Occult practice used for finding water, minerals, or other hidden substances.

A dowser generally uses a Y-shaped piece of hazel, rowan, or willow wood (also called a dowser or a divining rod). The dowser grasps the rod by its two prongs and appears, while walking, to be receiving transmissions from beneath the earth. If the rod quivers violently or points downward, some buried substance has been located. First practiced in Europe during the Middle Ages, dowsing is most often used to find water but may also be employed to locate precious metals, buried treasure, archaeological remains, or even dead bodies.

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▪ magical practice
      in occultism, use of a forked piece of hazel, rowan, or willow wood or of a Y-shaped metal rod or of a pendulum suspended by a nylon or silk thread, in an attempt to detect such hidden substances as water, minerals, treasure, archaeological remains, and even dead bodies. The practice seems to have first come into vogue in the European Middle Ages.

      The dowser in his search grasps the rod (itself called a dowser) by its two prongs and appears to receive transmissions from the hidden object that cause involuntary muscular contractions, which in turn make the rod bend or quiver violently. Some dowsers claim to be able to detect buried substances merely by passing a dowsing rod over a map of the area where the substance lies hidden. The term divining rod, sometimes used to describe the forked instrument, is frowned upon by dowsers because divination is not considered part of the process.

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