Woo Woo Two

I was checking the grounds for a summer camp art class when–as though by stage direction (Enter Stage Left)–a sweet-faced workman in overalls walked up and asked me, “What is everyone doing here?”  We were on a beautiful campus in the countryside of southern England for One World Camp, which offers what might be called fun, New Age classes and activities for children and adults.  I felt lucky to be teaching there.

As I tried to describe this, he said, “Oh, I use a pendulum for dowsing. I also use it for healing when I am working with people. My friends call me ‘Looney’ .”  At that moment, I was struck with a feeling of connection to old world magic. Many U.K. citizens hail from families that have lived there for centuries. They are rooted deeply in the older cultures of the land in a way that I don’t think we feel here in the U.S. unless we have links with Native Americans.

“Really?” I asked, “How do you do it?  I’ve heard about using a pendulum but don’t know how. I’ve tried another technique and never trusted I was doing it right.”

“It’s easy,” he said. “All you need is something metal that you handle a lot—keys will do. And something cotton like a handkerchief.”

He tied my keys to a clean cotton handkerchief and held out his hand loosely about waist-high so the keys could swing easily in front of him. First, he said, I should ask for guidance from whomever I considered my Higher Power.

Then, he told me to ask yes-no questions: “The keys will swing in different directions for ‘yes,’ or ‘no,’ he said. At first, you may find they swing side-to-side and front-to-back. Over time, these may resolve, so that, for instance, ‘yes’ becomes clockwise and ‘no’ becomes counterclockwise.”

I tried it, and the keys swung side-to-side and front-to-back in response to yes-no questions. I was thrilled and I thanked him and he left. (Exit Stage Right.)

When someone crosses your path like this, delivers a message, and leaves, it does seem like you should pay attention. So I started to practice and clarified for myself over time how I wanted to use the pendulum. Asking a clear yes-no question is an art in itself, and I don’t use it as the sole resource where I have a strong interest in the outcome.

I do, however, use the pendulum to choose and place crystals for the gardens I design. I know nothing about crystals, so I don’t have any overriding intent. It’s fun for me and my clients, and I believe the crystals do have a healing and strengthening effect on the garden and the people who enjoy it.

Since attending that first Perelandra workshop back in 1990, I ask for guidance when I design. I often feel a lean or pull to use certain plants rather than others in the design—you could call them “theme plants.” These are drawn from a group of plants I am already considering, that–according to my knowledge and experience–are likely to thrive in those site conditions.

As humans, I think we are called on to use our own skills and discernment to “co-partner with Nature,” not abdicate responsibility.  I once tried handing over my oil painting to my Higher Power and nothing happened. (We have our own parts to play, clearly.) Along the same lines, I check my overall driving directions before I use Google Map on my phone since, sadly, I have no built-in sense of direction. I might drive into a lake, otherwise, or end up in Florida.

So, in the end, I use my knowledge, experience, reason and my intuition for my horticultural and artistic choices rather than trying to choose and place each plant with a pendulum. Then I use the pendulum to choose the crystals and place them.

And the really fun part? I discover that the crystal colors often echo the thematic plants, and that my clients have a special fondness for those crystals.