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Bilocation, or sometimes multilocation, 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. Reports of bilocational phenomena have been made in a wide variety of historical and religious contexts, ranging from ancient Greek legends and Christian traditions to modern occultism.
In ancient Greece
Almost unanimous is the report that on one and the same day he was present at Metapontum in Italy, and at Tauromenium in Sicily, in each place conversing with his friends, though the places are separated by many miles, both at sea and land, demanding many days' journey.
In religion and mysticism
Hinduism and Buddhism
It is also one of the siddhis of Hinduism and Buddhism. Several prominent Hindu gurus, including Neem Karoli Baba, Sri Yukteswar, and Lahiri Mahasaya, have been reported to have this ability.
The history of Christianity contains many reports of miraculous bilocations. Among the earliest of these is the apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar. This is an alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary in Caesaraugusta, Spain, in the year 40 CE, at a time when she is believed to have been still alive and living in Jerusalem.
Other Christian figures said to have experienced bilocation include Saint Drogo, Anthony of Padua, Francis of Paola, Francis Xavier, Martin de Porres, María de Ágreda, María de León Bello y Delgado, Alphonsus Liguori, Gerard Majella, and Pio of Pietrelcina.
However, Catholic philosophers disagree as to whether a person can really be physically located in two places at once, or whether the bilocations of the saints only take the form of non-substantial apparitions.
In the 17th century, persons accused of witchcraft were often reported to appear to their victims in visions, even if they were known to be elsewhere at the time. 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.
New Religious Movements
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.
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, "Fight Club", and several season two episodes of Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond, including "Dead Ringer".
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This holy virgin ... appeared, by way of bilocation, to the savages, not less than five hundred times, instructing them in all the truths of our holy religion.
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- Nickell, Joe. (1993). Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures. Prometheus Books. pp. 216–218. ISBN 1-57392-680-9