What is a doppelgänger?

Seeing one’s double has nothing to do with imminent death, accident or physical harm

Inquirer Libre - - FEATURES - By Jimmy Licauco Inquirer Lifestyle columnist Attend the next Basic ESP and Intuition Development seminar on Sept. 9-10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza 1, Legazpi St. Greenbelt, Makati. Call 8107245; e-mail jaimetlicauco@yahoo.com. Visit www.i

AGOOD friend and fellow writer asked me recently to explain what a “doppelgänger” is. Curious, I asked her what got her interested in the subject. She replied that some of her friends in Cebu told her they saw their “double,” and wanted to know what that meant.

So, let’s begin with a definition. The dictionary meaning of a doppelgänger is an “apparition that looks like you.” It is your double.

The word “doppälganger” comes from the German words doppel (double) and ganger (walker or goer).

From the internet, we get the following information:

“According to age-old Ger- man folklore, all living creatures have a spirit double who is invisible but identical to the living individual. These second selves are perceived as being distinct from ghosts (which appear only after death), and sometimes they are described as the spiritual opposite or negative of their human counterparts.”

What makes people scared of seeing their double is the mistaken belief that it indicates imminent death of the individual. This is not true at all. Seeing one’s doppelgänger has nothing to do with imminent death, accident or physical harm.

According to esoteric philosophy, man’s physical body has a subtle counterpart called the etheric body or subtle body. The etheric body is also called the “etheric double,” and it may detach itself from the physical body spontaneously or unintentionally.

It can sometimes be seen by one’s physical eye because it is more dense than the Astral Body, which is the “Desire Body.” Why one’s double suddenly appears to the individual or other people is not clear. But this phenomenon is not really as rare as we may think.

Several world-famous literary figures have mentioned the doppelgänger in their writings. These include the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, the American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe, English poet Lord Byron and Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Metaphysical poet John Donne saw his wife’s doppelänger in 1612 in Paris, on the same night as their daughter was born dead.

To me, the most striking case of seeing one’s double is the story told by the great 19th-century German novelist Goethe, in his autobiography “Poetry and Truth.” He was visiting his fiancée, Frederica, and was walking on a footpath toward her house when he saw an image of himself riding on horseback coming toward him, and wearing a jacket he did not have. Then the vision disappeared. It was like a dream. Eight years later, Goethe visited Frederica for the last time, wearing the same jacket he saw in his vision of his double. He said that strange illusion “in some measure calmed him at the moment of parting.” Goethe also said he saw his doppelgänger not with his physical eye, but with “the mind’s eye.”

Astral body vs doppelgänger

What’s the difference between the astral body and the etheric double or doppelgänger?

According to some esoteric schools of thought, the astral body belongs to the lower mental and emotional body of man. It is more subtle and can’t be seen except through clairvoyant vision. The astral body, when it appears to people, can be confused with the etheric double.

For example, here are stories I just received about astral projection from a regular reader, but who blamed elementals for imitating occupants of their house.

“One time, in our sala, my 4year-old son was walking toward his aunt when suddenly his younger brother, then 3, crossed his path and faded from view. Both he and his aunt saw this. When they checked, his younger brother was asleep in his bedroom.

“Another time, our houseboy insisted that my sister had gotten back home from Baguio. He claimed that my sister had entered the gate, gone upstairs and entered her bedroom. My mother called my sister and, true enough, she was still in Baguio, about to board a bus to Manila.”

There were other similar incidents he mentioned. A psychic who visited their house had told them these incidents were the works of elementals, but they are not hostile ones.

Although it is true that there are cases when elementals mimic the appearance and voices of people in a house, I don’t believe this is what happens here. It’s just one’s astral body traveling out of their physical body and unconsciously going to places of their desire. That’s why the astral body is called the desire body or emotional body.

By the way, a forthcoming Korean movie, “The Mimic,” tells about a person who is able to imitate the voice and appearance of another person, like a doppelgänger.

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