My Grandfather, Frank Witkus, was born in Lithuania and knew a lot about ancient traditions. For years he was Newport, New Hampshire resident water dowser.His favorite tool was a forked stick cut from a willow or apple branch. In those days no one but a fool would buy land or build a house without first finding out if there was potable water available.
Grandfather had a passion for gardening and I often joined him on short treks into the nearby woods to gather wild flowers for transplanting into his much loved garden. I never even thought to question when he asked each plant if it wanted to live in his garden. Even though I do not remember hearing them answer, I was sure they must have as we always respected the wishes of those who did not want to move. He never came right out and said that plants, like animals, had the ability to understand what we said or had wills of their own. No, he just always treated them as though they did. By the time I was six Grandfather had taught me how to transplant wild flowers, how to dowse for water and to respect the wishes of all living creatures.
Much later I read The Secret Life of Plants written by Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins. They wrote of experiments using an electrocardiogram attached to the leaves of plants to record the plants reactions to threats of being burnt with a match, actually being burnt with a match, and even the thoughts of the scientists intention to burn the plant. They found that the thoughts of being burnt created the greatest reaction recorded on the graph.
In 1981 Rupert Sheldrake, a British bio-chemist, had published his controversial book A New Science of Life in which he proposed that all objects are surrounded by morphic fields that define them and determine their form through time and space. This implied that the workings of the universe are less like a machine and more like a living being.
Reading these books only confirmed my grandfather's teachings in a more scientific language with broader implications. I found it natural to adopt the concepts of Sheldrake's theories of morphic resonance, or the Giah theory of the Living Earth.
In 1986 when I attended my first National Dowsers Convention in Danville, VT, two master dowsers diverted a water stream forty feet under ground. The old Maine farmers had simply hammered a short peace of iron bar into the ground directly over the vein, leaving about eighteen inches exposed, and then tapped the bar on one side with the hammer. These two or three taps indicated the direction they wanted the water to flow.
At first I thought this was some kind of group hypnoses until a couple joined us, not knowing what had taken place, and dowsed the water to be running in a direction ninety degrees from what we had known to be its original path. This confirmed for me that the water vein had indeed been diverted
I had studied physics in high school and college but this was not physics. A simple tap on an iron bar could not have the force to change the course of water forty feet under ground. How had this been done? The only explanation that encompassed all my questions was that the dowsers actually communicated with the water and the water was willing to play and so turned to flow in the direction requested.
That meant water was conscious! Was everything conscious? My whole belief system, the sum total of what I had been taught, was instantly expanded beyond the scope that I was ready to hold. Sure, I knew that plants, insects and animals and birds were alive and conscious. My cat seemed to be aware of my every thought. But it struck me as an immense leap to include water and perhaps everything else. What were the implications of this new reality? I felt confused and wanted to be alone to think. It was nearly two days before I felt comfortable joining the activities of the convention. There was no denying it. Something immeasurable had happened and my world would never again be the same.