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Radiesthesia—–the swing of the pendulum

Radiesthesia---or dowsing, as it is more familiarly known-- has become trendy again. With devotees such as The Duchess of York, Jerry Hall, Cherie Blair and ahem… Dr Radovan Karodicz, who could fail to be curious about this ancient art of self-exploration? Indeed, the well know poet, psychiatrist, alleged war criminal and Santa Claus lookalike, was actually making a living out of radiesthesia, among other 'alternative therapies' , when he was captured in 2008.

This 1950 first edition of Elementary Radiesthesia, a 48 page pamphlet by devoted dowser, naval officer and veteran of two World Wars, F.A.Archdale, was discovered in a pile of similar oddities that once belonged to the fantasy and penny ballad collector Leslie Shepherd. Printed in Christchurch, Hants, it was published by the author from his home, just down the road in Bournemouth, and sold, according to the sticker inside its front cover, by The Psychic News Book Shop at  140 High Holborn.

The foreword was provided by another local Hampshire bigwig , this time from Barton-on-Sea, one C. L .Cooper-Hunt, M.A.,M.S.F., PsD.,MsD.,D.D., who called himself  ‘Radiesthetic Consultant and Late President of the Radionic Asssociation of Great Britain’. Just what the middle seven of these letters meant in 1950 is beyond me-- I suspect they are made up, like his Doctorate in Divinity. Cooper-Hunt was a very active lecturer in the Bournemouth area, where, in giving talks, he added Major to his name. One thing is certain --- he had been an Army Chaplain (third class) in the Great War.

All this puffery does not bode well for the promotion of radiesthesia, but Archdale comes across as a straightforward and accessible interpreter of the ‘science’. He begins by saying what radiesthesia is not. It is not, he contends, magic or illusion; it is not a parlour game; it cannot foretell winners of races or football matches, as it is concerned with the past and present, not the future. What is can do, he maintains, is discover, through the medium of a pendulum, hidden objects and concealed diseases. In fact he had been won over by the powers of the pendulum when he witnessed a practitioner locate an object he had hidden in his house. He himself later demonstrated, using radiesthesia, that a man he had never seen in his life before suffered from an injury to his lower leg.

You see, the success of radiesthesia as a tool, depends on the power of ‘micro waves’ or ‘ radiations’  present in outside sources that pass into the pendulum ‘ which by its movements, enables you to perceive and measure the external influences you are, quite unwittingly receiving.’

At this point I left Mr Archdale, but from the little I did read, I could see some similarities to the ‘science’ that Uri Geller offers as an explanation for his metal-bending feats. The controversial plant physiologist Dr Rupert Sheldrake has also written about similar forces. We are urged to have an open mind about such phenomena…but if only C.L.Cooper and Dr Karodicz hadn’t got in on the act. [RH]

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