Updated 24th June 2021.
Pendulum dowsing is my favourite way of connecting with Spirit! I’ve been dowsing for myself for 14 years now, on a weekly (if not daily) basis. I also teach pendulum dowsing to my students and have done for years.
This has given me many opportunities to encounter the common dowsing pitfalls, like “why is my pendulum giving me the wrong answers?”
So if you want to know why your pendulum is not cooperating, I’ve got you covered. We’re going to look at every possibility out there.
Here are the 6 possibilities for your pendulum giving you wrong answers or mixed answers:
1. You haven’t programmed it correctly
You can’t just buy a pendulum and then jump into using it. You have to do a bit of preparation work first.
So, if you have just bought a pendulum and then jumped straight into using it, you need to backtrack and set it up correctly. Here’s an article where I guide you through programming your pendulum. Read that through, follow the instructions, and then if you’re still having issues with your pendulum giving you mixed answers, come back to this article.
Let’s say that you’ve cleared your pendulum and programmed it correctly, but your pendulum is still giving you mixed answers. What else could the problem be?
2. It could be because you asked a question that was not a ‘good’ one.
These ‘bad questions’ include questions like, ‘When will I meet my soul mate?’ (future prediction questions are quite problematic – I explain why here.)
Another type of ‘bad’ question would be: ‘Should I take this new job I’ve been offered?”
“Should” questions are problematic, too, for a different reason. Rather than asking ‘should’ questions, instead think about what your desired outcome in and ask how aligned is your course of action with your desired outcome. So, for example you could ask: “Is taking this new job aligned with my desired outcome of having better mental health?” That is a much easier question for Spirit to answer than “Should I take this job?”
I won’t go into all the scenarios where your question might be a bad one, but for more on how you can phrase your questions to get the answers you want, you might like to check out this article: The Importance of a Good Question. I also cover this topic in more depth in my Intuitive Awakening Course.
2. Another common reason why your pendulum is giving you wrong answers is because you did not quiet your mind before dowsing.
This is important to do because the pendulum doesn’t just respond to your questions – it also responds to your thoughts!
So sometimes your pendulum can seem to do something a little bit crazy, like responding to a question in an erratic way or in a way that doesn’t make sense. It can sometimes be because you’re having a thought in addition to asking the question. The pendulum is responding to the thought as well as the question.
To give you an example of what this might look like, let’s say that you’re dowsing and you ask a question. But maybe you’re quite hungry and you just have this thought about dinner coming into your mind.
Now, as funny as that sounds, when you’re a beginner dowser, your pendulum is going to respond to that thought just as it would respond to a question. This is because we can either ask a question out loud or we can use our inner voice inside our head. And it’s the same as just having a thought. So unless you’re a very experienced dowser, your pendulum is going to respond to whatever is going on in your head. So, you do need to be aware of that.
Obviously, the ideal state is to not have any thoughts coming in at all. But I don’t expect you to achieve that because it’s a little bit difficult to have a completely still mind while you’re dowsing. Just for you to be aware of it anyway if your pendulum gives you wrong answers, that’s one possibility.
For more on quietening your mind, check out this article: The Alpha State – Why Is It Essential to Psychic Development
3. You are accidentally channeling an earthbound spirit with your pendulum
Sometimes when someone has an earthbound spirit in their energy field that can cause problems with accuracy. We cover that possibility (and prevent it) in both of my courses. For more on earthbound spirits, here’s an article about that. I also teach people how to clear earthbound spirits in chapter one of my book The Empath’s Toolkit.
Let’s have a look at another possibility for your pendulum giving you wrong answers:
4. You’re way too attached to the answer
Another possibility for your pendulum giving you mixed answers is that you are too attached to the outcome, so you are making the pendulum swing a certain way. If that is the case, leave the question alone until you have found a place of not caring about it as much. Sometimes, even after thousands of readings done for clients, sometimes I can still find it hard to get answers about things I really, really want. It’s hard to be objective about those things, so don’t sweat it if you find yourself in that position. Leave it alone for a few days, and come back to it when you feel differently. Or alternatively, have someone else read for you.
5. It doesn’t serve you to have the answer to your question right now
Finally, if your pendulum is giving you mixed answers, ask your Higher Self “Does it serve me to have the answer to this question right now?” If you are asking about something and it is not good for you to have the answer right now (for example, knowing it will interfere with a life lesson you are learning), you may get misinformation or conflicting answers.
Note that these possibilities could also apply if you are attempting to channel info on any question, using a method that does not involve pendulum dowsing (e.g. channelling or automatic writing) and you’re not having much success.
6. My pendulum is still giving me wrong answers – the pendulum doesn’t respond at all, or I am getting mixed answers
Sometimes when you are not getting accurate information through dowsing, it can be because you have some unconscious blocks or fears around using the pendulum. This could come from a past life when you were killed or hurt for using your intuitive skills or spiritual guidance. Or it could just be your conscious mind telling you that you can’t make dowsing work for you.
Using one or more of the following clearing statements should help you get the pendulum to respond to your questions. I would recommend saying them out loud as often as you need to. (These affirmations were passed on to me by a colleague of mine):
“I release all fear of using the pendulum. I release all belief, perception, and judgement that I cannot or should not use a pendulum. I release all need and desire to believe that I cannot or should not use a pendulum. I now completely accept and believe and instruct my subconscious to accept and believe on every level of my being, conscious and subconscious, that I can use a pendulum, and that I will receive strong signals and accurate information.”
“I release all fear of answering the question. I release all resistance to the answer. I give my subconscious mind permission to answer the question.”
These statements reprogram the subconscious mind to reduce fear or resistance. In the beginning, you may find it necessary to use releasing statements several times to obtain a yes or no answer from your pendulum.
If you have tried everything and dowsing still didn’t work for you – try another method of connecting with your guides, such as a guided visualisation, claircognizance or clairaudient channelling, automatic writing, oracle cards or Tarot. In my Intuitive Awakening Course, we go into 7 methods – there is no point getting attached to one method if it doesn’t work for you, because there will be another one that will!
Below I have also compiled a list of other pitfalls that people experience with pendulum dowsing, and how to get past them, in case any dowsing beginners out there may find them helpful.
Dowsing Pitfall #1: My pendulum swings too slowly/the movements are too small for me to make them out. What is going on?
It actually very common & normal when you’re a beginner for your pendulum to take a wee while to move initially. It usually gets quicker, the more experienced you are. However, if you want to speed it up, or your pendulum movements are too small to discern – here are a few tips to help you (- please note that the solution for both of these problems: the pendulum moving too slowly, and the movements being too small almost always have the same cause.)
1. Relax your arm!
Often when the movements are too small or slow, it is because your arm is tense, and it is making it difficult for the movements to come through. This is often connected to some worry around ‘getting it right’. So try relaxing your muscles – you’re not going to get more accurate answers by clenching your arm.
Here’s a relaxation exercise you can do before dowsing: clench every muscle in your body really hard (including your insides, your pelvic floor, and your face – don’t do this in public or around other people as it can look really funny!)
Hold that for 10 seconds and then let go. You will now be slightly more relaxed than you were before. Do it a few times if necessary.
2. Make sure you’re holding your pendulum in the right place
What beginners sometimes do is hold their pendulum close to the end of the string – at the top:
And that’s not good because the movement of the pendulum is going to be too slow if you hold it all the way up here.
So the ideal place to hold your pendulum (to have sufficient control of it) is about half way down the string (about 6 inches from the pendulum). You can see some little knots I have tied for myself around the place I like to hold my pendulum.
You don’t want to hold it all the way down the string near the pendulum, either. In the middle is best – holding it at either extreme is not good because it can either slow the pendulum down or it’s just so close that it’s very fast.
3. Support your arm properly
Rest your elbow on something. If not, you can end up clenching your arm muscles to support the pendulum, and that can lead to smaller or slower movements. I usually rest my elbow (the elbow on the arm I am using to dowse) on a table.
Or if I don’t have a surface in front of me, I rest it in my other hand (I have my other arm across my belly and with the hand just underneath the other elbow.)
Pendulum Dowsing Pitfall #2: I ask my pendulum a question, and sometimes have the answer pop into my head before the pendulum responds! It is quite off-putting – it makes me feel like I am making the answers up, and my thoughts are taking over?
Actually, it IS totally normal to have the answers pop into your head before the pendulum has time to respond. This frequently happens to my students – it means you have some claircognizance and that is kicking in. It doesn’t generally mean your thoughts are taking over.
Dowsing Pitfall #3: I double-checked the answers I got from my pendulum and it gave me something different the second time?! What is that about?
With dowsing, never ask the same question twice – always go with your first answer. If you start second-guessing the first answer you got, it can really mess up the whole process and bring the energy of doubt into it. Asking again is like saying to Spirit: “I’m not sure about the first answer/it wasn’t good enough – can you give me a different one?” That is not productive because you are then affecting the outcome of the dowsing, based on the answer that your ego wants.
Do you use dowsing? Got any other tips that work for you? Please share in the comments below!
And if you are looking for further tips and insights for connecting with your Spirit Guides and Higher self, you will want to check out my free e-course ‘How To Channel Your Spirit Guides (Even If You’ve Never Had a Spiritual Experience Before!)‘
Update: here are the answers to a few more common questions I have had from pendulum dowsing students since writing this article:
Question #1: When asking a question with a pendulum, do I need to ask the question out loud or is it okay if I ask questions with my inner voice?
Answer: You don’t need to ask questions out loud unless you want to. Most people use their inner voice.
Question #2: If I am asking a series of questions while dowsing should I stop the pendulum between questions?
Answer: Yes, if your pendulum has responded with its answer and is not winding down its movements, I think it’s best to stop it physically and move on to the next question.
Question #3: Sometimes when I ask a question while dowsing, the pendulum waits 10 seconds to move before it responds – is this normal?
Answer: Yes. Your description of the pendulum taking a wee while to move is actually very common and normal when you’re a beginner. It usually gets quicker, the more experienced you are.
Question #4: Should I energetically cleanse my pendulum between dowsing sessions? Or before I use it for the first time?
Answer: I probably wouldn’t bother clearing your pendulum between uses (that would be overkill as far as I’m concerned), but it can be a good idea to clear your pendulum every couple of months, as objects can take on energetic residues from their environment and it’s also a good idea to clear your pendulum before you use it. To clear your pendulum periodically and before you use it for the first time, bury it in a pot plant or put it outside in the soil overnight. You can also bury your pendulum in a bowl of sea salt, as this can effectively clear any negative energies your pendulum may have picked up.
Question #5: I made my pendulum by decoratively wire-wrapping an amethyst point I’ve had for years. I cleansed and charged the crystal before wrapping it. The wire is made of silver-plated copper. My questions are, would the pendulum’s materials have any effect on its efficacy? Would there be any sort of bias in its answers? Is there any advantage to using one type of crystal as a pendulum over another?
Answer: The only advice I would give here is to not use a pendulum made of wood or plastic. I also don’t recommend glass pendulums either, simply because they break so easily. Pendulums made of crystal or metal are fine.
Another troubleshooting tip that works for me: When I’m aware that I’m attached to one particular outcome (which might cause the pedulum to give a “false” answer), I ask my question and then immediately follow the question with the words”yes or no”. I say “yes or no” over and over again, very quickly, yesornoyesornoyesornoyesorno etc. until I get a firm response from my pendulum. This works for me because it distracts my conscious brain for long enough that I can get an accurate response from my pendulum.
I tried dowsing a few years ago & not realizing that a very negative spirit had come through. Sought help from a medium to remove this negative spirit & it worked. How can I avoid the same thing happening again!
Janet – thanks for sharing that tip!
John De Berardinis – you would need to get some training with an intuitive, healer or a shaman who can teach you how to protect yourself from these spirits and help them to cross over (i.e. release them) in case you do have one pester you or interfere with your dowsing.
I teach students in my Intuitive Awakening course (and other courses, too) how to do this. It is actually a quick and easy (and even enjoyable) process helping these spirits to cross over.