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Men of Destiny. Detail of painting by Jack Butler Yeats (1867 - 1935).



This research programme would have two objectives. The first is to determine if any scientific explanation can be found for the unusual qualities which the theories of dowsing, geomancy and Feng Shui ascribe to certain megalithic sites and local landscapes. If such an explanation were found, the second objective would be to explore ways in which the practice of geomancy and dowsing might usefully contribute to the understanding, restoration and conservation of megalithic sites.

The unusual nature of this programme needs to be seen in its anthropological context. The European peasant traditions of water-divining, dowsing and geomancy, the related Chinese theories of Feng Shui, and the spiritual traditions of Native Americans, Australian Aborigines and many other Indigenous Peoples commonly assign a "sacred" status to specific ritual centres and other places sometimes described as "power points." Irish mythology and folklore refer to the megalithic sites as sacred to the Tuatha Dé Danann or "fairy folk"; and the traditional Irish notion of "fairy paths" appears to have some connection with the so-called "ley lines" described by dowsers and the "dragon paths" described in Feng Shui.

Such ideas may be simple superstition and make-believe, or could perhaps have some as-yet unknown scientific basis. Paradoxically, transnational corporations in search of oil, gas, minerals, and water are on record as supplementing their geological staff with professional dowsers. When tens of thousands of water wells ran dry during the 1990s drought in California, US newspapers reported local planning authority statistics showing that the success rate of dowsers in discovering underground springs was both quantitatively and qualitatively far higher than that of conventional geologists. Moreover, while the notion of "ley lines" or energy pathways underpinning the landscape may seem utterly unscientific, it does bear a striking similarity to the concept of acupuncture meridians in Oriental medicine, which also seemed fantastic until the existence of the body's subtle bio-electrical field was scientifically confirmed, its metabolic effects and theoretical foundations related to quantum physics at MIT, and the healing benefits of acupuncture accepted by growing numbers of medical schools, hospitals and health insurance companies.

The proposed research programme would explore two different hypotheses or explanatory systems (which might not be mutually exclusive) on which a scientific explanation for geomancy / dowsing and Feng Shui might be based. The first hypothesis assumes some as-yet unknown physical correlate such as measurable local variations in the Earth's magnetic field, which should be detectable through the use of electromagnetic and other scientific sensing technology. The second hypothesis assumes a "non-physical" correlate between separate objects in spacetime, akin to the theories of the Holomovement and the Implicate Order developed by the late physicist Professor David Bohm of Birkbeck College, London., in his books "Wholeness and the Implicate Order" (1980), and "Science, Order and Creativity" (1987, with David Peat) - see for details.

If the physical correlate hypothesis turned out to be demonstrable by scientific means, it might then be important to conserve the original layered building materials of Irish passage mounds, which may permit magnetic, low-frequency acoustic, or other resonance effects that may be blocked by the intrusion of modern materials such as the steel, concrete, styrofoam and putty that are now being used in the restoration of megalithic monuments.


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Updated 22 April 2001
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