A Complete Guide to Pendulum Dowsing

pendulum divination header

What is pendulum reading?

For centuries, the simple pendulum has been a mainstay of divination, psychic reading and fortune telling. Today, pendulum reading (also called “pendulum dowsing“) is as popular as it has ever been. Used by amateur readers and psychic professionals alike, pendulum dowsing is a skill that’s easy to learn — and can be performed just about anywhere, and at any time.

A pendulum reading is performed by gently swinging the pendulum above a flat surface, and closely watching the subtle changes in the movement of the pendulum.

A pendulum reading is performed by gently dangling a pendulum above a flat surface, while watching for subtle changes in the movement of the pendulum. When a pendulum reader enters a meditative state, subtle shifts in energy or subconscious, involuntary movements in the reader’s hand will alter the movement of the pendulum in one direction or another.

By carefully observing the pendulum, skilled readers divine the answers they seek.

pendulum divination example

In this article we’ll cover every aspect of pendulum reading, and discuss how you can do your own pendulum readings for yourself or for clients.

First, the basics…

What’s the definition of a pendulum?

Simply put, a pendulum (in the context of pendulum dowsing or pendulum-reading) is any weight which hangs on a string, rope or chain from a fixed point so that it can swing back and forth in a small but natural arc.

A pendulum weight can be any size or shape, but in most cases it’s smaller than one’s pinky finger, and tapered or pointed at its lowest point.

A pendulum weight can be any size or shape, but in most cases it’s smaller than one’s pinky finger, and is tapered or pointed at the bottom.  Having a narrow, tapered point can help to gauge its position and measure its movements better. A “pointed” or tapered pendulum will also make things easier if you’re using a pendulum mat. (More on that later).

pendulum with tapered shape

Divination pendulum with a tapered shape

Many pendulums used for divination are also worn as necklaces or as jewelry. With a pendulum worn around the neck, readers can quickly perform readings anywhere.

Different types of pendulums

Pendulums can be crafted from nearly any material. Some common types of pendulums include:

The pendulum string or “dangle” can be any chain or string. It’s often decorated with small beads or charms, but should be flexible enough for the pendulum to swing freely. Many readers prefer a dangle made from plain string because it interferes the least with the movement of the pendulum.

Choosing a pendulum is a personal decision and there is no best pendulum for divination when it comes to the crafting material.

Choosing a pendulum is a personal decision and there is no best pendulum for divination when it comes to the crafting material. The only requirements are that you feel comfortable with the pendulum, that it can swing freely and that the dangle is long enough to allow for subtle movement. Dangles with too many beads or charms on them may look pretty, but they can prevent the pendulum from swinging freely.

Having a tapered pendulum point is also optional, but if you’re a beginner it’s highly recommended as it’s easier to track movements on your tabletop or your pendulum mat.

What is a pendulum mat?

A pendulum mat is a flat cloth or paper which is divided into sections. As the pendulum swings over the mat, the direction of the pendulum may shift to enter different sections of the mat.

pendulum mat on a table

When using a pendulum mat,  start with your pendulum dangling over the center of the mat, and watch for changes in pendulum movement towards one section or another.

You can purchase a pre-made pendulum mat, or print one out on a printer, or draw your own with a pen and paper.

Printable pendulum mat

Here is iFate’s free pendulum dowsing mat which you can print out. Click for a printer-friendly, hi-resolution image:

pendulum mat example

(click the image above for a printable version of this pendulum mat)

Do I need a pendulum mat for divination?

Pendulum mats are not required for pendulum reading or pendulum dowsing. Mats do however allow for easy-to-interpret readings and can allow for more specific answers. For example, a pendulum mat may contain information about zodiac signs, yes-or-no answers, male or female energies or compass directions.

Using a pendulum mat can add an extra layer of information, but it’s also one more piece of equipment you’ll need to have at the ready. If you’re reading on the go somewhere, it can be helpful to learn how to read without one as well.

Pendulum reading on your hand

For those not wishing to use a pendulum mat, another common pendulum reading technique is hand-reading with a pendulum. A pendulum hand reading is an excellent way of reading someone’s energy.

To read a pendulum’s energy on your own hand,  hold the pendulum above your palm, and track the movement of the pendulum as it radiates outwards from the center of the palm.

You can hold the pendulum with either hand, and read on the palm of either hand, there’s no “correct” hand to read with. You should use whichever feels comfortable to you. If you’re doing a pendulum reading for someone else, you should hold the pendulum for them above their hand.

It’s a good idea for your client to rest their hand on a table or surface, to keep their hand as motionless as possible.

How to do a pendulum reading in your palm

When performing a pendulum reading on your hand (sometimes called a “pendulum palm reading”, you can think of your hand like a pendulum mat. If you’re already familiar with palmistry, the meanings of the palm features are closely related.

pendulum palm reading


This type of pendulum palm reading can be excellent for determining the current energies which are active — and for getting insight into what types of work need to be done.


How does pendulum divination work?

Pendulum divination works by focusing your intuition and inner energy on the question in your mind. The pendulum acts as an extremely sensitive receiver, reflecting both your inner / subconscious movements, and the greater energy at work in the environment around you.

The pendulum acts as an extremely sensitive receiver, reflecting both your inner / subconscious movements, and the greater energy at work in the environment around you.

There is also evidence that the act of swinging the pendulum itself can induce a mild, meditative trance in the reader which adds a greater level of focus and applied intuition to the reading.  Pendulum readers will often swing the pendulum for some time, waiting for the correct “meditative mindset” before communicating results.

Lastly, pendulum swinging is influenced by the rotation of the Earth (as demonstrated by Focault’s pendulum), air pressure in the room, the moon’s phase and the position of the planets.

The movement of pendulums reflects dozens of internal and external influences with subtle but visible changes in movement. These changes in movement can provide remarkably accurate clues to skilled and receptive readers.

How to use pendulums for divination: Step-by-step

1. Cleanse your pendulum

If you’re familiar with cleansing tarot cards, then you’ll already have some good ideas for how to cleanse your pendulum of negative energies. It’s especially important to cleanse store-bought pendulums because they may have been handled by others.

Some common ways to cleanse your pendulum are:

  • Cleanse your pendulum by burning incense: You can hang your pendulum near the incense smoke for a period of time.
  • Cleanse your pendulum under a full moon: Simply leave your pendulum outside or by a window on the night of a full moon.
  • Cleanse your pendulum with crystals: Keep your pendulum next to crystals to absorb any residual energy.
  • Cleanse your pendulum with salt: Keeping your pendulum submerged in salt for a few minutes will clear any unwanted energies.

If you purchase a pendulum mat, be sure to cleanse your mat before using it as well.

2. Find your sacred space and time

Some pendulum readers prefer to do pendulum dowsing during specific lunar events like the New Moon or Full Moon to ensure consistent results. For most readers however, any quiet place that allows for focus and concentration is enough.

The most important part of your reading space is a flat surface like a table top or a counter. Many pendulum dowsers recommend avoiding other metal objects or tables with metal surfaces or parts.

3. How to swing your pendulum: Two approaches

Divination with pendulums is performed by holding the pendulum so that the lowest point of the pendulum hovers close to a flat surface — but does not make contact with the surface. The pendulum should be able to move freely, and its arc of motion should be undisturbed and unblocked.

There are two schools of thought regarding pendulum swinging:

  1. Some pendulum readers prefer to start the reading with the pendulum hanging as still as possible, and allowing the energies in the room to slowly influence the movement of the pendulum in one direction or another. After a few moments, the “hover” will begin to acquire energy and direction.
  2. The other approach to pendulum divination is to start the pendulum off with a very slight swing, while watching for changes or shifts in the direction of the pendulum, or changes in the amount the pendulum swings.

Either approach is good, and depends largely on the type of reading you’re doing, and whether or not you’re using a pendulum mat. If you’re using a mat, it often makes more sense to start the pendulum motionless in the center of the mat.

If you start your reading off with a slight swing, the degree of “swing” has to do with personal choice, and of course, the length of your dangle string. For most store-bought pendulum lengths (which are quite short), the pendulum should swing in an arc of somewhere around 30 degrees which is just an inch or two of distance. After some practice, you’ll find a style that works best for you. If you’re working with a longer than average pendulum string, forget the angle rule and just try to keep your swing-distance down to an inch or two.

pendulum divination angle

4. What to look for when you swing your pendulum

During a pendulum reading there are several types of movements to look for. How you interpret these movements will depend on your own perception and insight, and the type of reading you’re doing — or question you’re answering.

  • Look for changes in the amount the pendulum swings. If it suddenly starts to swing with a greater arc, this is a sign of increasing energy.
  • Look for a sudden slowdown in the swing of the pendulum, or a sense that the pendulum wants to “stick” to a certain spot. (Especially if you’re using a pendulum mat).
  • Look for changes in in the direction of the pendulum swing, as if the pendulum wants to “point” in a different direction.
  • Look for changes from a circular motion to a linear motion. A change to a linear motion may represent a clear answer, while a change to a circular motion often precedes “sticking” to a particular answer. If the swing increases and the motion turns circular, this may indicate an unclear answer or a “maybe”.


Can you make your own pendulum?

One of the easy things about learning pendulum reading is that you can improvise with almost anything. Here are some popular DIY pendulums which you can use right now:

  • An old necklace with a pendant can work very well.
  • An old key hanging from a string works too.
  • Long tapered seashells can also make excellent pendulums.

The most important thing is to use an object that you feel comfortable with, or that you feel some attachment to.

If you buy a pendulum, it’s important to spend some time “getting to know” your new pendulum, and always be sure to cleanse your pendulum before use.

It’s also very easy to make your own pendulum divination mat. Start by drawing a circle, and then dividing your circle into each of the possible answers you are considering.


What is a pendulum used for?

Knowing how and when to perform pendulum dowsing over other types of readings is an important part of fitting pendulum readings into your personal divination toolbox.

Generally speaking, pendulum readings are excellent for determining current energies.

Generally speaking, pendulum readings are excellent for determining current energies. Because pendulums act as highly sensitive “receivers”, they relay active energy extremely well. They tend to be less effective at predictive divination or for digging deep into past events.

A pendulum palm reading can be an excellent first step to gauge energy, emotion and mental state prior to a more intensive reading like an in-depth tarot reading or a chart reading.

That being said, if you want to explore using your pendulum for past influences or future outcomes — there’s no reason not to explore those additional dimensions.


Improving pendulum accuracy

Like any other form of divination, pendulum dowsing is a skill that gets better with practice. During your first readings, it’s very normal to not “see” the subtle moves your pendulum is making. As you practice, you’ll learn to let the pendulum “lead” you slightly — meaning, you’ll get the feeling that the pendulum wants to go somewhere.

As you read more, you’ll also learn to value smaller movements. Many beginners make large swings. Learn to appreciate subtle moves. You should never really see swings of more than 30 degrees unless you’re tapping into unusual energy. Most of the time, moves of 5 to 10 degrees are more common.

Lastly, take your time. Don’t look for a definitive move in your pendulum right away. Be prepared to watch your pendulum for a good amount of time before you “sync” with it.


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