Witching For Water
In the strong hands of a man has been laid a very special gift, a talent that
he has been gifting with now for 50 years. He does it, he says, “For the fun of
“Edward, when did you first realize you were a water witch?”
“Oh, when I was 18 to 20 years old,” says 70-year-old Edward Carter
in his home in the bottomland along Stoner Creek in Bourbon County.
“Or do you prefer to be called a dowser?”
“Water witch is fine.”
“Does it run in your family?”
“My daddy used to say ‘there’s usually one in every family.’ You might
be one and not know it.”
“I guess there are a lot of disbelievers about water witching. So what
do you say to them?”
“I’ve proved to a lot of them that it does work. I can take one side
of the switch and take your hand and make a believer out of you.”
“Let’s go outside and give it a try.”
Two freshly cut apple tree forks are lying by the doorstep. Edward takes
one and I take one. He explains that any green switch will do-cherry, peach,
apple, or plum. We walk to the side of the house and Mrs. Carter turns on the
spigot in order to simulate a vein of running water. “Water has to be moving,”
I do just as I am told. I grasp the limber ends of the fork, my divining
rod, letting my fingers wrap around myself. I extend my thumbs as if I were
hitchhiking in both directions. Edward did the same thing, and he let me walk
a couple of steps in front to give me the opportunity to be the first to say,
“Look a-here, look a-here!”
I was either trying too hard or not hard enough, or it could have been
that I am not the member of the family who has the witcher’s touch. When Edward
reaches the water line, the base of the fork pivots down and, with a low groan,
he says he can’t hold it back. We do this several times with the same results.
So, he takes one end of the switch in his right hand, takes my right hand in
his left hand, and I hold the other end of the switch, and we walk the walk
together, which is good for brotherhood. Sure enough, the apple switch turns
down like it is looking for home.
“I felt it then,” I rejoice. “That’s incredible!”
I ask Edward how much he charges for finding water veins and such, and
he says, “Nothing.” When I ask why he says, “It’s a gift,” which struck me as
being fair enough.
Nature, on the other hand, is not always fair in return. In 1997, the
water must have used a huge divining rod to find Edward, his wife, and Rex,
their 15-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback/Australian shepherd guard dog.
Stoner Creek, which forms one branch of the South Fork of the Licking
River, dowsed the Carters with four feet of water in their house. They’re still
cleaning up after the flood that caused havoc throughout Kentucky.
Mrs. Carter says people wondered why they didn’t move to higher ground
after the flood. “We love this place here, it’s so nice and peaceful, nobody’s
close to us.”
A new apple tree switch resides now on Plum Lick, and when the wood’s
no longer green, there’ll be plenty more. They’re not for sale or shouldn’t
be. It’ll be a nice way to spend the next drought-discovering new water in peace