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Doppelgangers and the Mythology of Spirit Doubles

By , www.ancient-origins.net

The mythology of spirit doubles can be traced back thousands of years and was present in many cultures of the past, holding a prominent place in ancient legends, stories, artworks, and in books by various authors. Perhaps the most well-known reference to spirit doubles or ‘alter egos’ is the doppelgänger, a word still used today to refer to a person that is physically or behaviourally similar to another person.

Doppelgänger is a German word meaning “double goer” and it refers to a wraith or apparition that casts no shadows and is a replica or double of a living person. They were generally considered as omens of bad luck or even signs of impending death – a doppelgänger seen by a person’s relative or friend was said to signify that illness or danger would befall that person, while seeing one’s own doppelgänger was said to be an omen of death.

Some accounts of doppelgängers, sometimes called the ‘evil twin’ suggests that they might attempt to provide advice to the person they shadow, but that this advice can be misleading or malicious. They may also attempt to plant sinister ideas in their victim’s mind or cause them great confusion. For this reason, people were advised to avoid communicating with their own doppelgänger at all costs.

One of the most famous depictions of doppelgängers comes from the 1851 sketch and 1864 watercolour called ‘How They Met Themselves’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. According to interpretation, two medieval lovers are walking through the woods at twilight when they encounter their doubles who glow supernaturally.  The man draws his sword in astonishment, while his lover appears to collapse in a deathly swoon. Doppelganger imagery occurred in poems Rossetti admired such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s The Romaunt of Margaret and Poe’s Silence.


“How They Met Themselves,” the watercolor version, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

While Doppelgänger cases are said to be works of fiction, there are a number of real-life cases in which individuals claim to have met their sinister duo. Among the most noteworthy is Abraham Lincoln’s experience, as chronicled by Noah Brooks in his book Washington in Lincoln’s Time (1895). According to his account, soon after Lincoln was elected in 1860, he arrived home one day and looked into the bureau mirror where he saw himself reflected in double. Lincoln said, “…nearly at full length; but my face had two separate and distinct images.” Lincoln noticed that although the images were nearly identical, one was “a little paler—say five shades—than the other”. His wife was said to be very worried and told Lincoln she believed that the paleness of half the dual image was a bad omen, which meant that Lincoln would serve his first full term, but would not live to finish his second.

The subject of the double has a long history, particularly in literature. In Greek mythology Narcissus falls in love with his reflection, and in Gothic tales such as Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson (1839), James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Poor Clare (1856) and even Hans Christian Andersen’s lesser-read fairy-tale The Shadow, characters are haunted and followed by their often malevolent likenesses. However, the mythology of spirit doubles have far more ancient origins.

One of the earliest references may be in the Zurvanite branch of Zoroastrianism. This sect distilled the general abstract duality of Zoroastrianism into a concept of manifest twins “born” of a monist “Time.” In this cosmological model, the twins Ahura Mazda (Ormuzd) and Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) were co-eternal representatives of good and evil.


Investiture of Sassanid emperor Shapur II (C) with Mithra (L) and Ahura Mazda, ‘the good twin’ (R) at Taq-e Bostan, Iran. (Wikimedia Commons)

In Ancient Egyptian mythology, a ‘ka’ was a tangible “spirit double” having the same memories and feelings as the person to whom the counterpart belongs. In one Egyptian myth entitled, The Greek Princess, an Egyptian view of the Trojan War, a ka of Helen was used to mislead Paris of Troy, helping to stop the war.

Norse folklore describes entities known as vardøger, ghostly beings that preceded their living counterparts, taking their places at various activities and performing their actions in advance. The spirit with the subject’s footsteps, voice, scent, or appearance and overall demeanour precedes them in a location or activity, resulting in witnesses believing they’ve seen or heard the actual person before the person physically arrives. This bears a subtle difference from a doppelgänger, with a less sinister connotation.

People from the Orkney Islands in Scotland feared small, fairy-like creatures called “trows”. According to legend, trows would give birth to children who were apt to be sickly. Pregnant women were carefully guarded from the trows who would often steal healthy human babies and replace them with their own children, known as ‘changelings’, who would transform into exact replicas of the stolen children.

Many Native American creation myths likewise provide for the role of dualistic twins. Hopi legends refer to the twins who were called the Child of the Sun and the Child of the Water. The Hopi also believe in duality between the Upper World and the Underworld: that whatever is happening here in the Upper World, the opposite is happening in the Underworld.

So where did belief in spirit doubles come from and is there any real truth to them? While many today still believe in the existence of a double self, some scientists believe the phenomenon occurs based on injuries or stimulation to certain parts of the brain which cause errors in spatial reasoning. Others believe it is the result of a vision, hallucination, or that we live in a parallel universe in which everything in this world in replicated in another dimension.  Whatever the real truth behind doppelgangers, belief in the spirit double has instilled both fear and wonder in people for thousands of years.

Article republished with permission from Ancient Origins. Read the original.

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Paranormal

Crow Funerals: Researchers Find That Crows Appear to Understand Death

We’ve previously discussed the impressive intelligence of crows here on the Grail, from research showing that crows can solve complex sequential puzzles, to video of a crow stealing a credit card to purchase a train ticket from a vending machine.

Now, in what may be the creepiest-looking science experiment ever, researchers have discovered that crows know what death is – and it appears that they fear it, gathering in groups around a dead crow and calling loudly. Donning scary latex masks, the researchers brought out a dead, taxidermied crow, to find out why crows gather around their dead  (the reason for the masks is because crows never forget a face, and the scientists involved weren’t keen on getting harassed by angry corvids).

For more on the research, check out this short film:

The evidence keeps stacking up for the remarkable intelligence of this much misunderstood and maligned bird.

Note: for those who might have questions about the experiments, the lead researcher posted a bunch of answers to the most frequently asked questions in the comments thread beneath the YouTube video:

I’m seeing a few questions come up repeatedly so let me take a minute to address them.

1) Yikes, why are the masks so creepy?! These masks were made in service to the original facial recognition study that took place a little over a decade ago at the UW. You can learn more about that study in the PBS ‘Murder of Crows’ special which is free to stream. When asking that original question of “do crows recognize threatening people” it was important that the masks were expressionless, since a happy or angry looking face might influence how they would respond (we now know it actually doesn’t). It’s very hard to find human-like expressionless masks though, so we had costume makers come in and take molds of volunteers’ faces. What you’re left with is something that basically looks like you cut someone’s face off and are wearing it Silence of the Lambs style, which is kinda the point, but admittedly also very creepy to people!

2) Why did you need to wear masks at all? During the actual study I wasn’t a mask wearer, I just recorded data. It was a volunteer that would don the mask and hold the crow, or return a week later wearing the familiar mask. But volunteers are fickle and I couldn’t be guaranteed that the person available to help during the “funeral” presentation could come back the following week. By having people wear the masks though, it didn’t matter who was helping me, I could keep the face the same. And based on the previous facial recognition study I knew that’s really all that mattered.

3) How did we know they weren’t just freaking out because the masks are creepy? I ran controls to verify this. Linda is one of ten different masks so it was easy to verify that wasn’t what was going on. If you want to learn all the details of this study you can read it for free on my blog. You can also find me on twitter @corvidresearch where I am always available to answer all your corvid questions.

SOURCE: The Daily Grail

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Paranormal

Upgrade to Large Hadron Collider that could ‘unlock new dimensions’

The world’s largest particle smasher is kicking off a major upgrade to churn out 10 times more data and help unlock the secrets of physics.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, started work Friday on a project to boost the number of infinitesimal collisions, known as ‘luminosity,’ in its Large Hadron Collider by installing high-tech magnets.

CERN says the upgrade is expected to produce greater data starting in 2026.

CERN, started work Friday on a project to boost the number of infinitesimal collisions, known as ‘luminosity,’ in its Large Hadron Collider by installing high-tech magnets. This means that physicists will be able to investigate rare phenomena and make more accurate measurements.

They said the upgrade will allow the Higgs boson ‘god particle’ to be defined more accurately, and to measure with increased precision how it is produced, how it decays and how it interacts with other particles.

In 2012, the LHC was used to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson—also dubbed the God particle—which has allowed scientists to make great progress in understanding how particles acquire mass.

In addition, scenarios beyond the Standard Model will be investigated, including supersymmetry (SUSY), theories about extra dimensions and quark substructure (compositeness) will be examined.

CERN says the collider ringing the French-Swiss border near Geneva has worked well since operations began in 2010.

CERN, perhaps most famous for confirming the subatomic Higgs boson six years ago, says the budget for the High-Luminosity LHC is about $950 million.

The work involves heavy civil engineering at the LHC’s two main sites in Switzerland and France which are run by Europe’s physics lab CERN, that will allow it to operate in a high-luminosity mode from 2026.

The project will involve the replacement of high-tech components along 1.2 kilometres of the machine, such as magnets, collimators and radiofrequency cavities.

It will also see the construction of new buildings, shafts, caverns and underground galleries, as well as tunnels and halls to house the new cryogenic equipment, as well as power supplies and cooling and ventilation kit.

The HL-LHC requires about 130 new magnets, in particular 24 new superconducting focusing quadrupoles to focus the beam and four superconducting dipoles.

Sixteen brand-new ‘crab cavities’ will also be installed to maximise the overlap of the proton bunches at the collision points.

Their function is to tilt the bunches so that they appear to move sideways – just like a crab.

‘By 2026, this major upgrade will have considerably improved the performance of the LHC, by increasing the number of collisions in the large experiments and thus boosting the probability of the discovery of new physics phenomena,’ CERN said.

The aim is increase tenfold the amount of data which can be picked up by the LHC, which is housed in a 27-kilometre (17-mile) ring-shaped tunnel buried more than 100 metres underground that runs beneath the border of Switzerland and France.

The powerful accelerator, which began operating in 2010, smashes high-energy protons into each other at velocities near the speed of light.

These collisions generate new particles, giving physicists an unprecedented look at the laws of nature in the hope of better understanding particles and matter.

Continue Reading: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

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Paranormal

Sounds and Whispers — What You Need To Know About Poltergeist

The expression poltergeist comes from the combining of two German words: poltern (crash) and geist (spirit or ghost). So in other words, a noisy or unruly ghost or soul. Although less common than conventional hauntings, reports of poltergeist activity dates back to the first century. In contemporary times the phenomenon has generated several major films and television programs .

So with this in mind, here are the eight main things that you need to know about poltergeists.

1. Parapsychologists can not agree on what they are

Some parapsychologists see poltergeists as a sort of ghost or supernatural entity that are accountable for physical and psychological disturbance. Other people think that such activity originates from”unknown energy” associated with a living individual or a place. Sceptics, on the other hand, favor ordinary explanations like attention seeking, pranks and trickery.

2. Poltergeists often favor women to men

A person-focused poltergeist tends to (although not necessarily ) involve a female adolescent who’s experiencing emotional turmoil when the activity begins. That said however, not all so called”focal agents” are teens. Indeed, William G. Roll, a pioneer in poltergeist research, discovered that the age of people reporting encounters of poltergeist activity ranged from eight to 78 years.

3. Some of the best poltergeists are thought to be fakes

In 1967, in a lawyer’s office at Rosenheim, Germany odd things started to occur in the presence of the 19 year old secretary Annemarie Schaberl. Paintings and overhead light fittings started swinging, while fluorescent tubes unscrewed themselves and massive spikes in electrical activity occurred. The speaking clock was also called multiple times per minute and furniture was moved. The authorities, utility company officials, physicists and parapsychologist Hans Bender investigated with no explanation. However, many think it was a bogus — all because of concealed nylon threads — particularly given that the incidents stopped when Schaberl left the company in early 1968.

4. Poltergeists like to mess with your stuff

Poltergeist activity usually starts with minor isolated episodes . This may include unexplained sounds or familiar objects like your keys or your telephone moving from their usual place. However, while poltergeist activity is normally short lived — manifestations typically lasting around five months — several instances have persisted for many years.

The Chilliwack poltergeist in Canada, for example was active for just two months between 1951 to 1952. During this time period the Poltergeist produced violent and loud hammerings on walls accompanied by occasional flying objects. The Brother Doli Case, on the other hand, included a range of phenomena — stains, carvings of images and Welsh words, normally of a religious nature — and those persisted for many years.

5. Experts are still undecided regarding the Enfield poltergeist

Among the most well-known poltergeist cases to happen in the UK involved the Hodgson Family, and their newly occupied council house in Enfield, North London. Between 1977 and 1979 it had been the scene of demonic voices, things moving without explanation, levitation and odd sounds. Events focused on the two teenage daughters Margaret and Janet.

A number of trustworthy witnesses observed phenomena — these witnesses included a police constable, a press photographer and researchers from the Society for Psychical. While researchers did discover some evidence of pranks and fakery, it was considered that a number of the poltergeist episodes were genuine.

6. Some believe that psychological stress can cause activity

Some ghost hunters and paranormals suggest that poltergeists are in fact the emotions of troubled individuals — built up during times of stress.
This concept, called Spontaneous Recurring Psychokinesis suggests this built-up stress then unconsciously projects outwards in the kind of emotional energy, which impacts the physical surroundings and creates the phenomena attributed to poltergeists. However, there’s not much evidence to support that idea.

7. Others think they are souls of the deceased

A lot of people think that spirits of the dead are responsible for poltergeist activity. This is believed to be because individuals who experience them perceive an underlying intelligence and purposeful communication with an otherworldly being. This view proposes a disembodied consciousness — or soul — survives bodily death. But there also isn’t any compelling scientific evidence to support this opinion .

8. However, sceptics put a lot of it down to misinterpretation

Misinterpretation is likely to happen when people think that a place is haunted and they’re searching for signs to verify that. This way, a lot of poltergeist activity can actually result from inaccurate perception of natural phenomena. Just take the case of the women haunted with a ticking clock, it had been actually found that the sound was created by a tiny insect. Other instances like”the curse of the spinning Egyptian” — an Egyptian statue at a Manchester museum seemed to turn itself during the day — have both been explained by physical elements like minor seismic activity, underground streams and even rainfall patterns.

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