Man dowses for unmarked graves

DABBLING IN ART OF DOWSING — Sitting on the deck of his home on Saturday, Wayne Holmquist (right) demonstrates dowsing techniques with a plumb-bob, one type of tool used by dowsers. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

RAYMOND — When Wayne Holmquist was attending college, he wrote a thesis paper on dowsing.

He was able to accurately predict whether expectant mothers in the Eastern Maine Hospital maternity ward would give birth to a boy or girl, he said.

Only one of the pregnant women received a half-correct answer and a bit of a surprise when she brought twins – a boy and a girl – into the world.

Since his college years, the Raymond resident has continued to delve into dowsing. In fact, his hobby is almost like a second job.

He has been asked by abutting neighbors of proposed developments to prove there are burial sites on the said land. He has been invited onto the rural properties by landowners who are curious where old family burial plots might be. Earlier this month, he gave a presentation to a crowded room at the Raymond-Casco Historical Society Museum. His calendar includes future talks at historical societies in Limington and Gorham.

Holmquist’s tool is the plumb-bob; and his specialties are locating water, metals like silver, and cemetery plots. The movement of the plumb-bob also indicates to Holmquist whether an individual is male or female. The plumb-bob swings back and forth for the fairer sex; meanwhile, the apparatus moves in a circle if the person in question is a male.

The plumb-bob is similar to a level, used to determine if a wall is straight during construction. In fact since Egyptian times it was used in the manner — as a vertical level. It is a torpedo-shaped object with a string attached to the flat end. The dowser wraps the string around their fingers and allows the plumb-bob about three- to four-inches of string from which to swing.

Holmquist owns a couple of plumb-bobs: one is made of copper, and the other is ceramic. He uses the heavier metal one when he is working outside, looking for potential wells or gravesites. The smaller ceramic one is more easily swayed by the wind. So, he uses that one indoors or outdoors on calm days, he said.

By reading the plumb-bob, Holmquist receives specific answers — depending on which way the object sways over a paper with the four directions of the compass.

It was during his childhood years that Holmquist first became acquainted with dowsing. His family invited a water dowser to assist in finding the best location for a well on their newly-acquired farmland.

“That fascinated me. How he could use a stick to know where the water was,” he said.

“But, unless you drill a well you never know whether it’s right or not,” he said.

In the case of the dowser who pinpointed the strongest source of water on the property, the family drilled the well, which yields water to this day.

Holmquist remembers, as a six-year-old boy, asking to test out the wooden stick that the dowser had used to find the water running unseen below the ground.

“I said, ‘Your stick is broke.’ The man took my wrists gently in his hands, and the stick started to move on its own,” he said.

Almost immediately, Holmquist was hooked on the art of dowsing. He has spent countless hours testing and directing his talent.

“You have to test it for yourself,” he said, explaining that most dowsers have an affinity for one or two dowsing implements.

“I started with dowsing for water because that’s what I saw and knew about,” he said.

His gift for dowsing has had practical uses.

“I bought 26 acres with two friends and I dowsed for all the wells,” he said.

However, his dowsing techniques did not give him any extra insight into the stock market.

“I’ve tried dowsing for stock market indicators. I spent hours, months on it because I was going to get rich and famous. For six months, I would ask the plumb-bob questions like, ‘Is Ford stock going to rise by one-quarter tomorrow?’ The stock didn’t do what the plumb-bob predicted. Maybe, it could answer questions about the future. I was wrong in theory,” he said.

People respond with interest and sometimes skepticism to Holmquist’s ability to use the plumb-bob to locate graves or buried bodies.

He said he has never found an unmarked plot that had more than six people buried in its borders. Some plots can measure up to 20 by 20.

He starts by dowsing where people suspect the graves are located. He walks from north to south first to narrow down the area. Then, he uses the plumb-bob while walking in an east-west direction.

He marks the four corners where the plumb-bob reacted the most.

“The typical Christian burial, the feet are in the east for the Resurrection. In a typical burial, the daughter will be buried next to the wife,” he said.

Once, he was working with the plumb-bob in Limington, in a place where a regional paranormal society had been.

“When I locate where people are buried, I get different reactions from the plumb-bob. I was dowsing the ground in Limington, and I got the strongest reaction. We cannot get the history, but there are two burial sites on state property. If I had to guess, the person went mad and became a murderer,” he said.

In Westbrook, a group of neighbors near land being eyed for development claimed the space had been an old family cemetery. It is unlawful in every state in America to build on a place where someone has been buried. So, Holmquist dowsed for gravesites, and found bodies there.

“Usually, if I go to court and I show my evidence, the judge will tell the developer, ‘You can dig until you find a body,’ ” he said.

“There is nothing wrong either way. You have to test if for yourself,” he said.

“I’ve spent hours and hours testing myself, experimenting with metals, satisfying my curiosity about the limits with it,” he said.

“Anyone who has watched it tends to believe,” he said.


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