information dowsing.  The word “dowsing” derives from medieval German (da sein) which means, “It is there”; its first recorded use was by John Lock in 1692.

EARTH ENERGY:  A naturally occurring field of subtle energy relating to or emanating from the earth as a whole.

EARTH ENERGIES:  Different from above in that it includes all energies that can be dowsed on the surface of the earth.  The source of these energies may come from outside the earth or from specific parts of the earth: e.g. solar, lunar, planetary and other cosmic sources as well as topographical features or earth faults.

EARTH SPIRIT / SPIRIT OF PLACE / GENIUS LOCI:  A manifestation found in a particular place, often a natural setting, such as a grove of trees or a waterfall.  It is considered to be the guardian or controlling spirit of that location and it is recommended that proper respect be given to it when visiting the area and permission gained.

ENERGY DOME:  A discernible area of energy in the shape of a sphere, half of which is above the surface of the ground and is to be found above some conjunctions of underground water.  Quite often a circle of energy as dowsed on the surface of the ground, when dowsed on its vertical plane, will be found to form a dome.

ENERGY FIELD:  An area of energy around an object which is specific to that object and being transmitted by it.  This energy can be detected by dowsing or at certain frequencies by instruments.  Another term for energy field is “aura” although this is generally associated with the human energy field.


ENERGY LEYS:  Lines of dowsable energy which generally run straight, are 6-8 feet wide at their central core, and often have further bands or edges to either side.  Influenced both in width and strength by lunar and solar cycles.  They are often found at what are called sacred sites.  Whilst energy leys are considered to be natural energy phenomena it is also thought that they can be created by the formation of structures and in some cases have been observed to appear after a structure is built and are drawn to the site as the result of human activity of a spiritual nature: e.g. Building stone circles or labyrinths.


ENERGY LINE:  The direction an energy takes when moving.  It may be straight or curved, in several dimensions and be composed of one or more different types of energies, i.e. negative, positive or neutral.  Energy lines can be found at standing stones and ancient sites but are a general feature in all energy fields.

ENERGY SPRING OR SHAFT:  A place where a shaft of energy is dowsed as rising vertically from the surface of the earth.  This may have no association with underground water and is not to be confused with a blind spring or dome.  Generally this energy rises in the form of a spiral or vortex but can also be in the form of a pillar.

ENERGY SOURCE:  The object creating the energy field within which the particular energy is found.  This could be a tree, a mountain, a river, a stone or any other feature on the earth or the earth as a whole.  If the energy is of cosmic origin then the source would be external to the earth.  There is a line of opinion that it is the energy field that manifests the physical object and not the other way around. (Walter Russell)

ENTITY:  The existence of an energy form generally believed to be the result of a trapped spirit awaiting release to the spiritual realm.  They can be attracted to certain humans and cause distress and ill health.

EQUINOX:  The date in March or September when night equals day in length.

ESP:  Extra Sensory Perception.


FENG SHUI:  Literally means wind and water and is a form of geomancy used by the Chinese which balances earth energies with human energies.  It is said to place people between heaven and earth. It is used to determine the siting of dwellings and graves and regulates the flow of chi.


FLOW DIRECTION:  The direction of movement of energy along a dowsable energy line.

GEOLOGICAL FAULT:  Major fractures in the rock structure of the earth’s surface that creates stress and, when relieved, cause earthquakes.  These faults emit energies that are generally considered by dowsers to be detrimental to most forms of life.


GEOMANCY:  The art of placing structures on the landscape so that the Earth Energies enhance their intended use and so that the structure itself is in harmony with the earth. Spiritual ecology.

GEOPATHIC STRESS:  It is an unfavorable reaction of the biological system as the result of exposure to radiations from the earth that would be dowsed as detrimental.

HARD TARGET DOWSING:  Dowsing for verifiable, tangible, targets.

INFORMATION DOWSING:  Where dowsing is used for gathering information about the subject under study, e.g. the depth or quality of an underground flow of water.

INTENSITY: A term often used by dowsers and healers to denote the relative effect of an energy on an object or living system, usually in arbitrary terms.  Healers often feel the intensity, and dowsers measure it using various scales such as 1-100.

KINESIOLOGY:  A form of muscle resistance testing, which can be used to identify whether different types of energy are detrimental or beneficial to us.  One of its uses is to detect allergies and the health of the human body.

LEY:  A significant alignment of sacred and related secular sites across a landscape, generally horizontally visible.  The minimum number of aligned sites to qualify as a ley is five.  The term was first used by Alfred Watkins in 1921 when he first observed this occurrence.  This is not a dowsing term and should not be used as such.  If a Ley has an associated dowsable line of energy it should be described as an Energy Ley.


LEY LINE:  The term used by many British dowsers to describe an ENERGY LEYIt is easily confused with Ley and therefore its use is not recommended by American dowsers.

NODE:  A node is found at the intersection of two or more energy lines giving a highly charged point of energy.  Seven nodes are to be found on most ancient standing stones.  Five are above ground level and two are on the section of the stone below ground level.  They are likened to the seven chakras of the human body.  Nodes can be found at many places other than standing stones.

NOXIOUS ENERGY:  A type of energy that may be harmful to humans or some other species of life or vegetation.  This is generally found in association with underground water and at the crossing points of some types of energy lines.  It is considered that noxious energy will cause geopathic stress in humans and most animals and affect the growth of trees etc.  Other forms of life; ants, hornets, cats etc. seem to thrive in the presence of noxious energy.

PIEZOELECTRICITY:  The appearance of a positive electric charge on one side of certain non-conductive crystals and negative charge on the opposite side when the crystals are subjected to mechanical pressure.  (Example: In a dark room quartz crystals will be seen to glow when rubbed together.)

POSITIVE:  A term used to indicate energy of a specific type, i.e. opposite to negative.  This use of the word positive does not necessarily indicate any similarity in earth energies to the behavior of electricity or magnetism.  Whilst that is so, it may be that some energies that are dowsed have electrical and/or magnetic components.  Solar energy is thought to be positive, as is yang energy. Some positive energy can be beneficial to various forms of life.

POTABLE: Used to describe water of good drinking quality.  This can be assessed by dowsing on a scale of 1-100.

POWER CENTER:  A place where there is an intensity of beneficial energy and a meeting point of yang and yin earth energies.  Power centers are associated with blind springs or domes that have at least one energy ley crossing them and are found at most ancient sacred sites.  However they can also be found elsewhere.  Power centers are generally considered to be places suitable for spiritual enlightenment and healing.  Dowsers using a sleeved L-rod have noted that when directly over a power center the rod will rotate through 360 degrees.

PRIMARY WATER:  Primary water is formed inside the earth as opposed to surface water that is formed in the atmosphere as rain, snow, etc.  The primary water theory says that steam under great pressure, deep in the earth, is forced upwards condensing as it gets closer to the surface.  This occurs in deep faults and fractures and, where vertical, they form blind springs or domes.

REMANANCE:  The imprint of energy that remains long after an object has been moved.

SITE DOWSING:  Dowsing on the expected or desired site for the object or information sought: also called survey dowsing or on site dowsing.

SOLSTICE:  The name given to the longest day of the year occurring in June and the shortest day of the year occurring in December.

SPRINGS: Springs are the point where water, primary or secondary, naturally wells out of the ground.  The water from some springs is considered to be of benefit and assists in healing.  Others due to their location and quality of water are called holy wells.

TECHNICAL ENERGY:  Energy generated by humans through mechanical means.

TELLURIC ENERGY:  Another name for earth energies.

THOUGHT FORM:  A dowsable, though invisible, form created by the mind that can get in the way of accurate dowsing.

VORTEX:  The form that energy can take when either ascending or descending vertically.  Usually they are found in groups, joined either point to point or base to base.  In some cases at these junctions the flow of the energy can change from clockwise to anticlockwise or vice-versa.  Change in polarity from negative to positive can also occur.  Vortices are a feature where energy lines intersect.

WITNESS:  A sample of the substance being sought.

YIN:  A term used by practitioners of Feng Shui and although not exactly similar is used by western dowsers as an alternative term for negative energy. Yin energy is considered to be feminine and receptive.

YANG:  A term used by practitioners of Feng Shui and although not exactly similar is used by western dowsers as an alternative term for positive energy. Yang energy is considered to be masculine and active.