I don't really understand dowsing, but I have tried it in our back garden, without expecting any success, being a sceptic.
However, one day I got a couple of those old-fangled wire coat-hangars, and fashioned a couple of traditional (like on telly) -looking "dowsing rods". I put the words in inverted commas, as they were not "official" dowsing-rods, let's get that straight before I continue.
Anyway, the dowsing started, with me pacing up and down our back garden (south facing, but don't know if that matters), with the rods loosely held in my hands. To my surprise they both moved outwards and inwards at the same time at certain places. Now, I thought this was just chance, so I performed the same walk again, over the same ground, and the rods moved outwards and inwards together in exactly the same places.
I can't explain why, but all I know is that it happened, and I had witnesses, all of whom had no idea why either. I am still looking for a scientific reason, but can't find a convincing one.
My only question is, was I really dowsing? I wasn't looking for owt, just walking up and down the garden like a prat. I've read that dowsing is actually doing similar, but with concentrated thoughts about what you are looking for. My sister said she tried it whilst looking for something and it worked.
I don't think there is an exact 'official' blueprint for a dowsing rod other than them looking like an 'L' shape with one side longer than the other, a 'Y' shaped branch of a tree (just remembered that one but was the original wasn't it) and a quartz crystal pendant that my friend uses along with quite heavy steel rods made out of 1/4" bar (they don't get affected by wind apparently!!) VBB and Drew will no doubt be 'passing' comment at this point but it's not a 'wind' up!! :-)
Feeling a prat is what amateurs do but those that I've seen take it very seriously and concentrate 100% on what they are doing. At first my friend used to get out her pendant and hover it over a stone/patch of ground/photo/map/whatever and if I came near would quickly put it away because she knew how sceptical some people were and it takes their concentration away. Now that she knows I respect her views as much as I expect her to respect mine, she uses both pendant and rods naturally to what appears to be good effect. You take or leave what she says but I respect someone who doesn't ram it down your throat after 'seeing' what you don't see. A gift? I don't know, I just accept it for what it is and get on with my own thing because I may never understand hers but it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
I was always a sceptic before I tried for myself. I was at the Heritage Centre near to The Hurlers and they had some rods and stones there to try it out. I did and it seemed to work when I went near to the stones. I made some rods of my own and went back and tried it at The Hurlers. I walked the circles and was amazed when the rods came together and then separated as I walked over points in the circle where there was no stone but in the right position for one to have been. I'm sure there is something in it as I have tried at various places on Dartmoor as well and it works there as well.