My dad wasn’t a water witch, but he swore by Old Man Marcus.*
We’ve been hiring a water witch to dowse for new wells for as long as my farming family can recall.
Even deep in our Midwest Bible Belt, it wasn’t considered witchcraft. It’s folk wisdom that works.
Farmers and homesteaders are a practical lot; they don’t worry about the how. It works, you dig your well, and then you get on with other business.
I was astonished to learn that archaeologists have documented 8000 year old cave paintings of humans dowsing with forked sticks. There is, indeed, nothing new under the sun.
Old Man Marcus’ method was simple and it worked every time: break off a green forked willow switch and start walking. The end would always pull down on its own when he was over water.
Sometimes he might need to canvas around a bit more, or he’d pass over the same spot from different directions to confirm, but when he was sure, he was sure.
If he hadn’t been right – a lot!- no farmer would have wasted their time and money on a fraud.
Mainstream science is quick to call dowsing a pseudoscience. There certainly are some sketchy witchers out there, but they don’t last long in the fields. This narrator’s experience is similar to mine:
Who knows, maybe someday science will figure out the “how” of water witching. Until then, modern stewards of the land will keep passing on the wisdom of our ancestors.
Written by: maia