The mining of minerals, and the prospecting for suitable places to dig for them, is anchored deep in the psyche of Cornwall and the Cornish. The grandfather of Terry Faull travelled the world dowsing for this hidden treasure. Terry himself is engaged in a similar kind of quest - mining the spoil heaps of learning in search of an understanding of whyit was that his grandfather was able to discover these subterranean seams. Why is it that a culture that can discover information about planets that orbit stars in distant galaxies that we can’t even see with our naked eyes, but with the use of incredibly sophisticated technological equipment, can also still detect invisible underground materials with a forked piece of wood from the hedge?
Terry started his presentation with a series of images showing the way that science has revolutionised the way we appreciate the world around us. It can provide information about how the climate of the planet is morphing and about the complex inter-relationships of its sociological geographical components.
It can display data about the changing nature of our existence over time and about the substance of the cosmos beyond our earth-bound senses. The output of this scientific approach is impressive, it is extensive and it is exciting - but at the end of a long day, it is still just output, statistics, information. How we make sense of that cacophony of data; how we make it meaningful, is a very human ability - the mental manipulation we call interpretation.
The ‘Last Man Who Knew Everything’ was (arguably) the British polymath Thomas Young (1773–1829). Clearly, he didn’t actually know all there was to find out, but he had an extraordinary mind that investigated and considered all that it encountered - perhaps following the style of, say, Da Vinci or Newton. In Georgian England it might indeed have been just about possible to know quite a lot about most of the scientific discoveries of his day - but in modern times that’s no longer an option. Even the greatest intellects can only scratch the surface of the great unfolding, and even the assistance of the internet can only present the knowledge of twenty-first century humankind in an essentially two-dimensional mode.
Dowsing, however, allows us to consider and to investigate this vast repository in a very different manner. It allows us to reconfigure it in a way that makes it digestible to us - and it enables us to go further, deeper and in a more subtle manner than science has yet been able to devise. But, despite all the best efforts of those who have sought to bridge the gap, the Why of dowsing remains something of a mystery.
For as long as we can recall, and potentially from the dawn of human time, people have used a form of dowsing to sense the world beyond the five gross senses. And while individual aspects of this process have been to some extent replicated by the wonders of science, other phenomena remain stubbornly a long way beyond the pale.
Science deals with the objective understanding of the material world. This is what it does - and this is what it is extraordinarily good at. Measurement, detail, presentation.
While dowsing can be objective - as in tightly determined applications such as water divining - it also addresses the world from a subjective standpoint. Science cannot measure beauty, forgiveness or love. But dowsing can be invoked to appreciate the subtleties of emotion, experience and appreciation. This is information that is just as solid as counting the number of words in this sentence - but dowsing can supply the added dimension of interpretation through intuition.
Terry went on to show how people from other cultures and different heritages have used a variation of what we would recognise as a dowsing outlook in their own traditions. For example, in China and the far east, feng shui has more than a passing correspondence with some of the modern dowsing techniques employed in house healing, and the dragon lines of the classical Orient are almost dead ringers for the earth energy networks of western European systems. Similarly, the long straight lines in the landscape found in Asia and Central America are essentially the leys of Watkins and Miller, interpreted for another time and place. Civilisations come and go, but dowsable energies endure. It’s actually quite reassuring that they do!
Perhaps most topically in this context is the exhibition currently on show at The Box in Plymouth, concerning the art, stories and legends, embellished over millennia, associated with Australian Aboriginal Songlines. (Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters)
However seemingly different in form and description, the parallels between these concepts and the earth energy networks of the Michael and Mary currents that pass beneath our own feet are there for all with eyes to see. In more recent times, the gap between these two approaches has closed even further, with the Cornish bard, Andy Norfolk, showing how some of the folk tales of old Kernow also effectively describe the paths of long lost earth energy currents.
In the Q and A session afterwards, it was noted that the exponential growth in scientific explanation is being subtly matched by a similar flourishing in the detection of a vast array of new - or at least newly disclosed - types of earth energy flows and features. Those of us with an informational view of the dowser’s data could suggest that this might be, at least in part, because the information has been out in the field all the time and it is now that our point of development and our rising awareness has made it relevant for us to find these things today.
We also discussed the quite common situation whereby quite apparent information eludes the questor, even in the most obvious of situations. Could it be those pesky piskies jamming the airwaves of our minds? Or perhaps it’s just not our time - or that maybe we know, at some level, it’s not to our advantage - to know that ‘fact’ just yet.
Terry is very much a man of this world - a researcher, academic and author, but he also appreciates that merely acquiring information is only part of the process. It is the interpretation and the appreciation of the subtleties embedded within it that turns knowledge into wisdom - the distinction between being clever and being wise. As a culture, we are rediscovering this distinction the hard way.
But Terry is also very much at home with the sense of mystery that pervades our craft, and he cautions against spending too much time trying to explain it - as in explaining it away - as a sub-set of science. The mystery is also telling us something. It’s telling us that there is so much more to explore and to understand - and so much of which we have yet to even conceive. If we are hell-bent on only taking the step-by-step approach to revelation, enlightenment is still a very long way off.
Many thanks to Terry Faull for another thought-provoking session. Hopefully, we will be able to get out in the field with him again in due course - and perhaps to spend more time at some of the locations, hidden in plain sight, that are nurtured by the Small Pilgrim Places Network of which Terry is an active member.