Dopplegänger in Folklore

Dopplegangers what are they? Have you run into yourself lately? Ouch!

I for one ran into a Doppplegänger once on a busy city street. It looked exactly like a dear friend of mine, I even ran up to her to say hello. The Dopplegänger quickly turned around and glared at me as if I were crazy! I was embarrassed and apologized saying “You look exactly like a friend I know.” I shot out of there and was a bit shaken as this dopplegänger freaked me out. I haven’t seen one since this eerie event.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a Dopplegänger is a ghostly counterpart of a living person. Dopplegänger a German word means “Double-goer,” in English.

There is this eerie paranormal phenomenon that a Dopplegänger is a harbinger of bad luck. You may have also heard the term “Evil twin?” Sometimes it is used to describe real twin siblings and other times it is used to describe a Dopplegänger.

According to Wikipedia, Francis Grose’s Provincial Glossary of 1787 used the term Fetch instead, defined as the “apparition of a person living.” Catherine Crowe 1803-1876 wrote a book called The Night Side of Nature in 1848. It is about this Evil Twin paranormal phenomena making it very popular among Spiritists of the time.

Spiritism is a spiritualistic philosophy created in the 19th century by the French educator Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail, under thealias Allan Kardec; it proposed the study of the nature, origin, and destiny of spirits, and how they related to the corporeal world.

Ancient Egypt priests had teachings of the “Ka,” a ghostly shadow double, that looked identical to a person with similar memories, mannerisms and emotions. Egyptians believed that Heqet or Meskhenet was the Ka creator of each person, breathing it into them at the instant of their birth as the part of their soul that made the body become a living person. I find it fascinating that crows are known to be messengers of death in folklore and make the sound “Ka” when they communicate within their own murder.

In Scandinavian folklore a Vardøger is a predecessor a type of phantom double that appears in public funtioning like the real person it looks like.

In Orkney Islands of Scotland folklore tales abound of wicked faeries called Trows who would replace healthy hominid babies with their own Trow babies that looked identical to the kidnapped human babies. The folks called these Trow babies Changelings.

Check out these eerie Dopplegängers in the article below by Daily Mail Co.UK.

Double lives: The Doppelgängers who don’t just look alike but LIVE alike (even though they’re complete strangers) Read more:


Dante Gabriel Rossetti, How They Met Themselves, watercolor, 1864

Here is an early folklore tale about a ghostly Dopplegänger by The Brothers Grimm, Grimm’s Saga No. 260 called ‘Ghost As Married Woman.’

In the time when Johann Casimir was Duke of Coburg*, his Master of the Stables was named G. P. von Z. This master of the stables first lived on the street called Spitalgasse, afterward in a dwelling subsequently inhabited by D. Frommann and then in a large villa outside town, which was called Rosenau. Finally he took up residence in the castle where he also acted as captain of arms. A ghostly apparition forced him to move frequently.

In appearance this spirit looked exactly like his living wife, so much so, that each time when he entered a new dwelling and sat at his table he often doubted whether he was in the presence of his true wife. For the spirit followed him out of each house and everywhere. When his wife once again suggested moving into new living quarters to avoid the ghost, the apparition began to cry out in a loud voice: “Go where you will. I will follow you, even to the ends of the earth!” This was not an idle threat for when the Master of the Stables moved out, the doors of the houses he left behind slammed shut with ferocious force. From then on the spirit was never seen in the abandoned house but only in the new residence.

Every day when the true wife dressed herself, the ghost appeared in the same clothing regardless of whether it was a fancy dress or an every-day dress and the colour of the fabric didn’t matter. This is why the wife never went about her household tasks alone, but was always accompanied by a servant. The spirit often appeared between eleven and twelve o’clock. If a priest or man of the cloth was present, the ghost did not appear. Once when Johann Pruescher the Father Confessor had been invited and the noble man and his wife and sister accompanied him down the stairs, the spirit began to climb the stairs from below at the same time. Through the wooden rail it gripped the young maid’s apron and disappeared when she began to scream. Once the spirit lay on it’s side over the threshold to the kitchen. When the cook asked “What do you want?” the spirit responded “I shall have your mistress.” But the mistress of the house never experienced any harm. Things did not go as well for the young maid, the sister of the nobleman. One time the spirit hit the girl so hard on the face that her cheek swelled up and the girl had to return to her father’s house. Finally the spirit retreated and it became peaceful in the house once more.

* John Casimir (German: Johann Kasimir) of Saxe-Coburg (Gotha, 12 June 1564 – Coburg, 16 July 1633) was the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. He was the descendant of the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin. / Wikipedia

Sources and References:

Todd, J; Dewhurst, K. (1955). The Double: Its Psycho-Pathology and Psycho-Physiology

Wikipedia: Dopplegänger

Bane, Theresa. Encyclopedia of spirits and ghosts in world mythology. Jefferson, NC, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2016

Grimm Saga 260 by The Brothers Grimm

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