An object, such as a forked branch or wooden stick, used to locate hidden objects by consulting supernatural or magical forces. The Dowsing Device itself is not necessarily magical, but it functions as a focus at least. Another variation is to use a pendulum, either by carrying it and following the direction of its movement or by holding it over a map. This is a very old "folk magic" idea in the real world. In fiction, it tends to be used either as Functional Magic or as something for the skeptic to snark at - or sometimes, both at the same time.
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Anime & Manga
- James uses one in an episode of Pokémon.
- Numata of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service normally uses a pendulum to dowse for corpses. In one story, however, he uses the more traditional bent sticks to honor the man who taught him the technique, who's been murdered himself.
- In The Vision of Escaflowne Hitomi uses a pendant and a map to locate the missing Von Fanel.
- JK's Iconic Item in Occult Academy. He can also use them as weapons, lockpicks and pretty much anything else.
- Eila uses one in Strike Witches 2, episode seven, to track down the Neuroi that's been invading the girls' pants.
- Kurapika in Hunter × Hunter uses one of his nen chains to locate people among others.
- Caesar in Girls und Panzer uses a falling stick on an Eastern-style compass card to determine a direction to search in while looking for new tanks and, later, a team of missing freshmen. Coincidentally, the school offers magic as an elective and Roman generals and magistrates were responsible for certain forms of official divination.
- In Tintin, Professor Calculus occasionally attempts dowsing with a pendulum. Its success varies, but it generally finds something he's looking for but doesn't know he's looking for.
- Used by a Smurf in a one-page Smurfs story who uses it to find treasure, and discovers what he thinks is an underground well of water that makes Smurfs feel funny — only to not realize that it was an underground distillery Papa Smurf was using to make sarsaparilla wine.
Films — Animated
- Coraline (at least in the movie version) uses one that turns out to be made of poison oak.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Princess Bride, Inigo prays to his late father to guide his sword — then successfully divines the entrance to the Pit Of Despair.
- The Thing That Couldn't Die (a horror film which would have languished in well-deserved obscurity had Mike and the Bots not discovered it) centers around a young girl who can 'water-witch' and consequently discovers the body of a man (justly) condemned to a Fate Worse Than Death.
- In The Water Diviner, Russell Crowe plays a character whose near-supernatural ability to find water sources is a recurring motif.
- Woman in the Moon: once he's landed on the Moon, Professor Mannfeldt uses a divining rod to search for water. And you call yourself a scientist!
Live Action TV
- The Munsters: Grandpa Munster had a transistorized one with multiple settings.
Grandpa: Ah! Here it is! cackles with glee My radio direction finder.
Herman: Direction finder? Grandpa, that's just an old-fashioned divining rod!
Grandpa: True, true, heh, but I had it transistorized last month! Dials show that the direction finder can be set to find Water, Girls, Metal and Flying Objects.
- Gilligan used a divining rod in an episode of Gilligan's Island.
- Artemus Gordon, of The Wild Wild West, uses the forked branch variety in a rather elaborate plan to rescue his partner and another prisoner in "The Night of the Underground Terror."
- Since psychic powers, including dowsing, are real in Rocket Age you shouldn't assume the person carrying crystals, sticks or globes is just messing around.
- Pokémon has the Itemfinder, also called the Dowsing Machine in Japan and, internationally, from Generation IV onwards. The Pokétch, introduced in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, features a Dowsing Machine application which essentially performs the same function.
- In the first Broken Sword game, George briefly uses a divining rod to find an ancient well (he finds nothing but an extremely old tin can, but when he tosses it aside...).
- Persona 4: Ms Sofue has one. One sidequest requires the MC to get special materials for her to build a new one once her old one has "stopped responding to her powers".
- In Touhou, dowsing is Nazrin's schtick. Her rods appear to be weather vanes. Also uses a crystal pendant.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has this as a main mechanic, to search for keys, pick-ups and Zelda.
- In Dishonored, Corvo is given a biomechanical Heart he can use to find Runes and Bone Charms.
- Shadow of the Colossus has this as a main gameplay mechanic, where Wander's Sword is used to locate the next enemy, as well as its weak points.
- The dowsing rod in Psychonauts is incredibly useful, as it allows you to find deep caches of arrowheads (the game's currency), without one you can only pull up one or two at a time, and since there are several mandatory powers you need to buy in the shop, it will save you a lot of time grinding money.
- Dowsing rods are found in Dragon Age. Though magic is feared and hated, dowsing is generally acceptable, since...
"the worst possible dowsing-related crime suggested by Grand Cleric Willhemina of Hossberg was that they might go looking for poisonous worms which could be left in the chantry offertory."
- The Adventures of Puss in Boots features the Silver Dowsing Rod of Akhenaten, a magic dowsing rod that can track down anything the holder thinks of.
- The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Mysterious Mayhem at Mutant High": The Ringmaster has a divining rod that can find fractals.
- Used in the first episode of Total Drama World Tour.
- In one Looney Tunes short, Wile E. Coyote gets his tail on fire, so he uses a divining rod to find for water to douse it.
- In the Ren and Stimpy episode "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen", one is used to find a vein of Canada's greatest resource: dirt. It consists of a shovel with some fruit placed on top.
- Used a few times in The Smurfs: once by a treasure-hunting imp who was looking for the treasure of the ancient Smurfs, and once by Gargamel to track down Smurfs.
- She uses no rods herself, but Rarity from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic knows a spell that serves as this for gems. In "Cutie Mark Chronicles", filly Rarity's horn acted up on its own and dragged her across the landscape to a huge rock filled with gems.
- Dowsing is Older Than Steam, as seen here.
- Still in use, as seen in this ad and this video.
- There is a theory behind dowsing based on the change in gravity over large underground gaps or caves (like a subterranean water pocket compared to surrounding rock), which could be felt in the pendulum (either fork, rod, or actual pendulum, the important thing is it moves in a pendulum like fashion) by a highly trained and very sensitive operator. However, he or she should be sensitive as hell to feel such an infinitesimal change in oscillation by hands only.
- Evidence has shown that Dowsing is not better at detecting the flow of water or location of pipes than guessing. Water is found by dowsers simply because water is plentiful and easy to find by following geologic cues.
- In what would be hilarious if the implications weren't so tragic, a UK company called ATSC manufactured and sold thousands of, basically, dowsing devices, as a legitimate bomb detector called the ADE 651. The company claimed that the device worked on the principle of "electrostatic magnetic ion attraction", and said that it could detect guns, ammunition, drugs, human bodies and any other contraband you cared to name, over a distance of 1km. They sold these things to 20 countries in the Middle East: the Iraqi security forces alone are said to have spent Ł52m on them. They cost about Ł150 to make, and sold for upwards of Ł11,500 each. They were finally busted after a BBC documentary and other investigations pointed out that the things contained no operating components of any kind and their supposed special component, a "programmed substance detection card" which you inserted into the machine before you used it, was just a plastic card implanted with the kind of security tag used as an anti-shoplifting device. The British government raided the company, arrested its founder and the device's inventor (a retired police officer), he was charged with multiple counts of fraud and sentenced to ten years. The utter failure of these devices to detect explosives of any kind (or anything else) cost many, many lives; given that they were still being used by the Iraqi police in July 2016, they may have helped to make the 2016 Baghdad bombings possible.