About three months ago, I profiled Bruce Irwin who shared what its been like dowsing for a quarter-century. To me, the idea of going into the woods or the middle of a field to locate a water vein with nothing but ones focus, intent, and a forked stick or a metal rod is remarkable, and I wanted to experience it for myself. So this week, I am relaying my own experiences with Bruce as he offers me guidance on how to dowse for a vein of water something he says anybody can do with practice. Weve come to the Warren County Fish Hatchery in Warrensburg on a perfect day for our lesson; golden rays of sun are shining on the grassy field amid a pleasant breeze. Bruce gathers his dowsing tools from the back of his truck and we walk to the center of the field. The first thing I do when dowsing a water vein, Bruce says, setting down his bag of tools, is to ascertain the clients needs. For a household water supply, he says, the water must be potable, which means no sulfur, no contaminants, and low iron content. It must flow a minimum of five gallons a minute in a sustained pump test for a bank to issue a mortgage. He says he likes for the water to be less than 300 feet below the ground because the cost to drill is $10 to $12 per foot, plus the deeper the driller goes, the greater the chance of missing the vein because the drill can wander when it extends to far. Another requirement, he says, is that nobody else can be using the water supplied by this vein, because he doesnt want anyones water source to dry up. The vein that satisfies these four requirements for any parcel of land is referred to as the dominant vein. However, instead of trudging around the entire property which could take all day, we are going to request the information from an eternal reservoir of knowledge, which Bruce says he likes to think of as the Library in the Sky. Thats the best way I can think to explain it, he says. I watch as Bruce takes out his Divining Rod, a forked segment of willow branch. Traditionally, he says, a witch hazel branch was used and that gave rise to the term Water Witch. But I can tell you, Bruce says, most dowsers do not ride brooms. Bruce raises his dowsing tool and asks out loud for a signal through the tool when hes facing toward this dominant vein. As he slowly pivots, I see his hands begin to quiver and the tool plunges earthward in the direction of the horseshoe pit. Whats it feel like when it goes down, I ask. Like theres something stronger than I am on the other end like Im losing a tug of war, he says. Give it a try. I pick up a set of brass rods bent in the shape of an L. Called, strangely enough, L-Rods. Its important to realize that the tool is not the source of knowledge, Bruce says, showing me how to hold them. Dowsing tools are just the indicators. Whenever I give dowsing demonstrations, I like to teach using wire coat hangers because everybody has them at home and nobody thinks theyre anything special. I hold my L-Rods in front of me, shoulder-width apart and parallel to the ground. I feel nervous, I say. Youre just afraid of not getting any dowsing signal, Bruce responds. True, I admit. Whenever I dowse, Bruce explains. I have to have the mindset for success. If I dont have that self-confidence, Im not good to anybody, much less myself. Do I have to ask my question out loud? I ask. When I was a beginner, Bruce says, it was helpful to hear myself out loud. Then I felt more sure about what I wanted to ask. I have to say, Im feeling a bit awkward, but I concentrate and ask my question, May I please be told if there is a dominant water vein on this property? Bruce interrupts, You want to be specific. Just say, I want an indication from these tools... If you ask a sloppy dowsing question, you may get an ambiguous response. Your answers are only as good as the questions you ask. Hmmm, that might explain a lot of things, I ponder. Suppose you ask if its going to rain today, Bruce says. Of course youll get a yes, because somewhere on Earth it will rain. A more effective question would be, Will it rain at this fish hatchery today? Ok, I say, focusing on what I want to know. I would like an indication from these tools when I am facing toward the dominant vein on this property. Bruce nods approvingly. I pivot slowly, and sure enough, I feel a force moving the L-Rods. I look at Bruce in disbelief, whos smiling. But they crossed a little later than yours did, I say. That delay is called beginner's lag, Bruce explains. Thats all it is your signals will sharpen up in time with practice. Before I have a chance to marvel further at whats just happened, Bruce continues our lesson. We now need to know how far away this vein is from where were standing. So Im gonna ask, How many of my paces am I from the near edge of this vein? Im asking for paces, not measured feet, because were on uneven turf. I watch as Bruce dowses. He gets a signal that the vein is 27 of his terrain paces away. Now, its my turn again. I bring up my L-Rods. You want them level with the ground, Bruce says, correcting my technique. I take a deep breath. How many of my paces am I from the dominant vein on this property? I ask. Again, my L-Rods cross effortlessly, only this time, my answer is 36 paces. Bruce and I begin heading across the field, walking side by side. Our tools are up and ready and sure enough, as I step into my 36th pace, both our tools react at the same moment. This is amazing, I say. Bruce always smiles when people get the dowsing signal. This is the near edge of the vein, Bruce explains, marking the spot with an aluminum can. He motions me to continue walking over the vein, and several paces later, our dowsing tools again react simultaneously. And this, Bruce says, placing another can on the ground, is the far edge of the same water vein. Over and over, we cross the near and far edges of the length of this vein, getting the same exact signals every time. Im practically skipping now, confident of my new ability, because I realize its not at all difficult to get a dowsing signal. Its as effortless as changing the station on a radio. The signal is there, you just have to know how to find it. This is exhilarating! I tell Bruce, dropping another can on an edge of the vein. I feel like dowsing provides an opportunity for a person to develop trust in ones own capabilities. Dowsing brings ones intuitive self back into alignment with the logical self Thats how I perceive it, Bruce says. And then you become a whole person again. I can see what you mean, I reply. Soon, we are able to see the shape of this curving water vein underneath us, now outlined completely by the ice tea cans two parallel lines on top of the ground. You know what else is so incredible to me, I say, standing in the center of the vein. Im starting to connect that theres actually water under here! Good, says Bruce, looking pleased. I was hoping that would happen. Im always focusing so much on myself and other people, its wonderful to feel connected to something bigger, that Im somehow a part of, I say. Bruce nods, I believe that all answers for the dowser are contained in the Library in the Sky, just as the object a wood sculptor wants to create is contained within that wood. All one has to do is develop focus, sharpen their intent, and have a good purpose, and they can attain a library card. As we walk back towards the parking lot, I feel excited that Ive experienced something that feels both magical and real at the same time That I, or anyone else, has the innate ability to request information contained in the Earth is certainly a wonder. Perhaps Im on my way to earning myself a library card. For more info on setting up a group dowsing demonstration or a dowsing lecture, call Bruce at (518) 623-3772 or email him at: email@example.com.