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A Divine Gift: The Last Water Witch



Barbara Dutton, the 'Water Witch' holds up a freshly cut willow. According to Dutton, the dying branch seeks out water.

In 1949, a seventeen-year-old witch migrated to Colorado. She had fled – no, not Salem, Massachusetts – Amarillo, Texas, in search of a new life. The Water Witch, a moniker that she long ago earned and that she today appears proud to claim, followed her husband, Joe, to La Junta to “farm the land.”

Barbara Dutton, The Water Witch, believes that God bestowed her with a gift: the ability to locate underground water. At a young age, Barbara would follow her father – she was “daddy’s little chum” – around the state of Texas, watching as he dowsed, divined, doodlebugged or witched for water. Barbara’s daddy, the only other family member given this gift, would spend hours surveying arid lands, never accepting more than a ride home as payment.

Then one day Dutton’s daddy put the Y-shaped stick in her hands. Ten-year-old Barbara tried to refuse stick. She still does not know why she was so scared. Dutton explains her fear: “I was just a kid” and “women did not do things like that; it was not lady-like in those days.” She made clear that women were supposed to knit and to bake pies, which she said she certainly does. Dutton did feel something that day; she felt the water tugging at that witching stick.

Upon meeting Dutton, I neither shied away from her stature, about 5’6” tall and roughly 100 pounds, nor from her inviting demeanor. The Water Witch’s “costume” did not frighten me: a jean jacket embellished with an embroidered, white lace design – highlighting her delicate shoulders – and gold and silver decorative buttons that sparkled in the sunlight. Her lightweight sweater appeared witchlike: pink with thin black stripes, but that is as close a resemblance to a witch as I could possibly discern.

In 1950 or ’51, some locals just outside of La Junta desperately needed farming water. Barbara volunteered her divining abilities and found her first well. Over the years, Barbara has helped establish 20-25 wells, some still in use today. She even located her own well, which continues to supply water for approximately 100 of her neighbor’s cows and for her and her neighbor’s well-manicured lawns.

Dutton, seated at the far end of her cream-colored couch, explained that a peach or a willow limb works best for finding water. She could not determine the reasons, but Dutton said that the limb needs to be freshly cut from the tree, which caused me to wonder if the dying limb simply hunts for a source of renewed life.

Barbara and her husband Joe, have been entrenched in water issues all their lives.

Dutton demonstrated her method of witching: hold the Y-shaped limb with palms facing upward, a branch in each hand, and then walk the area where a well is desired. If there is water, the limb will forcefully dip toward the earth, and onlookers will usually react “like children at a balloon party.” Dutton said that the witch will certainly know where the largest pool of water rests because the force will be too powerful to resist.

The next step is to determine how deep the water lies and how much water is pooled underground. Dutton demonstrated how she normally sits with baling wire in her right hand. She rested her right arm across her left leg, extending the baling wire out some distance over the located water. In the presence of water, the wire will aggressively bounce up and down, disclosing how many feet the water lies below the surface. Then the baling wire will bounce slightly, indicating the amount of water, in feet, waiting to be unearthed.

Joe Dutton, from his rocking chair, gruffly mentioned that witching has been around “since the beginning of time,” Barbara added that the use of a divining rod, in fact, shows up in the Bible. According to The American Society of Dowsers, the evidence of witching or divining is “thought to date back at least 8,000 years.” There are wall murals that have been discovered in the “Tassili Caves of North Africa [depicting] tribesmen surrounding a man with a forked stick, possibly dowsing for water” and anthropologists have discovered artwork from both ancient China and ancient Egypt portraying the use of a forked tool.

As well, states that “there is one direct reference to dowsing in the Bible, and it is condemned by God.” This reference is found in Hosea 4:12, “My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; for a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, and they have played the harlot, departing from their God”: hence the term “water witching.” Some scholars, nevertheless, believe that Moses and Aaron were diviners because they both used a “rod” to locate water.

The Duttons, who spent years entrenched in water (political discussions and decision-making), explained that the cost of building new wells has skyrocketed because Kansas and other states own portions of Colorado’s water supply: “Whatever amount of water you take out of the ground,” Barbara said, “you have to replace that portion with lots money.” At one point during our chat, The Water Witch became seemingly enraged after I mentioned the speculators who are buying water rights, a serious concern that affects everyone in La Junta.

By the end of our conversation, I felt bewitched. Barbara and Joe Dutton had mesmerized me with fascinating information. After having been asked about other witches in the area, Barbara confessed that there are “some people who feel the need to hide their abilities because they feel they have the voodoo,” but she knows of no one having witched before her and her husband’s arrival in Colorado, and she knows of no one witching today. “It’s a dying art,” The Water Witch acknowledged, “They got machines that find water now.”

Barbara Dutton displays how she uses bailing wire to determine the distance and size of the underground water supply.

As I pondered Barbara’s concluding words, a hummingbird – one that Barbara and Joe had yet to see before that day – drank the sweet water from the red feeder that dangled just outside the Dutton’s living-room window.

By James Seals

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Ask Dr. Scott December



Q: Dr. Scott, how can I get through Christmas this year without gaining weight?
A: Plan your holiday eating list and check it twice! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail — this adage applies to many walks of life, but especially to maintaining the proper diet during the Christmas holidays. In addition to dedicating yourself to eating properly this Christmas, successful weight loss boils down to good planning; more than any other time of the year, planning is paramount during the holiday season.

Before heading to that Christmas party you should plan exactly what you are going to do and say when you are offered food (and drink) that you should not eat. Grandma and Auntie and the kids may say, “Oh, come on, it’s the holidays, just this one time…” But as you know by now, it only takes that one time. You need to plan what you will eat instead, and in what quantity. The more concrete the plan is to you, the more likely you are to stick to it.

Whenever possible, without becoming a Scrooge, plan holiday activities that are not centered on consuming food. There are many old traditions that work well, such as caroling or ice-skating, and certainly many more activities around Pueblo that could become your new traditions.

Be like Santa’s reindeer and graze. Instead of three big meals per day, you should eat smaller portions of something healthy about every two hours, ideally consuming six mini-meals per day. This gives your body a better ability to digest and will leave you feeling satisfied, not hungry, throughout the entire day.

Especially during the holidays, it is important to focus on the desired outcome of your diet when confronted with triple-fudge pie or negative emotions such as “I’m meant to be fat and unhealthy.” Picture yourself thin. Imagine yourself with an intensely higher amount of energy. Envision yourself getting far fewer colds and headaches, and fighting major diseases and living longer. These are the actual results of the healthy diet and lifestyle you are trying to maintain.

Prepare yourself for temptations, as they can’t all be avoided, by preparing to divert your attention back to the desired outcomes of your diet. Don’t cater to the feelings of self-deprivation, and don’t allow yourself to think, “I’ll never be thin anyway,” just to give yourself an excuse to eat that apple cobbler.

Instead, devote your energy to focusing on how wonderful you will feel for having made it past the desserts, past the entire dinner, and past the entire holidays with little or no cave-ins. And if you buckle once and violate your plan for avoiding the holiday weight gain trap, don’t use that as an excuse to keep failing. Re-focus on your outcomes and get back on the plan.

Of course, with some people, the emotional barriers preventing this positive thinking may run deeper. There are multiple methods, from meditation to prayer to professional counseling, that have helped people overcome such barriers.

In my practice, we use a newer approach called applied kinesiology that has been profoundly successful at helping people move themselves beyond mental and emotional issues sabotaging their dietary success.

Whatever method you decide to try, right now during the holidays — when hope runs high but so does temptation — is an ideal time to start practicing it. What better gift to give yourself, and those you love, than a truly healthier you?


  • Dr. Scott Cuthbert is a chiropractor at Chiropractic Health Center in Pueblo, Colorado, as well as the author of two textbooks and over 50 peer-reviewed research articles.
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Arts & Culture

Self-Reliance: The four exercises of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idealism remains an intrinsically baffling strain of thought to for readers interpret even today.  Yet Emerson’s intellectual stock has never been valued higher. Emersonian thought has become the model of the independent American mind heroically transcending personal and social limitations to liberate its genius. The concept of self-reliance, perhaps Emerson’s most potent and misunderstood concept, constructed in the essay Self-Reliance, is not the philosophy of rugged individualism, nor is it the ideological doctrine of strict libertarianism.  Self-reliance is always a method or an instrument, presenting itself in different masks depending on the era and circumstance.  It is a cookbook for making lucid universal objective truth through the act of finding the totality of a universe in oneself, seeing oneself as a creator.



Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idealism remains an intrinsically baffling strain of thought to for readers interpret even today.  Yet Emerson’s intellectual stock has never been valued higher. Emersonian thought has become the model of the independent American mind heroically transcending personal and social limitations to liberate its genius.
The concept of self-reliance, perhaps Emerson’s most potent and misunderstood concept, constructed in the essay Self-Reliance, is not the philosophy of rugged individualism, nor is it the ideological doctrine of strict libertarianism.  Self-reliance is always a method or an instrument, presenting itself in different masks depending on the era and circumstance.  It is a cookbook for making lucid universal objective truth through the act of finding the totality of a universe in oneself, seeing oneself as a creator.

Self-reliant individuals accept that personality grows from the root of society and relation to others; however, in the same actualization resolves personality must be extinguished to grasp universality and their full human potential.  The essential aspect of the person is found in solitude, devoid of personality.  In his essay, Self-Reliance, Emerson outlines four exercises for achieving self-reliance.  

First, an individual may reach ultimate reality through nonconformity.  Nonconformity is the exercise of devotion to individuality.  The nonconformist exercise taps into an individual’s passionate capacity, sublimating the rich spectrum of emotions into self-compassion and self-reliance, bringing her and him closer to a fundamental inner-centeredness.  Nonconformity appeals to an emotional temperament.

Nonconformity and Compassion

Ralph Waldo Emerson makes it explicit from the start of Self-Reliance that “Whoso be a man, must be a nonconformist.  He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness.”  In other words, even the concept of goodness cannot be taken for granted and should be subject to scrutiny.  And if what the normative culture calls ‘good’ shows itself as not corresponding with the individual’s internal impression of good, measured emotionally in terms of whether it promotes self-compassion, then the status quo should be rejected.  This principle is played out in Self-Reliance when Emerson recounts, “I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued advisor who was wont with opportune me with the dear old doctrines of the Church.  On my saying, ‘What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within?’ my friend suggested – ‘But these impulses may be from below, not from above.’  I replied, ‘They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil.’” This is to say the motto of Emersonian nonconformity reads ‘When in America, Kill the King.  Follow what is Deep’.  And in concrete language Emerson concludes, “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature… The only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it.”  The exercise of nonconformity maximizes self-reliance by cultivating a sense of self-love in the individual that transcends normative culture.

Second, an individual becomes universal through the exercise of selfless action and cutting ties with materialistic habits.  The institutions of society, as well as those of family and friendship become problematic for the will to self-reliance in that these entanglements create the relative mirrors by which individuals see themselves and construct identity that obscures what is essentially individual, namely, our duty carried out in solitude.  The exercise of ‘letting go’ appeals to a pragmatic temperament.

Society and Selfless Action

Society is self-serving; and Emerson asserts “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood [and womanhood] of every one of its members.” Society urges individuals to act in preservation of self to conserve traditions, and these structures inhibit an individual’s ability to be self-reliant.  To act selflessly is not to act without regard to one’s well being; selfless action is to act and behave toward others and the environment as you would if there was no egotistic-self relative to them and it, to normal, to consistent.  Even the institution of family must be repainted before the individual can become self-reliant in society.  Emerson instructs, for this exercise, let go of all ties to society and tell friends and family “I cannot break myself any longer for you.  If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier.  If you cannot, I will seek to deserve that you should.  I will not hide my tastes or aversions… If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you or myself… I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly… Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no laws less than the eternal law.  I will have no covenants but proximities.”  The individual has let go of social entanglement, narrowed awareness to immediate relations and duties, interacts with other individuals in various contexts, but now exercises self-reliance through selfless action.

Third, an individual cuts through the veil of ignorance and constructs inward self-reliance by relentlessly seeking the unbound creativity seen in youth.  What becomes True is not tradition but what is Deep.  Youth brings no limitation to imagination and creativity; Experience only testifies to impossibility.  There is no wall the youth cannot walk through.  The exercise of proliferating youthful imagination appeals to the philosophical and intellectual temperament.

Youth and Inward Revolution

Reconnecting with the creative condition of youth, for Emerson, is one of the most potent means for achieving self-reliance.  Emerson professes, in contrast to the youth, “Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I Think,’ ‘I Am,’ but quotes some saint or sage.”  For Emerson the object of youth is creativity and inquiry.  With a view of reality unobstructed by the structures of tradition, youth seeks answers to the obstacles it faces with synthetic thought, namely, the solution of combining what is understood to be how nature works and inner instinct.  Emerson prescribes his reader the exercise of adopting radical inward malleability in daily thought and criticism.  But more than that, Emerson reminds the experienced and influential not to make the mistake of letting their ambitious imagination decay and “think that the youth has no force, because he cannot speak to you and me.  Hark! In the next room his voice is sufficiently clear and emphatic.  It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries.  Bashful or bold then, he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary.”  For Emerson, experience without growth is hardly worth having lived for.  And the principle underlying Emerson’s anthem for the youth and call for inward revolution culminates in his assertion that “This one fact the world hates; that the soul becomes; for that forever degrades the past, turns all riches to poverty, all reputation to shame, confounds the saint with the rouge, shoves Jesus and Judas equally aside…  Greatness appeals to the future.”  So, through youthful curiosity with perception focused inward and cultivated creative and critical capacities, the individual becomes self-reliant. 

Fourth, the individual achieves self-reliance through joining the momentum of the multiverse.  This is accomplished through autonomous adherence to the laws of nature.  In mastering one’s own mind through principle the individual becomes unified with their genius; and in the company of our genius the underlying cosmological constants become visible and thus the universe of the mind synchronizes with the energy of the multiverse.  The object of genius is freedom through inward discipline of the mind.  Genius appeals to the mystical and scientific temperament.

Genius and Principle

All thinkers at a point in their inward exploration tackle the question “What is the aboriginal Self, on which a universal reliance may be grounded?”  And Emerson explains that “This inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct.”  So in this way an individual exercises his or her genius by choosing their principle and fully living it out.  Emerson further exclaims, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.  Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost, and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the last Judgment.”  This is to profess that where it is instinct and spontaneity that serves as the cornerstone interconnecting our universes, to exercise principled instinct is to tap into the multiversal consciousness.  Emerson concludes, “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide…  The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”  So through following instinct in principle the individual learns to trust their inner judge and create themselves – self-reliance.

Self-Reliance, for Emerson, is then fully articulated by the collective exercise of shifting vision inward toward universal truth, of revolution without movement, the proliferation of genius in youth, as well as illumination of human potential; to topple the ruins of a paradigm dominated by the traditions of obsolete institutions, illusory economies, dead religions, and hollow offices.

Bio and Other Important Works:

According to, “American poet, essayist, and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts. After studying at Harvard and teaching for a brief time, Emerson entered the ministry. He was appointed to the Old Second Church in his native city, but soon became an unwilling preacher. Unable in conscience to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper after the death of his nineteen-year-old wife of tuberculosis, Emerson resigned his pastorate in 1831.

Known in the local literary circle as “The Sage of Concord,” Emerson became the chief spokesman for Transcendentalism, the American philosophic and literary movement. Centered in New England during the 19th century, Transcendentalism was a reaction against scientific rationalism.

Emerson’s first book, Nature (1836), is perhaps the best expression of his Transcendentalism, the belief that everything in our world—even a drop of dew—is a microcosm of the universe. His concept of the Over-Soul—a Supreme Mind that every man and woman share—allowed Transcendentalists to disregard external authority and to rely instead on direct experience.

Emerson wrote a poetic prose, ordering his essays by recurring themes and images. His poetry, on the other hand, is often called harsh and didactic. Among Emerson’s most well known works are Essays, First and Second Series (1841, 1844). The First Series includes Emerson’s famous essay, “Self-Reliance,” in which the writer instructs his listener to examine his relationship with Nature and God, and to trust his own judgment above all others.

Emerson’s other volumes include Poems (1847), Representative Men, The Conduct of Life (1860), and English Traits (1865). His best-known addresses are The American Scholar (1837) and The Divinity School Address, which he delivered before the graduates of the Harvard Divinity School.”

The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson further observes, “Following the Civil War, Emerson continued to lecture energetically publishing Society and Solitude (1870) and the verse collection May Day and Other Pieces (1867).  In 1872 his health began to fail, and after a final trip to Europe he settled into a quieter routine as his memory gradually weakened.  Ralph Waldo Emerson died of pneumonia in 1882.”

Self-Reliance is available for free online at:

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What is Next for Amendment 64?

Weed is legal, but what exactly does that mean for you and me as we move forward?



More Coloradoans used their vote in November’s election to legalize marijuana than were cast to reelect the President of the United States.  Amendment 64 received 1,291,771 votes in favor and President Obama received 1,238,490 votes from Colorado citizens – according to

In the language of Amendment 64:

In the interest of the efficient use of law enforcement resources, enhancing revenues for public purposes, and individual freedom, the people of the state of Colorado find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.

What is unique about this bill is the extent to which it transcends political party lines, and brings together constituencies for practical purposes, which are many times on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to political positions.  Fiscal progressives like the idea of legalizing marijuana if it will raise revenue in the state to put toward public schools and community projects. Libertarians support legalization of marijuana on the grounds that it promotes individual liberty.  However, what likely pushed support beyond the tipping point of passage is that legalizing marijuana is compatible with fiscal conservatism by means of millions of projected dollars in savings for the criminal justice system by allowing resources to be allocated away from pursuing and punishing marijuana users and toward more productive endeavors, like minimizing violent crimes.

This analysis is supported by a budgetary study done by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy that concluded Amendment 64 “could generate as much as a total of $60 million in savings and revenue” as well as create several hundred new jobs, mostly in the construction sector.  Broken down new revenue and savings will come from the following areas:

    • $12 million dollars of annual savings in criminal justice costs
    • $24 million in excise tax revenue
    • $8.7 million in state sales tax revenue
    • $14.5 million in local tax revenue

So, weed is legal, but what exactly does that mean for you and me as we move forward?

Under the new law the following activities will be lawful under the Colorado Constitution, after the bill takes full effect, for individuals twenty-one years or older: 

  • a. Possessing, using, and displaying, purchasing, or transporting marijuana accessories or one ounce or less of marijuana.
  • b. Possessing, growing, processing, or transporting no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants, and possession of the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown, provided that the growing takes place in an enclosed, locked space, is not conducted openly or publically, and is not made available for sale.
  • c. Transfers of one ounce or less of marijuana without remuneration [without payment] to a person who is twenty-one years of age or older. 
  • d. Consumption of marijuana, provided that nothing in this section shall permit consumption that is conducted openly or publically in a manner that endangers others.
  • e. Assisting another person who is twenty-one years of age or older in any of the acts described in paragraphs a-d of this subsection.

And in regard to what is next for local law enforcement in light of the passage of Amendment 64, Pueblo Chief of Police Luis Velez tells PULP that for the moment there will be no change in the policy of handling marijuana infractions in Pueblo and that the “Chiefs [of police in Colorado] Association is still awaiting direction from the Attorney General to be handed down.”  And although the final policies are not due to be in place until well into next year, Chief Velez further explained that some policies might begin to be enacted as early as this December or January of 2013.

One of the first regulations likely to be introduced, according to Chief Velez, will be one that sets a standard for measuring the legal limit of THC that can be in a driver’s system and policies for police officers who will have to handle a breadth of marijuana possession situations.  For example, an Arizonan traveling through Colorado to Kansas in possession of marijuana might be charged federally, while a resident of Conejos County traveling to Summit County, with a legal amount of marijuana might not be penalized.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers recently stated, “Despite my strongly-held belief that the legalization of marijuana on a state level is a very bad public policy, voters can be assured that the Attorney General’s Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution.”

Below are highlights from regulations that must be in place by July 13, 2013 under Amendment 64: 

  • Qualifications for licensure that are directly and demonstrably related to the operation of a marijuana establishment.
  • Security requirements for marijuana establishments.
  • Requirements to prevent the sale or diversion of marijuana and marijuana products to persons under the age of twenty-one.
  • Labeling requirements for marijuana and marijuana products sold or distributed by a marijuana establishment.
  • Health and safety regulations and standards for the manufacture of marijuana and the cultivation of marijuana.
  • Restrictions on the advertising and display of marijuana and marijuana products. 
  • Civil penalties for the failure to comply with regulations made pursuant to this section.

In contrast to the similar law passed in Washington State, Initiative 502 legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Colorado’s strategy for regulating cannabis is left vague and focuses more on what regulations and restrictions cannot be put in place than outlining what regulations will be implemented for individuals and organizations.  

Also of significance:

In order to ensure that individual privacy is protected, individuals shall not be required to provide a retail marijuana store with personal information other than government-issued identification to determine the consumer’s age, and a retail marijuana store shall not be required to acquire and record personal information about consumers other than information typically in a financial transaction conducted at a retail liquor store.

There shall be enacted an excise tax to be levied upon marijuana sold or otherwise transferred by a marijuana cultivation facility to a marijuana product manufacturing facility or to a retail marijuana store at a rate not to exceed fifteen percent prior to January 1, 2017 and at a rate to be determined by the general assembly thereafter, and shall direct the department to establish procedures for the collection of all taxes levied.  Provided, the first forty million dollars in revenue raised annually from any such excise tax shall be credited to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund, or any fund dedicated to a similar purpose.  Provided further, no such excise tax shall be levied upon marijuana intended for sale at medical marijuana centers.

While Amendment 64 sets a new precedent for the expansion of civil liberties, the following is a list of things you still cannot do in Colorado:

Drive under the influence of marijuana or while impaired by marijuana.

Transfer marijuana with or without remuneration to a person under the age of twenty-one or to allow a person under the age of twenty-one to purchase, possess, use, transport, grow, or consume marijuana.

[Nothing in the bill prohibits] Persons, employers, schools, hospitals, detention facilities, corporations or any other entity who occupies, owns or controls a property from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the possession, consumption, use, display, transfer, distribution, sale, transportation, or growing of marijuana on or in that property.

Finally, medical marijuana will be unaffected and under the language of the bill:

This amendment will not limit any privileges or rights of a medical marijuana patient, primary caregiver, or licensed entity as provided in section 14 of this article and the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code.

So what becomes clear is that the democratic will of state has spoken clearly in favor of Marijuana; and Colorado will now begin the long road of putting in place just regulations of cannabis and policies to protect the liberty of consumers.

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