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Doppelgangers: When Your “Extra” Goes Walkabout

January 1, 2017
By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Copyright Visionary Living, Inc.

Appearances of doppelgangers — the exact duplicate of a living person — may be on the upswing.  In recent weeks I have gotten a spate of reports and inquiries about them, which is unusual for a phenomenon that is not that common.

“Doppelganger” is a German term meaning “double-goer.”  Doubles have been documented since ancient times.  There are two types of them: harbingers of death or bad luck, and an unexplained projection or bilocation of a person  Some doppelgangers do not look like ghosts or apparitions, but are so realistic, down to details of clothing, that those who see them think the person is actually present.  Sometimes the doppelgangers do not talk, but other times they carry on short conversations.

Doppelgangers are not to be confused with living persons who bear a strong resemblance to another.  It is said that everyone on the planet has a twin somewhere.

The belief in doppelgangers as death omens is widespread.  According to lore, if a doppelganger of a person is seen at a distance, it means they have died or are about to die.  In such cases, the double is likely to look filmy or ghost-like.  It may be related to a phenomenon called “crisis apparitions” in parapsychology, the appearance of a person at the time of death, often to say good-bye to another person.

In rare cases, a person might see their own double before they die.  This happened to poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who saw his double shortly before he drowned.

Other doppelgangers are projections, perhaps of an astral self.  Certain persons, such as mystics and adepts, know how to project or bilocate themselves at will and appear as their double in a distant location.  St. Padre Pio was famous for this, ministering to far-away people in need at times of crisis.  He was summoned by prayer.

In many cases, projections of one’s double happens spontaneously and unconsciously.  Take the following case reported to me by Nicole Allen:

My husband Joe and I were at the grocery store for our biweekly grocery shopping trip.  I was taking a bit longer, so Joe went out to our car in the parking lot and sat and waited for me to come out.  He told me that this person that looked exactly like me (and was dressed like I was, too) came out of the grocery store and started walking toward the parking lot to our car and then turned and walked back to the store and then he couldn’t see the person anymore.  Joe said that I came out of the grocery store about three or four minutes after this and he had asked me if I had come out before, and I told him that I hadn’t. 

Joe has read about dopplegangers and that is what he thought it was, and of course, I believe him.  He was really shocked by the whole thing, as nothing like this has ever happened to either one of us before. 

I looked it up in one of your recent books on the paranormal, Rosemary, and read about how seeing a doppleganger can be like an omen, or a predictor of back luck to come. Well, guess what?!  The next day, I got let go at my job!!!  That is what really shocked me, as I had no advance warning of it and never would have thought that anything like that could happen.  So now I am looking for another full-time job.  We hope that that will be the end of our bad luck too!  What do you think of it, Rosemary?

My answer to Nicole is, quite likely your doppelganger made a brief appearance, and it seems to have preceded a shock of bad luck.  Your Higher Self, which sees through time, may have “seen” this coming, and prepared you for it with the experience of your doppelganger.

Other doppelganger incidents seem to be random occurrences.  Several years ago, I was attending the annual Mothman Festival in Pt. Pleasant, WV, and saw my friend John Frick, one of the famous Men in Black, in town, and spoke briefly to him  I had no idea that John was actually at a distant site working on the festival’s haunted hayride attraction.

John recently told me of another doppelganger incident he had, where he was spotted in Michigan at a time when he was in Maryland:

A friend of mine in Michigan was leaving a relative’s house by car and she saw me walking down the street. At first she thought it was me but then thought it can’t possibly be because I live too far away. She noticed that he [the double] looked her way and was also walking fast. In her words he was walking super fast. It freaked her out a bit lol! Her boyfriend was driving the car and they kept on going. She didn’t attempt a picture.

She then described him as having black slacks, a dark grey sweatshirt, and a black winter hat, and of course, glasses. What she had no idea about is that not only do I have a black winter hat and a dark grey sweatshirt, but that I purchased both items in the last 2-3 months. I never even wore sweatshirts prior to this year, and the dark grey one is the only one I have, and I also had never had a black winter hat until I purchased one about 6 weeks ago while up in north central PA.

John has a lot of unusual experiences, and I asked him why he thought he had these projections.

I don’t know. I know that in your case you definitely saw my double, which I think was a parallel universe version of me, because you actually spoke to the person. In this recent case, I think it could be something pretending to be me (like a MIB or Djinn) but what is also very possible is that there was just a person that happened to look just like me, who just happened to be wearing clothes like those that I recently purchased. I see so many bizarre unlikely synchronicities that I can’t rule out the possibility that this is just another one (what some might call a fluke chain of coincidences, but I think that is just the way synchronicity works). Whatever is going on is very strange.

Why do doppelgangers happen?  No one knows for certain.  Doppelgangers were studied extensively by psychical researchers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but researchers had no adequate explanation.   They did observe that states of heightened emotion were associated with some cases of unconscious projection.

It is possible that people are experiencing projections more as part of a shift in consciousness, as we become increasingly aware of interdimensional realities and the fluidity of time.  Doppelgangers may be related to other out-of-body experiences, including astral projection during sleep.

A related phenomenon is called an “arrival case” in psychical reserach literature.  This refers to a person’s double that arrives ahead of the living person.  Mark Twain experienced this once while attending a social event.  At a large reception, he spotted a woman he knew, but then lost sight of her in the crowd.  He then saw her later at dinner, dressed in the same clothes.  He was unaware that the living woman hadn’t yet arrived for either event — she was riding on a train at the times he saw her.


This article has drawn affirmative responses from many readers who said they, too, had recently experienced seeing a person’s double.  There may be a variety of reasons why doppelgangers are noticed.  One may be time slips.  Linear time is a construct, and perhaps as our reality shifts and the consciousness of people changes, more of us might become aware of events that are out of synch in linear time.  One reader wrote about seeing her husband’s double, and a double of his van, in advance of his actual arrival:

As I awaited my husband’s arrival for a quick lunch at a fast food place, I saw him drive in and go by me. I wondered why he was driving by. I clearly saw him in profile driving his red van pass in front of me.  I looked around for him and he was not to be seen.  I then called him on my cell — he was actually still five minutes away!

Most of the time, we’re going to shrug off such incidents as mistaken impressions, but  “little time slips” probably happen on a frequent basis.

Paranormal researcher Chris McDaniel commented that some doubles might actually be spirits masquerading as a person.  There is precedence for this in the literature of occultism, which holds that spirits are capable of slipping on human guises like gloves, and may account for most or all “ghost” hauntings.  In Scandinavian lore, the vardoger is a “spirit predecessor,” who acts like a double.  Said Chris:

I had my own doppelganger stalking a few years ago and wrote about the events within my book Falling Down The Rabbit’s Hole. After telling of my encounters, many people began coming forward telling me of their doppelganger experiences. I began realizing that this phenomenon was on the rise. In my research, I believe doppelgangers and vardogers are talented spirits that are advanced within their abilities to haunt. I believe it is a spiritual attachment that is short lived. I have found that many people who encounter such an entity had knowingly or unknowingly visited a haunted location. Therefore this talented spirit, for one reason or another, attached itself to this person.

An interesting possibility, and one that fits circumstances I have encountered myself in investigating haunted locations.