All lives are remarkable journeys. However, some are longer, more varied and more circuitous than others.
Enter stage left, Billy Gawn - farmer, builder, dowser and thinker - a man who has come closer than anyone to date in explaining, in words that the layman can understand, why dowsing actually works. Given Billy’s uncertain health, enter stage right his biographical assistant and general front-of-house gopher - yours truly.
I am sure Billy would feel very much at home in East Cornwall. Like a dwindling number of Cornishmen of a certain age, Billy comes from a family that have lived in and around the same village for generations. In his case, it is Donegore in County Down - and he is deeply rooted in its psyche and its soil.
Billy is a classic case of the accidental celebrity, and it’s not a role he relishes. He is a man who has made groundbreaking discoveries purely by being himself. He is ever alert, always aware, constantly pondering the implications of what he sees and feels. He is an octogenarian grandfather, with the mind of an enthusiastic young researcher. If he had been a North American university lecturer, rather than an Ulster agriculturalist, he might well have been feted for his findings. But that’s not his way.
As someone who has been physically, socially and academically separated from the rest of the dowsing community for most of his career, he is self taught in the truest sense of the word. He not only taught himself to use the hazel twig, but went on to develop his eye muscles to do what the rest of do with our fingers holding the L rod. This gives him a more elevated platform on which to stand, and from which to direct his dowsing questions.
Having been a self-confessed dowsing obsessive for several decades, he has reached a level of proficiency that most of the rest of us can only dream about. Yet, he is quite clear in his belief that, given enough time and effort, everyone who wants to can dowse competently - and it is quite possible for everyone to dowse devicelessly too. From here, it looks like a stiff climb - but also a wonderfully uplifting opportunity.
Billy is, perhaps, best known in dowsing circles for his work on the relationship of ancient megaliths to the removal of detrimental energy rising from underground water. Having extensively studied many of the remaining stone circles in the UK and elsewhere, he went on to erect a menhir, a circle and a chambered cairn on his own land - to prove his theory in practice. On the strength of this work, he later acted as advisor for the construction of other megaliths, mainly in the west of Ireland.
Given that this tranche of work has been ongoing for several years, it is a little surprising that more practitioners have not sought to emulate his research - or indeed to criticise it. Maybe, even the open-minded world of dowsing is more conservative than we think - or maybe the significance of his findings have yet to fully sink in. Billy has always been out on his own at the front of the field, and he is well aware that he is likely to be long gone before the true significance of much of his work is appreciated - hence, the importance of publishing his biography while he is still around to contribute to it fully.
On a grander scale, Billy’s work on energy grids has been seminal. Most experienced dowsers will be aware of the earth grids, discovered many years ago by Messrs. Hartmann and Currie. However, Billy has found, using his deviceless style, that there are many other types of grid - notably those emanating from the sun, the moon and the planets. No-one has yet understood quite what these strange patterns represent, but they appear to be interactions of the energy of our earth with that from other celestial bodies. We even have a portion of a ‘solar’ grid line coursing through most of our house in Tavistock, which responded to a recent eclipse - only visible from Australasia - in a similar manner to the ebb and flow of standard earth energy lines during such events. Only Billy has ever spotted these grids as earth energy features, and our knowledge of them is still at the reception-class stage.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of his work, however, is the application of his ‘visual’ dowsing to the world of quantum physics. While most of this field relies on labyrinthine mathematics and seriously obscure machinations of scientific reasoning, very little of it can be brought into the here and now. Massive and hugely expensive research facilities have been built across the world to try to capture just a few fleeting examples of the sub-atomic realm on screen.
However, using his highly developed dowsing technique, Billy has discovered that beyond (or should that be within?) the planes of matter and energy is a vast, perhaps infinite, matrix of information. Putting this information cloud into the emerging tapestry of sub-atomic physics opens the door to a potential explanation of many of the current conundrums of science. To be fair to the theoretical physicists, they are starting to come to similar conclusions, albeit based mainly on extrapolations of mathematical calculations. Recent popular TV programmes have shown that both they and Billy are on parallel tracks. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a deviceless dowser - or even to work with one!
One of the most difficult aspects of compiling the biography of a man like Billy Gawn is that he has such a deeply holistic approach to the world around him. He has developed a continuous loop of understanding, with each link in the chain relying on information that has been gleaned previously. In the end, all I could do was to follow the same entrance portal as Billy himself, and to describe his own gradual enlightenment through the long years of dowsing in the fields of County Down.
To meet him, you would be forgiven for mistaking him for ‘just an ordinary bloke’, which is exactly what he feels himself to be. He takes little credit for his work and considers that all he is doing is relating what he sees, for the benefit of those that can’t - yet. He is pointing out the wonders of the cosmos as an encouragement to the rest of us to put a bit more effort into our dowsing practice. He feels we could all find for ourselves what he has found - and, standing on the platform he has discovered, go on to delve into so much more. He feels he is not exceptional, maybe just a bit more dedicated than others. It’s an incredibly uplifting recommendation.
Billy’s biography Beyond the far Horizon - Why Earth Energy Dowsing Works - is available from Penwith Press of St Just, Cornwall or from the authors. Price £12.95. ISBN 978-0-953316-4-2