Doppelganger

Paranormal Path

April, 2013

Doppelganger
     Have you ever heard the theory that we all have a twin?  The thought that there may be someone out there who looks and acts exactly as we do only it is not us at all.  To some this is a mere urban legend, the myth of the Doppelganger.
     Though is this really a myth?  There may be some truth to this bizarre phenomenon.  A look back reveals there have been some recorded cases in history of people seeing and even interacting with these “other halves”.
     The word is German for “double goer” or “double walker”.  Similar is the Vardoger from Scandinavian folklore, which describes a spirit predecessor.  The doppelganger is believed to be much more sinister.  Seeing your exact double is said to be a bad omen, a sure sign of misfortune or even death.
     An example of such an encounter involved Abraham Lincoln.  Shortly after he was elected in 1860, Mr. Lincoln was relaxing in his chamber one evening.  He glanced toward a mirror and saw his reflection but with 2 separate faces.  One face matched identical while the other looked very pale and sickly.  When the President walked to the mirror to examine further the image disappeared only to reappear once he returned to his lounge.  Bothered by the strange occurrence, he mentioned it to his wife later that evening.  She expressed her fears that it could mean he would not live to see a second term.
     A very popular story of bi-location tells the story of a school teacher named Emilie Sagee in 19th century France.  While writing on the chalk board, Emilie’s double was seen as it appeared beside her.  The image was exact except it wasn’t holding a piece of chalk.  This was witnessed by her entire classroom of 13 students.  This was not the only time Emilie’s doppelganger was seen.  One day there were 42 students in the schools hall for a sewing class, they could see Ms. Sagee outside in the garden gathering flowers.  When the sewing teacher stepped out of the room, the image of Emilie Sagee began to slowly appear in the teacher’s chair, it sat motionless.  The students could clearly see Ms. Sagee was still outside in the garden, though she began to look very tired and weak.  A couple of brave students attempted to approach the apparition but said it felt as if there was a strange force around it, preventing them from getting too close.  Emilie said she never saw the apparition herself but admitted to feeling very drained of energy whenever it made these appearances.
     John Donne, a poet during the 16th century described seeing his wife’s doppelganger while he was in Paris.  The image was holding a baby and appeared to be very sad.  His wife was pregnant at the time.  John soon discovered at the very moment he saw the image; his wife gave birth to a stillborn child.
     Another English poet, Percy Shelly met his exact image while in Italy.  The ghostly double silently pointed out towards the Mediterranean Sea.  He later described the strange experience to friends and family.  Soon after in 1822, Percy died in a sailing accident at that exact location.
     There are different variations of what a doppelganger actually is and why it appears.  There is an old legend that describes evil imps or faeries that would steal healthy babies and replace them with sickly ones.  Some believe that since everyone has a good and bad side, these entities are obviously the “bad” versions of us.  Another thought is the doppelganger is stuck in another time and it allows us a brief glimpse into the future.

These stories may be just that, stories. Our own reflections have always inspired deep discussions of the symbolism of our own subconscious and our “true selves”.  People are often afraid to search within themselves and reveal things that may be seen as unfavorable, so who better to pass these qualities onto but a ghost?   However the theory of a “double walker” has inspired many stories and poems from all over the world and will probably continue to for future generations.