Bilocation is an unusual phenomenon in which a person appears to be in two places simultaneously. Bilocation is thought to occur when a person’s double is projected to another location and is visible to others, who perceive the double as the actual physical body. In some cases, the double appears to be an apparition, not a solid physical form. Persons witnessing a bilocation often notice that the double acts oddly or doesn’t speak. Doubles of animals also have been reported.

Mystical and magical adepts are attributed with the ability to bilocate, sometimes at will. In Christianity, numerous saints and monks reportedly bilocated, among them St. Anthony of Padua, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Severus of Ravenna, and Padre Pio of Italy. Philip Neri, a 16th-century Florentine businessman who joined the Church and became known as “the Apostle of Rome,” experienced bilocation following a transformational ecstatic experience during which he felt his heart enlarge. After that, he was subject to palpitations and sensations of great heat.

In 1774, St. Alphonsus Maria de’Liguori, another ecstatic, created a stir by announcing one morning that during the night he had attended the dying Pope Clement XIV at his bedside in Rome, which was a four-day journey away. However, St. Liguori had been confined to a cell for a fast, and had not left the premises. No one believed him until it was reported that Clement had just died, and that St. Liguori had appeared at his bedside.

Reports of bilocation were collected in the late 19th century by Frederic W.H. Myers, one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London. Myers published them in Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1903). One representative account, which occurred on February 5, 1887, concerned a father and two daughters who went hunting one afternoon. After a while, the daughters decided to return home with the coachman. Along the way, they spotted their father, astride his white horse on top of a small hill not far away, which was separated from the daughters by a dip in the land.

The father waved his hat at them, and one daughter could clearly see the brand label inside the hatband, though it should have been impossible due to the distance. The horse looked dirty and shaken, as though it had been in an accident. The daughters were worried. They passed into the dip and the father and horse disappeared momentarily from view. When the girls rose out of the dip, father and horse were nowhere to be seen. The father arrived at home later and said he had not been in an accident, nor had he waved at them from the hilltop. The incident had no explanation.

Sometimes a spontaneous bilocation is in folklore a Death Omen.



  • Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.
  • Hart, Hornell, and Ella B. Hart, “Visions and Apparitions Collectively and Reciprocally Perceived.” Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR)41 (1932–33): 205–49.
  • Myers, Frederic W. H. Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1954. First published 1903.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007

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