Simon Magus - Witchcraft Hall of Fame

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Simon Magus
Witchcraft Hall of Fame

Simon Magus, or Simon the Magician, was a magician and spiritual leader from Samaria. It is unknown whether he was an ethnic Samaritan or a Jew originally from Caesarea. A magician named Simon lived in Caesarea c.40 CE; this is sometimes acknowledged to be Simon Magus. Justin Martyr however claims Simon was born in Gitta, a Samaritan village.

Simon was baptized a Christian by the Apostle Philip and is described by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons as the man “from whom all the heresies take their origin.” Simon Magus became the Christian symbol of arrogance and pride.

Simon is recalled in the word “simony,” the practice of buying positions of power within the Church. In the Book of Acts, Simon is portrayed as a wandering magician who has converted to Christianity. He observes Peter laying on hands. He wished to acquire this skill too and so offers to pay Peter for it and is sharply rebuked for assuming these were powers that could be bought.

Simon may have been a disciple of John the Baptist. He achieved tremendous success as a magician and spiritual leader in Samaria and Rome.

He is credited as the founder of the school of Simonian Gnosticism. Its doctrine suggested that the world was created by a female power who then became lost in her own creation. God exists but the Cosmos was not created directly by God but by a female emanation of God, the Ennoia (Thought). She created the angels who then rebelled against her. The battle was so vicious that Ennoia lost herself in her Creation and forgot her identity. She wandered through various incarnations, one after another, becoming ever more confused.

In the meantime, the angels tried to rule the world but fought amongst themselves. The world filled with suffering, which was not God’s original intention. God finally decided to rescue Ennoia and save humankind, so he came to Earth in the form of Simon Magus. God, in the form of Simon Magus, found Ennoia in the form of a prostitute named Helena in the Phoenician city of Tyre, the cradle of sacred prostitution. Thanks to Simon, Helena regained her memory.

Simon taught that anyone who recognized him as God was saved. Once saved, there was no need for conventional rules of morality, because these rules were originally created by the angels in order to enslave people.

Knowledge of Simon comes from Christians who opposed him and perceived him as a competitor of Jesus Christ. It was said that he conjured spirits, concocted potions, and encouraged free sex (as told by people who perceived these as dreadful things). Simon was identified as the Anti-Christ, and some early Christians accused Simon Magus of accomplishing his miracles via control of the spirit of a murdered boy via necromantic rituals.

Simon allegedly died during a magical duel with Peter when he flew off the top of the Roman Forum. Alternatively he buried himself for three days but did not resurrect. After his death, he was buried in Aricia, near Rome.

Simon Magus was worshipped in Rome. A community of devotees built temples to him featuring statues of Simon and Helena. After his death, leadership of Simon’s sect was assumed by his disciple Menander. Simonian Gnosticism survived alongside Christianity in the Roman Empire for over 150 years. However, by the early third century, Origen claimed there were less than 30 Simonians left.

All writings of Simon’s School were destroyed.