Pendulums are objects suspended from a fixed point so that they can swing freely back and forth. Small pendulums hung from strings, cords, ribbons, light chains, or similar strands are often used for divination. In such cases the pendulum is held steady, so that its string runs straight down from the fingers to the pendulum object— which is often a crystal—while the user asks a question and waits for the pendulum to move on its own. If and when this occurs, the direction of the movement is believed to provide a “yes” or “no” answer to the question.

Pendulums employed in this way often do seem to move on their own, and users say this is proof of their power. Sceptics, however, say that it is the result of a phenomenon called the ideomotor effect whereby the human brain sends messages to certain muscles in the body without letting the conscious mind know that it is doing so. As a result, a person might make small involuntary movements without being aware that he or she is responsible for the movements, which might be enough to move the string of a pendulum to make it swing.


  • Divinations
  • the Ideomotor Effect


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning