A pendulum can be made from a crystal, ring, pendant, key, or other object of suitable weight (at least three ounces)- attached to a chain or threaded on a string. My first exposure to pendulum use was at a family baby shower; the use of my aunt’s wedding ring to determine the sex of her unborn baby. (They didn’t have ultrasounds back then.) The ring was tied to a length of string and my cousin held it over my aunt’s belly. A back and forth swinging motion was supposed to indicate a boy, and a circular swinging motion was supposed to indicate a girl. I suspect this particular custom wasn’t just an Ozarks phenomena, but a wide-spread folk tradition. In general, the use of pendulums for dowsing and divination is very ancient.
The words dowsing and divination are often used interchangeably, but they do have different meanings. Dowsing is finding the unknown (something in the present or past), and divination is determining the future. Pendulums are more often used for dowsing than for divination.
(The term dowsing is most often used to refer to what we in the South call “water witching”; using a y-shaped stick to find underground water, to know where to dig a well. But water dowsing is not what I’m talking about here.)
preparing your pendulum:
Making your own pendulum from an object you especially resonate with can be as simple as tying the object to a string. I recommend a length of string or chain measured about nine inches. You may want to tie something to the other end of the string, like a split ring or bead, though you probably won’t often be holding the pendulum from this. After you’ve made your pendulum, cleanse it of previous energies and such (see my article “preparing divination tools for use“). I’ve found that most people believe that the answers you receive from a pendulum comes from your subconscious, since movements effecting it would be from your own body; tiny muscle spasms and other natural movements. However, there could be other factors at work; gods and spirits working through your subconscious, or as an invisible presence in the room, influencing movements of the pendulum in unseen ways. If you are concerned about where the answers come from, you could make a statement/prayer each time you are about to use the pendulum, to whom you are addressing for the answers (if not your own subconscious). You may even wish to do a short fire hallowing each time, to make sure no baneful spirits are influencing your readings.
In one approach you first determine which direction (left-right / up-down or clockwise / counterclockwise) will indicate “yes” and which “no” before proceeding to ask the pendulum specific questions. This is done by saying “Please show me what my yes response is.” while holding the chain or string of your pendulum, then doing the same for no.
The pendulum may also be used over a board or cloth with “yes” and “no” written on it and perhaps other words written in a circle, like “unknown”, “maybe”, “ask again later”, and perhaps even letters and numbers. You can have fun making something like this, with your own drawing skills or with magazine/clip-art collage, and decoupage onto a small board.
You could also draw a map of your home to use with your pendulum to help find a lost object (or walk around the house holding the pendulum and have it lead you to the lost object directly).
using the pendulum:
For best results, you should be in a state of relaxed alertness. Sit quietly for a few moments and ground and center (perhaps doing a Two Powers meditation).
Take your pendulum and hold the string or chain between your thumb and first finger, about three inches from the weight at the end. You can loop the string around your finger a couple of times if you want. Most folks rest their elbow on a table while dowsing. Let the pendulum swing about an inch above the table.
You may want to start by asking questions you know the answers to, to make sure its working for you. Phrase the question in a very specific, literal way, avoiding negative words. Some like to word their questions with this particular phrasing; “All things considered, is it optimal to ______.” or “is it accurate that ______”. You may not even have to state the question aloud, but only think of it clearly in your mind.
Pendulum dowsing and divination is an easy and enjoyable method and is an ideal first divination method to teach to kids.