Alan Neal Belief and Disbelief
Alan Neal has been teaching people in the west of England to dowse for the best part of two decades. Without him, the course of westcountry divining might have taken a very different course; and most of those present owe their own acquisition or development of the skill either to Alan himself, or to his students. When serious illness caused him to cancel this talk at short notice a year ago, many of us felt a sudden chill draught – and it was a delight to see our mentor back in action and fairly fit again this winter.
Like many dowsers, Alan started at the sharp end of the craft – finding water. While he has progressed ever deeper into the less well-defined areas of the dowser’s realm over the years, he remains firmly grounded in the practical use and the logical explanation of the skill.
For Alan, as with most practitioners, dowsing is just a fact; a personal reality rooted in solid experience. He is therefore somewhat surprised to find that in a world thoroughly shaken up by the Beatles generation, challenged by the Einstein tendency and then deeply perplexed by the contradictions of quantum physics, there are still people – even people who take the trouble to attend one of his courses – who find the whole concept of dowsing too weird even to give it a try. Back in the 20th century, maybe – but today, not willing to give it a go, because a cast-iron explanation has yet to be comprehensively catalogued by some personally unknown but academically renowned expert? It’s akin to claiming not to like curry, without ever tasting it. But, as Alan rightly points out, there are quite a few people of this inclination around, too.
Alan has always delighted in seeing the smile of the novice making their first discovery. Rarely does an AN course or a TDs field trip pass without someone breaking into a broad grin, or emitting an involuntary yelp, at the moment that their rods cross for the first time. Alan firmly believes that everyone can dowse to some extent – and it is only the unwillingness to suspend the disbelief of ingrained thought patterns that prevents some of them from making that first step; a step that leads towards the discovery that the world around them is so much more complex, and so much more exciting, that they could ever have realised.
Although he clearly reveres the work of T C Lethbridge and Billy Gawn, Alan is largely self-taught – and he remains a proudly independent thinker. His work in the field of earth energies is highly regarded, and his assertion that the major energy lines and leys are almost always underpinned by geological faults is now starting to be voiced across the dowsing community.
Alan’s view is that most everyday earth energy lines are due to the presence of minor fissures in the sub-strata of the earth’s crust. While this seems little more than common sense to those of us brought up in the Neal school, it has yet to gain common currency elsewhere, and remains one theory amongst many.
Alan was well ahead of his time in putting forward the idea that the ‘feel’ of a place is primarily a function of the energies that flow though it. So, a sacred site will invariably be found to host crossing watercourses, crossing earth energy currents and a major fault line – which so often coincides with the route of a significant ley. His prime examples – Warbstowbury Hill Fort in north Devon, St Cubert’s Church near Newquay in north Cornwall, and the Romano-British temple at Maiden Castle in Dorset – all graphically display this now well-documented phenomenon. Today, most earth energy dowsers and healers of the land would regard this view as little more than a statement of the obvious – but before Alan’s seminal work that was far from the case.
Yet to dwell on Alan’s scientific credentials is, in some way, to miss much of the worth of his work. For, as his own involvement has shown him, the world beyond the five gross senses becomes ‘curiouser and curiouser’ the more you peel back the layers. He has had quite a few experiences with what many would term the para-normal or the super-natural. Alan feels that these are inappropriate terms, as the spirit world and the presence of ghosts are just examples of the normal and the natural that we have yet to fully investigate and document. They may be experiences that challenge our comfortable worldview, but they are as real as the chairs on which we sit.
Alan’s own work with the Paranormal Society, and in particular his visits to the hugely haunted Pengersick Castle in West Cornwall, have taught him that not only are disembodied beings disarmingly real, but that the information they provide is extremely valuable in coming to a more rational understanding of life, death and the continuity of existence. This is not about belief as such; just the acceptance of personal experience, followed by investigation and deeper understanding. Indeed, he appreciates that unquestioning disbelief is a major barrier to our personal progress and, perhaps, even to our ultimate enlightenment.
Were it not for the brave expressions of dangerous and unconventional views by the likes of Copernicus, Gallileo and Giodarno Bruno (who was burnt at the stake for uttering such religious heresy), then maybe our concept of the cosmos today might still be that of a private sun circling a flat earth. Alan is a great supporter of continuing that maverick approach – of describing, and seeking to understand, your own experience, even when it seems to be at odds with the received wisdom of the day.
Alan’s recent illness may have slowed him down a little, but he has such a wealth of wisdom, drawn from across the dowsing spectrum and beyond, that the 50 plus audience gathered for this presentation were attentive to every carefully- constructed sentence. A real winter warmer session for the festive season.
Nigel Twinn, Tamar Dowsers December 2014