In this guest column, Bess Cutter shares how she was introduced to water dowsing.

Using a y-rod, Bess dowses for the water stream.
I am in the golden years of my dowsing experiences, thus I do a lot of one-on-one instructing as well as workshops. I have found that being open to experiencing life in unexpected ways has been a most rewarding school which has continuously allowed me to learn multi-cultural lessons and taste many textures of this wonderful planet we call Earth.

My story began when at the age of 16, I was privileged to follow - literally - in the footsteps of an aged Native American who was dowsing a water well on the farm property where I was employed. As an aside, Porky later drilled this well. This water dowser arrived with as many as five cut and trimmed water-witching limbs. He walked around with one, would throw it down, take another and continue dowsing.

An L-rod verifies the presence of the stream.
When he threw down the first perfectly good dowsing limb, I picked it up, following him, mimicking holding the limb exactly as he did, walking a short distance behind … and discovered my dowsing limb was moving exactly as his did - pulling down to the ground. He would bring it back up with the point of the Y turned up, only to have it turn down continuously. This continued as he followed out the ground water stream, and it all took approximately one hour.

Each time he threw down his current Y limb, I would throw down mine, only to pick up the last one he had discarded. Each time, I would get the same results his limb was exhibiting. It was a thrill to discover he was teaching me to dowse without uttering one word. Many years into my own experimenting, I learned that no dowser ever throws down a perfectly good dowsing tree limb, unless it has twisted until it has split or broken. Again, I profoundly understood he had somehow known I had this ability and was prepared to share his beautiful knowledge.

I recently had the opportunity to return this gift: I was requested to return to the reservations in Arizona and teach dowsing for water, as modern practices have caused this gift to become a nearly lost art to the Native American cultures.

Upon arriving home for the weekend following my dowsing lesson, I excitedly shared my story with my family. My father, sharing my excitement, asked me to see where I could locate water on our property on the outskirts of town in Enid, Okla. He eagerly cut, whittled and trimmed several water-witching limbs ready for use. I walked around in our limited space and located the water stream - only it ran directly under the concrete floor of the barn. Dad said with great disappointment that he didn't think we would drill there.

The depth of the stream is confirmed with a pendulum.
Come Sunday morning, I went to Sunday school and church at the Pentecostal Church of God. I was the Sunday school teacher for the grade school-aged children and also taught the rhythm band youngsters. I again shared my story, being so thankful that God would allow me to discover such a wonderful gift that could help find such a precious and life-benefiting necessity as water.

However, my wonderment was utterly destroyed upon being fully reprimanded and condemned by the church officials' statement that water dowsing was of the Devil, considered witchcraft, and because I also was a Sunday school teacher, I had to set an example and repent for my sin. This was my first experience with dowsing, both physically and spiritually. That day, between God and myself, I had to choose my own belief system in my heart. I guess you know, since I am writing this article all these many years later, where I stand.

All knowledge is free, open to experiment, and thus for gaining greater understanding. Only we, as humans, place any limitation on how humanity must believe. I chose to step outside the box but kept my faith and belief in a higher authority, knowing I alone was responsible for how I lived my life. I now teach this to others, including young children, in dowsing workshops.

As another aside, I have, on occasion, had various churches request that their water well location be dowsed, prior to well drilling.

Bess conducts a dowsing workshop.
Several years later, I married (Howard) Porky Cutter - the water well driller who drilled the well where I was taught the art of dowsing. Currently, we have been married 47 years. For more than 15 years, I dowsed most wells drilled and had the advantage of correlating my findings with the well logs - this was in Adel, Ga. I was alone in my studies of this art as there was no one near to instruct me. I made many discoveries - the most painful one was that fire ants love white tennis shoes. My most exciting was locating a broken city water line on the main highway through Chanute, Kan.; the exciting part was trying to concentrate as the 18-wheeler big rigs passed within feet of my dowsing positions.

Over the years of attending the National Ground Water Association Expositions, I have had the opportunity to share dowsing stories with many water well drillers who dowse the wells their companies drill. I also have dowsed many wells for well drillers who have experienced drilling a dry hole and needed to solve the problem. Often they have requested I locate and stake the septic system and laterals, for obvious reasons.

For those interested in dowsing, contact the American Society of Dowsers, search their Web site: or call 800-711-9530.