Defence of Kristel Kivari's PhD Dissertation "Dowsing as a link between natural and supernatural. Folkloristic reflections on water veins, Earth radiation and dowsing practice" on June 10, 2016

PhD student of the Institute of Cultural Research and Fine Arts Kristel Kivari will defend her PhD theses "Dowsing as a link between natural and supernatural. Folkloristic reflections on water veins, Earth radiation and dowsing practice" on 10 June at 12.15 (UT Senate Hall). Supervisor: Professor Ülo Valk (University of Tartu); opponents Dr James Kapalo (University College Cork) and Dr Mare Kalda (Estonian Literary Museum).


This dissertation concentrates on the various usages of the pendulum and the dowsing rod in revealing of the presence of underground water, earth energy or radiation. Dowsing is a wide subject that includes prospecting for well sites, planning residential areas and houses and taking notice of particular natural forms and vegetation, as well as issues related to health and wellbeing. It also touches on understandings of particular geographical patterns as important historical settlements, as well as churches, are reportedly situated on the crossings of the energy lines. The uniting principle of these fields is the concept of earth energy. This concept proposes emanations of energy from the surface and is part of a wider dynamic concept of concealed connections between different areas and bodies.

Early Modern sources, used in this work, reveal the socially polemic position of dowsing within the theology, early geology and working ethics of experienced miners. At the same time these early Modern sources include the distinctive dowsing tradition of Central Europe within the treasure legends and traditional skills of ore prospectors. The rationalising principles about the working of the rods accord with the early theories of consistence of surface and generation of ore bodies. The fieldwork material for the dissertation was collected through interviews with dowsing practitioners and participation in social activity in the Estonian Geopathic Association, as well as at Kirna manor, which is famous for its strong energy columns.

In the articles of the dissertation, besides introducing the fieldwork material, I examine three of central cocepts in dowsing tradition: energy, anomaly and information, that bridge the understandings of materialistic nature with the open vernacular field of supernatural. Dowsing for water veins or energy lines enables to see how the alternative worldview challenges the social authority of science, medicine, religion or history. Exploring the concealed energies supports the individual’s accessibility to the life-forming powers in the intimate contact with the environment. In this process the dowsing helps to feel and define the orders between natural and supernatural.

PDF-version of the PhD theses can be downloaded at: