JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
Here's a quick bit, found in the title of a book that I bumped into--one could evidently hire a dowser to find "fugitive murderers" and "robbers" in addition to precious ore, and water, and treasures, and what-have-you. It appears in Pierre Le Lorrain, l'Abbe de Vallemont's La Physique occulte, ou Traité de la baguette divinatoire et de son utilité pour la découverte des sources d'eau, des minières, des trésors cachez, des voleurs et des meurtriers fugitifs. Avec des principes qui expliquent les phénomènes les plus obscurs de la Nature (1693) which almost translates by itself to "Occult Physics, or the Treatise of the Divine Wand and its Use in Discovering Water Springs, Mining, Hidden Treasures, Robbers and Fugitive Murders. With principles that explain the darkest phenomena of Nature".
The subject of dowsing is just something I cannot spend any time on, except to say that it was of particular interest at this time (in the late 17th century), and that in addition to this semi-spiritual mind-application of mining and etc. M. Le Lorrain (1649-1721) also includes astrological tables to help in the pursuit of the inexplicable. I don't know how that was supposed to work outside of making his hocus pocus less approachable and more complex by showering it in complicated-looking astrological diagrams, showing that "science" was at work.
In addition to all of the other gifts that Le Lorrain's practice offered, finding robbers and "fugitive murderers" were among its talent set. And why not? Perhaps the practice was entirely removed and existed in a set of unexpected Umwelten. Perhaps the diving involved "need" as a confluence of the alignment of the stars and the specific needs of finding water, or criminals, each of which would offer its own vapor-need trails to the diviner. (As it turns out it seems that need/vapor-need wasn't too far off a guess, as Le Lorrain thought the connection to be invisible corpuscles.) In any event, that world is a secret one, with the answers to exactly what it is all about (present tense intended) probably answerable on a Ouija board, even though in other aspects of his life Le Lorrain was a man with a scientific background (writing on the Copernican cosmology and on magnets). As I've already said a couple of times, I don't understand this.
- An epigram on dowsing/diving, the rod being known in Latin as Virgula Divina. The rod makes an appearance here, in 1651, a hundred years after it makes its first appearance in general, in print. Water-finding by divination etc. is an ancient practice, though the special stick that is now associated with it seems not to be mentioned until much later.
- Virgula divina.
- "Some Sorcerers do boast they have a Rod,
- Gather'd with Vowes and Sacrifice,
- And (borne about) will strangely nod
- To hidden Treasure where it lies;
- Mankind is (sure) that Rod divine,
- For to the Wealthiest (ever) they incline."--Samuel Sheppard, from Epigrams theological, philosophical, and romantick (1651)