The term radiesthesy or radiesthesia means radiation perception: the ability to detect radiation within the human body and within nature.
Dowsing and pendulums are an ancient practice regarded as a kind of pseudo-science by current mineral science. Nevertheless for some people they are a reality. Again a certain segment or cohort of the population has certain characteristics by which they have this capabilities (re Rudolf Steiner lecture reference below, and the Discussion section).
The reference books below give an overview of this practice throughout the ages: dowsing and pendulum already appear on cave paintings of approx. 6000 BC throughout Egyptian, Babylonian cultures, but also in numerous references in Greek and Roman literature. In more recent times references are made by a.o. Paracelsus and Goethe. The 'technology' was used in the two 30 years wars both in the 17th and 20th centuries.
Lecture coverage and references
See eg 1917-06-26-GA176 where Rudolf Steiner touches on the research by Moritz Benedikt into dowsing and consciousness.
The above lecture makes an interesting contrast with the anthrowiki site which gives an overview of much research that shows dowsing is not a real effect, an experience people make up.
A famous quote is by Albert Einstein, in a letter of 1946-02-15 to Mr. Peisach:
I read with great interest the reports from your father and I think that they deserve attention. To publish them in the daily press would have little effect. However, if you send these reports to a medical journal, you will have to re-write some of the other aspects that are not really pertinent to this matter.
I know very well that many scientists consider dowsing as they do astrology, as a type of ancient superstition. According to my conviction this is, however,unjustified. The dowsing rod is a simple instrument which shows the reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown to us at this time.
.. If you submit the carefully revised reports to a medical journal you may attach a copy of my letter, so that this matter will receive the attention I feel it deserves. Very truly yours, A. Einstein
1924-03-01-GA353 describes how the water in an area acts particularly strongly on the etheric body
.. water has a tremendous influence on the human ether body. The Egyptians still had the instinct that enabled them to say: The human being has not only a physical but also an ether body.
When the Indians came to Egypt they appreciated the beneficial qualities of water, and said: This does not act on the physical body, but on a higher body in the human being. And so the Egyptians, and with them the Indians, really discovered the etheric body through their experience with water. Having discovered the ether body, the Egyptians developed the whole of their religion as a religion of the ether body.
Radiesthesy as example to illustrate the chasm between mineral science and spiritual science.
In mineral science, the human being and its full spectrum of sensory perception and consciousness is de-coupled from the events in scope of study. If a large random sample of human beings in taken, statistiscs may rightly point out that radiesthesy is non-existant. However, this does not mean it does not exist for a certain segment of the population. This is quite similar to other human sensory and consciousness capabilities such as clairvoyance. In Goethean science and spiritual science, the human being and its full experience is taken in scope of the analysis of reality. Spiritual science goes further than Goethean science in that it includes super-sensory consciousness.
So who is right? both are right: in the framework of (and conditions set by) mineral science, radiesthesy and clairvoyance are not capabilities that can be proven for any human being. There can be no discussion about this from a rigourous scientific and statistical point of view. However, spiritual science is also right - as exemplified by the numerous authors across the ages, and the wealth of experiential facts and studies. It is just not generally valid for the whole population.
References and further reading
- Marguerite Maury: 'How To Dowse - Experimental And Practical Radiesthesia' (1953) is a small booklet that is a great reference work. From the introduction we freely quote:
Mr. Louis Turenne, an engineer and radiesthesist of great repute, realised that Madame Maury, who previous yo becoming a nurse had studied physics in Vienna, had a special aptitude in this direction. She developed her abilities to the full and during the course of 15 years carried out more than 70.000 diagnoses, with the help of some collaborators founded the Collège Radiesthésique Français and drew up a course of instruction followed by more than 900 pupils.
Mme. Maury very rightly stresses the individual nature of the radiesthetic art, and anyone who has studied the subject from an objective point of view will fully bear her out.
Note: Marguerite Maury (1895-1968) was an Austrian born biochemist. Following the death of her young child, her first husband and her father, Marguerite trained as a nurse and surgical assistant, and moved to France. She was also one of the pioneers in aromatherapy and the use of essential oils, inspired by the work of Dr Chabenes 'Les Grandes Possibilités par les Matières Odoriferantes' (1838) and René-Maurice Gattefossé (1881-1950) with 'Aromatherapie' (1928).
- Abbé Mermet: 'Principles and Practice of Radiesthesia' (1935) original in French: 'Manuel théorique et pratique de Radiesthésie'
Abbe Mermet, a village priest, became famous throughout Europe for his gifts as a radiesthesist, and his research into our natural sensitivity to radiations and force-fields established radiesthsia on a sound basis, raising it to the level of a new science. His skills and reputation were stellar. This classic work is based on decades of research and application and is filled with numerous remarkable accounts of the author's own successes (more so than being the best guide for developing the skills, see M. Maury).
- Ernst Hoch: 'Strahlenfühligkeit' (1983), in Dutch 'Stralengevoeligheid' (1986)
Many authors of reference works in Russian, French and German, but books not translated to English. Example: Rene Lacroix-à-l'Henri.
See also french wiki page for Radiesthésie for more references and links.