Dowsing Virtual Reality

Dowsing virtual worlds

Andrew Edgar
(Cardiff and District Dowsers)

The following is an account of a dowsing experiment that I recently conducted.  The experiment was an attempt to see if dowsing for earth currents would have any significant results in a virtual environment.  ‘Virtual reality’ is here a computer generated simulation of a real or imagined world.  My hypothesis was that at least in an environment that was built and lived in by human users, there may be currents akin either to those found between physical objects in the real world, or to those that have been created through human intention and emotion.  If such currents were found to exist, this would have implications for our understanding of the nature of such currents in real life, and indeed for our understanding of what reality must be like, if earth currents are a substantial feature within it.  I believe that, in this initial investigation, I have begun to find significant results.  I would encourage anyone to try to replicate my research, of course.  If these results are robust, virtual reality is revealed, not merely as an interesting field for dowsing in its own right, but also as an important environment for further experimentation and research on the fundaments of dowsing.

So, I have been dowsing in Second Life. 
I fear this comment may not make much sense to some readers.  Second Life is a virtual world, or a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (or MMOG) to give it a rather more technical sounding description.  It  is a virtual space that you access through your computer using a program offered by the creators of Second Life, Linden Lab.  You can move around this world through your online presence, an avatar.  Once inside this world, you can interact with other human beings, and in real time.  So Second Life is not like a computer game, that you simply load on to your computer and then play alone.  In Second Life all those other avatars around you are being controlled by real people, crouched over their computer keyboards, just like you.
In Second Life you can do more or less anything you want.[1]  Unlike a game (or other MMOGs such as World of Warcraft), there is no set task to perform, and so nothing to win.  Instead, you can shop, or sail, or go to an art gallery or even worship at a Daoist temple.  You will meet other residents and hopefully make friends.  But also you may build things.  Again, unlike a computer game, the environment of Second Life has been created by the people who reside there.  Residents, and not Linden Lab, will have shaped landscapes into city streets, poppy fields, deserts or whatever else their imaginations could conjure.  They will have constructed buildings, from shopping malls, through medieval houses to churches and synagogues.   You can find replicas of the Sistine Chapel and Stonehenge, for example.  
It might seem implausible to dowse such a space.  After all, at the end of the day, Second Life is just a computer program.  The fields, streets and buildings of Second Life exist because you log in and look at them.  In the eighteen century, the great Irish philosopher Bishop Berkeley argued that our everyday world was entirely made up of perceptual experiences.  If no human being was experiencing a tree (and so there existed no sights, sounds or smells of the tree) then the tree did not exist – except, to add Berkeley’s caveat, in the mind of God, who was always experiencing everything.  Philosophers might dispute Berkeley’s argument as a description of our everyday material world, but it does fit Second Life rather nicely.  The ‘god ‘ of Linden Lab may guarantee that a tree is there when we turn round to look at it, but if everyone logs out, then the tree exists in potential only.  How could such a fragile, ephemeral world contain subtle energies, leys or any of the other phenomena for which we might usually dowse?
Undaunted, I developed a technique for dowsing Second Life.  While avatars can be programmed to move in all sorts of ways, and no doubt with a bit of hard work I could have constructed dowsing rods for my avatar to carry, there would be no way to program them to respond spontaneously to, say, leys.  So, I held a pendulum in one hand in real life, while moving my avatar slowly forward within Second Life.  The real pendulum could then respond if the avatar encountered whatever the target of my dowsing might be.  I followed the usual precautions before dowsing, asking if I can dowse, if I may dowse, and if I should dowse, and that already gives a hint that there are spirits of these virtual places, just as there are of real places.  If the answers were favourable, I then formulated my dowsing question with some care.  As far as possible, I played on the fact that Second Life is a replica of real life.  I therefore began by asking for ‘earth currents’ – I like Lawrence Main’s term and use this in my real life dowsing – akin to those I would find in real life.[2] 
For my first dowsing site, I used a friend’s house, and yes you can rent and own houses in Second Life.[3]  With the question firmly in mind, and my pendulum swaying in the neutral position, my avatar set off, step by step, across my friend’s living room.  There was at first no response.  I then turned my avatar through 90⁰, and began again.  This time there was, after a couple of steps, a response.   It was at first faint and rather tepid, but then began to grow in strength.[4]  I checked this line at a number of points, and established its direction – basically a few degrees off the north-south alignment of the house itself.  Checking further, the line seemed to run through the neighbouring houses (see figure 1).  While I was aware that there were neighbours, I had never thought about their alignment.  Crucially, the buildings were not lined up neatly north to south, but precisely at the angle of the dowsed line.  Confining myself to the land, I checked the line on subsequent occasions, and found it running the length of the little island on which my friend’s house is situated (see figure 2).[5]
Encouraged, I later began tentative explorations of the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life, and found the sort of lines that I would expect from a real (modern) Cathedral, including strong lines running between the stone columns within the building.  At the replica Stonehenge there was similarly a complex web of lines communicating between stones, although , unlike Wilshire’s Stonehenge, this one sits on a sea cliff and is crowded by other buildings, so attempts to map its aura have proved a tad difficult.[6]
There is much more to do, and these are my first tentative sorties into virtual dowsing.  Taking cues from Adrian Incledon-Webber,[7] I have begun to look for detrimental energies, power objects and place memories in my friend’s house, just as you would if determining the health of a real house.  Billy Gawn-type experiments with movable objects, exploring the interaction between them and how distances and angles affect them, will come next.[8] 
Obviously, I would like to know if others can get similar results.  But, if these result were to be corroborated, then there are implications here beyond a mere game.  This experiment may indicate something about the nature of dowsing itself.  As noted, Second Life is a bundle of complex but precise computer programs, and as such seemingly soulless – mere binary stuff.  Further, there is no ‘real’ stone, no ‘real’ trees or ‘real’ bricks in it – just programs guaranteeing the experience of stone or trees as the avatar turns to look at them. 
Yet, the strands of computer code from which the Cathedral and Stonehenge were constructed were intentionally built to represent stone.  The brick and wooden walls of my friend’s house have been built, again intentionally, by residents to act as brick and wood.  Avatars respond to them as such.  Consider further the Cathedral, or a synagogue or a Daoist shrine.  These are not just spaces that look like Cathedrals, synagogues and shrines.  They are places in which people pray, mediate and have moments of spiritual contemplation.[9]  Other places, such as nightclubs and bars, or even domestic houses, may have witnessed intense displays of emotion, joy, excitement or despair, by and between residents. 
A virtual world then, despite its Berkeley-like fragility, may be more than a computer program, just as our real world is more than the mere atoms and electrons to which a physicist might reduce it.  The virtual world and the real world alike are imprinted by human intentions and emotions.  The real and the virtual environments are not neutral backdrops against which we act out our lives.  They have meaning to us, and they help to shape our lives.  It is precisely this to which the dowser may respond – the meanings, emotions and intentions of the (real and virtual) worlds’ massively-multiple players.  This suggests that dowsing works in a virtual world precisely because there are permanent traces of passionate and intentional human lives merged into the very programs.  So, if intention is the dowser’s object in this virtual experiment, it could also be the core of the dowsing experience in the real world.  Indeed, perhaps Berkeley and other idealist philosophers were not so far off the mark, and the real world is itself ultimately composed of meaningful experiences rather than matter (as contemporary metaphors such as the ‘holographic universe’ suggest[10]).   The dowser, in Second Life or real life, may be untangling the more or less inchoate intentions and emotions with which we imprint, constitute and give meaning to our worlds.

[1] For more on how life is lived in Second Life, see Tom Bukowski, Coming of Age in Second Life, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.
[2] Working out precisely what ‘akin’ entails here may be considered to be the primary objective of the research.
[3] The house is located on Loreth island at 149/120/23 (which is roughly the Second Life equivalent of the National Grid numbers on an Ordinance Survey map).
[4] There is a suggestion here that the line was responding to my inquiry, almost as if it was waking up to the possibility of being dowsed.
[5] Avatars take big steps, so the initial dowsing established merely the presence and width of the line (a little wider than an avatar’s stride).  Remote dowsing would be necessary to establish the internal composition of the line.
[6] At both these sites, I dowsed the lines that connect physical objects, rather than the traces of spiritual emotions or activities.  That will be a further stage in this research.
[7] Adrian Incledon-Webber, Heal Your Home, Dowsing Spirits, 2013.
[8] Nigel Twinn, Beyond the Far Horizon: Why Earth Energy Dowsing Works: The Life and Work of Billy Gawn, Padstow: Penwith Press, 2012, pp. 116-121 & 331-333.
[9] See Douglas Estes, SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2009, for a discussion of virtual religion and spirituality.
[10] Twinn, op. cit. pp. 267-270.


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