Why overcomplicate something that can be so simple? In the pursuit of divination techniques and tools the pendulum is both the simplest but easiest to overcomplicate should you wish to. It can be a tool on its own or used in conjunction with others, you can answer simple binary questions or something a little more complex or even locate a place or item.
Technique and Theory
What is a pendulum? A basic pendulum is a weight suspended from a cord or string. I will go into a little more detail on the types and appearances of pendulums later however for now that working definition will suffice.
The pendulum is suspended from the fingers, motionless, and a pattern of responses established. How will it move for a yes response, a no response and ambivalent/maybe response. Once these motions have been established questions can be asked of the pendulum and responses recorded. What you perceive as causing the pendulum to move is based upon your beliefs. Some people say that it is the dead/ancestors, personal guardian spirits, deities, deamons and even the subconscious, you need to consider this in terms of your personal praxis. Personally it depends on the context in which I am using the pendulum. If it is in ritual and I have invoked a deity and petitioned them for guidance them. Outside of ritual I would petition my personal guides ahead of divining an answer and that would define my interpretation.
There is right way to use a pendulum, and most definitely a wrong way. You should alway start from motionless and instruct the pendulum to return to rest between questions, if not stop it yourself.
Never set it in motion yourself!
The worse example of dowsing with a pendulum I have ever seen was on national tv where the dowser insisted there were bodies buried under undisturbed chalk bedrock and his evidence was a pendulum spinning so hard it was perpendicular to the floor. Apart from the geological evidence you could see him set the spin going. And no, no bodies were found surprise surprise.
Any movement occurring from the question being put should be natural and initially gentle. The more emphatic the response the sharper and larger the movement of the pendulum however if you start from motionless and do not influence the outcome intentionally or even unintentionally it will build. Responses from a pendulum are rarely immediate(unless emphatic) so time is an important tool.
I mentioned unintentionally influencing the pendulum and here I am talking about focus and preconceptions. When asking a question avoid thinking about what you think the answer will be, or want it to be. Focus only on the question itself, repeated it out loud or internally if that helps. Avoid becoming distracted by unrelated thoughts. This will help in the clarity and confidence in the response being given as you are sending a single message rather than a mixed one. Having a strong relationships with the pendulum and the energies that influence it also helps in this so lets look at our relationships.
What’s in a Pendulum?
In essence a pendulum is a weight suspended from a cord or chain held in the hand. It doesn’t get much simpler than that really. The complexities come in when you come to decide what it is you are looking for in terms of the materials that go into the makeup of the pendulum.
Pendulums come in all shapes and sizes from pocket size crystals to things that are almost plumb-bob in weight shape and size. Some people will use different pendulums depending of their purpose. As an example they might use a crystal based pendulum for communicating with spirit, a wooden one for finding water and a metal one for finding leylines. That said different people will make different choices based on what works for them as individuals, equally they might use the same pendulum for all types of dowsing. There are no hard and fast rules in this regard so take my examples with a grain of salt and experiment for yourself.
My examples do give you and over view of the materials that can be used. Crystal, metal and wooden pendulums are by far the most commonly available. They might be suspended from light chains or a cord of some kind. Some pendulums are plain, some are highly decorative. Some are exceedingly light, others are ridiculously heave.
Whilst your choice should be something that speaks to you there are a number of things to keep in mind in addition to the aesthetic appeal.
Weight – You are going to be holding the pendulum in a slightly unnatural position potentially for a period of time. You could have a long enough cord to wrap around the wrist however if you have any issues with your wrists you may want to consider a lighter pendulum.
Material – Depending on what you are doing some materials might not be an option for you. For example if you are working with nature spirits/energies then metal is a no no. Some people choose to wear their pendulums in place of necklaces so if you know that your skin reacts to certain metals keep that in mind as well.
(Price and) Appearance – does a sparkly fandangle-y pendulum work any better than a simple crystal one or even one you’ve made yourself for that matter? Appearance isn’t everything, even if it is nice; as they say, there is no shame in cutting your coat to suit your cloth.
Ultimately the best pendulums are the ones you have made yourself and have a good relationship with. There is a long tradition of using wedding rings as a pendulum, particularly when it comes to identifying the gender of an expected child. There is no reason that a wedding ring cannot be used to divine on other matters, particularly household ones or for lost items. If it is an object that you wear daily you have a connection with it and once it is suspended on a length of cord it makes an effective pendulum. For the same reasons you can also use other items of jewellery, in particular necklaces. Keys are another common alternative. Keys are often used as pendulums, particularly ‘lost’ keys and household keys. In the distance past when keys were not common and were the preserve of rich men and women with authority they were something that was kept close to a person and this might be the reason that the practice has continued for similar reasons as wedding rings and jewellery. Heck if you are really that way inclined there is no reason you can’t use a heavy metal washer if you so wished. The important element is the relationship you have with your pendulum.
Building a Relationship
We build relationships with all our tools on one level or another be it simply the feel of the object in our hand or communicating with the spirits within it. In the case of the pendulum we also build a relationship with the energies that we are seeking answers from.
There are a number of ways to go about this, but first and foremost is the interaction with the pendulum itself. The more we use something the more attuned to it we become.
Carrying your pendulum with you on a daily basis, ideally on your person, also builds your relationship with the pendulum. Obviously this is easier with smaller pendulums and those designed to be worn as jewellery but it its a good idea to try and do this even if its only for a short period of time. Some people also suggest placing the pendulum under your pillow as you sleep to help with attunement.
The obvious way to become familiar with the pendulum and this method of divination is through use. You can not beat good old practical application.
Pendulums and Direction
Having simple question and answer session with your pendulum, asking questions you know the answer to as well as trick questions is one way to get used to the way an individual pendulum moves in response to questions put. Another way is to quietly and focus on one of the three simple responses by requesting the pendulum show you ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ responses. Allow the response to develop and note the nature of the movement. It is good practice to do this kind of attunement at the start of each divination session as it is not uncommon for spirits to change their method of communication to suit their mood.
Different directions of movement include
– Circular motions either clockwise or anti-clockwise
– Horizontal back and forth movements
– Vertical back and forth movements
– Diagonal movements in either direction
Directional swing can occur when you request the pendulum to locate an item. The movement will be back and forth however it can be across any axid and there will be a visible emphasis on one direction over another.
The meaning of the movement will depend on the individual diviner, and possibly even context. This is why establishing response movements before starting a full divination process is important.
Some people like to use layouts and attempt to standardise their pendulums responses to the layout being used. I would still suggest that an attunement ahead of dowsing would be good practice to ensure the accuracy of divination. There are many differ variations of layout possible with the movements I’ve described here and it might be an idea to establish the most consistent system of movement which occurs for you and search for a corresponding grid if that is what you would prefer. It isn’t possible to ‘train’ your pendulum to move in a particular way to match the grid you bought in advance so don’t panic and remain flexible around the pendulums personality (so to speak).
Pendulums and other Divination Techniques
Pendulums can be used in conjunction with other divinatory methods. The simplest way to achieve this is to set the second tool in a circle a operate the pendulum on the centre, asking it to indicate the item which answers the question being put. This should result in a directional swing towards the relevant card/rune. This same technique of directional response can be used with letters to get word.
Alternatively you can hold the pendulum over each option in turn and request a positive response though this method is slightly more laborious.
Dowsing by pendulum is one of the quickest ways to get answers on a question or situation. Even on the go it’s easy to whip one up and just get an insight into something.
I hope you have fun with learning more about pendulums as you use them don’t forget to check out the other posts in my Tools of the Trade series.