In from Melbourne, Australia
Dowsing for Graves Explained
News | Published on Tuesday October 31, 2006
MELBOURNE — “Water dowsing has been done for over 5,000 years,” Sue Chrisco said to the Izard County Historical and Genealogical Society recently, “but only recently have people begun to recognize the important of dowsing for graves.”
She was speaking to members of the the society at Mayfield Cemetery in Melbourne on Sunday. About 21 people attended.
Chrisco, who is secretary of the Izard County Cemetery Association, said she can’t explain how grave dowsing works. “You don’t have to believe in it. People who were doubters have tried it and felt the vibrations.”
Holding two metal divining rods pointing out, she walked slowly over an area of unmarked graves. The rods moved toward each other until they crossed.
“Some people have the gift, and others don’t. It may have something to do with chemicals in a person’s body,” she added. “Once a woman asked me to dowse a particular area. I told her, ‘I think there are at least three graves here.’ The woman said, ‘There are no graves here. There used to be three graves, but they were moved.’ I don’t know how to explain this, maybe that the ground had been disturbed.”
Richard Fischer, an archeologist who had been a doubter until he “felt the vibrations” for himself, said, “I agree with you. This might be a sensing that the ground has been disturbed.”
But does the dowser just expect the rods to move because he or she is walking around a cemetery?
“I’ve tried it blindfolded,” Chrisco said. “I’ve had someone guide me over places with graves and without. The rods still cross when I walk across a grave.”
The cemetery association works to discover, clean up, and make accessible abandoned cemeteries throughout the county. The dowsing technique helps them establish the boundaries of the cemetery.
“Sometimes unmarked gravestones sink until only a little shows above ground,” Chrisco said. “Or stones get moved by farmers plowing. Dowsing lets us know exactly where the graves are so we can restore the stones or put up new ones.”
Chrisco also demonstrated dowsing using a forked peach tree branch. She walked along with the branch pointing upward. When she crossed a grave, it moved downward.
Juanita Stowers, editor of the Izard County Historian, demonstrated how the rods show if the person buried is male or female. As she walked across a marked grave holding only one rod, it pointed straight ahead indicating a male. When she walked across a female grave, the rod turned inward.
After the demonstration, several people tried dowsing for themselves, and most were successful.
Chrisco said her primary interest is in preserving these old cemeteries. “Many property owners object to our coming on their land. They want to keep the cemetery locked so no one can visit.”
She said she’s had a great deal of help from District Judge Connie Barksdale in enforcing the law that prevents property owners from bulldozing cemeteries.