Dowsing your sorrows

Is that new house giving you a bad feeling? A professional dowser might find something in the water, says Fiona McNeill
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The Independent Online

Buying property is a funny old game. You've chosen your area, set your budget, researched local schools and transport links and you know exactly what you're looking for and what you can get for your money. So why is it that the tastefully decorated townhouse with a beautiful garden which meets all your criteria leaves you cold, while the shabby semi with patterned carpets "feels" right?

Buying property is a funny old game. You've chosen your area, set your budget, researched local schools and transport links and you know exactly what you're looking for and what you can get for your money. So why is it that the tastefully decorated townhouse with a beautiful garden which meets all your criteria leaves you cold, while the shabby semi with patterned carpets "feels" right?

It's those gut instincts, of course, and according to some people they're more important than you might think when it comes to choosing somewhere to live. Publishing assistant Nicola Dwyer bought a run-down flat in Hertfordshire some years ago. "It was in a disgusting state but I thought it needed a bit of light and love," she explains. "But even after I'd done it up, it didn't feel right. It felt sad, somehow."

Perplexed, she sought help from an unusual source - the ancient art of dowsing. Most commonly known as a method of finding underground water or minerals, dowsing has been used all over the world for thousands of years. Dowsers hold twigs, bent rods or pendulums, either walking across an area in person or using a map, and these tools supposedly move to indicate where the substance will be found. No-one is exactly sure how or why it works but it is said that anyone can learn to do it.

Professional dowsers Christopher and Veronika Strong told Dwyer that stagnant water beneath her property was causing the gloomy atmosphere. But even if you accept that dowsing works, it's difficult to understand how subterranean water can make a property feel "sad". Isn't it more likely to be down to poor lighting or the wrong colour paint? Not at all, says Christopher, who has a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University and is nothing like the kaftan-wearing New Age type you might expect.

"Underground water generates electromagnetic energy at a frequency which is incompatible with the human body," he explains. "This can weaken the immune system and in many cases, people become ill or depressed. When people mention how a property feels, they're often subconsciously picking up on this."

Nearby power stations, radar, aerials and even psychic phenomena can also affect the energy of a building in the same way, and so too, the occupants, says Strong. "The history of the site can also be a problem," he continues, "especially in Europe which has been civilised for thousands of years. Events imprint themselves on an area. We dowsed one business where everyone was fighting. It turned out it was built on an old battlefield."

Dowsing is simply a way of connecting to the subconscious mind, he says, and identifying these factors. "Of course, some people are sceptical when they hear about these, 'energies'," Strong points out, "but you can't see radio waves yet we know they exist."

He estimates that many, though not all, buildings have some kind of interference. So what, if anything, can a homeowner do to get rid of these negative vibes and make their house more welcoming? Cynics of New Age practices may roll their eyes at the mention of crystals but these, strategically placed, Strong insists, change the electromagnetic energy to a more harmonious frequency, rather like an adapter.

When Nicola Dwyer broke up with her boyfriend, she decided to move from her depressing flat and asked the Strongs to help her select a new home. They dowsed a list of potential properties and the pendulum moved in different ways to indicate, "yes" for certain houses and "no" for others. "I told Veronika and Christopher I wanted a happy place where I could make new relationships," Dwyer says. "Eventually, with their help, I bought a suitable house and within three months I met my husband."

Christopher comments: "When somebody's home environment is right, you find that the rest of their life tends to flow more smoothly." But anyone who finds talk of energies and crystals too whimsical may be interested to note that dowsing can supposedly help with more everyday concerns such as estate agents and asking prices.

When life coach Jeannie Kar bought her Fulham flat in 2000, she asked the Strongs to harmonise the property. They advised on the placing of crystals and even cleared a ghostly presence in her kitchen. When she decided to sell the flat, she called on them again to help her choose an estate agent.

The movement of the pendulum told them which of three companies was most suitable and which valuation the correct asking price. Kar followed their advice and sold her flat for the suggested amount. The Strongs also told her that, despite her fears, the buyer would not pull out and that the flat would be sold on 11 May, which proved to be true. "Dowsing took a lot of stress out of the process," Kar comments. "Veronika and Christopher helped me make the right decisions at the right time."

"I think it's best to keep an open mind about these New Age theories," says Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents. "After all, who's to say they don't work? If looking for underground water or using crystals or Feng Shui or whatever helps someone to feel more comfortable about buying a particular property, then what's the harm?"

Veronika and Christopher Strong are at www.steppingstones8.btinternet.co.uk or on (01386) 833899.

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