Bilocation, or sometimes multi-location, is an alleged psychic or miraculous ability wherein an individual or object is located (or appears to be located) in two distinct places at the same time. The concept has been used in a wide range of historical and philosophical systems, ranging from early Greek philosophy to modern religious stories, occultism and magic.
The concept of bilocation has appeared in early Greek philosophy, shamanism, paganism, folklore, occultism, magic, the paranormal, Hinduism (as one of the siddhis), spiritualism, Theosophy, the New Age and mysticism in general, as well as Christian mysticism and Jewish mysticism.
In religion and mysticism
Several Christian saints, monks and Muslim Sufis are said to have exhibited bilocation. Among the earliest is the apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar in the year 40. Isidore the Farmer claimed to be praying or attending Mass in Church while at the same time plowing in the fields.
Other Christian figures said to have experienced bilocation include Alphonsus Liguori, Anthony of Padua, Ursula Micaela Morata, Gerard Majella, Charles of Mount Argus, Pio of Pietrelcina, Severus of Ravenna, Ambrose, María de Ágreda, Martin de Porres, María de León Bello y Delgado.
In the 17th century, persons accused of witchcraft were reported to appear in dreams and visions of witnesses. The trials at Bury St. Edmunds and Salem included this “spectral evidence” against defendants. Matthew Hopkins described the phenomenon in his book The Discovery of Witches.
Neem Karoli Baba, Sri Yukteswar, Lahiri Mahasaya, and many other prominent hindu gurus were reported to have this ability.
The English occultist Aleister Crowley was reported by acquaintances to have the ability, even though he said he was not conscious of its happening at the time.
Bilocation figures heavily in David Lynch’s film Lost Highway (1997) and Thomas Pynchon’s novel Against the Day (2006). Bilocation also plays a part in the Christopher Priest novel The Prestige. Additionally, the phenomenon is explored in an episode of The X-Files, (jokingly called) Fight Club.
A mystical story that involved Soviet author Yevgeny Petrov served as inspiration for the film Envelope (2012) starring Kevin Spacey.
Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell has written that there is no scientific evidence that bilocation is a real phenomenon and that cases are often from anecdotal reports that cannot be verified. Nickell listed self-delusion, hoaxing and illusion to explain alleged cases of bilocation.