Mark Palermo

More Things in Heaven and Earth...

He Was Our S.O.B.
Long Ago Saturday Nights at the Circle 9
The Dark Side of Vaccinations
Wine: Where Ignorance and Pretension Find their Loudest Voice
A 1976 Journey in Search of Self
The Machinery of Mass Dreams
The Outlaw Georgie Bush
Sex Offender Registries Out of Control
Extreme Makeover for Airheads
The Fault Lies not in the Stars, but in Ourselves
Reconsidering George Carlin
If You Think Liberals Are Jerks...
She Couldn't Do Her Chores
Remembering Viktor Frankl
One Day on the Farm-1977
A Fresh Look at Meat
How the Real World Works: A Lesson
30 Bucks for the Human Touch
1929 All Over Again
An Old Man's War, A Young Man's Fight
More Things in Heaven and Earth...
Our Dumbed-down Public Discourse
Bread, But No Roses
Earth's the Right Place for Love
Read This Before Enlisting
Poison Is Good for You: The Fluoridation Scam
Ron Paul:He Makes Too Much Sense
War Is a Racket
Brazil's National Orgasm Day
Calling all Liberals!
Why I Don't Get Flu Shots
What is Community?
Haverhillicus Homocrisicum
If You Wanna Be a Junkie, Why?
Do We Know His Family?
Scam: Youth Sports
A Subsidy for the Human Touch?
How Not to Be Boring
If the Bread and Roses Strike Were NOW
America's Problem with the Body
Columbus Day? or Renaissance Day?
Depleted Uranium Weapons
Mitt Romney: A Clintonian Republican
A Checklist for Conservatives
On Torture and Torturers
Pimp of the Nation
Romney is a Jerk
Hypocrisy and its Champions
The Dumb Society
The Men's Taverns of Yesteryear
On Dittoheads!
Let China Sleep
2004 McDebates
Animal Rights Page
US Wealth Distribution Chart
Public Grief, Private Lives


Inside the Great Mystery that is, we don't really own anything. What is this competition we feel then, before we go, one at a time, through the same gate?                                      Rumi (1207 - 1273)


In June, I attended The American Society of Dowsers 46th Annual Convention at Lyndon State College in Vermont. Lyndon is a picture-post card village with a town green and bandstand in Vermont’s picturesque Northeast Kingdom. The convention was populated by an assortment of crystal gazers, psychics, necromancers, new-age pagans, alchemists, astrologists, shamans and too many old beatniks and ageing hippies, including myself. The one thing they all had in common was they didn’t fit easily into the mass culture. Vermont has always attracted iconoclasts.


Dowsing is the ancient art of finding underground water with a forked stick, usually from a willow tree. In Vermont almost every village has dowser or “water witch” who will find underground water, usually for a small fee or a case of beer. With the high cost of well drilling, dowsing is still an option for many Vermonters from the old school.


At the conference, I learned that dowsing has morphed into much more than looking for water. Some of the lectures were interesting. Like a farmer that measures EMF- exposure to electrical and magnetic field pollution and its effects upon humans and animals. Or the workshop on the mysterious crop circles, flattened geometric patterns that appear in wheat fields  in Britain and even the United States. But some of the lectures were the product of overactive imagination and wishful thinking. One guy, for instance, gave a lecture about how he gets 50 miles a gallon on his 6-cylinder Ford Explorer by meditating and swinging a pendulum over the engine before he drives it. He cautioned that the government doesn’t want us to know about this because “they are in league with the oil companies.” I was skeptical of this claim, of course, but not of the entire conference. I have seen real dowsing before.


In the 1950’s, my father was the superintendent of distribution for the Lawrence Gas Company. The greater Lawrence gas distribution system contains many miles of underground gas lines. Nowadays the system is computerized, so diagnosing problems is relatively easy. But in the old days, locating low pressure areas or leaks in the labyrinthine system of distribution was art, not science. My father was, in a Zen Buddhist sense, one with the system.


One of his many talents was dowsing, Only my father didn’t dowse for water with a willow twig; he dowsed for gas lines, and he used brass rods. This was no will o’ the wisp caprice, but serious business. A work crew complete with air compressors and jackhammers would be dispatched to a city street. But where to dig?  Time is money; the  crew would be waiting for directions. They don’t just tear up the whole street until they find the offending gas main. That’s where my father came in.


He carried in his company car two brass tubes about six inches long and a half  inch wide. He would hold the tubes upright in front of his body. In each brass tube was a wire bent in an L-shape and free to swing in any direction. When he would walk over a gas line, the two brass rods would swing immediately into a straight line as if magnetized. It was not a vague, wishy- washy motion, but a real, pronounced magnetic force that acted on the rods. It was an amazing thing to see. And he was dead-on right every time. Stranger still was that none of the crew seemed to think it was a big deal-as if this were the most natural thing in the world! I asked my father a number of times to show me how to do it, but I could never learn. I would take the brass rods, walk across the street, and nothing would ever happen.


I asked him recently about dowsing. He just said matter-of-factly that “some of the guys could do it.” He doesn’t remember where he learned it; he’s unimpressed with what -to me- is a formidable ability. He just says that some people have magnetism. My father is a meat-and-potatoes, World War 2 veteran, and a no-nonsense guy- about as far away as you can get from the Shirley MacLaine, New Age lifestyle.


 I would like to bring my father to the convention next year, but I don’t think he would be interested. Instead of discussing the engagement of earth energy, which everybody at the convention does, he actually does it. If you are not convinced, I don’t blame you. It’s one of those things you have to see yourself. But the earth is indeed ancient and mysterious and with all our inventions we don’t understand much about anything. If you doubt this, just try to answer a 4-year-old’s questions about life. As Hamlet said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreampt of in your philosophy.”


September 2006