Pendulums – How They Work and How to Use Them

What is a pendulum?

In popular use, a pendulum usually refers to any weighted object that can swing back and forth.

You’ve probably seen pendulums (or pendula) on old clocks.  The pendulum is the round thing below the face of the clock, and the pendulum swings back and forth, rhythmically, keeping time.

If you pause the pendulum, the clock stops working.

In ghost hunting, a pendulum is usually a small, heavy object — like a stone, a crystal, or even a piece of metal — suspended from a cord, ribbon, or chain.  A necklace can be ideal for this.

Some pendulums are highly decorative.  Some of them have been blessed.  Each one is unique and will respond differently.

A person — usually a psychic or a medium — holds the cord, ribbon, or chain so the heavy object can swing freely.  Then, that person asks a question.  The movement of the pendulum determines the answer.

Most of my pendulums come from Sean Paradis‘ company, Sleeping Meadows.  (I think he’s closed his shop, but check with him, just in case.)

In my tests, the ones he makes have been the most responsive, and I own a variety of stones and colors. I use each for a different purpose, usually working with my “gut feeling” about which pendulum the spirit will respond to.

How to use a pendulum

The end of the string is held between the forefinger and thumb so that the object can swing freely.  You can pinch the cord or chain at the very top, with your hand at an angle so your fingers are out of the way.

Or, you can drape the cord or chain over the middle of your index finger, and keep it from slipping by applying gentle pressure from your thumb onto the cord or chain, against your finger.


Fiona Broome's adviceIf you’d just like to experiment with this, you can make your own pendulum by tying any heavy bead or small pendant to a string or cord.  The string should be about ten inches long.

You should be able to decide if pendulums work for you (they won’t work well for everyone) and if you like them.

Some people are naturally gifted at pendulum use.  This seems to have no connection with whether they’re believers or skeptics.

Some people can use pendulums, but they internalize the energy.  That’s not a good idea.  If you can’t remain completely separate from the pendulum you’re using, stop immediately.  Do not allow outside energy to be channeled through your body to the pendulum.   (And, if you can’t tell the difference, don’t use a pendulum.  The risks are too great.)

If you decide that a pendulum is right for you, I recommend professionally crafted pendulums.  You’re likely to get better results.  However, try a homemade pendulum or two, before investing in a professional-grade pendulum.


Next, you should try some baseline readings.  It’s important to verify these every time you use the pendulum.

Start with the pendulum entirely still.  Ask it a question with a yes or no answer that you already know.

Note the way that the pendulum swings in response.  It may swing from side to side or from front to back.  Or, it may swing in a clockwise or counter-clockwise manner.

Now, ask another question with a different yes or no answer.  Compare the results.

Repeat this several times until a clear pattern is established.  (If no pattern emerges, you may need to use other divinatory tools.  Pendulums don’t work for everyone, and it has no bearing on the person’s psychic abilities.)

In haunted sites, you can ask, “Is this room haunted?” or a similar question.  The more active the pendulum movement, the stronger the spiritual energy is at that site.

Even in the hands of a skeptic, we’ve seen a pendulum swing so wildly, the weight snapped off a new chain and flew across the room.

I’ve created two different charts for use with your pendulum.  To use either of them, hold the string so that the tip of the pendulum is about two inches above the center “dot” at the bottom of the half-circle.  Then, ask your question.

One chart is designed for simple, yes/no questions.  You can draw this on a sheet of paper, and use it yourself.  The pendulum should favor one direction/answer more than any other.  If it doesn’t rephrase your question, or take a break and return to this later. (Click on the image to download a printable JPG of this chart for your own use.)

Pendulum chart - yes or no

The next kind of chart can be used to ask anything with numbers, such as the ghosts age when he or she left physical form. (Or, if the ghost believes that he or she is still alive, ask what year it is now.)

Pendulum Chart 2 - numbers - illustrationClick here to print the numbers chart — it’s a JPG you can print.

You can create your own charts on paper, providing many other kinds of answers, too.  They could include letters of the alphabet, people’s names, places, or things specific to the life of the ghost you’re contacting.

No matter which chart you use, if the pendulum swings towards you, off the chart, try rephrasing your question.  Or, the ghost may want you to answer the question for yourself, first, and then have spirit confirm it with a yes or a no.

If you are adept with a pendulum, I recommend professional pendulums designed for ghost hunters and psychic mediums, such as those from Sleeping Meadows.

Try one at first, to see how it works for you.  If you did just as well (or better) with your homemade pendulums, keep using your homemade tools.

Some people achieve remarkable results with pendulums.  Others don’t.  It’s not a measure of how good you are at ghost hunting or communicating with spirits.  It’s more like singing or running… different people have different talents.  Someone who can play the violin may be perfectly awful at the piano.

However, one of the great things about pendulums, besides their simplicity, is that you can try this on your own without spending a cent.

Pendulum Experiments

This past weekend — en route the Mal’s Pals benefit where Kris Williams was speaking — Sean Paradis presented me with a wonderful collection of his latest pendulums.  I’ve mentioned them before, because they’re so extraordinary, and they’ve led me to re-think my disdain for pendulums in paranormal research.

My history with pendulums

As a kid, I used a pendulum now and then.  Like many teen girls, my friends and I briefly used a pendulum to find out the name of our future husbands.  I have no idea of the success rate, and suspect that subtle (and some not-so-subtle) physical movements aided the responses.  Perhaps that’s one reason why I didn’t use pendulums for the first 10+ years of my paranormal research; I didn’t take most divination tools seriously.

However, in the 1990s, a few ghost hunters were using pendulums and they seemed to be successful.

So, about a dozen years ago, I conducted pendulum experiments at Gilson Road Cemetery.  I assembled a group of paranormal researchers and equipped them with clipboards, survey questions, and pendulums.

They surveyed each marked grave at the haunted cemetery, using yes/no questions and homemade pendulums.  These were generally very primitive devices – hardware-style washers on strings, etc. – just to see if the results were consistent.  They weren’t.  At each grave, about half the people received “no” answers, while the others all received “yes” answers.

After that, I resumed my disinterest in pendulums as a serious research tool.  Fun? Yes.  Reliable?  No.

Then, Lesley Marden‘s research raised questions.  Her results with a pendulum have been — and continue to be — remarkably consistent and helpful.

In addition, I’ve tried a wide range of Sean Paradis’ hand-crafted pendulums, and they are responsive beyond anything I’ve seen with other pendulums I’ve bought, made, or tried.

So, I’ve had to revise my opinion of pendulums.

The cemetery that’s not a cemetery

On our way to the Mal’s Pals event, we stopped at a site that can only be described as a cemetery that’s not a cemetery.  Something there is not right, and my camera — which had been working fine that morning — actually broke.  The lens only opened a tiny amount.  (I took photos, anyway.)  When we returned to the car, I tried it again, and it abruptly worked fine.  Then, at the event, the lens opened partially.  I’m letting the camera sit, untouched, to see if it’s an energy issue that will resolve on its own.

This is one of the most dramatic and unique equipment failures I’ve seen in my many years in paranormal research.  I’ve had the camera for about a year and a half, it’s always been reliable, and there was no reason for it to fail so abruptly… except, perhaps, the location.

Lava Rock pendulum by Sean Paradis for Sleeping Meadows
Lava rock pendulum. Photo courtesy of Sean Paradis.

Since the camera wasn’t reliable, I took out about half a dozen different pendulums that Sean had given me.  My favorite is the lava rock pendulum, shown at right.  However, I also tried Sean’s pyrite cube pendulum and the ruby pendulum, and a few others.  Each had its own behavior characteristics.  Each seemed very powerful and the answers were clear — and consistent — no matter which pendulum I tried.

How I use pendulums

With each pendulum, I do the same thing: I hold the weighted part in my hand for just a second, in case that imprints it with a connection to me.  Then, I hold the pendulum from the small, handle-style bead, pin, or whatever’s at the end of the chain or cord.

I say, “Show me a ‘yes’.” I wait to see what the pendulum does.

Then I say, “Show me a ‘no’.” Once again, I wait to see what happens.  I have never seen a pendulum give the same response for both answers.  For me, a “yes” is usually a vertical swing, and “no” is a horizontal swing.  Now and then, it’ll be a circular motion, with clockwise being one answer and anti-clockwise being the other.

I check this every time I use a pendulum in a new location.  I’m not sure how much the answer relies on my psychic energy, the pendulum itself, or the energy at the location.  I’d never want to mistake a response.  So, I make a fresh start with each pendulum and each site where I test them.

The responses of a spirit named Fanny

At this cemetery (that’s not a cemetery), and thanks to Sean’s pendulums, I was able to confirm — repeatedly — the identity of the energy (or spirit).  I had several names to work with, from the few headstones nearby.  The entity was named Fanny.  That was abundantly clear from the pendulum response to that name, and only that name.

However, that’s when the information stopped.  No matter what question I asked — and we tried a lot of questions — the entity wasn’t responsive.  I’d shrug that off as a quirk, or maybe I was influencing the pendulum with micro movements, but the responses were such a sharp contrast.

Pyrite cube pendulum. Photo courtesy of Sean Paradis.

I think I tried about five or six different pendulums.  Each time, the response was nearly identical, though the pyrite pendulum seemed most sensitive at that one location.

Was the entity someone named Fanny?  Yes.  That was a dramatic swing from a full stop.

Did she have something to say?  Yes, maybe… that evoked a sudden halt to the pendulum movement, followed by an indecisive waver I could almost (not fully) attribute to the breeze.  It was sort of a yes, but not entirely clear.

There was no response when I asked whether she was frightened, if she was alive and well in her own time, whether her body was actually nearby, if she had unfinished business, and so on.

Every time I went back to the initial question about her name, the “yes” was clear.  Nothing else evoked a clear response.

It was a mystery, and remains one.

Nevertheless, I’ll continue to experiment with the pendulums Sean makes.  They’re ridiculously inexpensive — about 1/10 the price of similar-looking pendulums I’ve seen elsewhere — and the energy on Sean’s pendulums is clean.  That’s unusual.  In the past, I’ve always had to immerse new pendulums in sea salt for a few days, to remove others’ energy.

I’m always enthusiastic about mixing low-tech research methods with sensitive, scientific tools.  I’m hoping they’ll lead us to results we can document with the scientific method.  Alternatively, they may lead us to better “what if?” questions.

I’m very selective about the research tools and businesses I recommend.  However, Sean’s pendulums are an exception, and I can recommend them without hesitation.

In addition, I may conduct more research at the “cemetery that’s not a cemetery” and the area around a nearby ball field, but — for now — if you know the location, I hope you won’t broadly publicize it.  If the site attracts too much attention, it may limit our ability to visit the site for undisturbed research.