Divining Rod, an implement used by pretenders who undertake to discover water or minerals hidden in* the ground. Its use has been traced as far back as the 11th century; and there are still many who believe in its efficacy. As commonly used, the divining rod is a forked slender stick of witch hazel; elastic twigs, however, of any sort, or even two sticks of whalebone fastened together at one end, are sometimes employed. One branch of the twig is taken in each hand between the thumb and fore finger, the two ends pointing down. Holding the stick in this position, the palms toward the face, the operator passes over the surface of the ground; and wherever the upper point of the stick bends over and points downward, there he affirms the spring or metallic vein will be found. Some even pretend to designate the distance below the surface according to the force of the movement, or according to the diameter of the circle over which the action is perceived, one rule being that the depth is half the diameter of this circle; whence the deeper the object is below the surface the further is its influence exerted.
The experiment being tested by digging; if water is found it proves the genuineness of the operation; if it is not found, something else is, to which the effect is attributed; or it is declared that the water which attracted the rod is sure to be met with if the digging is continued deep enough.