Friday, June 25, 2010

Grave Witching

I’ve heard from a number of folks who read my earlier posts about Grave Witching to find lost or unmarked graves in cemeteries, farms and other locations.  All of them are active ‘witchers’ using the craft to locate lost graves of loved ones, military burials and lost graves in old cemeteries.

As noted in the earlier posts, I’ve used ‘witch sticks’ to locate buried water and power lines for decades as a matter of need, without thought that the activity may seem strange to folks who haven’t seen it done.

Growing up, I frequently saw people bend a couple of metal rods or lengths of wire into short handles and then find the water lines to their corrals, homes, churches, etc., and then toss the sticks and start digging.  The rods were just a tool so they could dig in the right spot and not waste any time and effort, without any more thought than grabbing a circuit locator to find wiring in our walls today. 

I never thought of using witch sticks to find lost graves until articles started to show up in smaller news publications around the world in recent years. 

Wondering if I could locate ‘bodies’ – alive or dead, I made a pair of sticks and then did a search for the giggling bodies of some of our granddaughters scattered across the living room floor.  Sure enough, every time I came to one of them, the sticks crossed and then opened again after I passed by the wee lasses, so the ‘alive’ part of the question was answered.  What about finding the ‘dead’ in their burial locations?

Knowing that I still have the ‘touch’, I’ll take a set of sticks up to the old burial grounds of my ancestors this summer and find the exact location of their graves.

Jack Robinson told me that he frequently uses sticks to find the lost graves of veterans in his efforts to clean up their burial locations.  He also brings and buried tombstones up to the current level of the soil.   Read about his project on his site, Resurrection Mission ~ Protecting Endangered Cemeteries

No all folks use witch sticks to locate lost graves.  Robert Nichols, cemetery sexton of the First Presbyterian Church of Rockaway, New Jersey, enlisted the high-tech help of Ithaca College to search for unmarked graves.  Read the article here.  (It loads slowly.  Be patient.)

If you haven’t seen someone using witch sticks to find lost graves, you’ll enjoy the three videos below.  They are followed by a video of the folks from Ithaca College using their ground penetrating radar equipment with the same goal in mind.

Are you going to give it a try yourself?  You may find the burial spots of some of your ancestral family members on the old homestead too.   Good Luck!

Click on this link to view the video of Ithaca College students using ground penetrating radar to find unmarked graves.


Geophix said...

There might be mysterious forces behind the "sticks", but I prefer to trust ground penetrating radar as a geophysicist.

Mark said...

Yes, there is something mysterious behind the "sticks". It's called moving them with your hands. LOL
I am like you GPR works really well for finding things in the ground. As for water, if I had some sticks I could find water, actually I do have a stick, it's called a shovel. I dig anywhere in my yard, 2.5 to 3 feet down and I find water.