Grave Dowsing

Me dowsing

What can you do with bent wire coat hangers? You can use them as antennae for your old TV but here’s something even better – use them to dowse for forgotten graves! Now there’s a way to purposefully recycle wire hangers.

The art of dowsing (there is no scientific evidence that it actually works) has been around for a long time. People dowse for water, oil, metals and buried people or animals. Ask any cemetery director in your area about it – if they’re worth their salt they probably know one or two grave dowsers. To some, dowsing is just supernatural mumbo-jumbo but to others, dowsing is a path to enlightenment and it’s all about working with earth’s energies.

If you’d like to make the journey to enlightenment via grave dowsing, then all you need is an open mind and a couple of L-shaped metal dowsing rods. Oh, and you also probably need a dowsing site, preferably an old graveyard. Hold the rods out in front of you and walk forward slowly. Carefully watch the dowsing rods – if they cross, then you’ve found something! The dowsing rods react to the magnetic polarity of buried bodies – if the body is male, the rods will turn clockwise and if the body is female, the rods will turn counter-clockwise.

Yeah. Personally, I’d like to accompany a grave dowser and see it in action – even though I watched a few dowsing videos on the wonder that is YouTube:

If you own a smart phone, there is (not surprisingly) an app for dowsing. It’s called ‘Dowsing Pro.’ The description reads:

‘Dowsing Pro is the next evolutionary step in the art of dowsing! By using the built in magnetic compass, three axis accelerometer, and multi touch interface screen the application reproduces real world effects similar to traditional dowsing rods.’

Yeah – there’s an app for everything!

Have you dowsed for graves?


Depressed? Take a Walk in a Cemetery.

Finally! A scientific research study I can relate to. This month’s issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Review has an article titled “When Death is Good for Life: Considering the Positive Trajectories of Terror Management.” The abstract states:

The awareness of mortality can motivate people to enhance their physical health and prioritize growth-oriented goals; live up to positive standards and beliefs; build supportive relationships and encourage the development of peaceful, charitable communities; and foster open-minded and growth-oriented behaviors. The article also tentatively explores the potential enriching impact of direct encounters with death. Overall, the present analysis suggests that although death awareness can, at times, generate negative outcomes, it can also function to move people along more positive trajectories and contribute to the good life. 

Or in simple English – if you’re sad and think life sucks, take a walk in a cemetery. When you’re done, you’ll be filled with joy! You will kiss your neighbours and do favors for strangers. Amazing.

Here’s how the authors of the study came to this conclusion:

The researchers observed people who were either passing through a cemetery or were one block away, out of sight of the cemetery.

Actors at each location talked near the participants about either the value of helping others or a control topic, and then some moments later, another actor dropped her notebook.

The researchers then tested in each condition how many people helped the stranger.

“When the value of helping was made salient, the number of participants who helped the second confederate with her notebook was 40% greater at the cemetery than a block away from the cemetery,” Vail says.

“Other field experiments and tightly controlled laboratory experiments have replicated these and similar findings, showing that the awareness of death can motivate increased expressions of tolerance, egalitarianism, compassion, empathy, and pacifism.”

Well. I can’t say that as a gravetender my cemetery visits always motivate me in the ways mentioned above but I do feel a sense of peace when I’m in a cemetery. So when life gets you down, visit a cemetery near you. Most are open from dawn till dusk. Let me know how you feel afterwards!

Ultimate Gravetending: Tomb of the Unknowns

Photograph of a guard at the Tomb of the Unkno...

The Tomb of the Unknowns (or Tomb of the Unknown Soldier- it has never been officially named) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA is a great example of ultimate gravetending. As it should be…the unknown soldiers deserve the ultimate respect for making the ultimate sacrifice. The Tomb of the Unknowns is a white marble sarcophagus located on top of a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. and the following words are inscribed on the back of the tomb:

Here rests in honored glory

an American soldier but known to God

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington N...

The soldiers who guard the tomb are presents 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These men and women must have the stamina, discipline and moral strength to deal with the requirements of the job – in fact, the majority of soldiers to apply for guard duty are not selected. It’s not an easy job so only the best are chosen for the honor.

As a gravetender, this is on my bucket list for sure. I think it would be very enlightening to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. What do you think?

Have you ever been to the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington?