The Secret Intelligence of Water
A Zoom workshop for the Devon, Tamar, Trencrom,
Somerset and Thames Valley dowsing groups
Just when you were thinking it might be safe to re-emerge after the pandemic, another iconoclastic social disrupter bursts onto the social scene. It might be the gentlest of juggernauts, but its impact has the potential to fragment the fragile status quo of the dowsing environment even further.
Some decades ago, in the upper Kennet Valley, on what now seems to be another planet, images and glyphs started to appear in the press, and in the wheat fields close the A4. For someone growing up in the area, the excitement was tangible. No longer was the magical and the mysterious the prerogative of the ancient Egyptians, Cambodians or Peruvians. Crop formations were happening in the farms, and on the monoculture prairies, that surrounded the Wessex villages. It was here, it was now. Science faction was manifesting in our own back yard.
Listening to Veda Austin describing her evolving work concerning images and glyphs appearing in the glass dishes of her home freezer is like encountering the next ripple of that surge of late twentieth century East Wiltshire excitement. It’s happening in your kitchen - and it’s happening all the time. Not just in Nevada or Tibet - but in Bodmin and Crediton, Yeovil and Newbury - ground-breaking meme-scattering, mind-scrambling - and right here.
The surrealiality of it all is compounded by the fact that the conductor of this new project is not some grey-bearded academic or tub-thumping evangelist, but an engaging kiwi art teacher and mother of two. Zoom has done away with most of the gargantuan stage sets and cutting edge CGI graphics - and replaced them with a laptop that has to move about a bit to keep its signal, and a
kitchen table in a flat inhabited by both Veda and her family, who make occasional walk-on appearances. But for all of its homespun backcloth, the essence of Veda’s work is somewhere between The West End/Broadway and Oxbridge/MIT - big-picture, genre-stretching stuff, with added spirituality.
For those who have never heard of VA, her work entails freezing small quantities of water in Petri dishes in a domestic freezer - and seeing what happens. That’s it. Once into the groove, it seems most people can produce patterns and pictures, which purport to be at least interesting, and at times are downright startling. Samples of her work can be found on YouTube and elsewhere - and it’s well worth seeking them out, even if it all sounds a bit wacky at face value. But the real interest for the dowser is how it relates to the diviner’s craft, and to associated methods of information transfer and perception.
The connections and parallels with the world of dowsing are legion; from the subjective nature of the output, to the interpretation of the results; from the interactive nature of both the information and the medium, to the role of consciousness; from setting your intent and letting go, to the ongoing debate about the quality and content of the tools used in the process. Old-time practitioners will have heard it all before, even if the linguistics have changed somewhat. What’s new, and quite stunning, is that this is a parallel means of deriving meaning from ‘the ether’. But instead of the yes/no binary, clearcut, if a bit laboured, approach of conventional dowsing techniques, here we have a more open and more nuanced modus operandi, based on witnesses, thoughts, intentions, pictures and ‘hydroglyphs’ - replete with that unavoidable debate about the role of the animist human operative in it all.
As she described the decryption of her ice-images, I could hear the age-old debates about astrology and divination, tarot and tea leaves doing the rounds again - in bright new apparel. Austin will undoubtedly pick up her fair share of flak in due course for rattling the cage of some hardcore materialists, but it comes with the manor - and she gives the very genuine impression of being open to questions, comments and criticism as a means of taking the project into new fields and reaching new audiences. Serious researchers are apparently already taking an interest in her utility-room revelations, aided by the links to the realms of both water and health. Yet more hooks into the matrix of the dowser.
She openly and gladly acknowledges the insights and output of her precursors - Emoto, Vögel and others - and is far more interested in the potential of citizen science to expand the field than in her own celebrity status - although that may be more difficult to avoid if enough commercially minded proto-new-agers actually appreciate her real potential.
Throughout this very generous three-hour presentation, which included ‘try this at home’ encouragement, Veda maintained an even-paced, and comfortably committed delivery without repetition, deviation or hesitation. She remained on-piste throughout, and could clearly have talked out the rest of the day, if time and zoom had permitted. And it is that devoted dedication to the task that is her most engaging asset. To date, she appears to have managed to eschew the approaches to commodity her discoveries. She casts her frozen seed corn far and wide, in search of feedback and fellow travellers - and is still old-school enough to regard the search for beneficial knowledge to be of greater worth than book sales or appearance fees - although the latter will be burgeoning without too much marketing, if this tour de force performance was anything to go by.
Since her last talk to the 5-group collaboration of UK southern and western dowsing groups a year ago, her work has moved on apace - fuelled by the contributions of co-workers around the globe. Her investigations have branched out into the relevance of what she has termed hieroglyphs - images with information and meaning, intentional or otherwise. Again, the parallel with the pictograms of the earth energy dowser was obvious - and it had me biting my lip not to unmute myself to say so.
Her latest venture has taken her closer to the home ground of ice-art, based on the dreams of the researcher. Can pictures in the frost really depict scenes from last night’s reverie? I can sense some beard stroking and dad-discomfort in some quarters but, as Veda would say so disarmingly, ‘Try it for yourself - and let me know how you get on!’ We are deep into uncharted territory here, and any new data - even finding nothing at all - is very valuable data.
Both speaker and participants were keen to emphasise our relationship with water. Planet Earth could more accurately be badged Planet Water - and its human inhabitants are predominantly composed of water - almost exclusively so at the molecular level. We are water-beings, we are effectively water with agency. It’s not too surprising therefore that we should have such an intimate relationship with it - and through it to the realms beyond.
It would be difficult, and indeed unnecessary, to pick holes in anything from this calmly virtuoso offering. My one issue would be that, as an informational dowser, I would tend to put the intelligence and interaction at the information field level, rather than in the carrier-medium of water, as such - but what would a retired transport planner with a virtual hobby horse know about this niche new world order?
Many thanks indeed to Veda Austin, once again, for a super Saturday afternoon (well, it was afternoon in the UK). After the zoom, Gwynn was eagerly inviting her back for an update next year, but the velocity of travel - academic and experiential - of this subject material is such that even by next month the world of information-on-ice may look and feel a very different place.
PS This is an image of my car, taken a few years ago, and exhibiting all the telltale signs of the hybrid hydroglyph phenomenon!
Veda Austin’s lavishly illustrated book The Secret Intelligence of Water is available from all good bookshops - or, if you must, from the other usual sources.