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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Simply put, a pendulum is an object hanging by a cord attached to a fixed point that may be released to swing freely in space as gravity and inertia allow. The pendulum consists of a weight on the end of the string or cord which swings back and forth with a high degree of regularity. Pendulums are most commonly seen through their use in clocks.

The pendulum became a religious device when it was adopted for various FORTUNE TELLING purposes. Of course, its most popular use as a divinatory device is largely secular—namely, as a means of dowsing for water or other substances found in the earth. Pendulums often replace the forked sticks used by many dowsers. They have also been used for medical diagnoses (radiesthesia).

The theory behind the use of the pendulum assumes that the person using it is already sensitive to the object of the divination, and that the pendulum amplifies that sensitivity and that its movements make visible what would otherwise be invisible. In the nineteenth century, the pendulum was introduced into Spiritualism. It was believed that the spirits moved the pendulum in response to questions put to them and caused the pendulum to move in certain prearranged ways to give the answer. Commonly, answers will be limited to yes or no answers.

In the twentieth century, some people have emerged who claim that they can read the pendulum in sophisticated ways and draw from it more complicated answers than simple yes-or-no responses. It may be used for map dowsing, for instance. Pendulums, maintain some, can also point the way to desired objects by swinging them over a map, or they can provide medical data by swinging them over the picture of a person, or offer information useful in solving crimes.

Pendulums used for divination are among the items most vehemently attacked by skeptics who emphasize the lack of controlled experiments backing up the claims of those who use them in psychic contexts. In this case, the simplicity and verifiable nature of the pendulum make them ideal for experiments, while the same characteristics make them appealing to treasure hunters and those favoring alternative medical treatments.


Bentov, Itzhak, Stalking the Wild Pendulum: On the Mechanics of Consciousness. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1988.
Hitchings, Francis. Pendulum: The Psi Connection. London: Fontana, 1977.
Olson, Dale W. Pendulum Bridge to Infinite Knowing: Beginning through Advanced Instructions. Eugene, OR: Crystalline Pub., 1996.
Webster, Richard. Pendulum Magic for Beginners: Power to Achieve All Goals. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2002.
References in classic literature ?
The sweep of the pendulum had increased in extent by nearly a yard.
There was another interval of utter insensibility; it was brief; for, upon again lapsing into life there had been no perceptible descent in the pendulum.
The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles to my length.
Could I have broken the fastenings above the elbow, I would have seized and attempted to arrest the pendulum.
The measured movement of the pendulum disturbed them not at all.
But the stroke of the pendulum already pressed upon my bosom.
The pendulum of the great clock went to and fro, and the hands turned, and everything in the room became still older; but they did not observe it.
Here he again made it fast, and taking the loose end in his hand, clambered quickly down among the branches as far as the rope would permit him to go; then he swung out upon the end of it, his lithe, young body turning and twisting--a human bob upon a pendulum of grass--thirty feet above the ground.
Of Pan and the elemental forces, the public has heard a little too much--they seem Victorian, while London is Georgian--and those who care for the earth with sincerity may wait long ere the pendulum swings back to her again.
At such moments, starting from a windward roll, I would go flying through the air with dizzying swiftness, as though I clung to the end of a huge, inverted pendulum, the arc of which, between the greater rolls, must have been seventy feet or more.
He had very ingeniously manufactured a sort of Dutch clock from some disregarded odds and ends; and his vinegar-bottle served for the pendulum.
Hundreds of years ago, the great Italian scientist Galileo experimented with pendulums.