Adventures in Dowsing

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A Labyrinth for Mandali

Mandali labyrinth at sunset

Mandali is a new retreat centre located in the north of Italy that is opening early in 2017. Enjoying a beautiful mountaintop location above the town of Omegna on Lago d’Orta, the smallest of the Italian lakes, the centre can accommodate up to 60 people in a variety of rooms ranging from singles to ‘hermitage’ suites, all constructed in vernacular style along a ‘village street’. Facilities include a swimming pool, sauna and hot-tub, and a choice of spaces including the main temple building, which provides a hall and domed room above.

The 2 hectare grounds offer a variety of spaces for walks and contemplation, and the views over the lake are simply spectacular.


I was contacted by Mandali early in 2016 as they wanted to see if a location to sink a well could be found on the site to provide them with a water supply; they also wanted to construct a labyrinth as part of the facility. As I happened to be travelling to Bologna in March to attend the conference of the Italian Society of Dowsing and Radionics, it seemed a fortuitous meeting of circumstances, and I promptly postponed my return flight for a couple of days to arrange a trip to Mandali after the conference. Train travel times to and from Bologna meant that I only had a single afternoon on the site – not much time to dowse for a well and locate the site for a labyrinth, especially given that most of the area was a building site littered with stones, building materials and mounds of soil, but somehow I managed to dowse four likely borehole sites and pick the best spot for the labyrinth.

The spot I selected was not the area that Mandali had planned for the labyrinth, but one more on the northern edge of the site that they had earmarked for a secluded garden space. Their preferred spot was closer to the main temple building, but from a dowsing perspective it was not very energetic and did not have any good views of the surrounding landscape, which I felt was important if it was to incorporate any astronomical sightlines. It could have been made to work, but I felt sure there was a better location to be found.
As I wandered round the site, following my dowsing, my attention kept being drawn to a statue of the Madonna with child located just outside the northern boundary fence, which marked the start of a steep trail descending the hill towards the town of Omegna. This clearly had resonance for the Mandali community as the dome space in the main temple was called ‘Madonna’s dome’. On dowsing the area, I found a strong energy centre with blind spring (water dome), an energy ley running roughly east to west and one running from the Madonna statue. The spot also had good views to the surrounding mountains and the lake; perfect for including some sunrise or sunset alignments, which would be important components in energising the space and creating links with the local landscape. This was definitely the place! I quickly took some azimuths of likely sunrise and sunset positions with my compass and clinometer, backed up with a couple of useful theodolite phone apps that allow me to take a picture as well as recording the azimuth and elevation angles for further analysis and calculations back home.



When designing a labyrinth, I always try to become inspired by the Spirit of Place, and this was no exception. I had exchanged several emails with Cali and Wildrik, two of the 4 ‘keepers’ of Mandali, so had already established that they liked the Classical 7-circuit style and favoured an organic sort of construction using natural materials, and I had suggested that they might have enough smallish rocks left over from the building process to use for the walls, and use gravel or crushed slate for the paths. But what form should it take? A circular form was suggested by the shape of the space, and circles and arcs were a predominant theme throughout much of the Mandali layout, particularly in their logo comprising of several overlapping circles in a ‘flower of life’ form, so a concentric circular design would fit the space well. As it was likely that the labyrinth would be walked by several people at the same time, I was also leaning towards a ‘Baltic Wheel’-type layout where there is a quick exit route from the goal of the labyrinth. This allows easy processional walking of the labyrinth with a line of people without them having to fight past each other to walk back out. A larger goal area was also desirable as it would allow several people to gather in the centre of the labyrinth.

Mandali logo

Mandali logo

I also wanted to have some sort of stone marking the node point in the labyrinth (the central point where the lines cross); this not only acts as a focal point, it helps to ground any detrimental earth energies that otherwise might escape[i]. It would also emphasise the alignment of the labyrinth, which I had determined was to be towards the Madonna statue, so that when you entered the goal you would be facing the statue. The breakthrough came when I had the idea that it would be nice to incorporate the Mandali logo into the design somehow. I felt that it would lend itself to being engraved on a flat stone, possibly an old mill stone if one could be found, then I could place the standing stone into its central hole. However, it seemed that even a small mill stone would take up too much room at the node. But it would make a good ‘prayer stone’ marking the mouth of the labyrinth (a spot to pause before and after walking, a place to contemplate the walk to come or ponder the insights gained afterwards). On paper, I played around with this idea for a while, but even a modestly-sized mill stone would be too large for the available space outside the labyrinth area, there simply wasn’t enough room. But then I realised that by ‘opening up’ the basic labyrinth pattern to accommodate the millstone within its circumference, I could create something both novel and unique. I asked the Mandali team to keep a lookout for a suitable old millstone that might fit the bill. The size was fairly crucial – if it was too large or too small it would require introducing some ugly compromises to the layout to make it work.

It didn’t take long for the Mandali building team to come back to me with pictures of two old mill stones that they had found. The largest of these was just over two metres in diameter, which was the perfect size. Arrangements were made to purchase the stone and have it transported to the site. However engraving it with the Mandali logo was deemed too expensive, mainly because of the additional transport costs involved to get it to a machine engraving facility, so for the moment this has been deferred and it is hoped that they can find a local stonemason who can carve it by hand on site.

With the millstone secured, I could finalise the design and do the required calculations to produce a construction diagram of the labyrinth using a CAD package. This was not strictly necessary but it was a great help in visualising the final design and made it a lot easier when it came to the actual build as every angle and dimension was predetermined.

The ‘open plan’ entrance to the labyrinth that the millstone created had an interesting effect on how the labyrinth was approached. Depending on which side you walked round, you either first came across the normal entrance path of the labyrinth, or the ‘shortcut’ from the goal. This created a sort of energetic symmetry within the labyrinth that makes it a very versatile design to work with. I made the centre the same diameter as the millstone to emphasise this, which left the paths a little over half a metre wide, a good width for walking.



The labyrinth build took place over the course of six days at Mandali in early November 2016. The centre had already hosted a mini-retreat as a ‘soft start’ before the official opening in Spring 2017, so were anxious to get the labyrinth finished before winter set in. Fortunately the temperature at that time of year wasn’t too cold during the day, even with the 850m altitude of Mandali. Ground preparation had already taken place according to my instructions, giving us a level circular area of the requisite 10m diameter and finished with gravel fines to work with.

I spent the first day on site checking my previous dowsing findings, measuring the space, and calculating azimuths to the surrounding mountains for sunrise and sunset alignments. Interestingly, many of these corresponded with prominent skyline features. I was particularly pleased with my calculated equinox sunset alignment, which (taking the elevated horizon into account) turned out to be a direct sightline to the tower of the local church!

Once thoroughly attuned to the space, the next step was to mark out the design. Having the exact dimensions and angles in my CAD drawing, this was a pretty straightforward exercise in geometry and measurement. I had made an experimental mark-up on a local Scottish beach a week or so before our trip to make sure I knew how to do it, and with the aid of some garden canes and string, it wasn’t too long before the design was scratched out on the surface.

labyrinth markup

Completed markup showing alignment to Madonna statue

We were fortunate in that the local builders who were working on Mandali had their yard only a hundred metres or so outside the complex, and soon a digger-load of cobbles for building the walls appeared on the site and we got down to work. I kept some of the larger stones for use as ‘outliers’ to mark the solar alignments, and the rest were dug slightly into the surface using smaller stones as packers. The Mandali team of Antonello, Marco and Andreas soon got the idea and joined in, ferrying stones to us and using picks to excavate channels for us to place the cobbles.

Millstone positioning

Installing the mill stone

The next day, the team arrived with two diggers, the large one that had been bringing stones in, and a smaller one that they used to excavate the hole where the millstone was to go. This presented some translational difficulties with my exceedingly rusty Italian, but by means of much pointing and gesticulating, they soon had a large hole dug and levelled at the required depth, and then the big digger, equipped with a couple of lifting forks, gently lowered the mill stone into place. The energy of the labyrinth, which had been a little ‘jangly’, instantly felt much more settled. My dowsing confirmed that the stone was exerting a strong grounding influence exactly as planned, so much so that I would no longer need to install a standing stone.

labyrinth wall building

Building the walls

Throughout the build, the weather had been holding up well with generally sunny days, albeit a little chilly. The ground was pretty hard first thing in the morning, but by 9am or so it was soft enough to carry on working. However, on Day 4 we awoke to a blizzard outside the windows, with visibility of only a couple of metres. The ground at the labyrinth was frozen rock solid under a light covering of snow so there was nothing to do but wait until it had thawed out a little. Fortunately the snow passed quickly, and we were back at work by 10am, well wrapped up against the cold.

snowy morning

Day 4 morning

Some last-minute concerns had been expressed regarding my preferred walking surface of crushed slate. It was felt that this would be too noisy and hazardous to walk on barefoot as it might cut people. Having used this before and having seen several other labyrinths using it, I knew this was not the case. Slate is quieter than gravel to walk on and is a more stable surface. It is also a very frangible stone and even the sharpest edge is more likely to crumble than actually cut flesh – a point I demonstrated convincingly by laying out a short path of crushed slate and stomping up and down on it with bare feet, followed by repeated attempts to cut my wrists with the edge of a broken piece! Needless to say, the demonstration was effective and some slate ordered. Slate is not that common in this area where most roofs are red terracotta tiles, but the Mandali accommodation buildings had been roofed with a lovely blue slate, so using the same slate on the labyrinth made a nice connection.

slate paths

Laying the slate paths

Enthused by the arrival of the slate in the afternoon, everyone on the team threw themselves into the build – although the fact that it was Friday afternoon and the locals didn’t want to work on the weekend might have had something to do with it. Shovels and rakes appeared, and barrow-loads of slate were ferried in and distributed around the labyrinth, so that by sunset we were suddenly looking at a completed labyrinth! All that remained was to tidy up the site and for me to do some energetic tuning up over the next couple of days to get ready for the opening ceremony.

finished labyrinth

Day 4 sunset – the finished labyrinth


The opening of the labyrinth was planned for Sunday night, as it was the night of the full ‘supermoon’, with the moon being at its closest approach to Earth. As geomancer and designer of the labyrinth, it was appropriate for me to conduct the ceremony. This was a specially significant ceremony for Mandali as they had not officially opened yet, so it was a great bonding opportunity for them to invite the families of all the workers on the site to attend.


Preparing for ceremony

Wrapped up well against the cold night air, we huddled round the fire pit where I gave a general overview of labyrinths and talked about the significance of the supermoon – ably translated by Valentina, one of the Mandali staff –  and opened the circle by passing round a Quaich of fine malt whisky (Mandali is alcohol-free so this took some negotiation). Then we processed up to the labyrinth where I called the directions and opened the space for walking, leading the group hand-in-hand in a spiral dance into the labyrinth and then out. It felt both timeless and eternal, as though we were reaching across time to the ancestors by walking this ancient symbol that resonates so strongly with our subconscious. But it was too cold to do much ruminating on such profundities, and soon we all headed back to the centre for some warming soup and cups of tea.

Mandali labyrinth drone shot

Drone shot of the labyrinth


On our last two mornings at Mandali, we went on a couple of exploratory walks of the area, the first time that we had ventured out of the compound. The first was to the hill behind the village, which turned out to be an ancient triple-bank-and-ditch hillfort (or possibly a henge?), atop which we found a medieval Christian cross, from which three strong energy leys radiated. Dowsing the direction of the leys, I found that two of them ran to other crosses on distant hilltops, just visible through the trees; while the third one seemed to run in the general direction of Mandali. The next day, we ventured down the very steep zig-zag path towards the lake, somewhat reminiscent of a pilgrim’s route with shrines at every turn. Half-way down this path we found a lovely small chapel dedicated to St. Mary.



St. Mary's chapel

St. Mary’s chapel

I must emphasise that didn’t know the area at all and was completely unaware of both of those sacred sites before we walked to them. Yet when I returned home and plotted their GPS coordinates into Google Earth (recorded with Dowsing Mapper) , I was thrilled to discover that a line drawn between the two ran exactly through the centre of the labyrinth, and furthermore it corresponded to the energy ley that I had dowsed months before. A pretty impressive confirmation of my dowsing, I hope you’ll agree. Sometimes “upstairs” knows what to do better than you do yourself!


labyrinth ley

The labyrinth is precisely on the alignment between hillfort and chapel!


[i] See http://geomancygroup.org/sacred-space/labyrinths/stronachie/ for more on this.


The Mandali labyrinth is listed on the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator; however Mandali is a private retreat centre and access to the labyrinth is by permission only (unless you happen to be on a retreat there, of course).


Grahame Gardner is a professional dowser and geomancer specialising in house-healing work involving geopathic and technopathic stress, and the creation of sacred spaces. He is a Registered Tutor with the British Society of Dowsers, is listed on their Professional Register, and served as President of the Society from 2008-2014. He is also a founder member of The Geomancy Group. This article is from his personal blog Western Geomancy.

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Re:covering Cochno

revealing cochno

September 2016 saw the complete excavation (and subsequent re-burying) of the largest piece of Neolithic rock art in Britain – the Cochno Stone – by archaeologists from Glasgow University. This was the much-anticipated follow-up to 2015’s preliminary test dig to ascertain the condition of the stone and see if a full excavation would be worthwhile. I blogged about that dig here.

The morning was slightly fresh but some streaks of blue sky through the clouds hinted at a dry, possibly even sunny morning ahead as I carried my ceremonial birch bark Mi’kmaq medicine bag, paddle and Raven blanket from the car park up the hill to the muddy access path, my walking boots with socks pulled up to protect my trousers quite spoiling the ‘itinerant shaman’ look that I was aiming for. Luckily, nobody was around at this early hour to comment on this gross fashion faux-pas.

Arriving at the site, I left my walking boots at the perimeter and proceeded to set up my kit for the closing ceremony of the Cochno Stone dig. The atmosphere was quiet and wistful, perhaps with just a slight tinge of apprehension in the air, like a child who knows that they have to go back to school but wishes that the holidays weren’t over.

sacred blanket

Glasgow’s Secret Geometry

My fascination with the Cochno Stone goes back some decades to when I first learned about it in Harry Bell’s book ‘Glasgow’s Secret Geometry’, where he had placed Cochno in alignment with far-distant Tinto Hill and several other sites across the Clyde valley; “…the Cochno Stone is in perfect alignment with King’s Ford, the Iron-Age fort at Cadzow, Craignethan Castle and Tinto Hill.”  The fact that the Cochno Stone had been buried in the 1960s to protect it from vandalism only made it more tantalising, and when I subsequently learned more about Ludovic McLellan Mann, the Glasgow councillor and amateur archaeologist who had famously painted in all the symbols on the Cochno Stone in 1937 and added a radial grid of his own devising to demonstrate his theory that it represented a star map of the area, I was hooked.


cochno grid closeup

I was not the only one captivated by Harry Bell and Ludovic Mann. Film-maker May Miles Thomas was inspired enough to film short vignettes at all the locations of the Glasgow Network of Aligned Sites, producing first a BAFTA-award winning interactive website ‘The Devil’s Plantation’, and subsequently a film of the same name. In turn, this came to the attention of Ferdinand Saumarez Smith from digital conservationists Factum Foundation, who approached May and Glasgow University Archaeology department to discuss the possibility of a complete excavation of the Cochno stone to do a photogrammetric and LIDAR scan, with a view to producing a replica of it (the completed 3D viewer is available here). Dr Kenny Brophy, senior lecturer at GU, also happens to be an authority on Mann’s prehistoric Glasgow investigations and was similarly enthusiastic about the idea. It seems that Mann’s enigmatic painted star grid had cast a wide temporal net across the years.

So it was that almost exactly one year after the test trench was dug, a small army of archaeology students and other volunteers from the University and elsewhere descended on the stone. Enthusiasm was high, finances were tight. Over the course of an extremely wet working week, and with the aid of a small mechanical digger and the fire department who helped clean the surface, the Cochno Stone was finally coaxed into the light of day for the first time in 51 years.


The Glasgow Network of Aligned Sites

Tinto Hill used to be called Tintock, which is thought to derive from the Gaelic teinnteach, meaning ‘fiery’ – referring to the red colour of the stone capping the summit and also the hill’s historical significance as a beacon point. There is a prehistoric cairn on the top and from Cochno it lies in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise. However, Harry Bell seemed a little unsure of the alignment, for on the map insert of Glasgow’s Secret Geometry it is shown as a dotted line, and although he does mention it in the text, he seemed to prefer the alignment starting from the dome of Duncolm in the hills behind Cochno. That alignment does at least run through the major nexus of the Necropolis, unlike the one from the Cochno stone which misses the Necropolis by a few dozen yards to the south – although it does cross the site of a Mesolithic settlement on Barrack Street that is mentioned in Harry’s text – and it runs closer to some cup-marked stones to the east of Cochno near Whitehill Farm. Nonetheless, it is tempting to imagine the prehistoric astronomers of Cochno studying the sky in the direction of Tinto on the night of the winter solstice, watching for the beacon fire that would herald the approaching sunrise.

Harry Bell recorded another alignment from the Cochno stone, this one running to the Camphill earthwork in Queen’s Park, another primary nexus in his Glasgow Network of Aligned Sites, and passing through Govan Old Parish Church en route – an ancient site that subsequently became Christianised. By strict Alfred Watkins standards, this is a poor example of a ley, having only three sites on it; however the azimuth of the alignment is suggestive of the point where the moon would rise at the major southern standstill point, which occurs roughly every 19 years. This would be visible over the suburb of Faifley, which means ‘White Pass’ – could this be an ancient etymological reference to the light of the rising standstill moon?

By playing around with Google Earth (a luxury that would have transformed Harry’s researches), I have identified some other intriguing alignments from Cochno. A line almost due south connects the site of Ludovic Mann’s earlier dig at Knapper’s Farm with another of Harry Bell’s sites at Renfrew Old Parish Church, an ecclesiastical site which dates back to the 12th century. Harry thought this location was probably a much older site, although there is no archaeological record to support this idea, and Harry may just have been saying that to justify the inclusion of the site in his Network. Again, this is a very poor ley having only three sites on it, but it is pleasing in that it provides another link between Harry Bell and Ludovic Mann. Surprisingly, Harry does not mention the Knapper’s site at all in his book.

If the alignment to Tinto Hill marks the winter solstice sunrise, I wondered if there was an equivalent alignment to mark the winter solstice sunset? Projecting a line at the required azimuth of 227 degrees using Google Earth’s handy ruler feature, I found that such a line connected neatly with another Harry Bell site at Glengarnock castle. Enthused by this discovery, I next looked at the equinox sunrise and sunset alignments, as the largest trio of cup and ring marks on the stone are clearly oriented east-west (given a level horizon, the sun at the equinoxes will always rise due east and set due west, regardless of your positon on Earth). The western alignment runs directly to Dumbarton Castle, another site at the extremity of Harry’s alignments map, grazing the edge of Sheep Hill Fort on the way (where another fine set of cup-and-ring markings were discovered during an earlier excavation by Dr Euan Mackie); whereas the eastern alignment can be extended right across Central Scotland to Cairnpapple Hill, a site featured in Harry’s earlier book Forgotten Footsteps. However, in practical terms there is a slight rise in the ground to the east of Cochno, so the actual point of equinox sunrise would be displaced a little to the south. As I was to subsequently discover, this may be accounted for in the Cochno Stone markings.



I had been dowsing the area for a couple of days before excavation began, mapping out earth energy lines around the stone and in the country park – this was by no means an easy task with the rampant undergrowth, which meant that my dowsing was confined to walking the paths of the park, with one or two diversions to seek out other cup-marked rocks. As the paths run mainly on an east-west axis in the park this allowed me to dowse reactions on each path as I walked, plotting their positions using the excellent dowsing mapper app on my phone, and then look at them later in Google Earth to see whether I had any correlations between the paths. As I was covering a pretty large area the dowsing was rudimentary at best, however I did find some noticeable connections between the paths I walked on, which developed into a vague grid of roughly north-south lines covering the area. Because of the layout of paths in the park I was unable to match these up with any corresponding east-west lines to see if they did start to form any sort of coherent grid; this is something I would like to revisit later in the year when the undergrowth is not as dense.

Cochno dowse

Of main import here was that the Cochno stone itself had one very broad energy ley crossing it, and I identified three other energy lines connecting it with other cup-marked stones nearby – but these lines need further checking as the reactions were very faint on two of them, and the third one quickly disappeared into the neighbouring garden so I couldn’t track it in that direction. I did pick up something at the eastern edge of the park that seemed to be this line, but with so few reference points it was hard to confirm. The main energy ley running through the stone roughly parallel with the wall that bisects the site was quite strong initially, and after the stone was completely uncovered and exposed to the sun, it grew wider and stronger until it seemed to stabilise at about 5m wide, with 15 distinct bands within it. There was a very definite increase in the strength of this line over the course of a few days, as though the stone was drawing energy from the sunlight that it had been deprived of for so long. The transverse line was harder to check as I could only dowse for this in two or three widely separated spots at each end of the park, and only one of those was close to the stone; however the plotted GPS positions on the app matched up closely enough to suggest that it was reasonably accurate.



It was the chance to see the incredibly detailed cup and ring marks on the stone that was, for me, the most exciting part of the operation. I have long held the view that these are records of astronomical observations, where the ancient peoples were trying to make sense of the cycles of the heavens above them. This hypothesis is not something that archaeologists like to commit to, as archaeo-astronomy is still regarded with some suspicion in official circles; instead they generally prefer to keep their options open by muttering something about ‘possible ceremonial use’ or similar. But the more of these rock art sites that I visit, the more I find evidence to support the theory that they are records of astronomical events made over long periods of time, particularly the cycles of the sun and moon. Being our closest star, the relative rising and setting positions of the sun have not changed very much since Neolithic times (unlike those of more distant stars) – it varies by less than a fifth of a degree every thousand years, so Neolithic astronomy still basically ‘works’, at least as far as naked-eye observations go. This is why it is still possible to see the midsummer sun rise over the heel-stone at Stonehenge, for example. This is not ruling out observations of other stars as well, but their relative positions have moved much more over time because of precession, making it more difficult for us to calculate without astronomical computer software. However, it is possible that some constellations are depicted in groupings of cup-marks, and Ludovic Mann certainly found comparable groups of cup marks on different stones that closely matched the star layout of particular constellations.

The Cochno stone provides a great viewing platform with a near-level distant horizon across the Clyde valley to the south and west – or at least it would be if it were not for all the trees that obscure the view today. Several  markings on the stone are suggestive of solar alignments, particularly winter solstice sunrise and sunset, equinox sunrise and sunset, and potentially even a couple of lunar alignments. There are a couple of methods that could be used to plot these sightlines. By using a pair of rods as back-sight and fore-sight, a cup-mark could be carved to mark the position of a sunrise or sunset – say, for example, the position of the setting sun at the winter solstice extreme. A single rod held vertically would cast a shadow over the stone at sunrise or sunset, providing an immediate visual alignment. However keeping a rod held truly vertical can be problematic and a more accurate approach is to hold a plumb line over the cup mark and let the line cast the shadow. Both techniques are demonstrated on some Galician sites in this Portuguese academic paper by Jose Luis Galovart.


shadow alignments with plumb line

Shadow alignments using weighted line
Picture: J L Galovart

shadow alignment with rod

Shadow alignment using rod
Picture: J L Galovart

I’ve sketched out some possibilities for the Cochno Stone on this next diagram, which is based on the 1981 R. Morris drawing (which is itself from an earlier drawing) so cannot be regarded as accurate. For the moment, these are speculative alignments only. With one exception, I’ve focused mainly on those with a southerly aspect as that’s the direction with the clearest sightlines and a level horizon. On the diagram, the lines in green are those that would require direct sighting using two rods – this would be most likely for lunar alignments where a shadow would be difficult to detect. One rod would be placed in a cup mark that would always be the same (shown outlined by a green circle), the other rod would be moved about by an assistant until it lined up with the spot on the horizon where the event happened, and a mark made at that point. Over several years, a pattern of marks would build up until the position was finalised. The red lines show alignments that could be marked using the plumb line shadow method. Here the red circles show the cup mark to hold the weighted bob over, the red line show the shadow cast by the line, and the dotted line shows the direction of the event itself.


Please note that I am not using professional surveying equipment here, and besides it was near-impossible to get a decent view through the trees, so these alignments are mere suggestions based on the azimuths at this latitude given a level horizon and would require a lot more study to be regarded as genuine. But I think they are tantalising enough to warrant further study, and this at least demonstrates the importance of always seeing these sites in their original landscape setting. Hopefully if a replica of the stone is completed, as it the plan, it will be placed close enough to the original to facilitate further study of these alignments.



Ludovic Mann was captivated by these markings, particularly the large pair towards the western edge of the stone, which he used to bolster his theory (developed from earlier observations of two other rock art stones at Whitecraigs and Langside) that the symbols recorded a total solar eclipse over Glasgow in the year 2983 BC. Mann was even precise enough to pinpoint this event as occurring “six days after the spring equinox and at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.” This claim was apparently checked at the time by astronomers in Berlin and the editor of the scientific journal ‘Nature’, but to my knowledge has not been subject to modern computer analysis to see if it is correct. It is notoriously difficult to calculate eclipses at such a remote date, and the NASA eclipse tables only extend back to 1999 BC.

Mann was of the opinion that the ancient peoples had manipulated their local landscape to mimic the heavens above by placement of their monuments, tombs and the alignments between sites – in this he was several years ahead of Alfred Watkins, whose theories on leys, popularised in ‘The Old Straight Track‘, have enthused generations of ley-hunters. Mann claimed that the sites around Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain had been laid out to mimic star constellations. He also averred that the sites around Glasgow conformed to a 38-radial system centred on the Necropolis, and saw the Cochno stone as a map of the heavens above the Clyde valley. He was very interested in ancient metrology, and found two common units of measurement in his surveys that he called ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ units. A multiple of his beta unit is the same as Alexander Thom’s ‘Megalithic Yard’ – once again, Mann anticipated his successors by several years. Of key import to understanding his theories is that he thought that the units of length equated with units of time when applied to rock art, which is how he claimed to be able to calculate these early eclipses.


In 1937 he painted an elaborate radial grid on the Cochno stone to demonstrate his theory. At the time he had recently completed his excavation at Knapper’s a couple of miles to the south, called by him the ‘Druid’s Temple’, which he said was built to commemorate the aforementioned eclipse. Busloads of people were ferried out from Glasgow to see the site and hear Mann expound his ever more fantastic narratives of evil black serpents and dragons devouring the beleaguered sun in an epic saga, eventually to be rescued by the intervention of the five other visible planets. All of this legend, he said, was encapsulated in the fine double cup-and-ring marking to be found on the Cochno stone, which commemorated the eclipse event, and he included an interpretive depiction of the Cochno makings in his leaflet for Knapper’s.

Cochno double-rings

Double rings said by Mann to represent eclipse.


Mann’s interpretation of Cochno symbol

Whether there is any truth in Mann’s theories remains open to interpretation. There is no doubt that he was embroidering things to popularise his excavations in an attempt to raise funding. Unfortunately his hyperbolic mythological expositions did little to enhance his reputation, and as he did not record his ideas well enough for subsequent researchers to understand, his work has largely been dismissed and very little of his writings survive. So it was tremendously exhilarating during the Cochno dig to see that remnants of Mann’s grid survived on the surface of the stone, and in at least three colours. We can only hope that the detailed scanning will pick up enough of this detail to enable a full reconstruction of his grid, which might allow a diligent researcher to reassess his work and restore his standing somewhat.



The Cochno stone was reburied again on September 20 2016, just a couple of days before the autumn equinox. It’s unfortunate that this important festival was missed, as it deprived me of the chance to check the equinox sunset alignment, but academic schedules and the availability of volunteer student labour dictated an earlier reinternment. However, it did witness a Harvest Moon penumbral lunar eclipse during the time it was exposed, which seemed appropriately symbolic at some level and made me wonder which, if any, of the markings might represent such an eclipse.


picture: Kenny Brophy

These were some of the things I pondered as I waited for Ferdinand, Kenny, and the dig crew including Stevie, the unofficial Guardian of the Stone, to arrive for the closing ceremony. There was an air of expectancy, as though somehow this moment stretched back across the millennia to when the ancient peoples first carved this stone and had called us all here at this time to bear witness to their work. Once everyone had arrived, I ritually smudged them with sage before calling the cardinal directions. I emphasised the importance of being here at this historic window in time, giving thanks and acknowledgements to everyone who had made the project possible.  We were the first people to be able to stand on the stone in half a century, and it fell to us to preserve the memory of this moment so that we could tell our children and our children’s children about this once-in-a-lifetime event.

calling directions

Calling the North
picture: Kenny Brophy

So as the Wheel turns towards the dark half of the year and the stone is returned to the womb of Mother Earth once again, our hopes  are that this work will enable a replica to be manufactured, which will facilitate further study and a clearer understanding of the purpose of these enigmatic carved stones and the Neolithic peoples, and also the work of Ludovic Mann; and that the local schoolchildren who attended the dig will be inspired to take a greater interest in their history and develop more of a custodial appreciation of their local environment.

The ceremony was closed, with offerings made to the stone and the directions with sacred tobacco, before the surface was covered with a geotextile fabric and the stone returned to the earth for an unknown length of time – but not, we hope, forever.

tobacco offering

Sacred tobacco offering
picture: Kenny Brophy

Grahame Gardner is a professional dowser and geomancer specialising in house-healing work involving geopathic and technopathic stress, and the creation of sacred spaces. He is a Registered Tutor with the British Society of Dowsers, is listed on their Professional Register, and served as President of the Society from 2008-2014. He is also a founder member of The Geomancy Group. This article is from his personal blog Western Geomancy.

WANT TO PUBLISH THIS ARTICLE? Non-commercial publication of this article is permitted as long as the tagline (above) with links is included and no changes are made to the article. A courtesy copy of your publication or link would be appreciated.

Labyrinths of the British Isles

Labyrinths of the British Isles

If you are looking for a labyrinth to walk this World Labyrinth Day 2016, here is my Google Earth placemark file of ‘Labyrinths of the British Isles’, recently updated and now including over 180 labyrinths in Scotland, England, Wales, N. Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The last time I worked on this was about five years ago, and it is quite impressive seeing the number of new labyrinths that have appeared in that time.

Each placemark contains details about the labyrinth, and where appropriate access details and contact number so you can check availability. You can access the file using the interactive Google map below, by clicking on the picture above, or you can  click here (or right-click and select ‘save as’, then open the link from within Google Earth).

One thing I have noticed since I last worked on the file is that for some reason Google seem to be blanking out labyrinths in their coverage. I don’t know why this is, especially with public labyrinths, but there are several that have ‘disappeared’ since the last version. You can often make them visible by turning on  the ‘historical layers’ button on the Google Earth toolbar. Of course, there are some cases where I just haven’t been able to locate the exact position of the labyrinth – this is a particular problem in Ireland, where the lack of postcodes and poor aerial photographic coverage makes it difficult to locate many precisely. If you find any that are wildly out, or if you know of a particular labyrinth that isn’t listed, please let me know in the comments below.

Grahame Gardner is a professional dowser and geomancer specialising in house-healing work involving geopathic and technopathic stress, and the creation of sacred spaces. He is a Registered Tutor with the British Society of Dowsers, is listed on their Professional Register, and served as President of the Society from 2008-2014. He is also a founder member of The Geomancy Group. This article is from his personal blog Western Geomancy.

WANT TO PUBLISH THIS ARTICLE? Non-commercial publication of this article is permitted as long as the tagline (above) with links is included and no changes are made to the article. A courtesy copy of your publication or link would be appreciated.

Swinside and Sighthill in Stellarium

I’ve just made two new stone circle landscapes for Stellarium, the free planetarium software. It’s been quite a while since I created a Stellarium landscape, and I’d forgotten quite how much fiddling around was involved. It does become quite time-consuming, but it’s very satisfying when you do get it to work. This time round, I used two programs that I hadn’t used before, and I actually found the process much easier than previous attempts.

There are two main parts to making a landscape – the first is to create a panoramic image from a series of photographs taken from the centre of the site. I mostly make what’s known as a ‘spherical panorama’ as this is by far the easiest landscape to create. It requires a 2:1 landscape picture with the horizon line centred vertically. The easiest method is to make left-hand edge of the picture the due East position in your landscape, and this is the method I mostly use, although it’s not the most accurate.

In previous landscapes, I used a proprietary panorama-stitching program that came with my Canon camera, but it’s too outdated to run on my PC these days, so I downloaded a freeware program, the Image Composite Editor from Microsoft Research, which was simplicity itself to use, and automatically stitched together the 12 or so images perfectly without requiring any adjustments from me. This particular package has a huge advantage in that it allows you slide the image left and right during the process so that it is extremely easy to get the East point lined up with the left-hand edge of the picture. The alternative method for aligning landscapes, and the more accurate one, is to create a GPS waypoint in the centre of the circle, and another at a distant landscape feature that is visible from the site. Using any GPS software, you can then calculate the azimuth of this baseline and by means of a simple calculation, work out an angle of rotation that you insert into the Stellarium landscape.ini file. I won’t explain this further here, you can find details on the Stellarium Wiki pages.

So now we have a narrow landscape panorama that we have cropped to a roughly rectangular image, with the left-hand edge being east. The next stage is to load this into a paint package and create our final image. Export the file from ICE as a .png file, making sure to check the ‘include alpha channel’ option as we need to make parts of the image transparent. I used to do this in GIMP, another free program; but it’s not the most intuitive beast to use for this and has way more features than we require. This time I used the freeware Paint.net, which I found much easier to use. The basic program is fine for this particular purpose, but you can also download a ton of effect plugins to make it more versatile from the Paint.net forums.
NOTE: only download add-ins from the official forum as the internet is rife with virus-laden fake plugins for Paint.net!

Adjust the size of the image to create the 2:1 ratio – I use 4096 x 2048 pixels. You may need to move the image vertically so that the horizon line is exactly centred horizontally. Now we need to make all the sky area transparent so that the stars will show through in Stellarium. If your panorama skyline is relatively free of obstructions, this is generally a simple process of selecting the sky using the ‘magic wand’ tool in your paint package, then deleting it. If the skyline is more complex, particularly if it involves trees, you often have to spend a long time with a small eraser brush manually deleting parts to make them transparent. This is probably the most tedious procedure, but persevere with the fine detail as it will pay dividends in the finished landscape.
So now we have a transparent sky, and our panorama image – but what about all that blank space at the bottom? Well, the short answer is that we cheat. In the case of a stone circle where the ground is usually grass, it’s a simple matter to make a brush from a part of the existing image and use that to paint grass over the rest of the image. You can use the clone brush to do this fairly quickly. One important tip is to make sure the left and right edges of the image have matching texture, otherwise you will have a very obvious join line in the final landscape.

After finishing the panorama, we create a landscape.ini file, which is a text file that tells Stellarium what the landscape is, containing some information about the site, together with a few technical details including the latitude, longitude and elevation of the site. Usually a readme.txt file is also created giving instructions on how to install the landscape, and all three files are then saved as a zipped folder. Again, you can find instructions for this on the Stellarium Wiki pages.

These latest landscapes that I made are of Swinside (aka Sunkenkirk) stone circle in Cumbria. I did actually create a GPS baseline for this at the time I took the photographs, but I subsequently found it easier to base the east point on the Alexander Thom survey of the site that I found online. There’s also a handy tall stone pointer marking the North in this circle, so it wasn’t too hard to confirm once I had created the landscape and loaded it up in Stellarium. Here’s the winter solstice sunrise from the circle:


For an encore, I revisited one of my early landscapes, the Sighthill stone circle in Glasgow. I wasn’t very happy with this landscape as I’d taken the pictures some time ago with my old digital camera, which was pretty low-resolution by today’s standards. Also, there have been quite a few demolitions of tower blocks and other buildings since then, so the skyline has changed substantially over the years. I took a new set of pictures for a panorama a couple of years back, but what really motivated me to get this update finished is the forthcoming northern minor standstill of the moon on Dec. 25, when the moon is full, which is one of the alignments that the circle was intended to mark. As Glasgow City Council have plans to redevelop the Sighthill park area with new housing, this is quite probably the last chance to see this standstill alignment from the existing site. Although the Council have promised to retain the stones and re-erect them at another location in the vicinity, it seems highly unlikely that the circle will enjoy the splendid views that it currently has, so in future this Stellarium landscape may also act as a memorial to how it used to look. Here’s how the predicted moonset over the northern standstill marker stone at 08:05 on the morning of Dec. 26, 2015 should look, weather permitting of course:

Sighthill northern minor standstill moonset

Click HERE to download both these landscapes, and a collection of other fine UK sacred site Stellarium landscapes.
For the complete worldwide collection of landscapes, visit the Stellarium landscapes page.

Grahame Gardner is a professional dowser and geomancer specialising in house-healing work involving geopathic and technopathic stress, and the creation of sacred spaces. He is a Registered Tutor with the British Society of Dowsers, is listed on their Professional Register, and served as President of the Society from 2008-2014. He is also a founder member of The Geomancy Group. This article is from his personal blog Western Geomancy.

WANT TO PUBLISH THIS ARTICLE? Non-commercial publication of this article is permitted as long as the tagline (above) with links is included and no changes are made to the article. A courtesy copy of your publication or link would be appreciated.

Gardner’s World – Danville’s ‘Beehive Hut’

Versions of this article have been published in Dowsing Today, the journal of the British Society of Dowsers; and The American Dowser, the journal of the American Society of Dowsers.

The ‘Beehive Hut’ in Danville, New Hampshire is one of around 500 mysterious stone structures in New England, whose provenance and purpose is unknown. Usually they are square or rectangular in shape, with stone-slabbed roofs and soil floors, but other formations are known, including megalithic constructions such as the stone rows near Jefferson NH, or the strange jumble of structures and aligned stones now called ‘America’s Stonehenge’ near Salem NH.

This particular example is located just off the spur of Hersey Road in Danville, beside the town’s maintenance depot. On the corner of the road is a forest track and a small sign for the Beehive Hut. It is possible to drive a little way down the track if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, otherwise there is room to park at the side of the road. The trail has been recently marked by the local Scout troop, but in any case there is a fairly clear path to follow that leads to the chamber. There is the suggestion of a wall that appears to be very old to the right of the path, and a higher bluff with large rocks on the left. As the path swings round to the north around this bluff, rising up a short hill to a levelled platform area, and the chamber is set into the hillside in front of you, with a low doorway opening into a rectangular chamber covered by an earthen mound (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Some academics have claimed that these chambers were built by early colonists as ‘root cellars’ yet they are ill-suited to that task as the floors are soil, which is hardly conducive to dry storage, and there are no signs of any fixings for a door, surely an essential requirement to protect any goods inside the chamber. There is also some documentary evidence from early colonists saying that the chambers were there when they arrived, and some have been found with very old trees growing out of their walls, suggesting that the chamber must be older than the tree. Several have also been discovered on land that was never claimed by settlers, so the “colonists built them” theory doesn’t seem to hold water.

Another theory is that they were sweat lodges used by early Native Americans, but there is no evidence to show that any indigenous groups built stone sweat lodges, and anyway the inside of this chamber is too small for such use. It has also been suggested that they might be birthing chambers, but again there is no evidence to support this theory. So who did build these things, and why were they built? Maybe it was early Viking explorers? An earlier megalithic culture that we don’t know about? It’s a fascinating enigma.

The closest equivalent that we have in Britain is probably the souterrains of Scotland or fogous of Cornwall, but those tend to be larger and have curved layouts, often with side chambers or passages and roofed with large flat stone slabs. Although this particular example is roofed with two massive stone slabs, each over four feet square, it has little else in common with British souterrains.[1] Some other New England chambers are round and have a corbelled roof construction that is superficially similar to the beehive cells constructed in Britain and Ireland by early Culdee monks; and some researchers sought to attribute the New England chambers to transatlantic voyages by these early Christians. This line of research has largely been discredited; although not, however, before many of the structures were erroneously labelled as ‘beehive’ cells, as is the case here.

More recent research by earth mystery researchers like Byron Dix and Sig Lonegren has shown that many of these chambers employ precise geometric ratios in their construction, and that they are aligned to significant calendrical solar events such as midwinter solstice; this one seems no exception. The chamber is about 8 feet long and a shade over 4 feet wide and high, with the entrance located in the upper right corner of the frontage. Over the years the floor filled with sediment deposits, however it has been excavated relatively recently and the floor is now thought to be close to the original level. This makes the chamber an approximate double cube in proportions. The entrance is two foot by three foot and (by my estimation) seems to be aligned to midwinter sunrise. It’s hard to be precise because of the tree cover, and I did not have accurate instrumentation with me. The structure is situated part-way up a hillside, with a near-level horizon across the valley that would allow the rising sun to enter the chamber. Inside the chamber there are an interesting couple of white quartz stones, one in the back wall and one in the south-west wall, which may mark the extremes of the sunrise positions between equinoxes and winter solstice. This would suggest that the chamber has a ‘dark half’ and a ‘light half’ of the year, possibly with different uses for each cycle (Fig. 2). As I’m not resident here I am unable to complete the long-term observations that this theory would require to confirm it so I must emphasise that for the moment this is only speculation. If there are any interested locals who are willing to make the required seasonal observations, I would love to hear your results!

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Research by John Burke and Kaj Halberg[2] demonstrated that many of these chambers are sited over negative magnetic anomalies where the geomagnetic field is lower than normal; and that the air inside the chambers carries an unusual electrostatic charge. Experiments with germinating seeds inside the chambers showed dramatically enhanced growth compared to ‘control’ groups. This research is one of the better explanations for these structures and is worthy of further exploration.

Dowsing suggests that the chamber is a well-developed power centre with two crossing energy leys and a central vortex with water veins running through the corners. I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked at this as the local mosquitos were quite voracious in their appetite for Scottish flesh, but if you want to see a bit more about the site have a look at the video of my visit:


[1] For a comparison, see my article ‘Seductive Souterrains’: http://westerngeomancy.org/articles/seductive-souterrains-2010/

[2] Burke & Halberg, ‘Seed of Knowledge, Stone of Plenty’ (2010) Council Oak. ISBN 978-1-57178-184-0


Grahame Gardner is a professional dowser and geomancer specialising in house-healing work involving geopathic and technopathic stress, and the creation of sacred spaces. He is a Registered Tutor with the British Society of Dowsers, is listed on their Professional Register, and served as President of the Society from 2008-2014. He is also a founder member of The Geomancy Group. This article is from his personal blog Western Geomancy.

WANT TO PUBLISH THIS ARTICLE? Non-commercial publication of this article is permitted as long as the tagline (above) with links is included and no changes are made to the article. A courtesy copy of your publication or link would be appreciated.

A Basic Guide to Technopathic Stress

G2TS_v2_frontcover_smBook Review by Roy Riggs

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Many leading scientists today believe that the increasing amount of computers and other electronic devices within our homes could be making us ill. Research has now linked these higher levels of electromagnetic radiation and consequential dirty electricity to increases in autism, cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

In his fascinating and well-researched book Grahame Gardner explains and guides readers through a tour of their domestic dwellings, exposing many hidden dangers you wouldn’t expect. Grahame’s complete command of the subject allows him to express in straightforward and accessible language how many of these issues can be recognised and resolved so as to create a healthier and safer home environment.

Roy Riggs BSc
EMF surveyor/geobiologist


Review by Lucy Black:
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I always had an inkling that certain electrical appliances, wi-fi routers etc had a negative effect on me, but I didn’t really know exactly how or why, so I sort of put it to the back of my mind. That was until I recently had smart meters installed, and started to get headaches and very bad tiredness every time I was in the house, which disappeared when I wasn’t in the house. At that point I knew there must be something going on!

I decided to research further, and stumbled across this book. It’s a fantastic resource, containing so much great information. I learned a lot from reading it, and found the advice really very helpful indeed. The author has made it really simple to understand, and has made the suggestions very practical, so it’s not intimidating at all to start to rectify issues that might be impacting on your health.

I’ve set about cleaning up my flat in terms of reducing and removing anything that might be causing technopathic stress, and have really noticed a positive difference. As soon as I had the smart meters removed, the headaches disappeared! I know this sounds really strange, but it does seem to have an impact. Removing my wireless phone and replacing it with an ‘old fashioned’ cabled one also made a big difference, and I always turn my wi-fi off now too when I’m not using it. I’ve put filters in to clear up the ‘dirty electricity’ and am looking at taking further measures too.

If you think you might be a wee sensitive soul such as myself, or even if you don’t think that you are, but want to find out more about the possible impact that environmental factors could be having on you, this book is well worth reading.


Amazon customer:

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Great Book Grahame. I’ve read a number of books about EMFs recently to guide my research. I like the approach, snappy, consistent very relevant key information for somebody making a start identifying their own exposures and useful guidelines on prevention/reduction of exposures. I like the information added about power and frequency for each type of device. The little quick guide/bookmark is very useful too.


Review by Simon Wheeler:

I suspect that many, if not most, of the people reading this review here will be in some part familiar with the general contents and principle arguments in Grahame’s book. Dowsers are usually aware of the impact of detrimental frequencies on the landscape, houses and the health of animals and people.
However, it is good to have a book that is both a reference and an accessible handy guide…which this book is.

I did raise a concerned eyebrow when I read the first sentence on the back cover blurb: “Is your technology making you ill?” My responses included- “Oh no, not a doom and gloom polemic…” and “Possibly- but (1) what can I do about it that I don’t already do and (2) what about other people’s technology?”

My fears were not justified. It is not all “doom and gloom” – although some of it does continue to cause alarm. And Grahame does do what he promises on another part of the back cover blurb: “outline some simple precautions that will allow you to maintain a technological lifestyle without getting sick.” I also like that he has included some personal anecdotes based on his experiences of working as a professional dowser, performing house healing etc.

The 90 or so pages of this book result from Grahame’s own need to present his clients (and learning dowsers at his courses) with solid, well-researched information and explanations. As technopathic stress is a relatively new phenomenon there is not much in the way of long-term scientific research or published papers; however, Grahame does have a useful list of websites in both the References and the Resources sections. In the text he notes that many other countries have recommended or adopted lower levels of electromagnetic exposure than the UK government.

The main part of the book is organised so that the chapters are listed in decreasing order of severity of hazards. The opening chapter is a definition and explanation of what technopathic stress is (this is the main background science bit) – but then follows twelve chapters, each on everyday modern items- starting with cordless phones, followed by Wi-Fi, through Bluetooth, beds (yes…beds) and dirty electricity, ending with “other hazards”.

Whether we like it or not, there is a price to pay for all this modern convenient technology. In my house we already have cordless phones that can be switched to “Eco” mode; we have a wired network and only turn on Wi-Fi occasionally. If I forget to turn off the Wi-Fi at night, by morning I know it was on- it actually has an impact on my dreaming- in spite of the fact that my router allows me to select “Power reduction”. I don’t use an electric blanket (and I live in north Scotland). So, to return to my second paragraph above- I already do what I can. Looking at further means to reduce our exposure to harmful EMFs- this can be expensive. Do the practical things first. Do what you can do- and Grahame makes sensible, useful and easy-to-do suggestions. Minimise the risks- they can never be totally eliminated.

Only you can decide your response to this relatively new hazard. Every day we risk damage to our immune systems, we risk cancer, we risk insomnia, headaches, memory loss, ME etc. …We are learning all the time how much technopathic stress increases these risks. Just as a change in our diet may benefit our health, or a change in lifestyle may reduce those risks, so too may a closer and informed look at the impact of all the technological “advances” that surround us. By reading this book, at least we can educate ourselves just that little bit more. And if you want to keep up to date with research, this book gives you the website links to keep an eye on.

I suspect that we will hear much more about technopathic stress as the years go by….especially if/when smart meters are rolled out. When that happens, when you hear in the media about EMFs and the Microwave smog- if you have read this book you will be in a better position than most to respond intelligently and responsibly.

A Basic Guide to Technopathic Stress by Grahame Gardner.
Published by Western Geomancy, May 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9932347-0-5

Click here to purchase the book – only £9.95

Spring is coming – can you feel it?

Spring is coming – can you feel it? Although there is still snow on the ground and the prospect of more to come, the snowdrops are already up and in flower, the mornings are noticeably lighter, and the sluggish energy following New Year starts to gear up for the months ahead.The beginning of February marks the old festival of Imbolc – one of the four cross-quarter days of the eight-fold Celtic year. The cross-quarter days happen roughly mid-way between the solstices and equinoxes. Unlike those, the cross-quarters are not set astronomical events, so their timing is a slightly fluid affair.

Brighde's Well, Lewis

Imbolc is sacred to Brighde (later St. Bride), and it is still traditional in parts of Ireland to make a St. Bride’s cross from rushes at Imbolc and hang it in the house to protect it from fire – possibly a clue to the solar wheel nature of the cross. Brighde is considered the patroness of poetry, smithing, medicine, arts and crafts, cattle and other livestock, sacred wells, serpents (in Scotland) and the arrival of early spring.

The picture shows Brighde’s Well at Melbost Borve on Lewis in the Western Isles. Traditionally this is looked after by the women of the village, but nowadays it is often found in a rather neglected state. The concrete covering on the capstone bears the imprint of a horseshoe, acknowledging Brighde’s patronage of blacksmiths.

This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted. Imbolc  marks the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. Just as the seeds planted last year at Samhain are beginning to sprout, so our own plans and ideas that have been developing over the winter months are beginning to show signs of growth.

I’ve been busy throughout January bringing my own plans to light, and you can find details of my courses for this year on the events page. I’m still working on squeezing in some other events into the calendar; if you want to be kept informed of these then sign up to my mailing list using the box in the right sidebar.

Of all the planned events so far, the news I’m most excited about is that Susan Collins from Canada and I have teamed up to launch an exciting new venture for both of us that is taking place in Scotland this September. We’ve both been working very hard at this over the last few weeks, and you can find out more details of what we’ve been up by heading over to the web page at internationaldowsers.org.

Brides Cross

Space-Clear Your House for Hogmanay

With the end of the year upon us, it’s a good time to have a good clear out and tidy up in the home in readiness for the New Year. This is one of many Scottish traditions carried out at Hogmanay and it is known as ‘redding’ the house. The New Year should bring a completely fresh start, so the entire house is cleaned and the dirt swept out of the back door along with the ‘auld year’. At midnight on Hogmanay, the front and back doors are left open to allow the New Year to enter and chase out the stagnant energies of the Old. As a child growing up in Glasgow I remember we used to do this in our house, and such traditions were even stronger in Aberdeen where we sometimes spent New Year visiting relatives. It’s not just about having a clean house for your expected visitors, although clearly that is important; you don’t want any stagnant energy left in the house after ‘the bells,’ especially if the household has seen tragedy or experienced a bad year financially. It was also traditional to make sure that all your household debts were cleared and bills paid by the end of the year so that all ties to the past are severed and closed. Although this is a worthy aspiration, it is unlikely that many people are in a position to do this in today’s society.

Many Hogmanay traditions are centred on fire and the hearth. The hearth was always cleared of old ashes on Hogmanay, and a new fire laid ready to be lit after ‘the bells.’ We can see in this a remnant of the mid-winter fire festivals, where the emphasis is on keeping the lights burning through the darkest part of the year. Hogmanay was the main winter holiday in Scotland up to the 1950s. Christmas was just a normal working day, so the main celebrations always took place at the New Year. Even today, January 2 is still a public holiday in Scotland but not in England. Many local festivals continue the traditions today, such as the ‘Burning the Clavie’ at Burghead in Moray, where a flaming half-barrel of pitch and sawdust on the end of a pole is carried through the town (although this occurs on 11 January, a hangover from the old Julian calendar); the carrying of flambeaux through Comrie in Perthshire, or the swinging fireballs that are whirled round the heads of strong young men marching through Stonehaven. These are all cleansing rituals intended to banish the darkness and drive out ‘evil spirits’ from the towns. In many cities such rituals have been replaced by firework displays, but the basic intention is the same.

Traditionally the first person across the threshold after the bells (the ‘first foot’) would carry a lump of coal to ensure that there would always be warmth and fire in the house. This would be used to start the first fire of the year. Other traditional gifts would be salt, which was a traditional gift of friendship that could be used to symbolically cleanse the house; some food, usually a black bannock or bun, and of course a small bottle of whisky; these last two to ensure that the family would never want for food or drink. The ‘first foot’ should ideally be a tall, dark-haired stranger to ensure good luck for the household, but in many houses just to make sure that there was a first-foot, the man of the household would exit the back door bearing the required offerings, run round to the front and stand outside the front door ready to be welcomed in immediately after the bells. Woe betide the household whose first-foot was a blonde or red-haired man or woman; this was considered to be dreadfully unlucky.

Another cleansing ritual that many houses carried out was to purify the dwelling with something representing each of the four elements. Firstly a branch dripping with water, ideally from a ford ‘crossed by the living and dead’ (i.e. on a coffin path), was used to sprinkle the water around all the rooms. This was followed by a flaming branch of juniper to ‘smudge’ the interior of any remaining detrimental energies, until the place was so thick with smoke that it made everyone cough, whereupon all the doors and windows were opened and a restorative ‘dram’ was issued to everyone present to soothe the ‘thrapple’ (throat). Sometimes salt, to represent the element of Earth, was sprinkled round the perimeter of the house, which formed a protective barrier against any malevolent spirit energy.

We can take something of these traditions and use them to space-clear our own homes of detrimental energies at this time of year. One that my mother taught me is to quarter an onion and place the four parts in the outermost corners of the house. These are then left overnight to collect all the detrimental energies, and then taken outside and either burned or buried in the ground. A variant of this is to place an egg at the centre of the house, which is then disposed of in the same manner.

Smudging the house is a good idea too, and although it may be hard to find a juniper branch where you live, you can use the now widely-accepted white sage from Native American tradition. You can buy white sage sticks in any ‘new-age’ shop. Just light the end until smouldering then waft it around, traditionally using a feather, making sure you get the smoke into all the corners. You can also precede your smudging by going around inside the house with a noise-making device like a drum, bell or singing bowl – even a saucepan and wooden spoon will do – to release any stuck energies, then finish off with your smudging.

By combining some of the traditional rituals with our space-clearing techniques, we can give the old stagnant energies in our dwelling a good shake-up and space-clear the house ready to start afresh in the New Year. Give the place a good clean, make sure everything is tidy, and then decide what space-clearing methods to employ. I still like to do the quartered-onion routine, smudging, and leave windows and door open for the bells.

Then all you need to do is to make sure that you have some whisky on hand to welcome your ‘first foot’ – or perhaps you know someone fitting the required description who you could book in advance?

If you would like to have a more in-depth check of your house to resolve any detrimental energies, geopathic stress, psychic issues, and survey for electro-pollution, you might wish to consider engaging my services for a consultation. A full home consultation takes around 3 hours on-site and can make a tremendous difference to the energy of your property and the health of the inhabitants.

Check under the ‘services’ tab for more information.


Happy New Year, and “lang may yer lum reek!”

Grahame Gardner is a professional dowser and geomancer specialising in house-healing work involving geopathic and technopathic stress, and the creation of sacred spaces. He is a Registered Tutor with the British Society of Dowsers, is listed on their Professional Register, and served as President of the Society from 2008-2014. He is also a founder member of The Geomancy Group. This article is from his personal blog Western Geomancy.

WANT TO PUBLISH THIS ARTICLE? Non-commercial publication of this article is permitted as long as the tagline (above) with links is included and no changes are made to the article. A courtesy copy of your publication or link would be appreciated.

Hallowe’en Musings

Planting the seeds…

The clocks in Britain have been turned back an hour, which in our modern life has become the marker for the end of summer and the onset of the dark winter nights. But it also marks the approach of Hallowe’en, the fire festival of Samhain to the Celtic peoples. Although these days people are more interested in dressing up the kids and creating a general air of spookiness and fun, we tend to forget the more serious side of Samhain.

In the yearly cycle of the sun, Samhain is one of the cross-quarter days, those times that fall roughly mid-way between the solstices and equinoxes. Unlike the solstices and equinoxes, which are timed to the second, the cross-quarter days are not precisely marked in astronomical terms although they have become fixed dates in our calendar. For me that means they become more noticeable at an intuitive level; you can feel the change in season. Imbolc at the start of February is when you start to notice that there is more daylight around, Beltane at the start of May is when you really start to notice that summer is on the way, Lughnasadh at the start of August is when you start thinking that the ‘nights are fair drawing in’ as we say in Scotland, and Samhain is when you finally realise that summer is over and we are heading towards winter.

In farming terms, Samhain marks the ending of the agricultural year. The harvest is in and the seeds for next year have been planted in the earth, where they will lie fallow throughout the cold winter months before stirring to life in the ground at Imbolc at the beginning of February. So energetically Samhain is the culmination of our endeavours for the year. It is time to reap the fruits of our labours and plant the seeds of what we want to grow next year. It’s a time to acknowledge our ancestors – traditionally the Veil to the other side is thinnest at this time of year – and gain inspiration for the next cycle.

This year really does mark the end of a long cycle for me, as in September I stood down as President of the British Society of Dowsers, having served 6 years at the helm and a total of 11 years as a Trustee of the Society. The experience has been simultaneously exhilarating as I cast myself into the void of opportunity, and terrifying as I realise I am no longer in control of things! Eleven years is a good length of service for any Trustee, but I can look back with pride at the way the Society has evolved during my term of office. At the Conference in September, I was presented with the BSD Award, which is awarded for services to dowsing and the Society, and Elspeth and I were given Honorary Life Membership of the Society.



For myself, I have been busy working on my marketing materials, working on my next book, and planning events for next year. It is looking like I will be doing a lot of travelling in 2015 – as usual!

I shall be running a course on Dowsing and Feng-Shui for the National School of Feng-Shui in Lisbon, Portugal on 14 & 15 March. https://escolafengshui.com/

I have been asked by the Japanese Society of Dowsing to present and run workshops for them, so I hope to be in Japan from March 25 – April 7.

All this international travel is making it difficult to plan any courses at home! However, I’ve had quite a few requests to run some courses farther north, so in response to those who asked for them, I am pleased to announce that I am running a beginners’ Foundation Course at the Victory Hall in Aboyne on April 18 & 19, so please put that in your diaries and let me know if you are interested in attending. I plan to run a subsequent ‘Introduction to Earth Energies (EE1)’ course, also in Aberdeenshire, probably in mid-May or mid-June.

I haven’t forgotten my more advanced students, and am in the process of putting together some dates to run a geomancy course on ‘Designing Sacred Space’ (EE4) and hope to run that in May or June.

For the autumn, Susan Collins and I are planning a very special intensive retreat, which will be a magical dowsing adventure. More details to come!

I’ll send out updates once we get more dates finalised, and as always you can check the events page for updates on courses.

What have you harvested in your life this year? Did all your ‘crops’ bear fruit? What seeds are you planting that you want to grow next year? Now is the time to think about what you have in your life and what you would like to bring in to your life in the next turn of the Wheel.

Happy Samhain!

Happy Samhain!

The Farkas Files

I recently appeared as guest on the US internet radio show ‘The Farkas Files‘ from Empower Radio. I’d met the host David Franklin Farkas at the American Society of Dowers’ convention back in June, and finally we managed to find some time in both our schedules to make this interview happen. It went out live at 9pm EST (2am UK time), but it’s available to listen again by clicking below or can download it from the website.

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The FARKAS FILES: The Truth is In Here, Somewhere

Dowsing & Geomancy? What are they? …

If you don’t know what Dowsing is, you should! And this week’s guest is an international leader in the field. I’ve known about him for years and we met this year at a convention. He lives in Scotland.

Grahame has been interested in all things esoteric for as long as he can remember, particularly earth mysteries; and has studied and practiced widely across the whole spectrum of Western esoteric tradition, from shamanism to Kabala.

He taught himself to dowse as a teenager when, after reading Tom Grave’s book ‘Needles of Stone’, he made his first pair of L-rods from some coat hangers and proved to his own satisfaction that he could find underground water, cables and other utilities.

Thirty years later, Grahame is now a Professional Member, Registered Tutor and has been President of The British Society of Dowsers since 2008.

He hosts their podcast “Adventures in Dowsing,” and his book, ‘Dowsing Magic’ is published by Penwith Press. He lives in Glasgow, Scotland, but travels extensively.
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