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Alternatively Doppleganger. From the German meaning 'double walker', a ghostly double, an apparition, or counterpart of a living person. They may act strangely, or move mechanically (see Bilocation).

The belief that each person has an identical 'twin' somewhere, though they are unrelated, is a very ancient one. Sometimes the Doppelgänger is the direct opposite personality of the real person; a very nice person will have an evil Doppelgänger and vice-versa. Legend says that if the two should meet, they will both die.

Other accounts describe the Doppelgänger as the soul embodied, sometimes a astral projection or aura, the double most often presenting itself as a warning. Many believe that it is possible to see one's own double, as did the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, shortly before his death by drowning.


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According to an old belief, anyone who wants to know who will pass away in the coming year has only to stand vigil near a church door on April 24, the eve of the feast of St. Mark. At midnight, the airy doubles of all who will die file in a solemn processional into the church. If the watcher is unlucky enough to see his/her own image there, he/she knows his/her own time is not far off.

Many cases of doubles, or bilocation, have been reported throughout contemporary times. It was said that the German poet Goethe (1749-1832) once met "himself" coming towards him up a garden path; according to European folklore this should have been a sign of his imminent death, but Goethe lived for some years after his experience. In 1845 a French teacher named Emilie Sagée apparently was witnessed in two places at the same time by several of her students; in the same year Lucy Eden, a teenage girl from Warwickshire, England, was also witnessed in two places at the same time by several of her peers. Lucy's double appeared again in 1847, going throughout the house e meting everyone ― relatives, maids and friends alike ― as she laid in bed with the mumps.


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A pioneer psychical researcher,
Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research in England, along with others collected and studied reports of bilocation, or doubles, but the phenomenon has received little interest in modern times.

Although uncommon, bilocation — sometimes multilocation — is an ancient phenomenon. It is claimed to have been experienced, and even practiced by will, by many mystics, monks and other holy figures through the ages, including famous Christian saints such as St. Martin de Porres, St. Severus of Ravenna, St. Gerard Majella, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Ambrose of Milan, Padre Pio of Italy, as well as Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria, Egypt. In one instance, in 1774, St. Alphonsus Liguori is said to have gone into a trance while preparing for Mass. When he came out of the trance he reported that he had visited the bedside of the dying Pope Clement XIV. His presence is then said to have been confirmed by those attending the Pope despite his being four days travel away, and not appearing to have left his original location.


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Sources: (1) Shepard, Leslie (editor), Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Thomson Gale; (2) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (3) Steiger, Brad and Sherry Hansen, The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained, Thomson Gale.

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The Doppelganger: Double Visions in German Literature.

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Further info:

-- Bilocation.
-- Doppelgänger.
-- Double.
-- Out-of-body Experiences.
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