Doppelganger (AKA: a person's "fetch") is the German word for "exact double." It is a term that found its way into the common vernacular from the 1848 best-selling book, The Night-Side of Nature by Catherine Crowe.
There have been reports of people claiming to see someone in the act of doing something, only to later find out that what they thought they saw would have been impossible. For instance, say a woman comes home from work and sees her son, sitting on the couch, playing video games. She walks upstairs, and her son calls out to her...as he's sitting on his bed. The vision of her son on the couch would be his doppelganger.
Throughout history, there have even been people who have claimed to see their own doppelganger. And, no, these people weren't strung out on the latest high-fashioned drugs, either. In fact, it has been said that Abe Lincoln reported seeing his double! When you add to that the legend that seeing a doppelganger foretells the death of the person in question, the fact that America's sixteenth president allegedly saw his own is just a little creepy.
There are two examples of doppelgangers within pop culture that float around in my brain each time I hear the word. The first one came in the form of a literary character in Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. One of the only male Mayfair witches, Julian, was able to be in two places at once. And the second doppelganger to resonate with me was created by Joss Whedon for his television series, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. The sixteenth episode of season three, "Doppelgangland," centers on Willow and her doppelganger, Vampire Willow.
At times, I've had dreams where I run into my doppelganger. While I'm dreaming, it's as if I'm watching a movie and I'm the star. Only when I wake up does the chilling realization come to me that I've encountered my double. I've had dreams like these a number of times over the years, and I'm still alive. So, I don't believe the legend about foretold deaths.
Do you believe in doppelgangers? Have you ever encountered one?