Pendulum Movements Meanings

Written by Nigel Percy

Pendulum movements meanings

Sounds like a mouthful, doesn't it? But this is a subject which crops up a lot particularly amongst new dowsers. They are using a pendulum and have got used to it doing one thing for a yes answer and a different thing for a no answer. Then, out of nowhere, the pendulum's movement is new and different.

At that point, because they are new, they usually ask what does that change of movement in the pendulum mean? After all, a pendulum's movements have to have some meaning, don't they?

The point is, that question can't be answered. That's not to say that there is not an answer. There is. But the answer will be unique to that person. A pendulum's movements' meanings are different for different people. Your ‘yes' and ‘no' responses might be different to the next person's responses. So, what is your ‘yes' might be their ‘strange new movement'.

Despite not being able to answer one person's question about what is happening when the pendulum moves differently, there are a range of possible reasons for it happening.

Now, note that I said this is a question which is mostly asked by dowsing newbies. That's because everyone, after a while, finds a change of movement if they are using a pendulum. It's the first time which catches people out. Also, newbies are not yet confident enough in dowsing to use it to find out what is going on. After all, they've only had maybe one or two short lessons and that's it. The rest of the time, they're on their own.

So, in no particular order, what follows are the list of usual reasons for strange or new pendulum movements.

  1. Your ‘yes' and ‘no' have changed. This can and does happen. Sometimes overnight.
  2. The question you asked is either a) poorly phrased, b) impossible to answer (for whatever reason), and c) one you do not have the skill/knowledge/permission to ask, or understand the answer (check which applies in your case)
  3. It's a stupid or pointless question (i.e., a category which is not included in B above).
  4. You are not ready to have the answer. This applies more to those dowsers who have the belief that they have to be ‘connected' to something in some way before they can dowse, or have to be protected by something or someone first.
  5. It indicates that someone or something is trying to make contact with you. Again, this only happens to those dowsers mentioned in 4 above.
  6. You simply lost focus when dowsing!

This list covers the usual reasons for strange pendulum movements. It's up to you to find out what it means in your case.

But remember! Dowsing is all about asking questions. So, if something strange happens to your pendulum, then start asking about it and find out for yourself.

Has something like this happened to you when dowsing? Did you find out why? Let us know in the comments section below.


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  1. Jorge Rivas

    Don’t understand #4. Does the term “connected” mean needing to be in contact with someone’s/something’s aura field or is this just a general term?

    Getting strange answers may also have to do with energy levels in a particular room, energy density, geopathic stress, negative vortices, etc. We have a certain room in our home where I get two or three good answers then, the pendulum gets “stuck” and I cannot get an answer to any question, even a simple one.

    All I’m getting about this is that the energy level in the room is affecting it.

    • Nigel Percy

      Some people believe that they have to be connected to some other being or beings, such as angels or archangels or something similar. In those cases, they will also often have the belief that the pendulum’s movements are dictated, either partially or wholly, by such a connection, meaning that access to the answer is guarded in some fashion by the entity. It’s not a belief I subscribe to.
      You are also correct in that something in the environment can also have an effect on the pendulum’s movements. However, in many cases, this can be avoided by having a really precise question in mind and focusing tightly upon that. There will still be the odd case where there will be something else interfering, and that’s when you have to start your own questioning process to determine what it might be.

  2. Sarah

    What does it mean if the pendulum moves in all four directions? (creating a flower like shape from its movements?) It moves up and down, diagonally, then left to right, then down and up, then right to left, diagonally, and up and down again in elliptical motions. I don’t know what this means at all, but it happened as a response to “Should I abstain for mirrors for 1 month?”

    • Nigel Percy

      I’m not sure whether that was a typo in the question you asked because I don’t understand it. However, as the last paragraph of the article points out, when something strange is happening, then that’s the time for you to start asking questions as to what it could mean. Use the suggestions as starting points in the investigation and see where the answers leads you. One other point to make is that you should have a clear goal in mind when you are asking a dowsing question such that the answer will help you. Without a clear goal, the answer might not be as useful as you might wish. I hope that gives you some pointers to follow.

    • Jackie


      I have been wanting to know that exact same thing! mIne will often do this when I am using it to pull oracle cards. It will create specific patterns like you mentioned. I thought maybe it was helping me make distinctions between different areas covered in the card reading. But I would love to know for certain.

      I also wonder if it is more a “spirit” being contact at this point? When it changes and does the elliptical movements and can go extremely fast, too. Hmm. Curious if I will find clarity on that. :)

      • Nigel Percy

        Do let us know when you find out what it means for you!

      • Maggie Percy

        Ideally, you don’t want to play in the astral realm. It’s like playing on the interstate or in a jungle. You aren’t trained to deal with spirits. They’re out there. They have (or should have) nothing to do with dowsing. Dowsing is not channeling. Channeling is talking to a particular advanced being. While technically you can use dowsing to communicate with your pet using yes/no questions, we don’t advise attempting to talk to random spirits. It is potentially dangerous. And if you are dowsing properly, spirits shouldn’t be trying to hijack the process.

        • Anne Walter

          How do you use the Pendulum properly so as not to allow spirits/entities to hijack the process? I have been using the Pendulum for answers from my Spirit Guides/Angels. Lately, I’ve been feeling exactly that; that I’ve been hijacked by other entities. My head feels woozy/almost nauseous when using it and lately I’ve remained in that semi-state of wooziness off and on for the last several days. Can you help clarify this, please?

          • Nigel Percy

            There are a few things to cover here, so if I am not clear on anything, please get back to me and I’ll try to clarify further. First, dowsing is all about asking questions and getting answers. It is not a good idea to ask anyone or anything else to provide the answers. If it helps, think of dowsing as being a form of focused intuition. When you get an intuitive ‘hit’ you just know it’s right. But that intuitive ‘hit’ comes from you, not anybody else. And that’s true of dowsing. The movements of the pendulum are your own body’s movements amplified.
            You say you have been asking for answers from other beings. That is not a good thing to do. It is more like channeling than anything else, and if you don’t have protection for yourself, anything can (and often does) happen, hence the woozy feelings you have. (And as that’s a different activity entirely, I’m not going into protection here.)
            First thing to do is stop doing what you’re doing. Give yourself a few days rest to get back to normal. Then, before anything else, ask yourself why you got involved. What was it you were trying to find out and would the results really make a significant difference in your life anyway?
            Secondly, if you are determined to get those answers then you need to approach the process in a different way. Begin by assuming that you are NOT going to be asking them for answers (look at what’s happened to you when you did) but that you are going to acquire those answers using your natural human intuitive ability through dowsing (not channeling).
            In fact, ALWAYS use dowsing, not channeling, for your answers.
            Next, prepare really good, precise and detailed questions, ones which can only be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. (That takes practice as well. We have a book ‘Ask The Right Question’ to help with that.)
            Then be sure to get yourself into the right frame of mind (the dowsing state) so that you get the answers clearly. That is, the pendulum movements are clear and you are emotionally detached from it all (see our book ‘The Dowsing State’ for more details).
            What you have been doing, it seems, is that you have been leaving yourself open to anyone/anything who happens to be around. That is not a good thing to do.
            What I want to emphasize is that dowsing really is an entirely natural human ability we all have which does not require any input from any other being in order to be accurate. Your description leaves me to believe that you have been engaged in something more like channeling than dowsing and I would urge you to put that aside and focus on improving your dowsing ability, not your channeling ability.
            I hope that helps, but as I said, if I’ve confused you in any way, please ask for clarification and I’ll do my best to provide it.

      • Sara.

        If you are a medium then yes you can be working with spirit. Always ground and protect by calling im your guides and requesting only truth and highest source energy come through. Also if it’s jerking or shaking with a steady hand you have two higher selves or spirits coming through through at once.. tell your pendulum one at a time. Ask your question and if it continues cleanse it and give it a rest. Try later.

        • Maggie Percy

          To clarify, dowsing is NOT channeling and should not be thought of in that way. You are NOT attempting to contact advanced beings or spirits. If you do that, you are channeling, not dowsing. Channeling is potentially dangerous and requires proper training. If you want to channel, find a good teacher. Dowsing is focused intuition, not channeling. You are looking inward for answers to your questions. It is vital to understand this. And you don’t need a tool like a pendulum to dowse. It’s actually best to use a deviceless technique for many reasons. And do NOT talk to your pendulum. It’s a tool. Do you talk to your screwdriver or hammer? No. Don’t make the tool into something it is not.

  3. Chelsea

    My pendulum starts going counterclockwise without me even asking or thinking about any particular questions. Maybe it’s something on my subconscious maybe it’s cuz I’m not focused and just hold it up sometimes getting used to it.

    • Nigel Percy

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Dowsing is all about being focused. Even when learning about your pendulum, you should be focused on what you are doing. Start making sure that when you pick it up, you know what you want to do. Do you want it to be still or moving in a specific direction? Then, when you get round to asking a question, make sure it is unambiguous and clear and make sure that your pendulum is in the ready mode (meaning neither a yes or a no motion).
      You’ll find this article (opens in a new tab) useful about asking good questions.

  4. Madeleine

    Hi Nigel
    I have used a pendant for many years now and have even drawn up some cards to help with the questions. However every so often when I have asked a question my pendant just hangs in the air and quivers. I have no idea what this means and wonder if you have experience of this. Thank you.

    • Nigel Percy

      I haven’t had personal experience of this but I have some suggestions. Firstly, is there some sort of similarity between the questions where this happens? For example, are they about the future or your own emotions? Such things can be tricky to dowse accurately and might be the cause of the issue. Or it could be that you don’t have a clear goal in mind when dowsing, and the question, as a result, is too vague. Another possibility is that you are not in the dowsing state when that occurs.
      You could dowse each of these possibilities yourself to see if one of them is the issue. If none of them are, then you can begin to dig deeper and take into account such things as hydration, time of day, emotional state when asking, and so on.
      Also, if the pendulum just quivers and does nothing I’m assuming you are not beginning with the pendulum moving as you ask, but waiting for it to begin? It is possible that what you report is in fact a very weak ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It’s far better to have the pendulum moving to begin with (as discussed in
      Hopefully, one of these suggestions will help you find the answer to your issue.

  5. Madeleine

    Thank you so much I will do as you suggest. I am not sure what you mean about start with the pendulum moving. From the very first time I used a pendulum I never start with movement I ask the question and wait for a response from a still position it always works except when as described in my original question. Thanks again, I really appreciate your time.

    • Nigel Percy

      If you read the page I linked to, you’ll see why I suggest starting with the pendulum moving: the response is quicker. In your case, get the pendulum moving in a way which is neither your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response so that it can move to either motion quickly. In fact the speed of the response can be an indicator of the strength of the answer in such cases


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