David Fisse of Ashland uses a metal pendulum to find resevoirs of water using the ancient art of dowsing. 2/15/08 Denise Baratta

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It's all about the pendulum for David Fisse.

Fisse's life has taken several career paths, but it was his curiosity that led him into the ancient craft of dowsing.

The pendulum — a small, stainless-steel device weighing just a few ounces — has become Fisse's dowsing instrument of choice.

About 15 years ago, Fisse observed some utility workers on Holly Street in downtown Medford looking for a water line using a pair of L-rods, 3-foot lengths of welding iron bent six inches at a 90-degree angle.

Fisse — curious at what he was seeing — approached the workers and said, "Hey, let me try."

The 63-year-old owner of Northwest Design and Drafting in Medford became intrigued when "the L-rods crossed every time I crossed the water line."

This initial experience catapulted Fisse into the unexplainable realm of dowsing.

At first, Fisse unsuccessfully tried to cash in on his newly discovered skill using L-rods to mine for gold along the Salmon River in Northern California.

"I was really interested in finding gold," says Fisse, "but I never had any luck. Water I'm good at, gold I'm not."

Fisse's pursuit of learning the craft was furthered through a chance meeting a couple of years later at his home-show booth at the Medford Armory. This is where Fisse became acquainted with his dowsing mentor, professor "Meech" Meecham.

Meecham, a retired aerospace engineer who has since passed away, had dowsed several hundred wells in this area, according to Fisse.

Over a period of years, Meecham took Fisse along on dowsing jobs. Fisse watched as the old master discovered water on different properties. Meecham also turned Fisse on to the pendulum.

"He told me anyone can dowse," says Fisse. "He showed me you could dowse for more than water. But he didn't have a lot of answers for me."

The pendulum Fisse uses has about a four-inch chain with a plumb-bob-shaped piece of stainless steel on the bottom.

"A pendulum is small and I can carry it in my watch pocket," says Fisse. "But the instrument can be anything. It can be a (candy) lifesaver on a string."

When Fisse looks for water on a property, the first thing he wants to know is where the septic system is located because a 100-foot clearance is necessary. Also, he looks for a place that is level enough to allow a well-drilling rig access.

He's learned that crossing his legs or being close to any metal will affect the accuracy of his dowsing.

"I walk with the pendulum swinging back and forth," explains Fisse. "When I come across a water vein, the pendulum will go left-to-right."

Once a vein is found, Fisse follows the vein to a spot where it crosses another vein. Another lesson Fisse has learned is to not stand right over the vein or it will throw off his estimations.

This happened on his first well-dowsing experience, which was on his property south of Ashland on a slope west of Interstate 5.

"I wanted to make sure I was good at it before I began selling my services," says Fisse. "I hit the depth, 212 feet, right on the money, but I was way off on my volume."

Fisse charges $250 for his services in Jackson County. He guarantees a 100 percent refund if he is not accurate to within 25 percent for depth and volume.

Daryl Baker of Ashland Drilling is impressed with Fisse's predictions the half-dozen times he has followed him with well drilling.

"He gave an estimate on depth and production that was very atypical of that area," says Baker, about a Fisse-dowsed well in Shady Cove, "and he was dead on."

Baker expected to have to drill to about 400 feet; instead more than 100 gallons a minute was found at 160 feet.

"It's refreshing to have something like that happen," says Baker. "That was a great success for Dave."

Baker also drilled a well dowsed on Fisse's property within the past year that produced 100 gallons per minute at 256 feet. Baker said he drilled a well on a different property just above Fisse's that yielded 7 gallons per minute at about 800 feet.

"He lives in an area that has tombstone granite, a tight rock formation that typically does not yield that high a volume of water especially at that depth," says Baker.

In Baker's 20 years in the business of well drilling, he has worked with dowsers' information on more than 1,000 wells and only five or six times have their predictions come in as accurate as what he's seen from Fisse.

"It's not scientific and way out of the normal realm," says Baker. "Quite frankly I have seen nothing better."

Once a well location is found, Fisse quizzes the pendulum on five elements: accuracy of dowsing; water quality; depth of the water; volume of water; and static level.

Fisse tries to find the spot where the pendulum will give him his most accurate forecast. On a scale from zero to 10, Fisse poses the question, "What's the accuracy of my dowsing?" Depending on the clockwise movement of the pendulum, he might have to change locations before asking the follow-up questions.

Water quality is the first question to answer because if the quality is not good, then no other questions need to be asked.

Next Fisse usually tries to learn the depth.

"You have to be real specific because the pendulum doesn't read your mind," says Fisse. "I'll say, 'What's the depth of this water vein from zero to 300? If the pendulum swings halfway it would be about 150 feet. I'll get more specific asking the feet of the depth to get more accurate."

He will go through a similar process with the other questions to get a complete assessment.

Fisse has expanded the use of the pendulum in learning about other things in daily life, such as lost objects, health related issues and truthfulness.

"The answers come from the great computer in the sky," says Fisse. "It's something far out like channeling. I don't really have an explanation — it just works."

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