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Mark Marino, Author

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Water Witching

Water witching may seem to be an unlikely metaphor for a gps-enabled, mobile phone application.  In a 1917 report by the U.S. Geological Service, O. E. Meineer describes:

The use of a forked twig, or so-called divining rod, in locating minerals, finding hidden treasure, or detecting criminals is a curious superstition that has been a subject of discussion since the middle of the sixteenth century and still has a strong hold on the popular mind, even in this country, as is shown by the large number of inquiries received each year by the United States Geological Survey as to its efficacy, especially for locating underground water, and the per- sistent demands that it be made a subject of investigation by the Survey. (5)

Clearly the Geological Service has no plans of even entertaining the notion, and their turn is understandably paternalistic.  As Meineer explains, the goal of this report is "not to add another contribution to this enormous volume of uncanny literature but merely to furnish a reply to the numerous inquiries that are continually being received from all parts of the country" (5).  Needless to say, "this enormous volume of uncanny literature" when combined with the "numerous inquiries" speaks well to the fascination with this folk practice.  As one of many YouTube videos demonstrate, that fascination continues into the so-called digital age. 

When Jason Najarro decided to use Water Witching and Dowsing as the central metaphor for the piece, he located the technology within this supernatural framework.   

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