8 Creepy Superstitions About Doppelgängers That Will Keep You Up Tonight


You've almost definitely heard of the term "doppelgänger." Today, it's often used in a very casual way, to mean someone who looks like someone else. Maybe you've heard someone say something like, "I saw your doppelgänger today. They looked just like you, it was almost creepy!" While this definition is correct, the term has a long other story behind it that gives a whole new meaning to the word "creepy." There are lots of spooky doppelgänger myths out there that are going to make you hope you never meet anyone who looks like you.

Doppelgänger is a German word that means "double-walker." According to ancient legend, a doppelgänger isn't just someone who resembles you, or a twin with their own identity — it is a literal duplicate of you. Many mystics believe that doppelgängers are supernatural creatures, and their appearance in someone's life is almost never a good thing.

Even creepier? There are real accounts of people seeing their doppelgängers, and things almost never end well for them. There are countless ancient myths and legends, and even more modern accounts. One popular story is when Abraham Lincoln saw his look-alike in 1860. He supposedly saw his reflection doubled in the mirror, with one face beside the other. He saw this three times, and his wife, Mary Todd, was worried that the vision meant he would serve two terms, but would die before the end of the second. It's like a real-life ghost story!

This isn't the only ghostly example of a doppelgänger myth seemingly come true. Below are a few of the most horrifying things people believe and/or have believed about doppelgängers:


Seeing Your Doppelgänger Is An Omen of Death

The most widely known myth about doppelgängers is that they are an omen of death. According to both English and German folklore, seeing your doppelgänger often means that death will soon follow — even more so if you see them more than once. This idea is backed up by the many stories throughout time that have told tales where someone died shortly after seeing their doppelgänger multiple times — like Lincoln.


Doppelgängers Give Malicious Advice

Doppelgängers are generally just seen as a bad omen, even if they don't specifically mean death. Many have always believed that the doppelgänger is basically an "evil twin." They supposedly attempt to purposely give you bad advice in a malicious way. They might also try to plant sinister ideas in their victim's mind.

According to Ancient Pages, one of the earliest references to this idea is found in the Zurvanite branch of Zoroastrianism. The site says, "In this cosmological model, the twins Ahura Mazda (Ormuzd) and Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) were co-eternal representatives of good and evil."


If Someone Else Sees Your Doppelgänger, It Means You Might Be Very Sick

You're not off the hook if someone else spots your doppelgänger either. Linda Derry, site director at the Old Cahawba ghost town in Alabama and a curator of folklore originating from that region, told Atlas Obscura, "If someone else saw your doppelgänger, it could mean that you may be very ill."


Your Doppelgänger Is A Ghostly Double That Lived Before You

Other ancient myths say that a doppelgänger is essentially a ghostly double of you who lived before you do, which is very creepy to think about. It comes from Norse mythology, and the doppelgänger is there called a "vardøger." According to Ancient Pages, the stories of vardøger describe incidents that are basically déjà vu in reverse "where a spirit with the subject's footsteps, voice, scent, or appearance and overall demeanor precedes them in a location or activity, resulting in witnesses believing they've seen or heard the actual person before the person physically arrives."


It Is Your Spiritual Double

According to ancient Egyptian myths, the doppelgänger is basically the same as a "ka." A "ka" is thought of as a spiritual double born in everyone. When someone dies, their spiritual double lives on as long as they have somewhere to live, usually that person's body. This is why Egyptians mummified their dead — if they kept the body from decomposing, that meant the spiritual double had somewhere to live. But if the body decayed, the spiritual double would die, and the deceased would lose their chance at eternal life.


It Is Your Evil Double From The Underworld

Then there was the Native American myth that said that a doppelgänger is basically your evil double from the underworld. Native American myths say that there is an Upper World and an Under World. The good people live in the Upper World, and the evil people live in the Under World.

The Hopi legend refers to twins called the Child of the Sun and the Child of the Water. The Hopi also believe that whatever is happening in the Upper World, the opposite is happening in the Under World.


Even A Portrait Doppelgänger Can Be A Bad Omen

Today, it's pretty common to find old portraits and paintings of someone who looks exactly like someone living now — think super old portraits of a person who looks just like a popular celebrity. This isn't a great sign either. The Canelos Indians of South America hated portraiture and photography because they believed the pictures captured the soul of the person, and this is still a belief today. Because many cultures see portraiture as a representation of the soul, they believe that the soul pictures becomes the double.


It's A Sign Of An Alternate Universe

According to Supernatural Magazine, there is one more theory: a doppelgänger could represent a parallel universe in which everything in this world is replicated in another dimension. Seeing the doppelgänger could be a moment when we're able to witness the other dimension. In fact, Columbia University physicist Brian Greene, author of the book The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos says that we all have doppelgängers.