Grave Dowsing

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Written by Nigel Percy

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Grave Dowsing

Grave dowsing is one of the many ways in which this simple skill is used. The graves in question are usually not visible on the ground in any way. As with most dowsing applications, there are many different interpretations offered.

But, before we look at those, why go grave dowsing in the first place? What's the point of it?

Firstly, many cemeteries have become overgrown, headstones have fallen and there are no records of who was buried where or even how big the cemetery was.

Secondly, some cemeteries are no longer visible at all for various reasons, there were reports of burials in an area but nothing remains of any of them. In all such cases, the idea of grave dowsing is to locate where the bodies are. In some cases, the idea is to update records, in other cases, it is to find whether or not burials were carried out, and, if so, how many.

As with all types of dowsing, there are no widely accepted explanations as to how this technique must work. What one person says as being the reason will be ignored or contradicted by the next.

If you wanted to do this yourself, it would be best to start (with permission!), in a well-marked cemetery, in order to find out what happens when you dowse over a grave. Some dowsers swear that you can differentiate between the head and the feet and tell the sex of the interred person. Others will tell you that they can pinpoint the year of burial. Some will also dowse the depth of the grave, which might be of use if the location was thought to be somewhere that hasty burials took place. Also, the length of the grave might indicate whether an adult or child was buried (assuming that the person was not buried in a curled position). It's up to you to find out whether or not you can do any of those things yourself.

L-rods are the most usual tool, as they will swing one way or another or cross over, depending on what it question you are asking.

Of course, it is one thing to dowse and discover a grave, it is another thing entirely to prove what you have found. If you had been dowsing in what was thought to be an old graveyard, then, perhaps, you might be able to locate fallen headstones and use those to verify the locations.

Most grave dowsing is done with the collaboration or co-operation of local history societies who will frequently have access to other useful information about the site under investigation.

If you are interested in this type of dowsing, then you should talk with your local history and dowsing societies to see what information they already have and what else they are missing.

Good luck!

Have you been grave dowsing? What happened? Any tips you want to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

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15 Comments

  1. Michael Hill

    My name is Michael Hill & I live in Florence, Alabama. I am a retired law enforcement officer & graduate of the University of TN National Forensic Academy & board-certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst. I first learned about grave dowsing at the Forensic Anthropological Research Center or “Body Farm.” Dr. Arpad Vass showed me the technique of grave dowsing using L rods to locate clandestine graves. I became interested & began conducting research in cemeteries. I would have people take me to random cemeteries & have them walk into the cemetery & choose a random name of a deceased individual buried in the cemetery. I would have no knowledge of anything concerning the grave site and keep my back turned while the person would choose the name. All I requested is the name of the decedent. I would use my L rods & ask them to lead me to the person’s grave. I have conducted this numerous times with 95% plus accuracy. I began to walk after asking the L rod to lead me to the grave and it would lead me directly to the grave where the person was buried. There is no doubt in my mind it works & I seem to be better at it than most people that have tried it. I would love to see more research conducted using L rods to locate missing persons, graves, etc.

    Reply
    • Nigel Percy

      Thanks for this, Michael. It’s always interesting to hear how others are using dowsing. It’s also good to note that a professional in a particular field can use dowsing to advantage. Thanks again.

      Reply
    • Lisa

      Michael
      How can you find if there is a body buried over top of another?s body ( casket) as in hiding a body after being murdered?
      Thanks

      Reply
      • Nigel Percy

        I hope Michael sees and responds to your message, as I’d also like to hear his thoughts. Meanwhile I have a couple of my own to offer. First, if you are dowsing as to sex of the body, then if, say, a male was buried over a female you would get a confused response. Secondly, you could always ask if more than one body occupied the same grave site.

        Reply
      • Michael Hill

        Lisa,

        Sorry it took so long to reply. You ask a very good & interesting question that I do not have an answer to. I would be interested to see what reaction the L rods would have. I know in some graves, mothers are buried with their children. I suppose more research needs to be conducted in this area. I am sure there are experienced grave dowsers somewhere that have more experience than me that could probably provide a good answer. If any experienced grave dowsers read this, I’d love to get your input; very good question though!

        Reply
    • Ben

      The local funeral home where I work part time use defining roads to pin point the burial site to prevent the grave digger from hitting existing graves. I have walked across graves and the rods will point out on one sex and in on the other. My father use a forked limb to locate under ground water. Some one told him he was moving the limb so he held the limb with 2 pairs of pliars and the bark twisted off of the limb where he was holding it. He also used a straight limb to determine the depth of water. This should work on other objects as well.

      Reply
      • Nigel Percy

        Thanks for the information. It’s always interesting to hear how dowsing is used.

        Reply
  2. Charlotte D Lehan

    I have been a grave dowser for about ten years. I manage a cemetery with about 3,000 burials and have used it in many other cemeteries as well. Like all dowsing, intention is critical. When I am doing regular grave dowsing the rods cross evenly in front for a female. For a male the right rod crosses all the way over to my left arm. They had always just crossed that way for me but it finally occurred to me that one is an “X” and the other is a “Y”.
    If I am in a row with unmarked graves but have a name to ask for, I state the intention that I am looking for “George Westfall and only George Westfall, no one else”. The rods will not respond for any other graves but on the grave of George Westfall they will both cross all the way as I would expect from a “Yes” response. Of course you can also ask all sorts of Yes/No questions regarding the person as well or have another dowser verify the spot where George is located. Similarly, if you know or suspect that your subject is pregnant, you can ask for a response only from the infant (or fetus).
    If you are just practicing dowsing skills, a cemetery is a great place since the answers can often be verified right there on the headstone. Otherwise, since I am not going to exhume anybody, I treat the information I get from dowsing as evidentiary, along with other physical and documentary evidence that might confirm the dowsing information.

    Reply
    • Nigel Percy

      An excellent comment; informative and with practical help. I’m sure others here will find it of use. Thank you.

      Reply
  3. Wendy Bloome

    I have been grave dowsing for years. My sister, who was the world’s biggest skeptic, finally agreed to stop at a historic cemetery in Jacksonville, Oregon during my visit. I had quickly made some rods out of a wire coat hanger just to show her they worked over her water main and brought them with us! After arriving at the cemetery, I handed her the rods and told her to slowly walk down the row of graves. To her amazement, the rods magically crossed and uncrossed as she proceeded down the row. Upon reaching the end – I told her to return up the next row and she began walking. She was smiling and I could clearly see the amazement in her face, she kept asking me “Is this real? How are they doing this?” to which I had no explanation. Suddenly we approached a ‘double’ headstone – “Mother/Father”, and the rods stayed straight over the first grave crossing only on the second. She backed up and tried several times…finally saying “Maybe they haven’t died yet?”. I went up to the headstone and scraped off the leaves from the base, exposing the dates and… they had not yet died!! Needless to say, she dropped the rods and ran back to the car! She is no longer a skeptic!!
    I have also used them to measure bodies, (my 2x great grandmother was 5′ 1″ tall), and search for the missing graves of my ancestors. Knowing which cemetery is key for me (all I have is the obituary, no headstone exists) – but I wanted to be certain, so I have returned on numerous occasions to verify. The last two times I went, I took it to the next level and had my kids blindfold me. Then, to be safe, they walked with me so I would not fall over a tombstone! Both times, (about a year apart), I have ended up in the exact same location on a small hillside in the unmarked old section of the cemetery. To me, it is proof enough. My desire is to have the grave marked with a government headstone as he was a war veteran of the Indian Wars. The church never kept records of the graves, yet continues to bury people to this day. I am terrified that without intervention they will disrupt the older, forgotten graves… So far, I have marked this grave (and others) with large river rocks. Have fun all – be safe!

    Reply
    • Nigel Percy

      Another excellent comment. Thank you! It’s the details which make the story so compelling. I wish you well in your continuing exploits.

      Reply
  4. Charlotte D Lehan

    Since I am from a Willamette Valley cemetery near Wilsonville, Oregon and also serve on the Oregon Commission for Historic Cemeteries, I am somewhat familiar with the Jacksonville Cemetery as one of the most recognizable cemeteries in Oregon. I would love to communicate with Wendy Bloome directly if that is possible. If she is interested please forward my contact information to her.

    Reply
    • Nigel Percy

      I’ll leave this here until / if Wendy sees and responds.

      Reply
  5. Jennie

    Hi There. I am on our village Cemetery Board and we actually have a Pioneer Cemetery here and it is mostly unmarked. I would like to try dowsing to see if i can find unmarked graves. Can you suggest what type of dowsing rods to use and what material is best. Also can anyone help with exactly how its done. I really want to get this cemetery marked and mapped before it all but disappears – its overgrown and all but abandoned. There are a few headstones and i do have some maps. It is mowed only twice a year and mowing time is coming up in October…so want to do it quickly. Thank you for your help.

    Reply
    • Nigel Percy

      Others might like to add their comments here as well….
      The type of rods which are best are the ones you feel most comfortable with (which sounds like a cop-out but which is true). Most rods are either copper or steel, with steel being the most usual.
      As for how it is done, the best way is to practice. Get your rods and put out a target to dowse over, like a hosepipe with water running through it, or an electrical cable, and then practice focusing on the target and having the rods respond when you are over it.
      The mental focus is important (see the dowsing state article here). When you feel that you have the idea, then begin by dowsing over a known grave (one with a headstone) and see how you do.
      In other words, start with small steps to get used to the tool and to how it feels to dowse, then work upwards from that.
      Get busy! :-)

      Reply

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