In Search of the Southern Serpent
A Journey into the Power of Place
The ancient art of Dowsing is undergoing a subtle revolution.
This time-honoured method of sensing the unseen was only decriminalised in the UK as recently as 1951 - having spent the previous few centuries ‘underground’, in every sense of the word, out of sight of the wrath of mainstream religion
The image of a rustic countryman, finding water for the livestock of local farmers with the assistance of a hazel twig is giving way to a much wider understanding that a vast range of natural and man-made energies can be felt with the aid of some very simple equipment and a modicum of dedicated concentration.
While there are still many who discretely make a regular income from divining water, the dowser of the new millennium is more likely to be found searching for minerals or lost objects - or healing sick people, animals and houses.
The public rediscovery of Dowsing in the last part of the 20th century has been so rapid, yet so silent, that the concept is only now starting to crystallise into definable schools of activity.
The dowsers themselves tend, almost by definition, to be self-contained, thoughtful, people, a little distanced from everyday life - and it is therefore not too surprising that at the cutting edge of this exciting ‘new’ phenomenon we find a quietly-spoken, bearded blacksmith of Scots ancestry, but Cornish residence, approaching his eighth decade.
By comprehending the inherent power of Dowsing, Hamish Miller has taken the skill from its worthy, but worldly, recent roots in divining and prospecting to a new level, which challenges our basic perception and conception of the very world around us.
HM and his colleagues, started, as you do, in a small way, tracing the energy of the earth (which just about everyone can sense after a short spell with a qualified tutor) around the sacred sites of their acquaintance. They then expanded their horizons to follow the legendary long-distance energy tracks that cross England from Cornwall to the Norfolk coast. This, in turn, led them to follow the even longer energy trails that wend their serpentine way across Europe, from Ireland to Israel. Through his travels, and his intuition, HM became increasingly aware that there was a strong connection between the natural energy of the earth and the supernatural mythology that is often associated with it. It was a journey that has taken him a very long way from the search for drinkable water.
For his latest project, HM embarked, by what passes for co-incidence in this esoteric field of activity, on a massive study tour of many of the sacred sites of the Southern Hemisphere. En route he met with native spiritual leaders in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, who currently feel the need at this time to pass on their arcane knowledge to a new audience, of whom HM has become a selected and regular member.
His contribution to the expanding field of enlightenment through dowsing has been varied and profound. He was one of the first to expound the rediscovery of the inter-active nature of earth energy - showing how it reacts to the attention of the positive pilgrim. Many ancient philosophies, particularly those in the Antipodes, speak of the need to ‘talk to the earth’ - here was a modern metal-basher demonstrating that not only is this concept scientifically sensible, but that the earth is actually listening!
He has also shown how the interference patterns of energy at particularly significant places manifest themselves into various shapes - some of which change over time or in response to human enquiry, while others seem to be archetypal motifs that recur throughout recorded history. His work in the Southern Hemisphere has taken his own evolution one stage further - moving him steadily from the objective observer of barely tangible phenomena to being part of the place and process itself.
While HM has become the understated face of modern Dowsing, he strongly promotes the contribution of the supporting cast, not least his long-term partner in time, Ba Russell. For the New Zealand stage of the SSS journey, he also enlisted the support of Barry Brailsford, who brought to the project a wealth of knowledge and a lifetime of love for the history, traditions and culture of all New Zealanders. Their epic tour took them from Cape Reinga in the North to Akaroa in the South and included just about all of the major native NZ locations in between – Maunganui, sacred Tokatoka, the Temple of the Four Winds, Te Kohanga . . . . the list reads like a catalogue of places-you-must-visit-before-you-die - or maybe afterwards.
The two men clearly gelled immediately and complimented each others’ skills superbly throughout. BBs local knowledge and erudite background merged with HM's experience of subtle energies, garnered from years in the field in the Frozen North, to produce a jointly-written book, In Search of the Southern Serpent, which has become an instant classic – and rightly so. The energy they sense and describe south of the Equator comes across as so much fresher, stronger, clearer and less refined than the sister strands in the more world-weary north.
However, this is a project without a conclusion - indeed the process is the whole point of the exercise. Understanding the power of place and the sense of space is a lifetime’s work - and the feeling is that even HM is only a few dozen steps along the road ahead of us. The Southern (and the Northern) Serpent beckons us onward and upward.