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.
- Louis Rodgers
- 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
Bilocation is the ability to be in two places simultaneously by projecting one’s double or astral self to another location. To others, the double may appear as a solid physical form or an apparition but may not behave “normally” or speak.
Bilocation can occur spontaneously or at will. Bilocation at will is a magical skill learned by adepts, and also it is an ability ascribed to spiritually advanced persons such as saints and mystics. For example, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Ambrose of Milan, Saint Severus of Ravenna, Padre Pio, Philip Neri, and Alphonsus Maria de’ Ligouri are among the many Christian saints said to bilocate. In 1774, Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Ligouri was seen at the beside of the dying pope Clement XIV in Rome; at the same time he was in his monastery cell, a four-day journey away.
Catholicism considers bilocation to be the appearance of a phantasm, a spiritual body that can be in many places simultaneously. In Eastern traditions such as yoga, bilocation is one of the advanced supernormal powers of the adept, acquired through meditation and the channelling of prana, the universal life force, through the chakras of the body and its aura.
Magical adepts learn how to bilocate by using the force of will and mental thought to project out of the body, usually to a specific location. rituals invoking astrological auspices and spiritual forces may be part of the bilocation process.
In occult folklore, a spontaneous bilocation may be considered a harbinger of death—the imminent separation of the soul from the physical form. In psychical research, a bilocation observed by others falls into the category of “collective apparition.” If there is interaction with others, it is a “reciprocal apparition.”
- Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Saints. New York: Facts On File, 2002.
- Hart, Hornell, and Ella B. Hart, “Visions and Apparitions Collectively and Reciprocally Perceived,” Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. 41, part 130, 1932–33, pp. 205–249.
- Myers, F. W. H. Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. 1903. Reprint, New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1954.