Dowsing Rods, "Treasure" Locators, Pendulums, and "Psychic" Treasure Hunting

(A "scientific" treasure locating rod.)

Pseudo-Science is Big Business

Dowsing for water or water witching using a forked tree branch has been around since the dawn of recorded history. As a child, I had an uncle who claimed the ability to dowse water and who showed us kids how to do so as well. We never found an underground river or well but we sure had many hours of fun "dowsing" the yard and immediate neighborhood with our hand-cut forked sticks.

All fun aside and at the risk of angering some of you out there, dowsing rods, "treasure" locating rods, and psychic treasure hunting have become big business these days and have kept apace with the proliferation of other "New Age" crazy and pseudo-scientific beliefs, theories, and practices out there. Why do I use the term "pseudo-scientific?" Simply because there isn't a shred of true scientific evidence to support the efficacy of these items or their promoters.

What is behind their slogans and sales pitches, however, is big money (most "fancy" treasure locating rods or antennae cost in the thousands with some as high as $30,000 or more) and the certain knowledge that P.T. Barnum was correct. A sucker IS born every minute.

Questionable "Treasure Finders"

Let's examine some of these questionable "treasure finders" being marketed today:

Dowsing Rods

The classic dowsing rod is a simple forked stick cut from a tree branch or bush which is held in both hands with the single and longer branch part or "pointer" facing outward. When water (or treasure) is located, the pointer will drift downward until it is pointing directly at the ground, marking the spot to dig or search. The "treasure" dowsing rods being sold online these days are typically L-shaped brass rods (they look better than bent coat hangers) that the user grasps lightly in both fists with the longer portions of the rods pointing outward. When gold, silver, or other treasure is detected, the 2 rods will cross over one another, with the center of the crossing point being the "X marks the spot" for buried treasure. Cost? Anywhere from $10.00 on up to hundreds of dollars.

Treasure Rods or Locators

These are big items these days, with many (if not all) of these so-called locators having a chamber that can be opened and filled with a piece or specimen of the type of mineral or metal sought (see the locating rod in the photograph above), thereby ensuring that the rod or locator will ONLY indicate on that specific mineral or metal. Held in one hand or both, these sorts of locators (some of which are claimed to find or locate gold, silver, or other treasure at distances of many miles) will swing to and fro until they point out exactly where the target is. Cost? Anywhere from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.


These nifty little treasure-locating devices have been around as long as dowsing rods if not longer. Constructed simply of a weighted and pointed pendulum attached to a line, chain, or string, these magical hand-held treasure tools will swing in various patterns until they point out where treasure lays beneath your feet. Or, alternately, they can be used over topographic maps or satellite images to narrow down treasure search areas. Take your pick. Cost? A few dollars on up to hundreds of dollars.

"Psychic" Treasure Hunting

This approach to treasure hunting has become increasingly popular over the past 20 years or so and continues to gain momentum. Here's how it works. Essentially a "medium" or psychically adept individual will use their "special" or paranormal abilities (often in conjunction with a pendulum or other pointing device) to locate and point out treasure areas to a client. This can be done via maps or photographs, or if necessary, on scene. I had one such individual approach me a few years back offering to locate rich placer gold ground for me via maps. My cost? $150.00 per session (quite cheap when some individuals require "earnest" money up front and fees of a $1,000 or more). I politely declined, needless to say.

Unsubstantiated Claims

Here are just a few unsubstantiated and untested claims taken from online advertising for these types of items: "has the power of a vibrational antenna," "finds water, oil, silver, gold, coins, buried treasure," "answers personal questions," "predicts the future," "connects with the Higher Power," "responds to electromagnetic energy and vibrations," "detects gold and silver up to 50 miles," etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Claims that are scientifically tested or proven under laboratory regimens? Absolutely not. Pseudo-scientific claims that prey on our willingness to believe and the hope of a quick fix or easy path to riches? Absolutely. (And you were actually thinking of buying one of these things?)

Use Your Common Sense

I know as sure as I write this that some of you out there are "true believers" who can provide countless testimonials to the "amazing" capabilities and efficiency of these items. Perhaps you yourself have consistently found treasure with these fantastic treasure locating tools. More power to you my friend, but in all honesty I seriously doubt your claims or anyone else's, for that matter. Maybe it's time for a reality check.
Use your common sense. If these things really work as well as their purveyors say they do, why would they sell such a device to you (and for big money to boot)? Moreover, if you or I had such a fantastic item that could easily point us to riches, why in the world would we let others know about it?

Want a bit of advice from an old timer? Spend your money more wisely. Use it to fund a treasure hunting expedition, buy a new metal detector or gold pan, or even pay an outstanding bill or two. Above all, please don't become one of P.T. Barnum's "suckers born every minute."

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2008


  1. enjoyed this


  2. Thank you my friend. I appreciate your comment. J.R.

  3. You have said it well. There is no easy way to find the dream.

  4. L shaped coat hangers held lightly in the hands do cross when you walk over a cast iron pan, I have tested this. Might not work for non-ferrous metals though

    1. Well I'll have to give that try...never seen anyone really, truly find gold this way though...if it were that easy we'd all be rich. Thanks for commenting, J.R.

  5. I have got some small amounts of placer gold with map dowsing and my Copper L rods in Indiana and a couple other spots in Illinois and Arizona where I found evidence of mining operations when I got to the remote spots.It sure doesn't work all the time so I just consider it another tool to use in my quest for the yellow metal. I'd say my success rate is around 30% with just the field and pendulum map dowsing, so I combine it with the sample ,sample,sample method, and look for heavy junk metal items gathering in or along a creek ,rusty rocks, quartz outcroppings,black sand stringers, where others are finding color, etc...heck, there isn't time in my lifetime to cover hundreds of thousands of square miles of land looking for mineral hot spots so that only leaves map dowsing or dumb luck as the options.

    -Tom , Aurora, Illinois

  6. Well Tom, my hat's off to you. Your combination of dowsing with good sampling techniques makes sense...I'd like to see you in action doing your thing. It's obvious you're a competent and pragmatic good for you...makes me a bit more open to this. Thanks for commenting. J.R.

    1. Sounds too good to be true?
      Hand held, non electronic, no batteries, not dowsing, works according to physics, simple to use.
      I am still experimenting with this device, but so far the results have been amazing. I have been testing on Gold, Silver, US & Confederate Currency, Diamonds, Emerald, Pharmaceuticals, Buried PVC Pipe, Gun Powder, Hair, Feathers, and a host of metals, and Chemical Elements, and mixtures. It has discriminated to every thing I have tested it on at a range of 100+ feet


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