Bruce MacManaway


Bruce MacManaway

7. Dowsing and Absent Healing

It is all very well to talk about locating problem areas in the spine, or anywhere else for that matter. It can, of course, be done by using the hands to 'scan'; this can be a slow process, however. Both to save time and to obtain more detailed analysis I now use dowsing, [1] and find it invaluable.

The Tradition of Water Divining

Water divining is probably the best known form of dowsing. It is a capability which has been known of for thousands of years in many parts of the world. Finding water is obviously very useful but a good dowser can do more than that. He should be able to discover the location, depth, direction and rate of flow and mineral content of the water. He should also be able to find out about the geological strata above the water which would enable others to decide on the viability of drilling, and he should know whether the water will then well up of its own accord or whether it will require pumping.

Methods of Dowsing

There are all sorts of methods. Some people use a Y-shaped branch which dips strongly in the diviner's hands when he comes across the object of his search. There is a considerable mystique surrounding dowsing amongst certain groups and you may be told that it is essential to use freshly cut hazel twigs. Personally, I have found that any twig of the right shape or even a bent wire coat-hanger will work equally well. Other people use rods which cross to indicate their message. I normally use a pendulum which, by rotating one way or the other, can indicate positive or negative answers to specific questions.

Application of Dowsing Techniques in Healing

There is relatively little demand for finding water in Britain today but there are many other areas where dowsing techniques can be extremely useful. With the help of the British Society of Dowsers I discovered that I could use this faculty and have since applied it to my healing work. For example, I can ask the question 'Is there any pressure on the nervous system of this patient?' If the answer is 'Yes', I can ask a series of detailed questions so that I end up with a comprehensive analysis.

The important thing is to ask all the relevant questions. To go back to the water diviner, he would be of little use if he ascertained the position, the depth and the flow but forgot to find out if the water was suitable for human consumption. One of the beautifully simple aids to diagnosis through dowsing is the final question in every instance: should the dowser be asking further questions about this patient? This gives the subconscious the opportunity to draw attention to any relevant material which may not even be consciously known to anyone concerned.

Diagnosis of a dog It is up to the intellect to frame the questions. A number of doctors are now finding dowsing a very useful supplement and many of them dowse for themselves. Others, after careful screening, use a lay dowser. It is the doctors, who, with their greater knowledge, frame the necessary questions and the dowser who gives the answers. Over the years, I have built up a system of co-operation with a number of doctors. They test me to begin with, of course. Some doctors in Austria, for example, showed an interest a few years ago and they sent me a series of questions. They knew the answers to some of them but were doubtful about others. I wrote back with my answers and they sent me some more. This little parlour game continued for some time and I wrote endless lists of the only five answers a pendulum can give. (A pendulum can give a straight 'yes', a straight 'no', it can remain neutral or it can give a qualified, half-hearted 'yes' or 'no'. In the last two, I always assume that more questions need to be asked.)

Finally, they wrote to me confessing that they had been so surprised by the results that they had had to repeat the experiment a number of times to convince themselves they were true. I was thrilled to hear that apparently on the questions to which they knew the answers, I was 100 per cent accurate. On those to which they themselves did not know the answer, my replies had seemed highly probable and, in many cases, later events had corroborated the dowsing reply. As a result, dowsing is now accepted and used as a legitimate addition to orthodox diagnostic techniques in their hospital and they also use it for selecting treatment and remedies.

It is fascinating how often information, unknown to a patient and indeed, at the time, to his orthodox advisers, will be discovered by dowsing. If a patient's doctor is interested, I can dowse for the various problems and then either apply healing and the various therapies we have developed, or refer the patient back to the doctor with notes on what I think is required, be it dietary change, manipulation by, for example, an osteopath, or some other form of treatment.

Because I have a particular interest in the nervous system, I find one of the most useful aspects of dowsing lies in assessing the well-being or otherwise of nerves throughout the body. This can be especially useful in the analysis of problems, as nerves do not show up on an X-ray picture. The maddening thing is that precisely because it is difficult to photograph nerves, my analyses cannot be easily verified, except circumstantially. I hope that current specialised research equipment will soon be available at a clinical level to provide this corroboration, or otherwise.

Like anyone else who has built up a theory on empirical evidence, I am prepared to accept that the rationale is open to correction in the light of research. It may be that it is not impediments in the nerve pathways that matter. The vital factor may perhaps be the bio electrical operational system which interlocks physically with the nervous system, probably through the Schwann cells, the supportive structure of the neurones. Becker, [2] amongst others, postulates that this system which transmits data using varying levels of direct current as its signal controls life functions such as the sensation of pain, tissue growth and healing. lam delighted that scientists are trying to find out more about the functions which control inadequate growth (such as arthritis), abnormal growth (such as, at the extreme end, cancer) and organic healing. Meanwhile, my unscientific concept of 'trapped nerves' provides a working hypothesis for finding and correcting trouble in the body, and dowsing is an invaluable aid in this.

Theories about Dowsing

All this may sound fairly strange and obviously I cannot demonstrate here that dowsing works. I shall try, however, to outline the possible explanations. None of them is as satisfactory as proving its efficacy for yourself.

Conscious and Subconscious

As we have said before, men and women are made up of a number of faculties as well as the physical body. One of the conscious aspects is the intellect and this faculty has been admired and cultivated in various cultures in the West for a number of centuries. We have ignored, as far as possible, the faculties of the subconscious and particularly of intuition which has been distrusted and even actively discouraged. The intuitive subconscious 'knows' a great deal more than we give it credit for. Our Western conditioning has been such that we find it extremely difficult to bring to our conscious notice things that are known by the subconscious. We have a highly effective 'filter' system between the subconscious and the intellect. This system, well known to the medical hypnotists under a different name, allows us to ignore information that does not seem to be relevant to our logically based view of the world and our part in it. Dowsing seems to be able to form a bridge for bringing to the conscious understanding of the intellect factors that are known in the subconscious. In the case of healing, the factors are probably known in the subconscious of both parties, but some mechanism is needed to reach them.

Hemispheres of the Brain

It might be helpful to look at this in terms of the structure of our perceptual mechanisms as we understand them. The cortex of the brain is subdivided into right and left hemispheres, and it has been maintained that the two sides have different functions. The left side is held to be responsible for such operations as logical thought, time-sequence analysis, categorising and speech and is the dominant half wherein consciousness resides. The right hand side is concerned not with words and logic but with picture comprehension and maze solving and is capable of appreciating and synthesising a complex whole. (In fact, the 'left brain' function is apparently not always physically situated on the left hand side, but as there are unquestionably two types of brain functioning it is convenient to label them 'left hemisphere-type function' and 'right hemisphere-type function'.)

When tested on a multi-channel electro-encephalograph, the majority of people show that most of the time they only use the left hemisphere of their brains. Maxwell Cade [3] and others consider that the integration of left and right-hemisphere functions in an uninhibited reciprocal transmission of nervous impulses across the corpus callosum (the great bridge of nervous tissue which unites the two halves of the brain) will, to a great extent, provide the union of conscious with unconscious mental activity. To my knowledge, little if any research has been done on dowsers, and it would be interesting to see if they would show symmetrical patterns. Other unusual abilities such as clairvoyance also give access to material unknown to the conscious mind. According to Cade, these abilities are certainly associated with changes in the encephalograph pattern towards a more bilaterally symmetrical and integrated form.

We are still left with the question: how does the subconscious know? Once again, I cannot give a full answer but I put forward two potentially fruitful lines of investigation.

The Collective Unconscious

Jung [4] believed not only in the power and knowledge of the individual subconscious but in what he called the collective unconscious. From his endless observations and his own experiences he concluded that every individual subconscious can reach down and into the collective experiences and knowledge of mankind. Theoretically, our
subconscious may be tapping the available knowledge in the collective unconscious and bringing it, via the dowsing bridge, to the notice of the conscious mind.

The Huna Code

The Kahunas, [5] the priesthood of an ancient religion in the Pacific, believed that every living thing can be linked, no matter what the distance, by a sort of mysterious thread, and they developed this in the so-called Huna Code. The subconscious could find out via this thread whatever it needed to know about the well-being or otherwise of any individual – or indeed of anything to which it was linked.

Attunement and Resonance

The Huna Code does not conflict with the concept that we mentioned earlier. If all matter is merely energy vibrating at a multitude of different rates, then it should be possible to pick up the various vibrations and tune in to them. Having tuned in, questions can be asked and replies received.

Mediumistic Possibilities

It is perfectly possible that dowsing may enable us to tune in not only to people, animals, plants and every other form of matter, but also to beings with every human attribute except a physical body, but I will leave this subject for consideration in the next chapter.

All that need concern us here is whether any of these hypotheses help us to make sense of what demonstrably works. If we are in touch through some level of our being, no matter what level, with everyone and everything on this planet then we can see a route by which we can ascertain well-being or otherwise.

Distant Dowsing and Absent Healing

In the popular mind, wave-lengths are associated with radio, television and telecommunications. These can work over quite phenomenal distances. The ability to pick up these wave-lengths depends, however, on the strength of the receiver. I think that dowsing is probably similar. It is relatively easy to tune in to local stations. In the same way, it is easier for many people to tune in to somebody or something that is physically present. Proximity is not vital, however, and I personally have always found distance irrelevant. Provided the set is powerful enough, or in other words provided the dowser can hold the concept of his subject adequately, distance makes no difference. I have already quoted the example of the doctors in Austria who found their questions satisfactorily answered by someone in Scotland.

I have not, unfortunately, taken part in any controlled scientific tests to verify (or otherwise) whether my long distance dowsing is accurate, and merely to quote individuals who claim that my analyses were subsequently corroborated is unsatisfactory. I would suggest that this is another legitimate area for research. It is probable that this capacity is similar to telepathy and experiments in this phenomenon conducted between Moscow and Leningrad and Moscow and Kerch have apparently been impressive enough to convince a number of scientific researchers in the USSR [6] of its reality.

To push the radio analogy a little further, our sets (in other words ourselves) can act not only as receivers; they can also be used to transmit messages. Having tuned in, we can then actively resonate with the vibrations we pick up. We cannot prove this, but the simple concept of resonance is a familiar one to those who have studied any physics and, at its simplest, it means that by transmitting on the same wave-length we can reinforce and increase the strength of the original wave.

This, I suspect, is the basis for absent or distant healing, whereby the healer 'transmits' healing to an individual who may be many thousands of miles away. Some people feel it is important that the recipient should be asked in advance to try to 'tune in' at the same time but I have never found this necessary. Thousands of people are convinced that they received tremendous help from absent healing through a multitude of healers, but again little research has been done. Cade reports only one experiment. The well known healer Edgar Chase was seated in a room and instructed to commence absent healing on a patient in a separate room at a particular moment. The patient was unaware of the experiment but at the prearranged time, his brain wave pattern as measured on the multi-channel encephalograph (or 'mind mirror') changed to the unusual 'state five' which seems to be associated with healing. This suggests the reality of absent healing but is not in itself conclusive.

Surrogate Healing

It would seem to be helpful to have some sort of focus for the tuning-in process. I have tested a system of proxy or surrogate healing and have found it effective in a number of cases. Here, someone in good health is treated as the representative of a patient who, for a variety of reasons, cannot be touched. In my experience this has proved effective where the patient was suffering from a degenerative condition of the skeletal system which would have made any attempt to adjust or manipulate the defective areas totally unsuitable. In other cases, distance has been the problem. In a number of examples of both types the results have been very exciting and apparently successful. I use the word 'apparently' because in only one case was there a degree of corroboration from the medical authorities involved. In the others, the 'evidence' consisted of statements from the patients and relatives or close friends. I believe that the key factors include finding a proxy who is 'in resonance' at the critical frequencies with both the patient and the problem.


Radionic instruments (familiarly referred to as 'the Box') also appear to work on the principle of resonance. In this case, equipment is used to enable the practitioner to tune in, diagnose and direct help. These instruments are obviously a great help to many people, but it is well known that the Box will work more effectively for some people than for others. My work with these instruments under the guidance of George and Marjorie Delawarr (who pioneered radionics in this country) and Roy Firebrace during the forties and early fifties convinced me that the box, like the pendulum, is an invaluable aid that amplifies signals available at a subconscious level but presents them in a more sophisticated form. It is, however, the practitioner that matters.

Funnily enough, practitioners in totally different fields are tentatively beginning to come to similar conclusions. One psychologist at the Royal Welsh Dental School, after years of working on the psychological aspect of dental pain, now says that he thinks that the procedure followed is less important than the person administering it from the psychometric point of view. I have already mentioned the work of Joe Navach. He has found through working with the NASA-built instrument for measuring the Auricular Cardiac Reflex that some of those using the instrument can 'think' a positive Auricular Cardiac Reflex into the patient being measured. The results, even with this sophisticated machine, are therefore dependent on the practitioner.

Further Forms of Tuning In

You may find that after some practice, you barely need a pendulum. Some people find that they get a positive or negative 'feel' simply by rubbing their fingers together. I find that sometimes I can 'tune in' and get a hunch about somebody or something. This is perhaps the faculty for 'inspired guesswork'. I can double check the hunch by dowsing carefully with a pendulum which of course I always do when working with a patient or any other important project.

The Use of Dowsing in Different Fields
Dowsing for remedies

Dowsing is bringing into play something which is entirely natural, built into us from birth but not normally brought to the fore in our culture. It can be applied to any activity. I find it particularly useful for a number of things, including the selection of remedies and the appropriate dosage. The British Society of Dowsers, however, lists successful dowsers whose particular interests include archaeology, finding old mines, repairing church bells and a multitude of other more everyday activities. Gardeners find it especially useful. If they wish to find Out whether a particular plant will flourish in a given spot, they can either dowse to see whether the two are compatible or they can do their own soil analysis. It is much quicker to analyse soil by dowsing than by sending off samples to laboratories. The gardener merely holds a handful of soil in one hand and the pendulum in the other while running through a list of the appropriate minerals and whatever else gardeners like their soil to contain, finding out their presence or lack of them and ascertaining what, if anything, should be added to make a particular plant grow satisfactorily.

We are not all going to be brilliant dowsers in every field. I can use dowsing for healing but I am hopeless at finding lost articles. Others are extremely good at this but in turn may be no good at finding minerals. To use the analogy of the radio set just once more, we as the sets will find ourselves constructed to operate at maximum strength on some channels and less well on others. What we have to do is find our particular range of frequencies. This is one of the things that we are constantly helping people to do during our training sessions both at home in Scotland and on courses in various parts of this country and abroad.

Finding your own particular range is the first thing and the second is practice. Like any faculty that has lain dormant for many years, the dowsing ability will probably not be very active immediately. You have to work at it, gradually finding out your own code with whatever dowsing mechanism you may choose – and you must keep a very stem eye on the accuracy of your answers. Even now there are frequently times when I suspect that I am not tuning in properly and on these occasions I ask my wife, Patricia, to submit me to a test. Only if lam 100 per cent accurate will I return to the subject in hand. One cannot afford to make mistakes if someone's water supply, far less their health, is at stake!


1. Graves, Tom. Dowsing: Techniques and Applications. Turnstone Books, 1976.
See also: Nielson, Greg and Polansky, Joseph. Pendulum Power. Exacalibur Books, 1981.
2. Becker, Robert O. Plenary lecture presented at the Second International Symposium on Bioelectrochemistry, Pont a Mousson, 1-5 October 1973. Published in Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics 1974, pp 187-199.
3. Cade, C. Maxwell and Coxhead, Nona. The Awakened Mind. Wildwood House, 1980.
See also: Ornstein, Robert. The Psychology of Consciousness. Harcourt Brace, 1977.
   Luria, A. R. The Working Brain. Penguin, 1973.
   Beaumont, J. C. 'Handedness and hemisphere Function' in Hemisphere Function in the Human Brain edited by Diamond, S. J. and Beaumont, S. C. Halstead Press, New York, 1953.
4. Jung, Carl Gustav. Collective Works. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979.
5. Long, Max Freedom. The Secret Science at Work. De Vorss, California, 1953.
6. Gris, Henry and Dick William. New Soviet Psychic Discoveries. Sphere Books, 1980.


A straightforward look into
all aspects of the healing phenomenon 

Bruce MacManaway

Bruce MacManaway