Late September and early October 2011 found us being invited to attend three events in quick succession. It was a great opportunity to spread the word - and to try out our teaching skills. It was also quite an eye-opener.
The series started quietly enough with a steady trickle of interested punters at the Health and Healing day at Callington Town Hall, held on behalf of the Haye Mill Trust. The morning was pleasantly active, but by lunchtime the drizzle had set in and anyone looking for an afternoon’s enlightenment had already decided to sleep through the rugby in an armchair.
The following weekend was a very different set-up, with the TDs as an integral part of the activities available at the Children’s Hospice South West charity fundraising day at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre.
While most of the potential clientele seemed to have been hoovered up by the alternative prospect of the America’s Cup catamaran racing in Plymouth Sound, many of those that did attend were interested in having a go at dowsing. Of those, most found either the water line conveniently running past the stand or the strong energy line running right through it! With a lifeline of teas from the Dingles café, and a warm welcome from Jacki and the other organisers, we had a quietly uplifting day. Placed somewhat incongruously amongst the fairground exhibits, some of us took the opportunity during a quiet spell to try an experiment by ‘putting energy’ into some of the decidedly static wooden gallopers. Within a few minutes the painted horses had increased their auras very considerably - which had us musing about the fairytale toy cupboards that come to life in the world of imaginative children. For good measure, we even had a go on some of the fairground rides ourselves. I’m not sure it did much for our dowsing - or our dining - but it was good fun!
The third of our events was in a different league altogether. Originally, I had just asked the Customer Manager at Cotehele House near Calstock if we could have a TDs outing there - perhaps out of season. She not only agreed, but suggested that we become a feature of their October Apple Weekend. A subsequent site visit, in the company of Head Gardener, Dave Bouch, revealed that a small tent would be provided for us and that we’d have access to an indoor room, where we could give a few talks about dowsing to complete beginners. This sounded pretty positive. On the day, there was the tent - erected - together with tables and chairs, a laptop, projector and screen in the room, all set up and ready to use - and bespoke refreshment facilities available for us to use. Talk about a first!
For good measure, the thoughtful NT staff had set up our tent inside a broad ley line, with earth energy flowing across it at right angles and a number of assorted water veins and pictograms in the adjacent lawn. What was going on?
However, any thoughts that we might have had about lounging around, talking to the odd customers at great length for a couple of days, were soon dispelled. Almost as soon as the first visitors were sent our way by the very helpful National Trust reception staff, we were kept busy - sometimes to the point of inundation - by interested punters and bystanders alike. Certainly, our excellent pitch next to the main path to the orchards enabled us to sweep in anyone who might have missed the initial invitation, but most of those who came to see us were genuinely interested in what we had to say - and in what we had to offer.
In all my years of running and attending events like this, I have never seen so many people show so much interest over such a sustained period. While there were one or two who had heard of the skill, or had perhaps even had a go at it once before, for the most part these were a mixture of absolute beginners and complete novices. Many of them had never heard of dowsing at all, or even thought of it as something to do with old men with forked sticks, or witches - something that had died out in mediaeval times! Most seemed both fascinated and delighted. Some were clearly shocked; not only to appreciate that dowsing was for real, but that they could do it themselves. Their reactions were priceless.
We had everyone from bemused young children to septuagenarian starters. The flow was so great at times that we often had to help them in mixed groups, with a minimum of introduction. However, the upshot was that it worked in spades. I would put our success rate at well over 90%, regardless of previous experience or rampant scepticism. We had youths, who clearly had little idea of why a couple of bits of bent wire were being pressed into their palms, right up to the genial elderly, who held a rod in one hand and supporting stick in the other.
When I first started dowsing a couple of decades ago, I took a few goes at finding a fairly obvious water line. Most of us took a while to catch on and some took more that one training session to get a clear and unassisted crossing of the rods. Yet here at Cotehele, people from all walks of life, stages of life, genders and outlooks were picking it up within minutes (in some cases that was all the time we could give them) - others within seconds from a standing start. Something is happening out there in the ether. I think many of us have had a sense for some time that there are now more people generally with an open mind - and maybe a vague, new-agey feeling of rising awareness. Here, it was demonstrated - statistically - as plain as a pikestaff.
If we’d had a £1 for everyone who either gave an excited yelp or said in a surprised tone “I didn’t do anything” or “They moved on their own”, we could have had quite a party. As it was, we gave out all of our TD and BSD literature. The talks were well attended and rambled on way past their due finish times with many questions. By the end of Sunday, it was all we could do to make it to the Barn Café for a welcome pot of tea and a piece of cake. What a weekend!
Many thanks indeed to all those who helped at these events - and particularly to Gordon and Ros, who survived every minute. Thanks, too, to Helen Fox from Haye Mill, to Terry Williams at Dingles - and to Dave Bouch, Charmian Saunders and Chris Groves at the NT at Cotehele for some quite exceptional support.