How do people use dowsing rods in ghost hunting?

In the right hands, dowsing rods can be useful ghost hunting tools.

First, you’ll use them to detect normal phenomena that can make a site seem haunted.

For example, dowsing rods can detect underground springs and streams.

Underground water can contribute to infrasound. Its low-level frequency disorients some people. They might think they’ve encountered a ghost when they haven’t.

Some ghost hunters use dowsing rods to identify active areas at a haunted site. For that, you may need skill and sensitivity.

You can learn the skill. I’m not sure everyone can develop the necessary sensitivity.

Dowsing rods can respond to yes-or-no questions, as well.

How to hold dowsing rods

Some people use just one rod. I use two, and hold one in each hand.

Hold the rods with a light grip. It should be loose enough so the rods can move without much resistance.

(The exception is dowsing rods that include a casing between your hands and the rods. Since your hand won’t influence the rods one way or the other, hold the casing as tightly as you like.)

Also, check the length of the rods and what they might hit — especially your face — if they start swinging wildly. (That’s happened to me a few times.)

Initially, hold the rods so they are parallel to the floor or ground.

Then, tilt your hands so the tips of the rods are at a slight downward angle… less than a 10-degree drop. This allows gravity a gentle influence on the rods. If the rods are able to swing wildly, they’re useless.

However, don’t let the rods point too far downward, or gravity will pin them in place.

Ideally, the rods move slightly against the pull of gravity.

Begin with some test questions.

I start by asking basic questions I can answer myself, such as, “Is my name Fiona Broome?” The movement of the rods tells me what the rods will do for a “yes” answer, if anything. The rods may swing in opposite directions. They might swing towards each other and cross. They might point to the right or to the left.

I try enough yes/no questions to detect a pattern.

After that, I put a coin on the floor or ground, and stand at least ten feet away. Then, I tell the rods to lead me to the coin. I do this aloud, saying something like, “Where is the coin? Point to it and lead me there.”

In most cases, both rods point in the direction of the coin. When I get there, they either return to resting position, or — more often — they’ll cross in front of me as if to prevent me from walking ahead.

After that, I’m ready to use them on that investigation. I know how to detect a yes, a no, and how to tell where the rods are leading me.

During the investigation, I might use them for yes/no answers. For example: “Is this ghost female?” “Is this ghost male?” “Is the ghost a child?” “Did this ghost live in the 17th century?” “… the 18th century?” “… the 19th century?” And so on.

Note: Never start by asking when the ghost “died.” Many ghosts seem to reject the idea that they’re dead.

Or, use them silently.

dowsing rodsMore often, I simply hold the rods in the “ready” position, and walk around. I let them lead me to a “hot spot.”

If the rods indicate a “hot spot,” I usually walk around, testing different directions.

Dowsing rods can detect underground water, water pipes, and electrical wiring. So, I see if the rods indicate (or point to) a long, straight line. If they do, I know the reading isn’t paranormal.

I’ll check that same line with an EMF meter. I’m looking for normal (but elevated) EMF levels. If I find it, I’ll avoid that area as I continue my research.

If just one spot or a small area seems active, I set up my ghost hunting equipment. I’m looking for anomalous readings and responses.

You can ask dowsing rods to lead you to the “hot” areas of a haunt. There, you can use the rods, seance style, to ask — and receive answers to — questions about the ghost.

However, dowsing rods don’t work for everyone. So far, we don’t know why.

Practice makes perfect?

If dowsing rods work, but not as well as you’d like, you may need more practice. Place small objects around your living room. Then, ask the rods to lead you to a particular object. The more often you do this, the more skill you’ll have with dowsing rods, and the more confidence, too.

Warning: Do not expect ghostly energy to work “through” you. Maintain firm boundaries.

The ghostly energy works with the tools. You’re just propping them at the correct angle.

(This is why I prefer to use dowsing rods with casing-type holders. I make no direct contact with the actual rods.)

Never give a spirit permission to enter or use your body to communicate.

That may seem like a fine point, but with increasing dangers in ghost hunting, precautions are important.

Reliable dowsing rods for paranormal research

Some companies – including Joey Korn at www.Dowsers.com — manufacture powerful dowsing rods designed for ghost hunting.

I’ve used their larger, custom rods (17- or 18-inch rods) with researchers who swear that dowsing rods don’t work.  So far, they’ve had success with those rods 100% of the time. (But, I’m not sure if Joey’s company still offer such large rods. If they don’t, make them yourself. They’re that useful.)

I’ve also used Joey’s recommended portable (collapsible) rods with great results.

However, in my field tests, others had weaker (or no) results with smaller rods. So, start large. Over time, work down, if the big rods become too sensitive (swing too wildly) for your research.

Or, make your own dowsing rods.

You don’t need to buy dowsing rods. Make your own from wire coat hangers. Visit EncounterGhosts.com for step-by-step instructions.

If you want to use a casing for handles, visit a DIY store (like Lowe’s or Home Depot). Ask them to cut two small lengths of narrow, straight PVC pipe or brass piping. You’ll slide your dowsing rod handles (the shorter sides of the bent coat hangers) into them. Then, your hands can’t influence the rods at all.

In my opinion, the more active my dowsing rods, the more active the haunting. If the rods barely move, not much is going on. If they respond vigorously, I’ll usually see EMF spikes, orbs in photos, and other phenomena.

In rare cases, my smallest dowsing rods have swung in complete circles, repeatedly. (It can look silly, like a tiny helicopter blade.) I’m pretty sure those were active, paranormal spots.

They occurred at:

– Cambridge (MA, USA): At the mass grave of Revolutionary soldiers, buried under a mound in the Old Burial Ground at Harvard Square.

– Also at the tree in front of Peet’s Coffee House, 100 Mt. Auburn Street, Harvard Square. (It’s the site of a “witch jail” during colonial times.)

– Methuen (MA, USA): Upstairs at Tenney Gate House, in one of the front rooms. Repeated several times before the anomaly ceased.

– Salem (MA): In the basement of 127 Essex Street. (The basement isn’t open to the public. But, excellent ghost tours leave from in front of that shop).

– Stratford-upon-Avon (England): One room in the Falcon Hotel, but only briefly. Several times at the Falstaff’s Experience (Tudor World), 40 Sheep Street.

– York (England): The Golden Fleece Pub, but only a few times, in odd spots near the entrance. Did not repeat during additional visits.

How do ghosts turn flashlights on and off?

Ghosts and flashlights… they’re an interesting mix. Can ghosts really communicate by turning your flashlight on & off?

Here’s my answer.

Ghosts don’t actually turn the flashlight on and off. Not with a switch or lever, anyway.

lightThe effect comes from a loose contact between the batteries and the light bulb.

A ghost might be able to move the flashlight just enough to make the light blink on for a split second.

Or, ghosts might generate EMF energy. That’s a popular theory. If it’s true, a small amount of energy might reconnect the battery and the light bulb.

Either way, some ghosts and flashlights seem to have a connection (no pun intended). Ghosts might be able to communicate through a loosened flashlight. That’s how it’s looked in tests on TV and in the field.

Fiona's adviceUse the kind of flashlight that turns on and off with a gentle twist of the flashlight case. The Mag lite brand is the most popular.

But, inexpensive clones can work just as well, as long a the flashlight has a metal case, not plastic or resin.

Note: I’ve talked with the staff at Mag lite. They were baffled by my questions. They wouldn’t tell me which metals are in their flashlight cases are proprietary. Still, they insisted that conductivity wasn’t likely.

So, any flashlight may work equally well.

How to get the best results with ghosts and flashlights

Here are steps to use a flashlight to communicate with ghosts.

  1.  Turn the flashlight on.
  2. Twist the case just enough so the flashlight is off.
  3. Gently shake the flashlight. If the light flickers on and off, the setting is right.  (If it won’t flicker easily, adjust the case until it does.)
  4. Place the flashlight on a level surface.
  5. Then, instruct the ghost to reply to questions by briefly turning the light on if the answer is yes. (Or whatever directions you want to give to the ghost. It might be “signal once with the light for yes, and twice for no.”)

This kind of real-time communication can be exciting and produce remarkable results.

Sadly, there’s at least one big problem:  This is far from actual, scientific evidence.

Heavy footsteps, a passing truck, a nearby train, or music with a heavy base can be enough to make the flashlight flicker.

In other words, a blinking flashlight isn’t proof of anything, even if it seems eerily accurate and consistent.

How I begin each flashlight session

Generally, I ask questions with known answers: “Is my name Fiona Broome? Flash the light once for yes.”

Then, “Flash the light once if I’m male, twice if I’m female.”

(I mix things up. I want to be sure the flashlight isn’t responding to footsteps in a nearby room, or infrasound from trucks or an underground stream.)

I’ll continue questioning the ghost for several minutes. (You could think of it as “establishing rapport” rather than commanding the ghost to perform.)

“Are we in [name of location]? Flash once for yes.”

“Did George Washington (or some other impossible name, like Queen Elizabeth II) live here? Flash once for yes, twice for no.”

If the answers aren’t at least 75% accurate, I don’t bother with a flashlight “seance.” The controlled responses must be more accurate than a coin toss.

If the flashlight responds accurately enough, I set up my equipment nearby.

Confirming flashlight responses

My usual tools include EMF detectors, real-time ghost communication devices, and EVP recorders. We set them up and resume our investigation.

We continue to ask questions, and check our other tools for anomalies that happen at the same time as the ghost seems to flicker the flashlight.

Flashlight communication with spirits can be exciting.  However, I believe you need more evidence, collected at the same time.

After our investigation, I look for documented history that supports or refutes what the ghost seemed to tell us via the flashlight.

Unless historical evidence exists, the rest is speculation. It might seem reliable, but I’m looking for more than just a consensus from a loosened flashlight and a few other tools.

I want something on paper that’s independent of any ghost investigations. That means census records, vital records (birth, marriage, or death records), court documents, and so on.

This article wandered far from the flashlight topic. However, “talking” flashlights are such unreliable evidence, they shouldn’t be your only focus in an investigation.

Besides… if the ghost really is that communicative, you might miss other investigative opportunities, like EVP and ghost photos or video.

But yes, flashlight communications can work. And, as part of a pre-investigation visit – or during your regular research – the answers can help you identify your ghost and why he or she haunts.