The Divining-Rod – Sir William Barrett (1926) (1st edition)


The Divining-Rod – Sir William Barrett (1926) (1st edition)


Title: The Divining-Rod: An Experimental and Psychological Investigation
Author: Sir William Barrett, Theodore Besterman
Publisher: Methuen & Co, London, 1926. 1st edition.
Condition: Hardcover, no dust jacket. Very good. Inscription to endpapers, with some sort of a brochure stuck to blank fly leaf. Minor foxing, spotting to edges and a few pages. Binding tight, text unmarked. With 12 plates and 62 other illustrations.


About the book:

A detailed analysis of dowsing.

About dowsing (from Wikipedia):

Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites, and many other objects and materials without the use of scientific apparatus. Dowsing is considered a pseudoscience, and there is no scientific evidence that it is any more effective than random chance.

Dowsing is also known as divining (especially in reference to interpretation of results), doodlebugging (particularly in the United States, in searching for petroleum) or (when searching specifically for water) water finding, water witching (in the United States) or water dowsing.

A Y- or L-shaped twig or rod, called a dowsing rod, divining rod (Latin: virgula divina or baculus divinatorius), a “vining rod” or witching rod is sometimes used during dowsing, although some dowsers use other equipment or no equipment at all.

Dowsing appears to have arisen in the context of Renaissance magic in Germany, and it remains popular among believers in Forteana or radiesthesia.

About the author (from Wikipedia):

Sir William Fletcher Barrett FRS FRSE MRIA MIEE FPS (10 February 1844 in Kingston, Jamaica – 26 May 1925) was an English physicist and parapsychologist.

Barrett became interested in the paranormal in the 1860s after having an experience with mesmerism. Barrett believed that he had been witness to thought transference and by the 1870s he was investigating poltergeists. In September 1876 Barrett published a paper outlining the result of these investigations and by 1881 he had published preliminary accounts of his additional experiments with thought transference in the journal Nature. The publication caused controversy and in the wake of this Barrett decided to found a society of like-minded individuals to help further his research. Barrett held conference between 5–6 January 1882 in London. In February the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was formed.

Barrett was a Christian and spiritualist member of the SPR. Although he had founded the society, Barrett was only truly active for a year, and in 1884 founded the American Society for Psychical Research before his paranormal research diminished significantly. However, he became president of the society in 1904 and continued to submit articles to their journal, even with his diminished interest in the subject. From 1908–14 Barrett was active in the Dublin Section of the Society for Psychical Research, a group which attracted many important members including Sir John Pentland Mahaffy, T.W. Rolleston, Sir Archibald Geikie, and Lady Augusta Gregory. In 1919 Barrett wrote the introduction to medium Hester Dowden’s book Voices from the Void.

Barrett had a special interest in divining rods and in 1897 and 1900 he published two articles on the subject in Proceedings of the SPR. After experimenting with dowsers, Barrett concluded that the ideomotor response was responsible for the rod’s movements but in some cases the dowser’s unconscious could pick up information by clairvoyance. As a believer in telepathy, Barrett denounced the muscle reading of Stuart Cumberland and other magicians as “pseudo” thought readers.