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Doppelgangers and the Mythology of Spirit Doubles

By April Holloway, 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

A photographer took a picture of an old house, but did not know that a woman lived there. No wonder – you can only see it in the photo

A Scottish resident took a photo of an abandoned building, and then could not believe his eyes when he looked at the finished photograph. From there the woman’s face was looking at him, but the man is sure: there was no one in the ruins of the house. Finding an explanation for what he saw was not easy.

A photographer from Scotland, who wished to remain anonymous, decided to arrange an unusual photo session, Unilad writes.

His choice fell on several abandoned buildings that are located in one of the parks in the North Ayrshire region. After taking a couple of pictures, he went to the studio to print them, and then looked at the finished result.

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The negative of one of the photographs of the photographer

Mysticism often happens in abandoned buildings , and the case with a man was no exception. In one photo, the Scotsman saw the ghostly silhouette of a woman looking at him from a window. However, the man assures that there was no one in the building, and he was alone in the ruins.

During the shooting, I did not feel anything unusual or anything otherworldly.

Despite the fact that the woman’s face looks intimidating, he is glad that he managed to capture it. Moreover, the hero of the story shared the frame with all friends who adore mysticism and riddles.

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Pay attention to the left window

I’m happy that I was able to capture something that looks like a ghost. I am even proud to be able to show photos to people who love riddles.

Many people, according to the photographer, are inclined to believe that this is a ghost, who love to talk to children so much, although the author of the picture himself is in no hurry to draw conclusions. He even looked at the frame under a microscope, but never came to the truth.

You can, of course, speculate, but the human brain makes us see familiar traits everywhere, especially if we look at them long enough.

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Moreover, the photographer, according to him, does not really believe in ghosts and other mystical phenomena.

I don’t like the term paranormal. As for ghosts, I don’t know if they exist. I don’t even know how to define them. What is it? Energy?

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Paranormal

Camera recorded an extraneous movement in Massachusetts. And this sight is not for the faint-hearted

A Redditt user with the nickname grandslammer0891 from Mansfield, Massachusetts, posted a video from security cameras at a friend’s house, which scared him and left users in disbelief.

The author of the video explained that his friend left home by the end of August, leaving four huskies in the care of a friend. He usually visited them during the daytime.

One day the owner of the apartment received a notification in the middle of the night that the camera recorded some kind of extraneous movement. At that time there were only dogs in the house.

The video captured the kitchen and part of the living room. A dog is lying on the sofa in the right corner, and you can trace the turns of the head by its ears. When her ears turn to the left, then in the dark you can see the transparent figure of a moving person.

The video puzzled users and caused a mixed reaction from them. Some could not find an explanation for what they saw and panicked slightly. The dog’s head turns towards the ghost, which suggests that it also noticed the apparition.

“What is it, I saw it … with my own eyes. Does anyone else see this? Because it seems to me that I definitely saw something wrong. No no”.

Others decided that a man had walked past the window on the right, and his shadow flashed on the left in the headlights. Some users even believe that a live person got into the frame.

“I hope your buddy has a gun. There was a real intruder. “

Some readers agreed that the ghost video is quite plausible, since Massachusetts is full of ghosts.

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Paranormal

Paranormal researcher warns that Ouija boards can summon dangerous demons

Paranormal researcher Paul Marsters criticized British retailer Poundland for selling Ouija boards as part of Halloween decor. He warned that only professional mediums should use the boards, and ordinary people can summon deadly demons. 

Paul, who is a member of True Paranormal Events UK, was stunned when he saw a £ 1 ($ 1.29) Ouija board in a local budget store.

 “Ouija boards are definitely not toys and should not be available to children to buy in stores on Halloween, let alone adults who are not trained in how to use them. It doesn’t matter if they are plastic or wooden ”, – quotes the words of the ghost hunter Hull Live. 

Paul Marsters explained that people can accidentally summon dangerous spirits that will torment their victim in the future and may even lead to suicide. 

“On Halloween night, the veil on the spirit world is very thin, and people only buy these boards for Ouija sessions on Halloween, so I’m afraid to imagine what will happen when these boards are in the wrong hands,” the expert said. 

Poundland noted that Ouija boards can only be purchased by persons over 18 years of age. This item sold out quickly before Halloween due to its popularity.

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