Firstly, this is a serious post. I realize that some sentences could be construed as masturbation jokes, but that's just a happy coincidence.
My dad can water-divine, which is the practice of locating underground water using some object (traditionally a fork-shaped branch). He learned it growing up as a farmer. Apparently it's really common among Australian farmers. Australia is obviously a fairly dry country, so farmers here rely heavily on bore water for their livestock. If you're going to dig a deep hole, you obviously want some sort of assurance that there's water at the bottom of it. Water divining is the method whereby they locate underwater "streams" to tap into with their bores.
Here's how it works: you hold your divining aid in front of you, horizontal from the ground usually, though that varies. Also variable is your divining aid. My dad uses a bit of fencing wire. Another friend uses a copper rod. Some use green wood. It changes from person to person. So you walk along with your divining aid (henceforth: rod) in front of you. Once you cross an underground stream, the end of your rod will turn in the direction the stream is flowing. This is not merely a twitch, but often such a strong pull that my dad tells me that it's impossible to hold the rod straight. Judging from the strength of the pull, experienced diviners can ascertain how far down the stream is, how fast the flow is, and even whether the stream is of salt or fresh water (very important in Australia with our salinity problems).
Dad says that some people can do it and some people can't. If you can do it, you can get better at it. If you can't do it, you'll never be able to do it. His brother, for instance, could never do it. The rod wouldn't move at all. As soon as dad put his hand on his brother's body, however, the rod would "work". Moreover, expert users could divine other substances, notably gold and other minerals. Apparently (anecdotally) many of the old Australian prospectors used to use this method to find gold in the days before the invention of metal detectors.
I'm sure I've lost many of you by now. Let me get weirder. The man who taught my dad to divine used to be so good at it that he could follow people. Western Australian police used to get him to help them track lost people.
This probably sounds like the new age ravings of an INFP, but I'm convinced that it's real. I should point out that, unlike many American farmers, Aussie farmers aren't (as a group) at all religious or prone to any kind of mysticism. They generally can't explain how it works, but none of them (that I've met) attribute it to any kind of spiritual activity. The popular theory is some kind of magnetism, but they don't really care how it works as long as it works.
So, my questions are:
1) What the hell is up with this?
2) Is this a practice you are familiar with?
3) Is this something that happens in your part of the world?