Dowsing has been practiced for hundreds of years. Image Credit: Imperial War Museum
Farmers have been turning to 'water witches' to help them find water during the state's driest periods.
The demand for dowsing, the age-old practice of using either a forked stick or two metal rods to locate hidden resources under the ground, has been on the rise lately, mostly due to the extreme droughts to have hit parts of the United States and the desperation of the people affected by them.
Dowsing is thought to have originated in 15th century Germany where it was first used to find precious metals however it soon became synonymous with the hunt for hidden sources of water.
While scientists these days tend to shun the practice as nothing more than pseudoscience, dowsing is still proving popular - especially in the worst hit regions of California where some farmers have come to rely on the efforts of dowsers to locate water for their crops.
"Itís an energy of some sort... like how some people can run a Ouija board," said Marc Mondavi, a wine merchant who discovered that he had the ability to dowse when he was only 17.
"You either have it or you donít. You canít learn how to get it, but if you do have it, you have to learn how to use it. It took me years to get my confidence. At first, you are a bit leery of telling someone they have to go dig a $50k hole. What if nothing is there? But over time, I learned to trust."
While there seems little doubt that dowsers can and do find sources of hidden water, scientists have long called in to question the exact process through which they manage to achieve it.
One of the main criticisms is the fact that anyone with even basic skills can find groundwater.
"Groundwater occurs virtually everywhere at some depth beneath the surface of the earth, so regardless of where you drill, you will virtually always hit the water table at some depth," said hydrologist Graham Fogg from the University of California.
Nonetheless, with dowsing still proving surprisingly effective in a region decimated by ongoing drought it is very unlikely that this age-old practice is going to be disappearing anytime soon.
Source: Yahoo! News | Comments (25)