The man who gnows

You too can have dowsing powers, for just pounds 14.99. By Adrian Turpi n
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The Independent Culture
TO GNOW: to synthesise rational and intuitive knowledge [Lat: gnoscere] as seen in the writings of the Gnostics. Dowsers gnow a lot. As a former Trustee of the American Society of Dowsers, Sig Lonegren gnows more than most. He gnows dowsing works through the psychic properties of the pineal gland and the body's reaction to electromagnetic forces. He gnows about Sacred Spaces, having an MA in them. Above all, he gnows his New Age stocking filler, The Dowsing Rod Kit, which hit the shops last week is certain to make him money.

For pounds 14.99, some of his gnowledge can be yours. What you will receive for your money are two L-shaped copper rods, a book of exercises and essays called things like "Dowsing in the 21st Century" and a notepad of no earthly purpose, but which adds bulk.

It's almost too easy to mock Lonegren, a charming 53-year-old ex-hippie from Vermont, with a good line in folksy anecdotes about, say, divining his mother's broken sewage pipe. In Britain in 1991 to talk at St James's Piccadilly, Lonegren met Julian Barnes and came off second best. "Wren's church," the novelist reported in the New Yorker, "is elegant, rectilinear and cool, arguing a rational relationship with God. Sig Lonegren is rumpled, curvilinear (pot-bellied to be precise) and effusive, leaning perhaps towards the intuitive in intellectual matters." "He really bombed me there," Lonegren says, "I can't really say anything more about that man." But, having since sold an estimated 750,000 copies worldwide of his Pendulum Kit, the man from Vermont can afford to ignore criticism. "If it's anything like the last one, I expect it to go gangbusters," he says.

All of which leaves the pounds 14.99 question: does it work? The answer to which is both "Yes", in that it has already provided hours of fun for family and friends, not to mention conversational gambits ("Would you like to see my rods?" etc), and "I neither know nor gnow" because I failed to complete all the exercises ("I would chide you for that gently, sir," Lonegren chides me gently).

The book itself suggests dowsing to find out whether it's any good. Just ask the rods: "If the worst book on dowsing with L-rods is zero and the best one is 100, where does The Dowsing Rod Kit lie?", but I am able only to offer the following evidence: experiments at a 12-hole golf course north of Dublin offered cold comfort for would-be believers, unless they own shares in golf-ball manufacturing.

metro can also reveal that after it finally tracked Lonegren down in Glastonbury, he arranged an interview for 3pm on FA Cup Final day, suggesting either a) he is not as intuitive as he'd like to think or b) he holds an unseemly grudge against the English after the Barnes affair. The case for the prosecution rests.

'The Dowsing Rod Kit', compiled by Sig Lonegren, is published by Virgin