Bill Getz was four years old when he was first told he had a gift for divination.
“The stick shot me,” he said in an interview this week. “I said, ‘Wow!'”
The staff he speaks of was a divining rod. Getz was with his father on a property outside of Utica, where his family would eventually open a restaurant. They were with a dowser, whom his father had brought to help him determine where to dig a well.
Dowsing is the act of using divination to seek water and other things, including energies, without the use of a scientific device. It is an ancient form of divination dating back to the 1400s and was banned supplemented by the Catholic Church.
A woodcut from Georgius Agricolas “De re metallica libri XII”, Basel, 1556, shows dowsers searching for metallic ore.
It also has a long history in New York State, according to Lisa LaMonica, New York folklore historian and author of the book “Witches and Warlocks of New York.” “He is seen as channeling special knowledge, otherworldly forces and the unseen,” she said.
Getz, at the age of 4, had picked up the dowsing rods out of curiosity. The dowser saw him shoot and quickly approached Getz. “He said, ‘Don’t be afraid of it; you have a natural ability to find water,” Getz said. Now, 45 years later, he uses two types of dowsing rods to find water: an L-shaped brass rod and a Y-shaped wooden rod, usually an apple branch.
Around the age of 12, Getz helped a neighbor find a well after the one on his farm dried up. According to Getz, this well, which the neighbor’s son dug with a backhoe, is still operational. Getz practiced dowsing throughout his life, but only began to do so fully after his retirement in the mid-1990s. He was a government employee and spent most of his career in the department of education.
Since retiring, Getz has dowsed about 30 wells a year. He lives in Schoharie County but has dowsed statewide, including the middle and lower Hudson Valley. He doesn’t dowse in winter, not because the ground is frozen, but because he doesn’t like the feeling of using scrying wands while wearing gloves, and he doesn’t like being in a field. in freezing temperatures without gloves. .
“I learned it with my bare hands and that’s how I did it,” Getz said. “Now if you ask me, ‘How does it work, what’s the scientific reason behind it?’ I don’t know, all I know is that when I use the Y-rod it twists in my hands and pulls down no matter how hard I hold it.
Getz only focused on dowsing for water and says he doesn’t know much about dowsing for energies or other things. He learned a lot about water drilling, regulations and municipal water systems in the process. Therefore, it can be easy to forget, while talking to him, that his practice is not scientific and does not consist in taking samples of soil to find out if there is salt in a well or what the water quality.
“I give it as an estimate and ask people to come back to me after drilling and tell me what they found and what they got,” he said. “I would say at least to get the water source, I’m pretty specific for that. Whether or not I’m right about depth and flow will depend on the driller and how they drill.
Getz has a series of questions that he directs to his dowsing rods. It begins with, “Where is the best place to drill to get the greatest amount of clear, potable water that will meet the owner’s needs and not take water away from anyone else?” From there, he asks the rods questions about the direction the water is flowing, the width of the water vein, and the number of gallons per minute that will flow down a well.
Otto Edler von Graeve, a famous German dowser, photographed in 1913.
George Casely uses a hazel twig to find water on the land around his farm in Devon, England in 1942.
Left: the famous German dowser Otto Edler von Graeve in 1913; Right: George Casely uses a hazel twig to find water on the land around his farm in Devon, England, in 1942. (Public domain)
Unlike Getz, Jeanie Pasquale, who lives in Rockland County, was unaware of possessing a gift for dowsing from an early age. Pasquale is not a dowser, but a dowser for geopathic stress, energy forms and vortices in houses.
Pasquale was a real estate professional when she took a feng shui class held in a house that had been on the market for three years. The class was taught by Marie Diamond, a feng shui expert who also does dowsing. At the end of her presentation, she said she wanted to dowse the house in which the presentation took place.
“It was a Tuesday,” Pasquale said. “On Friday, the house was under contract. So I was like, ‘What did she do?’ “
Pasquale was taken by the experience and traveled to Minneapolis to take classes taught by Diamond. Once comfortable in her own practice, she began to practice dowsing in homes. She says her client list is a mix of people who are selling their homes, people who have moved into new homes, and people who are living in their homes but experiencing issues in the form of trouble sleeping, poor energy and physical ailments.
“With energy, you can’t see it, so people sometimes poop,” she said. “But if you live there, you don’t know how it affects you until it’s gone and healed.”
The energy, Pasquale believes, stays in the houses until it is corrected. “Even though no one died in the house or was really sick in the house, every argument is printed in the walls,” she said. “The vibe is there. So when you move in, you live in there. You wouldn’t jump into someone else’s bathwater. You want clean energy.
Pasquale said that in addition to using dowsing in her work, she uses it in her personal life. She dowses any hotel room her family is staying in, and she recently used her dowsing rods to ask what kind of protection she should imbue around her daughter, who was attending a concert. “I didn’t see anyone at that crazy concert drawn to his energy,” she said.
She wasn’t always so in touch with the energies, nor did she use them for things like protecting family members from others drawn to their energy. She said she was an intuitive person before and had become interested in reiki. But it wasn’t until she was introduced to feng shui and learned dowsing that she really took an interest in it and set herself the goal of achieving greatness.
“Anyone can,” she says. “You can learn it.”