The Pendulum Swing

how to use a pendulum

How to use pendulums in your magickal practice

A pendulum is one of those iconic magickal objects: Used by many, understood by few. It is considered both a shadowy occult practice and a widely accepted, even quaint, tradition. Have you ever seen someone dangle a wedding band over a pregnant person’s belly? This practice is an old bit of folk magick used to determine the sex of a baby. It’s funny; many of the people who balk at witchcraft are doing it themselves! This brings us to our first question:

what is a pendulum

What is a Pendulum?

A pendulum is, put simply, a weighted object on the end of a chain or string. The pendulum can be quite captivating as it swings back and forth, making it useful in hypnosis and focus exercises. The most universally recognizable pendulum is the grandfather clock, designed using theories from astronomer, physicist, and engineer Galileo. But people from all different spiritual backgrounds have found another use for this technology: pendulums are excellent divination tools.

How Does Pendulum Divination Work?

Pendulum work is relatively simple, so it’s a nice (and highly customizable) way to get started with divination. Holding your pendulum, you simply ask questions and, with some patience, observe any movements. From there, you’ll be able to interpret answers based on which way the pendulum swings. (More on that later.)

You may use a pendulum on its own or with a spirit board. A spirit board’s benefit is that it gives you options other than “yes” or “no.” While spirit boards get a bad reputation in magical pop culture, there is a way to use them safely and respectfully. It’s all about your intention. You may design your own spirit board or buy one that appeals to you. 

who controls a pendulum

Who Or What is Controlling a Pendulum?

There are many theories on what makes pendulums tick. It could be:

A Spirit Guide: Someone who works from the spiritual plane to guide and protect you on earth. You already have at least one spirit guide; pendulums are just a way of contacting/working with them more directly.

A Collective Energy: Some people feel guided by a nameless, shapeless spiritual vibe that connects us all. A pendulum can be a way of harnessing that energy.

Your Higher Self: The higher self is an ideal version of you. The “you” that has a great night out, aces the job interview, or makes a bold but empowering decision. We don’t always act in the interest of our highest self, so this can be a great way to get in touch with them.

Your Subconscious: Sometimes, you know the answer deep down, but the daily grind can distract, block your view, and muddy the waters. Pendulums can help clear the mental clutter.

Deceased Loved Ones: Some folks direct their pendulum sessions beyond the veil, using it to speak with those no longer with us. 

The best approach is to choose which interpretation you prefer and infuse your pendulum with that intention. Simply hold your pendulum, state how you’d like it to function, and visualize yourself working with it. 



Cleansing Your Pendulum

Let’s go back to spirit boards for a moment. The reason people are so afraid of them is a good one: if you open a spiritual door “for fun,” you don’t know who’s going to walk through it. As with any spiritual practice, it’s best to take the reigns and set some intentions. So, whether you’re working with a spirit board or not, approach your pendulum sessions with some respect.

“Reset” The Energy: When your pendulum is new to you, has come into contact with someone else, or has been neglected for a while, it may need a little energetic tune-up. You can do this passively by letting it sit in the sun, under the full moon, or both! You may also wish to do a smoke cleanse. If you like cleansing with Florida water or other liquids, be sure to check your pendulum material first: Some crystals dissolve in water.

Set An Intention: Come up with a ritual to clear the air before working with your pendulum. Your routine may be as simple as lighting a candle and meditating for a few minutes, or you may want to cast a magick circle. Do what feels right to you. 

Introduce Yourself: With any new magickal tool, it is tempting to start with the big questions: Where is the love of my life? Should I go back to school? Am I ready for bangs? But pace yourself. 

Interpret Your Pendulum's Movements: Start by finding a comfy way to hold your pendulum so that it swings freely. Ask it to show you “no,” “yes,” and “calculating/consulting.” Gaze at the movement of the swings of your pendulum when you ask these simple questions. Is the pendulum swinging side to side, clock wise or counter clock wise? Has the pendulum stopped completely at a different inquiry? Once you have an idea of the pendulum’s language, throw it a few softball questions like “is my hair blonde?” “is my name Rumpelstiltskin?” Give it some time between questions. Pendulums don’t like to be rushed!

Now you’re ready to work with your pendulum.

best pendulum for magic

What Type of Pendulum is Best Suited for Magick?

Here comes an infuriating answer: the best pendulum for your magickal practice is the one that calls to you. So you’ve just got to get out there and look. When you find the right one, you’ll know.

Pendulums are often made with crystals because of their ability to conduct energy. You may choose yours based on the properties of the crystal, or you may feel drawn toward a mysterious stone and look up the meaning later, only to find it’s the perfect fit! 

Some folks like to have a couple of pendulums on hand for different readings. Citrine may be best for career-related questions, rose quartz is terrific for love, and selenite would be best for contacting spirits or working with the higher self. If you want a neutral stone, try good old clear quartz. It’s beautiful, versatile, and readily available.

New to pendulum work and light on cash? You can use a necklace with special meaning to you. You can also take a ring and slide it onto a ribbon, string, or strand of hair. If you are looking to contact a deceased loved one, having a piece of their jewelry will help.

divination practice

Other Uses for Pendulums

Most commonly, witchy folk use pendulums to answer questions. But you can play in other ways too!

Finding Lost Objects: Can’t find your phone charger (again)? Hold your pendulum and picture your lost item. When it begins to move, walk in that direction. Repeat until you’ve found your targeted object!

This or That?: When trying to make a decision, pick items that symbolize each choice. You may use crystals, tarot cards, or just write the options on the corners of a large piece of paper. Holding your pendulum in the middle, see which way it swings.

Reading Energy: If you work with energy healing, a pendulum can point you toward areas that need attention. Ideally, you will have two people for this practice. 

Hold the pendulum over different parts of a person’s body, and interpret the movement. If the pendulum swings freely and easily, the energy is likely balanced in that area. If it has trouble getting into a groove, there may be a blockage to work through.

Pregnancy: Gender is an illusion, but it can be fun to bust out some folk magick at a baby shower (with the pregnant person’s permission, of course!). Ask the pendulum to show you “boy” and “girl.” Holding it over the person’s belly or left hand, watch as it swings in one direction or the other. Many people like to use a wedding ring or personal object for this. An item with a connection to the pregnant person helps.

how to use a pendulum


Get Curious 

Here’s a little homework. Can you think of another use for your pendulum? If you’re a green witch, maybe you’d like to use it to find a great place for your new tomato plant. The possibilities are endless!




occult patron


  • Mary

    I ordered a mystery kit and I’m having trouble figuring out what kind of pendulum I got. I think it’s jasper?

  • Airi

    Love it.
    I wish I knew it when I had my first pendulum…
    still.. Thank you.

  • Shannon C Newby

    Roxanne, sounds like your pendulum was full of energy! Did it answer your questions?

  • Roxanne Lenarz

    I just used my pendulum for 1st time and it was vibrating/shaking after a couple of questions. What up?

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