Pagans and Pendulums

If you haven’t read my Paganism crash course, you should read that before starting this one!

Growing up in a Catholic school, I remember that the “new girl” in my 3rd grade class had this odd looking crystal on a chain one day at lunch. It was swinging in different directions and she seemed to be talking to it. Confused, I asked her what it was. She explained that it was a pendulum that allowed her to talk to spirits. If it spun to the right, it was a yes to your question. If it spun to the left, it was a no. Later on, she got in trouble because my teachers told her that it only spoke to demons.

Pendulums, like most tools used in divination, are wildly misunderstood. They have a historical purpose and a modern day purpose, as well as typical false assumptions and such. There are many different tools for divination such as tarot cards, runes, numerology, crystal balls, dowsing rods, teacups, Ouija boards and more. Pendulums are the most popular among them and typically the most simple for beginners.

History of Pendulums

A pendulum was used to gain knowledge that was both scientific and practical. Pendulums in the Vietnam war were used to detect underground mines and tunnels. Doctors in France used pendulums to diagnose illnesses and predict gender. The swaying motion of the pendulum is hypnotizing and it’s easy to understand why many previously thought that there may be a power behind it. However, the use for pendulums today is a little different.

What are pendulums?

Pendulum and a tarot card.

To start with, they aren’t these possessed tools that a spirit lives within. A pendulum does not know anything that you do not know as the user. A pendulum is really a tool to connect you to your unconscious in order to receive psychic messages. Divination tools such as the pendulum just bypasses your conscious mind and goes straight to your subconscious mind.

Some also use pendulums as a way of contacting spirits. Once you call for a spirit, it should signal their presence by moving the pendulum. A helpful tip when summoning a spirit to your pendulum is to do it over a tarot card. However, whatever you use pendulums or divination for, it is important to remember that not everything revealed will come to light. It is important to not become dependent on divination but rather use it as a guide for your future train of thought.

How to use a pendulum?

Two Methods

There are a few factors when it comes to actually using a pendulum and two different methods. The most common way to use a pendulum is called the free hand method. This means you are simply asking it yes or no questions. To start, ask your pendulum to show you what a yes and a no looks like. You will watch for the pendulum to sway bath and forth, side to side, counter-clockwise or clockwise in response. To verify what is yes and what is no, ask simple questions like “Is is currently June?”

Pendulum Board.

The second method is a pendulum board. This allows the user to ask more than simple yes or no questions. Be sure to hold the pendulum somewhere on the board where it is not hovering over any specific answer. You can also make your own board pretty easily and for cheap.


Most pendulums are created out of crystals and each crystal results in a different experience for the user. For example, the most common and easiest for beginners is a quartz crystal pendulum. It allows for answers to be easily picked up and to amplify the energy through the pendulum. Rose quartz is great for people who are sensitive and need a gentle touch. Amethyst is for those that are having issues with trusting their intuition and need guidance to connect to their higher self. Lastly, black obsidian is the crystal for those that hate vague answers. To make this even more chaotic for beginners, the shape of the pendulum is also a factor.


Pendulum drawing by baiir on Tumblr.

Pendulums come in a variety of different shapes, such as a regular sphere. Sphere pendulums allow for more energy to be picked up and is great for dowsing energy fields. Point pendulums draw insight from the user and great for beginners as the points allow energy to flow from you to the base to the tip. Merkaba pendulums has a much wider range of picking up energy and allows for guides/ spirits/ ancestors to help with your divination.

Actually using a pendulum

To start using a pendulum, you first need to clear your mind before you do anything. You need to open that channel from your subconscious to your pendulum. Hold the chain of your pendulum in between your thumb and pointer finger. Take a few deep breaths afterwards and ask it to show you a yes and a no. A general rule of thumb is if the pendulum moves in a clockwise motion or front to back swing, it’s a yes. If it moves counter-clockwise or left to right motion, it’s a no. It is also important to recognize a “weak yes” and “weak no”, which you will come to recognize with practice.

Hand painted pendulum board.

Pendulums require a steady hand, so it may take time to really get the hang of it. It’s also helpful to eventually create a pendulum board, which can be done as easily as a piece of cloth and some index cards. You also don’t need a fancy pendulum; all you really need is something weighted on a string. For example, keys on a lanyard or even a needle and thread.

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