A Bruja's Guide to Pendulum Readings

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Mediums, healers, and brujas have been using pendulums and pendulum dowsing since ancient times. There's evidence of dowsing dating back to 16th century Germany, when they used dowsing rods to uncover buried minerals and find water wells. But it's believed to go back even further to Ancient Egypt and China, where historians believe pendulums were used to communicate with the divine. To this day, we still use the pendulum as a divination tool to ask tough questions and gain clarity. While the way they are used varies from person to person, pendulums can pick up strong energies in the atmosphere. Some people use them to tap into what they believe are their true unconscious thoughts, while others maintain that they're the best way to connect with your spirit guides. However you choose to use your pendulum, it's a great entry point into divination work and getting to know and trust your spirit guides and inner self.

While tarot is still the most ubiquitous form of self-divination, pendulums are best for yes or no questions. They can also be a great addition to oracle cardswhen you need a solid answer. If you're going to a reader who uses pendulums, make sure you know where they are channeling from — not all connections are created equal. I don't want someone's random relative giving me advice; I want elevated spirits, santos, and guides in the mix — otherwise, what's the point? We want to always consider where the information is coming from and whether it feels valid and resonant.

How to Use Your Pendulum

When I do a reading for myself or a client, I hold the string between my thumb and index finger in my right hand, with my left palm facing up a few inches underneath the hanging pendulum. I work with benevolent spirit guides and ancestors, so I make sure to ask for their guidance and protection; I also note specifically which spirit guide or ancestor I'd like to answer my questions. If I'm tapping into my intuition, I try to meditate and quiet my mind so as to not influence the outcome of my questions.

How to Pick Your Pendulum

A pendulums can be made out of pretty much anything — it's just a small weighted object on a string or chain. My first time picking up a pendulum was the first time I felt a magnetic pull to an inanimate object. It looked like a brass bullet with a bit of a wood inlay at the end of a black cord, and the weight in my hands just felt right. It's said that, generally, your divination tools will pick you, and that was definitely true for me. As a rule of thumb, I say choose whatever moves you. If it gives you a little tingle or a warm feeling, it's probably the one.

Cleansing Your Pendulum

Before using your pendulum, cleanse it to make sure any residual energies are gone. You can use holy water, oils, or incense, depending on the composition of your pendulum. Obviously, we don't want to wet stones and metals that aren't meant to get wet. In my practice, I cover the whole thing with cascarilla before I get started.

Programming Your Pendulum

To program your pendulum, hang it and then give it commands. Tell the pendulum or guides to show you a "yes," touch the pendulum to your hand to reset it, then ask it to show you a "no." Generally, a forward and backward swing is a "yes," a side to side swing is a "no," and going in circles, to me, means "maybe." If the pendulum doesn't swing at all, you may need to rethink or rephrase your question or address other things first. I make sure to tell my pendulum and/or guides to only speak the truth. You can also determine the fervor of the response by how hard the pendulum swings in either direction.

What Do You Say Before Using a Pendulum?

What you say to open up a reading really depends on you and your spiritual beliefs. It's always good to pray out loud to your ancestors for guidance and protection before you proceed. It's also a good idea to set the intention — why are you asking questions in the first place? What do you wish to accomplish or gain clarity about? To start, ask easy and obvious questions to make sure you're getting the right responses, such as "Is it Tuesday?" or "Is my last name [X]?" Then start asking what you really want to know in a yes-or-no format. When you finish, thank your pendulum and spirits and store it in a small bag or satchel. Let the spirits know that you're done and that they can go.

Where Can You Buy a Pendulum?

Pendulums can usually be bought at any crystal or esoteric shop. You can also buy them online, but in my opinion, it's best to feel them out in real life. Crystals and metals all have their own vibe, and it's best to see if they're compatible with your own energy. If you have a crystal or stone that you really love, you can always put it on a chain and use that, too. House of Intuition has some cute ones you can check out, like their Black Tourmaline Pendulum ($24).