Thursday, March 27, 2008

Doubles, Fetches, Doppelgangers

One night when my children were small, a rustling sound awoke me. I saw or thought I saw my four-year-old scurry into the bathroom. I sat up and called to him then felt ridiculous. He looked transparent and wore an Indian-style feather on his head like little boys often do. Neither of my sons had such a feather in his toy box. I got up to go check on him. I went into the bathroom to find it empty. Sure enough, he lay in his bed, sleeping restlessly.
Clearly, I could have been dreaming. After all, I had been asleep before seeing the image. I dismissed the incident. In fact, I found it a relief to do so. I hated the intrusion of any possible psychic information. It complicated everything. Either that or a part of me wanted to confront myself.
A few days later, I saw another double. My friend Connie and I both taught at the local high school. Both of our husbands attended graduate school at Indiana University. She had a baby girl. While our kids played in the meadow between our married-housing apartment buildings one Saturday morning, Connie and I made plans to attend a bridal shower for another teacher that afternoon.
I volunteered to drive and told her I would pick her up at 1:15 in the turnaround at the apartment complex where she lived. At the time, Connie wore a red sundress with matching scarf around her head. Because I was in shorts, I asked her if she intended to change clothes. She said yes, and we agreed to dress up more.
At 1:10 p.m., wearing a dress, I drove into the turnaround and saw or thought I saw Connie walk through the door. I assumed she’d changed her mind because she wore the same clothes. I glanced at the curb as the car came to a stop then looked back to find her gone. Perplexed, I wondered what had happened to her. Momentarily, she came through the door actually wearing the same clothes.
As she approached the car, I called, “Did you forget something?” She shook her head. “Did you look out and then go back to get a drink of water or something?”
“No.” Connie looked at me suspiciously. “I just came down the elevator. I’ve not been outside since I saw you this morning.”
“I meant just now. You said you were going to change your clothes.”
“What’s the matter with you, Toby?”
The matter was that I didn’t want to admit that I had seen her double. My conscious mind anticipated that she would wear different clothes.
I couldn’t use the excuse of being asleep this time. I’d seen her wide awake, with the engine running on my car. I mumbled something inadequate, and we headed off to the bridal shower. But I didn’t forget, nor did I understand what had happened. I rationalized that my imagination had been working overtime. I couldn’t have seen Connie before she came through the door, therefore I didn’t see her, I lied to myself.
As the years have gone by and similar events have happened to me on occasion, I've come to realize that I'm not unusual. In fact such episodes happen so often and across cultures that many languages have names for the experience, double in English, fetch in Irish, vardoger in Swedish, doppelganger in German, ka in Egyptian. It is not known what causes the double to become visible and little research has been done on it.
In the absence of expert testimony, I'll give my opinion. There's nothing to fear from these appearances. Sometimes they might herald the impending death of the person. If the person does die soon after, the person seeing the double might simply be receiving a warning to help prepare him or her for the inevitable.
In my own case, the persons whose doubles I saw are still alive many years later. The double might simply be restless energy on the part of the other person, a projection of the aura perhaps. Seeing one might be disconcerting at the moment, but later it can become a comforting memory and example of the awesome scope of human capabilities, both to project the double and to see it.

The article is partially excerpted from Out of the Psychic Closet: The Quest to Trust My True Nature to be released by Twilight Times Books Summer, 2008.