Everybody in Christendom has heard of Simon, the magician, and how
Peter, the apostle, rebuked him, as told in the narrative of the Acts
of the Apostles. Many also have heard the legend of how at Rome this
wicked sorcerer endeavoured to fly by aid of the demons, and how Peter
caused him to fall headlong and thus miserably perish. And so most think
that there is an end of the matter, and either cast their mite of pity or
contempt at the memory of Simon, or laugh at the whole matter as the
invention of superstition or the imagination of religious fanaticism,
according as their respective beliefs may be in orthodoxy or materialism.
This for the general. Students of theology and church history, on the
other hand, have had a more difficult task set them in comparing and
arranging the materials they have at their disposal, as found in the
patristic writings and legendary records; and various theories have been
put forward, not the least astonishing being the supposition that Simon
was an alias for Paul, and that the Simon and Peter in the accounts of the
fathers and in the narrative of the legends were simply concrete symbols
to represent the two sides of the Pauline and Petrine controversies.
The first reason why I have ventured on this present enquiry is that
Simon Magus is invariably mentioned by the heresiologists as the founder
of the first heresy of the commonly-accepted Christian era, and is
believed by them to have been the originator of those systems of religio-philosophy
and theosophy which are now somewhat inaccurately classed together under
the heading of Gnosticism. And though this assumption of the patristic
heresiologists is entirely incorrect, as may be proved from their own
works, it is nevertheless true that Simonianism is the first system that,
as far as our present records go, came into conflict with what has been
regarded as the orthodox stream of Christianity. A second reason is that I
believe that Simon has been grossly misrepresented, and entirely
misunderstood, by his orthodox opponents, whoever they were, in the first
place, and also, in the second place, by those who have ignorantly and
without enquiry copied from them. But my chief reason is that the present
revival of theosophical enquiry throws a flood of light on Simon's
teachings, whenever we can get anything approaching a first-hand statement
of them, and shows that it was identical in its fundamentals with the
Esoteric Philosophy of all the great religions of the world.
In this enquiry, I shall have to be slightly wearisome to some of my
readers, for instead of giving a selection or even a paraphraze of the
notices on Simon which we have from authenticated patristic sources, I
shall furnish verbatim translations, and present a digest only of the
unauthenticated legends. The growth of the Simonian legend must unfold
itself before the reader in its native form as it comes from the pens of
those who have constructed it. Repetitions will, therefore, be unavoidable
in the marshalling of authorities, but they will be shown to be not
without interest in the subsequent treatment of the subject, and at any
rate we shall at least be on the sure ground of having before us all that
has been said on the matter by the Church fathers. Having cited these
authorities, I shall attempt to submit them to a critical examination, and
so eliminate all accretions, hearsay and controversial opinions, and thus
sift out what reliable residue is possible. Finally, my task will be to
show that Simon taught a system of Theosophy, which instead of deserving
our condemnation should rather excite our admiration, and that, instead of
being a common impostor and impious perverter of public morality, his
method was in many respects of the same nature as the methods of the
theosophical movement of to-day, and deserves the study and consideration
of all students of Theosophy.
This essay will, therefore, be divided into the following parts:
SOURCES OF INFORMATION.
Our sources of information fall under three heads: I. The Simon of the
New Testament; II. The Simon of the Fathers; III. The Simon of the
I.—The Simon of the New Testament.
Acts (viii. 9-24); author and date unknown; commonly supposed to
be "by the author of the third gospel, traditionally known as Luke";
not quoted prior to A.D. 177;
earliest MS. not older than the sixth century, though some contend for the
II.—The Simon of the Fathers.
i. Justinus Martyr (Apologia, I. 26, 56; Apologia, II.
15; Dialogus cum Tryphone, 120); probable date of First Apology
A.D. 141; neither the date of the birth nor death of Justin is known; MS.
ii. Irenæus (Contra Hæreses, I. xxiii. 1-4); chief literary
activity last decennium of the second century; MSS. probably sixth,
seventh, and eighth centuries; date of birth and death unknown, for the
former any time from A.D. 97-147 suggested, for latter 202-3.
iii. Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromateis, ii. 11; vii. 17);
greatest literary activity A.D. 190-203; born 150-160, date of death
unknown; oldest MS. eleventh century.
iv. Tertullianus (De Præscriptionibus adversus Hæreticos, 46,
generally attributed to a Pseudo-Tertullian); c. A.D. 199; (De Anima,
34, 36); c. A.D. 208-9; born 150-160, died 220-240.
v. [Hippolytus (?)] (Philosophumena, vi. 7-20); date unknown,
probably last decade of second to third of third century; author unknown
and only conjecturally Hippolytus; MS. fourteenth century.
vi. Origenes (Contra Celsum, i. 57; v. 62; vi. 11); born A.D.
185-6, died 254-5; MS. fourteenth century.
vii. Philastrius (De Hæresibus); date of birth unknown, died
probably A.D. 387.
viii. Epiphanius (Contra Hæreses, ii. 1-6); born A.D. 310-20,
died 404; MS. eleventh century.
ix. Hieronymus (Commentarium in Evangelicum Matthæi, IV. xxiv.
5); written A.D. 387.
x. Theodoretus (Hereticarum Fabularum Compendium, i. 1); born
towards the end of the fourth century, died A.D. 453-58; MS. eleventh
III.—The Simon of the Legends.
A. The so-called Clementine literature.
i. Recognitiones, 2. Homiliæ, of which the Greek
originals are lost, and the Latin translation of Rufinus (born c.A.D. 345,
died 410) alone remains to us. The originals are placed by conjecture
somewhere about the beginning of the third century; MS. eleventh century.
B. A mediæval account; (Constitutiones Sanctorum Apostolorum,
VI. vii, viii, xvi); these were never heard of prior to 1546, when a
Venetian, Carolus Capellus, printed an epitomized translation of them from
an MS. found in Crete. They are hopelessly apocryphal.
I.—The Simon of the New Testament.
Acts (viii. 9-24). Text: The Greek Testament (with the
readings adopted by the revisers of the authorized version); Oxford, 1881.
Now a certain fellow by name Simon had been previously in the city
practising magic and driving the people of Samaria out of their wits,
saying that he was some great one; to whom all from small to great gave
heed, saying: "This man is the Power of God which is called Great." And
they gave heed to him, owing to his having driven them out of their wits
for a long time by his magic arts. But when they believed on Philip
preaching about the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, they
began to be baptized, both men and women. And Simon himself also
believed, and after being baptized remained constantly with Philip; and
was driven out of his
wits on seeing the signs and great wonders
that took place.
And the apostles in Jerusalem hearing that Samaria
had received the Word of God, sent Peter and John to them. And they went
down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For
as yet it had not fallen upon any of them, but they had only been
baptized unto the Name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy
Spirit. And when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given by the laying
on of the hands of the apostles, he offered them money, saying: "Give
unto me also this power, in order that on whomsoever I lay my hands he
may receive the Holy Spirit."
But Peter said unto him: "Thy silver perish with thee, in that thou
didst think that the gift of God is possessed with money. There is not
for thee part or lot in this Word, for thy heart is not right before
God. Therefore turn from this evil of thine, and pray the Lord, if by
chance the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee. For I see that
thou art in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity."
And Simon answered and said: "Pray ye on my behalf to the Lord, that
none of the things that ye have said may come upon me."
II.—The Simon of the Fathers.
i. Justinus Martyr (Apologia, I. 26). Text: Corpus
Apologetarum Christianorum Sæculi Secundi (edidit Io. Car. Th. Eques
de Otto); Jenæ, 1876 (ed. tert.).
And thirdly, that even after the ascension of the Christ into heaven the
daemons cast before themselves (as a shield) certain men who said that
they were gods, who were not only not expelled by you,
but even thought worthy of honours; a certain Samaritan, Simon, who came
from a village called Gitta; who in the reign of Claudius Cæsar
wrought magic wonders by the art of the daemons who possessed him, and
was considered a god in your imperial city of Rome, and as a god was
honoured with a statue by you, which statue was erected in the river
Tiber, between the two bridges, with the following inscription in Roman:
"Simoni Deo Sancto." And nearly all the Samaritans, but few among the
rest of the nations, confess him to be the first god and worship him.
And they speak of a certain Helen, who went round with him at that time,
and who had formerly prostituted herself,
but was made by him his first Thought.
ii. Irenæus (Contra Hæreses, I. xxiii. 1-4). Text: Opera
(edidit Adolphus Stieren); Lipsiæ, 1848.
1. Simon was a Samaritan, the notorious magician of whom Luke the
disciple and adherent of the apostles says: "But there was a fellow by
name Simon, who had previously practised the art of magic in their
state, and led away the people of the Samaritans, saying that he was
some great one, to whom they all listened, from the small to the great,
saying: 'He is the Power of God, which is called Great.' Now they gave
heed to him because he had driven them out of their wits by his magical
phenomena." This Simon, therefore, pretended to be a believer, thinking
that the apostles also wrought their cures by magic and not by the power
of God; and supposing that their filling with the Holy Spirit by the
laying on of hands those who believed in God, through that Christ Jesus
who was being preached by them—that this was effected by some superior
magical knowledge, and offering money to the apostles, so that he also
might obtain the power of giving the Holy Spirit to whomsoever he would,
he received this answer from Peter: "Thy money perish with thee, since
thou hast thought that the gift of God is obtained possession of with
money; for thee there is neither part nor lot in this Word, for thy
heart is not right before God. For I see thou art in the gall of
bitterness and the bond of iniquity."
And since the magician still
refused to believe in God, he ambitiously strove to contend against the
apostles, so that he also might be thought of great renown, by extending
his investigations into universal magic still farther, so that he struck
many aghast; so much so that he is said to have been honoured with a
statue for his magic knowledge by Claudius Cæsar.
He, therefore, was glorified by many as a god; and he taught that it
was he himself who, forsooth, appeared among the Jews as the Son, while
in Samaria he descended as the Father, and in the rest of the nations he
came as the Holy Spirit. That he was the highest power, to wit, the
Father over all, and that he allowed himself to be called by whatever
name men pleased.
2. Now the sect of the Samaritan Simon, from whom all the heresies
took their origin, was composed of the following materials.
He took round with him a certain Helen, a hired prostitute from the
Phoenician city Tyre, after he had purchased her freedom, saying that
she was the first conception (or Thought) of his Mind, the Mother of
All, by whom in the beginning he conceived in his Mind the making of the
Angels and Archangels. That this Thought, leaping forth from him, and
knowing what was the will of her Father, descended to the lower regions
and generated the Angels and Powers, by whom also he said this world was
made. And after she had generated them, she was detained by them through
envy, for they did not wish to be thought to be the progeny of any
other. As for himself, he was entirely unknown by them; and it was his
Thought that was made prisoner by the Powers and Angels that has been
emanated by her. And she suffered every kind of indignity at their
hands, to prevent her reäscending to her Father, even to being
imprisoned in the human body and transmigrating into other female
bodies, as from one vessel into another.
She also was in that Helen, on whose account the Trojan War arose;
wherefore also Stesichorus
was deprived of his sight when he spake evil of her in his poems; and
that afterwards when he repented and wrote what is called a recantation,
in which he sang her praises, he recovered his sight. So she,
transmigrating from body to body, and thereby also continually
undergoing indignity, last of all even stood for hire in a brothel; and
she was the "lost sheep."
3. Wherefore also he himself had come, to take her away for the first
time, and free her from her bonds, and also to guarantee salvation to
men by his "knowledge." For as the Angels were mismanaging the world,
since each of them desired the sovereignty, he had come to set matters
right; and that he had descended, transforming himself and being made
like to the Powers and Principalities and Angels; so that he appeared to
men as a man, although he was not a man; and was thought to have
suffered in Judæa, although he did not really suffer. The Prophets
moreover had spoken their prophecies under the inspiration of the Angels
who made the world; wherefore those who believed on him and his Helen
paid no further attention to them, and followed their own pleasure as
though free; for men were saved by his grace, and not by righteous
works. For righteous actions are not according to nature, but from
accident, in the manner that the Angels who made the world have laid it
down, by such precepts enslaving men. Wherefore also he gave new
promises that the world should be dissolved and that they who were his
should be freed from the rule of those who made the world.
4. Wherefore their initiated priests live immorally. And everyone of
them practises magic arts to the best of his ability. They use exorcisms
and incantations. Love philtres also and spells and what are called
"familiars" and "dream-senders," and the rest of the curious arts are
assiduously cultivated by them. They have also an image of Simon made in
the likeness of Jupiter, and of Helen in that of Minerva; and they
worship the (statues); and they have a designation from their most
impiously minded founder, being called Simonians, from whom the Gnôsis,
falsely so-called, derives its origins, as one can learn from their own
iii. Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromateis, ii. 11; vii. 17). Text:
Opera (edidit G. Dindorfius); Oxoniæ, 1869.
In the first passage the Simonian use of the term, "He who stood," is
confirmed, in the latter we are told that a branch of the Simonians was
iv. Tertullianus, or Pseudo-Tertullianus (De Præscriptionibus,
46). Text: Liber de Præs., etc. (edidit H. Hurter, S.J.); Oeniponti,
1870. Tertullianus (De Anima, 34, 36). Text: Bibliothec. Patr.
Eccles. Select. (curavit Dr. Guil. Bruno Linder), Fasc. iv; Lipsiæ,
In the Præscriptions the passage is very short, the briefest
notice possible, under the heading, "Anonymi Catalogus Heresum." The
notice in the De Anima runs as follows:
For Simon the Samaritan also, the purveyor of the Holy Spirit, in the
Acts of the Apostles, after he had been condemned by himself,
together with his money, to perdition, shed vain tears and betook
himself to assaulting the truth, as though for the gratification of
vengeance. Supported by the powers of his art, for the purpose of his
illusions through some power or other, he purchased with the same money
a Tyrian woman Helen from a place of public pleasure, a fit commodity
instead of the Holy Spirit. And he pretended that he was the highest
Father, and that she was his first suggestion whereby he had suggested
the making of the Angels and Archangels; that she sharing in this design
had sprung forth from the Father, and leaped down into the lower
regions; and that there, the design of the Father being prevented, she
had brought forth Angelic Powers ignorant of the Father, the artificer
of this world; by these she was detained, not according to his
intention, lest when she had gone they should be thought to be the
progeny of another. And therefore being made subject to every kind of
contumely, so that by her depreciation she might not choose to depart,
she had sunk to as low as the human form, as though she had had to be
restrained by chains of flesh, and then for many ages being turned about
through a succession of female conditions, she became also that Helen
who proved so fatal to Priam, and after to the eyes of Stesichorus, for
she had caused his blindness on account of the insult of his poem, and
afterwards had removed it because of her pleasure at his praise. And
thus transmigrating from body to body, in the extreme of dishonour she
had stood, ticketed for hire, a Helen viler [than her predecessor]. She
was, therefore, the "lost sheep," to whom the highest Father, Simon, you
know, had descended. And after she was recovered and brought back, I
know not whether on his shoulders or knees, he afterwards had respect to
the salvation of men, as it were by the liberation of those who had to
be freed from these Angelic Powers, for the purpose of deceiving whom he
transformed himself, and pretended that he was a man to men only,
playing the part of the Son in Judæa, and that of the Father in Samaria.
v. [Hippolytus (?)] (Philosophumena, vi. 7-20). Text:
Refutatio Omnium Hæresium (ediderunt Lud. Duncker et F.G. Schneidewin);
7. I shall, therefore, set forth the system of Simon of Gittha, a
village of Samaria, and shall show that it is from him that those who
him got their inspiration, and that the speculations they venture upon
have been of a like nature, though their terminology is different.
This Simon was skilled in magic, and deluding many, partly by the art of
Thrasymedes, in the way we have explained above,
and partly corrupting them by means of daemons, he endeavoured to deify
himself—a sorcerer fellow and full of insanity, whom the apostles
confuted in the Acts. Far more prudent and modest was the aim of
Apsethus, the Libyan, who tried to get himself thought a god in Libya.
And as the story of Apsethus is not very dissimilar to the ambition of
the foolish Simon, it will not be unseemly to repeat it, for it is quite
in keeping with Simon's endeavour.
8. Apsethus, the Libyan, wanted to become a god. But in spite of the
greatest exertions he failed to realize his longing, and so he desired
that at any rate people should think that he had become one; and,
indeed, for a considerable time he really did get people to think that
such was the case. For the foolish Libyans sacrificed to him as to some
divine power, thinking that they were placing their confidence in a
voice that came down from heaven.
Well, he collected a large number of parrots and put them all into a
cage. For there are a great many parrots in Libya and they mimic the
human voice very distinctly. So he kept the birds for some time and
taught them to say, "Apsethus is a god." And when, after a long time,
the birds were trained and could speak the sentence which he considered
would make him be thought to be a god, he opened the cage and let the
parrots go in every direction. And the voice of the birds as they flew
about went out into all Libya, and their words reached as far as the
Greek settlements. And thus the Libyans, astonished at the voice of the
birds, and having no idea of the trick which had been played them by
Apsethus, considered him to be a god.
But one of the Greeks, correctly surmising the contrivance of the
supposed god, not only confuted him by means of the self-same parrots,
but also caused the total destruction of this boastful and vulgar
fellow. For the Greek caught a number of the parrots and re-taught them
to say "Apsethus caged us and made us say, 'Apsethus is a god.'" And
when the Libyans heard the recantation of the parrots, they all
assembled together of one accord and burnt Apsethus alive.
9. And in the same way we must regard Simon, the magician, more
readily comparing him with the Libyan fellow's thus becoming a god. And
if the comparison is a correct one, and the fate which the magician
suffered was somewhat similar to that of Apsethus, let us endeavour to
re-teach the parrots of Simon, that he was not Christ, who has
stood, stands and will stand, but a man, the child of a woman, begotten
of seed, from blood and carnal desire, like other men. And that this is
the case, we shall easily demonstrate as our narrative proceeds.
Now Simon in his paraphrasing of the Law of Moses speaks with artful
misunderstanding. For when Moses says "God is a fire burning and
taking in an incorrect sense what Moses said, he declares that Fire is
the Universal Principle, not understanding what was said, viz., not that
"God is fire," but "a fire burning and destroying." And thus he not only
tears to pieces the Law of Moses, but also plunders from Heracleitus the
And Simon states that the Universal Principle is Boundless Power, as
"This is the writing of the revelation of Voice and Name from
Thought, the Great Power, the Boundless. Wherefore shall it be sealed,
hidden, concealed, laid in the Dwelling of which the Universal Root is
And he says that man here below, born of blood, is the Dwelling, and
that the Boundless Power dwells in him, which he says is the Universal
Root. And, according to Simon, the Boundless Power, Fire, is not a
simple thing, as the majority who say that the four elements are simple
have considered fire also to be simple, but that the Fire has a twofold
nature; and of this twofold nature he calls the one side the concealed
and the other the manifested, (stating) that the concealed (parts) of
the Fire are hidden in the manifested, and the manifested produced by
This is what Aristotle calls "in potentiality" and "in actuality,"
and Plato the "intelligible" and "sensible."
And the manifested side of the Fire has all things in itself which a
man can perceive of things visible, or which he unconsciously fails to
perceive. Whereas the concealed side is everything which one can
conceive as intelligible, even though it escape sensation, or which a
man fails to conceive.
And generally we may say, of all things that are, both sensible and
intelligible, which he designates concealed and manifested, the Fire,
which is above the heavens, is the treasure-house, as it were a great
Tree, like that seen by Nabuchodonosor in vision, from which all flesh
is nourished. And he considers the manifested side of the Fire to be the
trunk, branches, leaves, and the bark surrounding it on the outside. All
these parts of the great Tree, he says, are set on fire from the
all-devouring flame of the Fire and destroyed. But the fruit of the
Tree, if its imaging has been perfected and it takes the shape of
itself, is placed in the storehouse, and not cast into the Fire. For the
fruit, he says, is produced to be placed in the storehouse, but the husk
to be committed to the Fire; that is to say, the trunk, which is
generated not for its own sake but for that of the fruit.
10. And this he says is what is written in the scripture: "For the
vineyard of the Lord Sabaôth is the house of Israel, and a man of Judah
a well-beloved shoot."
And if a man of Judah is a well-beloved shoot, it is shown, he says,
that a tree is nothing else than a man. But concerning its sundering and
dispersion, he says, the scripture has sufficiently spoken, and what has
been said is sufficient for the instruction of those whose imaging has
been perfected, viz.: "All flesh is grass, and every glory of the flesh
as the flower of grass. The grass is dried up and the flower thereof
falleth, but the speech of the Lord endureth for the eternity (aeon)."
Now the Speech of the Lord, he says, is the Speech engendered in the
mouth and the Word (Logos), for elsewhere there is no place of
11. To be brief, therefore, the Fire, according to Simon, being of
such a nature—both all things that are visible and invisible, and in
like manner, those that sound within and those that sound aloud, those
which can be numbered and those which are numbered—in the Great
Revelation he calls it the Perfect Intellectual, as (being)
everything that can be thought of an infinite number of times, in an
infinite number of ways, both as to speech, thought and action, just as
"By earth earth we perceive; by water, water; by aether [divine],
aether; fire by destructive fire; by friendship, friendship; and strife
by bitter strife."
12. For, he says, he considered that all the parts of the Fire, both
visible and invisible, possessed perception
and a portion of intelligence. The generable cosmos, therefore, was
generated from the ingenerable Fire. And it commenced to be generated,
he says, in the following way. The first six Roots of the Principle of
generation which the generated (sc., cosmos) took, were from that
Fire. And the Roots, he says, were generated from the Fire in pairs,
and he calls these Roots Mind and Thought, Voice and Name, Reason and
Reflection, and in these six Roots there was the whole of the Boundless
Power together, in potentiality, but not in actuality. And this
Boundless Power he says is He who has stood, stands and will stand; who,
if his imaging is perfected while in the six Powers, will be, in
essence, power, greatness and completeness, one and the same with the
ingenerable and Boundless Power, and not one single whit inferior to
that ingenerable, unchangeable and Boundless Power. But if it remain in
potentiality only, and its imaging is not perfected, then it disappears
and perishes, he says, just as the potentiality of grammar or geometry
in a man's mind. For potentiality when it has obtained art becomes the
light of generated things, but if it does not do so an absence of art
and darkness ensues, exactly as if it had not existed at all; and on the
death of the man it perishes with him.
13. Of these six Powers and the seventh which is beyond the six, he
calls the first pair Mind and Thought, heaven and earth; and the male
(heaven) looks down from above and takes thought for its co-partner,
while the earth from below receives from the heaven the intellectual
fruits that come down to it and are cognate with the earth. Wherefore,
he says, the Word ofttimes steadfastly contemplating the things which
have been generated from Mind and Thought, that is from heaven and
earth, says: "Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath
said: I have generated sons and raised them up, but they have set me
And he who says this, he says, is the seventh Power, He who has
stood, stands and will stand, for He is the cause of those good things
which Moses praised and said they were very good. And (the second pair
is) Voice and Name, sun and moon. And (the third) Reason and Reflection,
air and water. And in all of these was blended and mingled the Great
Power, the Boundless, He who has stood, as I have said.
14. And when Moses says: "(It is) in six days that God made the
heaven and the earth, and on the seventh he rested from all his works,"
Simon arranges it differently and thus makes himself into a god. When,
therefore, they (the Simonians) say, that there are three days before
the generation of the sun and moon, they mean esoterically Mind and
Thought—that is to say heaven and earth—and the seventh Power, the
Boundless. For these three Powers were generated before all the others.
And when they say "he hath generated me before all the Aeons," the
words, he says, are used concerning the seventh Power. Now this seventh
Power which was the first Power subsisting in the Boundless Power, which
was generated before all the Aeons, this, he says, was the seventh
Power, about which Moses says: "And the spirit of God moved over the
water," that is to say, he says, the spirit which hath all things in
itself, the Image of the Boundless Power, concerning which Simon says: "The
Image from, the incorruptible Form, alone ordering all things." For
the Power which moves above the water, he says, is generated from an
imperishable Form, and alone orders all things.
Now the constitution of the world being with them after this or a
similar fashion, God, he says, fashioned man by taking soil from the
earth. And he made him not single but double, according to the image and
likeness. And the Image is the spirit moving above the water, which, if
its imaging is not perfected, perishes together with the world, seeing
that it remains only in potentiality and does not become in actuality.
And this is the meaning of the Scripture, he says: "Lest we be condemned
together with the world."
But if its imaging should be perfected and it should be generated from
an "indivisible point," as it is written in his Revelation, the
small shall become great. And this great shall continue for the
boundless and changeless eternity (aeon), in as much as it is no
longer in the process of becoming.
How and in what manner, then, he asks, does God fashion man? In the
Garden (Paradise), he thinks. We must consider the womb a Garden, he
says, and that this is the "cave," the Scripture tells us when it says:
"I am he who fashioned thee in thy mother's womb,"
for he would have it written in this way. In speaking of the Garden, he
says, Moses allegorically referred to the womb, if we are to believe the
And, if God fashions man in his mother's womb, that is to say in the
Garden, as I have already said, the womb must be taken for the Garden,
and Eden for the region (surrounding the womb), and the "river going
forth from Eden to water the Garden,"
for the navel. This navel, he says, is divided into four channels, for
on either side of the navel two air-ducts are stretched to convey the
breath, and two veins
to convey blood. But when, he says, the navel going forth from the
region of Eden is attached to the foetus in the epigastric regions, that
which is commonly called by everyone the navel
... and the two veins by which the blood flows and is carried from the
Edenic region through what are called the gates of the liver, which
nourish the foetus. And the air-ducts, which we said were channels for
breath, embracing the bladder on either side in the region of the
pelvis, are united at the great duct which is called the dorsal aorta.
And thus the breath passing through the side doors towards the heart
produces the movement of the embryo. For as long as the babe is being
fashioned in the Garden, it neither takes nourishment through the mouth,
nor breathes through the nostrils. For seeing that it is surrounded by
the waters (of the womb), death would instantly supervene, if it took a
breath; for it would draw after it the waters and so perish. But the
whole (of the foetus) is wrapped up in an envelope, called the amnion,
and is nourished through the navel and receives the essence of the
breath through the dorsal duct, as I have said.
15. The river, therefore, he says, which goes out of Eden, is divided
into four channels, four ducts, that is to say; into four senses of the
foetus: sight, (hearing),
smelling, taste and touch. For these are the only senses the child has
while it is being formed in the Garden.
This, he says, is the law which Moses laid down, and in accordance
with this very law each of his books was written, as the titles show.
The first book is Genesis, and the title of the book, he says, is
sufficient for a knowledge of the whole matter. For this Genesis,
he says, is sight, which is one division of the river. For the world is
perceived by sight.
The title of the second book is Exodus. For it was necessary
for that which is born to travel through the Red Sea, and pass towards
the Desert—by Red the blood is meant, he says—and taste the bitter
water. For the "bitter," he says, is the water beyond the Red Sea,
inasmuch as it is the path of knowledge of painful and bitter things
which we travel along in life. But when it is changed by Moses, that is
to say by the Word, that bitter (water) becomes sweet. And that this is
so, all may hear publicly by repeating after the poets:
"In root it was black, but like milk was the flower. Moly the Gods
call it. For mortals to dig it up is difficult; but Gods can do all
16. Sufficient, he says, is what is said by the Gentiles for a
knowledge of the whole matter, for those who have ears for hearing. For
he who tasted this fruit, he says, was not only not changed into a beast
by Circe, but using the virtue of the fruit, reshaped those who had been
already changed into beasts, into their former proper shape, and
re-struck and recalled their type. For the true man and one beloved by
that sorceress is discovered by this milk-white divine fruit, he says.
In like manner Leviticus, the third book, is smelling or
respiration. For the whole of that book treats of sacrifices and
offerings. And wherever there is a sacrifice, there arises the smell of
the scent from the sacrifice owing to the incense, concerning which
sweet smell the sense of smell is the test.
Numbers, the fourth book, signifies taste, wherein speech (or
the Word) energizes. And it is so called through uttering all things in
Deuteronomy, again, he says, is so entitled in reference to
the sense of touch of the child which is formed. For just as the touch
by contact synthesizes and confirms the sensations of the other senses,
proving objects to be either hard, warm, or adhesive, so also the fifth
book of the Law is the synthesis of the four books which precede it.
All ingenerables, therefore, he says, are in us in potentiality but
not in actuality, like the science of grammar or geometry. And if they
meet with befitting utterance
and instruction, and the "bitter" is turned into the "sweet"—that is to
say, spears into reaping hooks and swords into ploughshares—the
Fire will not have born to it husks and stocks, but perfect fruit,
perfected in its imaging, as I said above, equal and similar to the
ingenerable and Boundless Power. "For now," says he, "the axe is nigh to
the roots of the tree: every tree," he says, "that bringeth not forth
good fruit, is cut down and cast into the fire."
17. And so, according to Simon, that blessed and imperishable
(principle) concealed in everything, is in potentiality, but not in
actuality, which indeed is He who has stood, stands and will stand; who
has stood above in the ingenerable Power, who stands below in the stream
of the waters, generated in an image, who shall stand above, by the side
of the blessed and Boundless Power, if the imaging be perfected. For
three, he says, are they that stand, and without there being three
standing Aeons, there would be no setting in order
of the generable which, according to them, moves on the water, and which
is fashioned according to the similitude into a perfect celestial,
becoming in no whit inferior to the ingenerable Power, and this is the
meaning of their saying: "Thou and I, the one thing; before me, thou;
that after thee, I."
This, he says, is the one Power, separated into the above and below,
generating itself, increasing itself, seeking itself, finding itself,
its own mother, its own father, its sister, its spouse; the daughter,
son, mother, and father of itself; One, the Universal Root.
And that, as he says, the beginning of the generation of things which
are generated is from Fire, he understands somewhat in this fashion. Of
all things of which there is generation, the beginning of the desire for
their generation is from Fire. For, indeed, the desire of mutable
generation is called "being on fire." And though Fire is one, yet has it
two modes of mutation. For in the man, he says, the blood, being hot and
yellow—like fire when it takes form—is turned into seed, whereas in the
woman the same blood (is changed) into milk. And this change in the male
becomes the faculty of generating, while that in the female (becomes)
nourishment for the child. This, he says, is "the flaming sword that is
turned about to keep the way of the tree of life."
For the blood is turned into seed and milk; and this Power becomes
mother and father, father of those that are born, and mother of those
that are nourished, standing in want of nothing, sufficient unto itself.
And the tree of life, he says, is guarded by the fiery sword which is
turned about, (which tree), as we have said, (is) the seventh Power
which proceeds from itself, contains all (in itself), and is stored in
the six Powers. For were the flaming sword not turned about, that fair
tree would be destroyed and perish; but if it is turned into seed and
milk, that which is stored in them in potentiality, having obtained a
and an appointed place in which the utterance may be developed, starting
as it were from the smallest spark, it will increase to all perfection,
and expand, and be an infinite power, unchangeable, equal and similar to
the unchangeable Aeon, which is no more generated for the boundless
18. Conformably, therefore, to this reasoning, for the foolish, Simon
was a god, like that Libyan Apsethus; (a god) subject to generation and
suffering, so long as he remained in potentiality, but freed from the
bonds of suffering and birth, as soon as his imaging forth was
accomplished, and attaining perfection he passed forth from the first
two Powers, to wit heaven and earth. For Simon speaks distinctly
concerning this in his Revelation as follows:
"To you, therefore, I say what I say, and write what I write. And
the writing is this.
"Of the universal Aeons there are two shoots, without beginning or
end, springing from one Root, which is the Power invisible,
inapprehensible Silence. Of these shoots one is manifested from above,
which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind ordering all things, male,
and the other, (is manifested) from below, the Great Thought, female,
producing all things.
"Hence pairing with each other,
they unite and manifest the Middle Distance, incomprehensible Air,
without beginning or end. In this is the Father who sustains all things,
and nourishes those things which have a beginning and end.
"This is He who has stood, stands and will stand, a male-female
power like the preëxisting Boundless Power, which has neither beginning
nor end, existing in oneness. For it is from this that the Thought in
the oneness proceeded and became two.
was one; for having her
in himself, he was alone, not however first, although preëxisting,
but being manifested from himself to himself, he became second. Nor was
he called Father before (Thought) called him Father.
"As, therefore, producing himself by himself, he manifested to
himself his own Thought, so also the Thought that was manifested did not
make the Father, but contemplating him hid him—that is to say the
Power—in herself, and is male-female, Power and Thought.
"Hence they pair with each other being one, for there is no
difference between Power and Thought. From the things above is
discovered Power, and from those below Thought.
"In the same manner also that which was manifested from them
although being one is yet found as two, the male-female having the
female in itself. Thus Mind is in Thought—things inseparable from one
another—which although being one are yet found as two."
19. So then Simon by such inventions got what interpretation he
pleased, not only out of the writings of Moses, but also out of those of
the (pagan) poets, by falsifying them. For he gives an allegorical
interpretation of the wooden horse, and Helen with the torch, and a
number of other things, which he metamorphoses and weaves into fictions
concerning himself and his Thought.
And he said that the latter was the "lost sheep," who again and again
abiding in women throws the Powers in the world into confusion, on
account of her unsurpassable beauty; on account of which the Trojan War
came to pass through her. For this Thought took up its abode in the
Helen that was born just at that time, and thus when all the Powers laid
claim to her, there arose faction and war among those nations to whom
she was manifested.
It was thus, forsooth, that Stesichorus was deprived of sight when he
abused her in his verses; and afterwards when he repented and wrote the
recantation in which he sung her praises he recovered his sight.
And subsequently, when her body was changed by the Angels and lower
Powers—which also, he says, made the world—she lived in a brothel in
Tyre, a city of Phoenicia, where he found her on his arrival. For he
professes that he had come there for the purpose of finding her for the
first time, that he might deliver her from bondage. And after he had
purchased her freedom he took her about with him, pretending that she
was the "lost sheep," and that he himself was the Power which is over
all. Whereas the impostor having fallen in love with this strumpet,
called Helen, purchased and kept her, and being ashamed to have it known
by his disciples, invented this story.
And those who copy the vagabond magician Simon do like acts, and
pretend that intercourse should be promiscuous, saying: "All soil is
soil, and it matters not where a man sows, so long as he does sow." Nay,
they pride themselves on promiscuous intercourse, saying that this is
the "perfect love," citing the text, "the holy shall be sanctified by
the ... of the holy."
And they profess that they are not in the power of that which is usually
considered evil, for they are redeemed. For by purchasing the freedom of
Helen, he (Simon) thus offered salvation to men by knowledge peculiar to
For he said that, as the Angels were misgoverning the world owing to
their love of power, he had come to set things right, being
metamorphosed and made like unto the Dominions, Principalities and
Angels, so that he was manifested as a man although he was not really a
man, and that he seemed to suffer
in Judæa, although he did not really undergo it, but that he was
manifested to the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father, and among
the other nations as the Holy Ghost, and that he permitted himself to be
called by whatever name men pleased to call him. And that it was by the
Angels, who made the world, that the Prophets were inspired to utter
their prophecies. Wherefore they who believe on Simon and Helen pay no
attention to the latter even to this day, but do everything they like,
as being free, for they contend that they are saved through his
For (they assert that) there is no cause for punishment if a man does
ill, for evil is not in nature but in institution. For, he says, the
Angels who made the world, instituted what they wished, thinking by such
words to enslave all who listened to them. Whereas the dissolution of
the world, they (the Simonians) say, is for the ransoming of their own
20. And (Simon's) disciples perform magical ceremonies and (use)
incantations, and philtres and spells, and they also send what are
called "dream-sending" daemons for disturbing whom they will. They also
train what are called "familiars,"
and have a statue of Simon in the form of Zeus, and one of Helen in the
form of Athena, which they worship, calling the former Lord and the
latter Lady. And if any among them on seeing the images, calls them by
the name of Simon or Helen, he is cast out as one ignorant of the
While this Simon was leading many astray by his magic rites in
Samaria, he was confuted by the apostles. And being cursed, as it is
written in the Acts, in dissatisfaction took to these schemes.
And at last he travelled to Rome and again fell in with the apostles,
and Peter had many encounters with him for he continued leading numbers
astray by his magic. And towards the end of his career going ... he
settled under a plane tree and continued his teachings. And finally
running the risk of exposure through the length of his stay, he said,
that if he were buried alive, he would rise again on the third day. And
he did actually order a grave to be dug by his disciples and told them
to bury him. So they carried out his orders, but he has stopped away
until the present day, for he was not the Christ.
vi. Origenes (Contra Celsum, i. 57; v. 62; vi. ii). Text (edidit
Carol. Henric. Eduard); Lommatzsch; Berolini, 1846.
i. 57. And Simon also, the Samaritan magician, endeavoured to steal away
certain by his magic. And at that time he succeeded in deceiving them,
but in our own day I do not think it possible to find thirty Simonians
altogether in the inhabited world. And probably I have said more than
they really are. There are a very few of them round Palestine; but in
the rest of the world his name is nowhere to be found in the sense of
the doctrine he wished to spread broadcast concerning himself. And
alongside of the reports about him, we have the account from the Acts
And they who say these things about him are Christians and their clear
witness is that Simon was nothing divine.
v. 62. Then pouring out a
quantity of our names, he (Celsus) says he knows certain Simonians who
are called Heleniani, because they worship Helen or a teacher Helenus.
But Celsus is ignorant that the Simonians in no way confess that Jesus
is the Son of God, but they say that Simon is the Power of God, telling
some marvellous stories about the fellow, who thought that if he laid
claim to like powers as those which he thought Jesus laid claim to, he
also would be as powerful among men as Jesus is with many.
vi. ii. For the former (Simon) pretended he was the Power of God,
which is called Great, and the latter (Dositheus) that he too was the
Son of God. For nowhere in the world do the Simonians any longer exist.
Moreover by getting many under his influence Simon took away from his
disciples the danger of death, which Christians were taught was taken
away, teaching them that there was no difference between it and
idolatry. And yet in the beginning the Simonians were not plotted
against. For the evil daemon who plots against the teaching of Jesus,
knew that no counsel of his own would be undone by the disciples of
vii. Philastrius (De Hæresibus, i). Text: Patres Quarti
Ecclesiæ Sæculi (edidit D.A.B. Caillau); Paris, 1842.
Now after the passion of Christ, our Lord, and his ascension into
heaven, there arose a certain Simon, the magician, a Samaritan by birth,
from a village called Gittha, who having the leisure necessary for the
arts of magic deceived many, saying that he was some Power of God, above
all powers. Whom the Samaritans worship as the Father, and wickedly
extol as the founder of their heresy, and strive to exalt him with many
praises. Who having been baptized by the blessed apostles, went back
from their faith, and disseminated a wicked and pernicious heresy,
saying that he was transformed supposedly, that is to say like a shadow,
and thus he had suffered, although, he says, he did not suffer.
also dared to say that the world had been made by Angels, and the Angels
again had been made by certain endowed with perception from heaven, and
that they (the Angels) had deceived the human race.
He asserted, moreover, that there was a certain other Thought, who
descended into the world for the salvation of men; he says she was that
Helen whose story is celebrated in the Trojan War by the vain-glorious
poets. And the Powers, he says, led on by desire of this Helen, stirred
up sedition. "For she," he says, "arousing desire in those Powers, and
appearing in the form of a woman, could not reäscend into heaven,
because the Powers which were in heaven did not permit her to reascend."
Moreover, she looked for another Power, that is to say, the presence of
Simon himself, which would come and free her.
The wooden horse also, which the vain-glorious poets say was in the
Trojan War, he asserted was allegorical, namely, that that mechanical
invention typified the ignorance of all the impious nations, although it
is well known that that Helen, who was with the magician, was a
prostitute from Tyre, and that this same Simon, the magician, had
followed her, and together with her had practised various magic arts and
committed divers crimes.
But after he had fled from the blessed Peter from the city of
Jerusalem, and came to Rome, and contended there with the blessed
apostle before the Emperor Nero, he was routed on every point by the
speech of the blessed apostle, and being smitten by an angel came by a
righteous end in order that the glaring falsity of his magic might be
made known unto all men.
viii. Epiphanius (Contra Hæreses, ii. 1-6). Text: Opera (edidit
G. Dindorfius); Lipsiæ, 1859.
1. From the time of Christ to our own day the first heresy was that of
Simon the magician, and though it was not correctly and distinctly one
of the Christian name, yet it worked great havoc by the corruption it
produced among Christians. This Simon was a sorcerer, and the base of
his operations was at Gittha, a city in Samaria, which still exists as a
village. And he deluded the Samaritan people with magical phenomena,
deluding and enticing them with a bait by saying that he was the Great
Power of God and had come down from above. And he told the Samaritans
that he was the Father, and the Jews that he was the Son, and that in
undergoing the passion he had not really done so, but that it was only
in appearance. And he ingratiated himself with the apostles, was
baptized by Philip with many others, and received the same rite as the
rest. And all except himself awaited the arrival of the great apostles
and by the laying on of their hands received the Holy Spirit, for
Philip, being a deacon, had not the power of laying on of hands to grant
thereby the gift of the Holy Spirit. But Simon, with wicked heart and
erroneous calculations, persisted in his base and mercenary
covetousness, without abandoning in any way his miserable pursuits, and
offered money to Peter, the apostle, for the power of bestowing the Holy
Spirit by the laying on of hands, calculating that he would give little,
and that for the little (he gave), by bestowing the Spirit on many, he
would amass a large sum of money and make a profit.
2. So with his
mind in a vile state through the devilish illusions produced by his
magic, and weaving all kinds of images, and being ever ready of his own
villany to show his barbaric and demoniacal tricks by means of his
charms, he came forward publicly and under the cloak of the name of
Christ; and pretending that he was mixing hellebore
with honey, he added a poison for those whom he hunted into his
mischievous illusion, under the cloak of the name of Christ, and
compassed the death of those who believed. And being lewd in nature and
goaded on through shame of his promises, the vagabond fabricated a
corrupt allegory for those whom he had deceived. For picking up a roving
woman, called Helen, who originated from the city of the Tyrians, he
took her about with him, without letting people know that he was on
terms of undue intimacy with her; and when he was involved in bursting
disgrace because of his mistress, he started a fabulous kind of
for his disciples, and saying, forsooth, that he was the Great Power of
God, he ventured to call his prostitute companion the Holy Spirit, and
he says that it was on her account he descended. "And in each heaven I
changed my form," he says, "in order that I might not be perceived by my
Angelic Powers, and descend to my Thought, which is she who is called
and Holy Spirit, through whom I brought into being the Angels, and the
Angels brought into being the world and men." (He claimed) that this was
the Helen of old, on whose account the Trojans and Greeks went to war.
And he related a myth with regard to these matters, that this Power
descending from above changed its form, and that it was about this that
the poets spake allegorically. And through this Power from above—which
they call Prunîcus, and which is called by other sects Barbero or
Barbelo—displaying her beauty, she drove them to frenzy, and on this
account was she sent for the despoiling of the Rulers who brought the
world into being; and the Angels themselves went to war on her account;
and while she experienced nothing, they set to work to mutually
slaughter each other on account of the desire which she infused into
them for herself. And constraining her so that she could not reäscend,
each had intercourse with her in every body of womanly and female
constitution—she reïncarnating from female bodies into different bodies,
both of the human kingdom, and of beasts and other things—in order that
by means of their slaying and being slain, they might bring about a
diminution of themselves through the shedding of blood, and that then
she by collecting again the Power would be enabled to reäscend into
3. And she it was at that time who was possessed by the Greeks and
Trojans; and that both in the night of time before the world existed,
and after its existence, by the invisible Powers she had wrought things
of a like nature. "And she it is who is now with me, and on her account
have I descended. And she was looking for my coming. For she is the
called Helen in Homer." And it was on this account that Homer was
compelled to portray her as standing on a tower, and by means of a torch
revealing to the Greeks the plot of the Phrygians. And by the torch, he
delineated, as I said, the manifestation of the light from above. On
which account also the wooden horse in Homer was devised, which the
Greeks think was made for a distinct purpose, whereas the sorcerer
maintained that this is the ignorance of the Gentiles, and that like as
the Phrygians when they dragged it along in ignorance drew on their own
destruction, so also the Gentiles, that is to say people who are
"without my wisdom," through ignorance, draw ruin on themselves.
Moreover the impostor said that Athena again was identical with what
they called Thought, making use forsooth of the words of the holy
apostle Paul—changing the truth into his own lie—to wit: "Put on the
breastplate of faith and the helmet of salvation, and the greaves and
sword and buckler";
and that all this was in the mimes of Philistion,
the rogue!—words uttered by the apostle with firm reasoning and faith of
holy conversation, and the power of the divine and heavenly word—turning
them further into a joke and nothing more. For what does he say? That he
(Philistion) arranged all these things in a mysterious manner into types
of Athena. Wherefore again, in making known the woman with him whom he
had taken from Tyre and who had the same name as Helen of old, he spoke
as I have told you above, calling her by all those names, Thought, and
Athena, and Helen and the rest. "And on her account," he says, "I
descended. And this is the 'lost sheep' written of in the Gospel."
Moreover, he left to his followers an image, his own presumably, and
they worship it under the form of Zeus; and he left another in like
manner of Helen in the guise of Athena, and his dupes worship them.
4. And he enjoined mysteries of obscenity and—to set it forth more
seriously—of the sheddings of bodies, emissionum virorom, feminarum
menstruorum, and that they should be gathered up for mysteries in a
most filthy collection; that these were the mysteries of life, and of
the most perfect Gnôsis—a practice which anyone who has understanding
from God would most naturally consider to be most filthy conduct and
death rather than life. And he supposes names for the Dominions and
Principalities, and says there are different heavens, and sets forth
Powers for each firmament and heaven, and tricks them out with barbarous
names, and says that no man can be saved in any other fashion than by
learning this mystagogy, and how to offer such sacrifices to the
Universal Father through these Dominions and Principalities. And he says
that this world (aeon) was constructed defectively by Dominions and
Principalities of evil. And he considers that corruption and destruction
are of the flesh alone, but that there is a purification of souls and
that, only if they are established in initiation by means of his
misleading Gnôsis. This is the beginning of the so-called Gnostics. And
he pretended that the Law was not of God, but of the left-hand Power,
and that the Prophets were not from the Good God but from this or the
other Power. And he lays it down for each of them as he pleases: the Law
was of one, David of another, Isaiah of another, Ezekiel again of
another, and ascribes each of the Prophets to some one Dominion. And all
of them were from the left-hand Power and outside the Perfection,
and every one that believed in the Old Testament was subject to
5. But this doctrine is overturned by the truth itself. For if he
were the Great Power of God, and the harlot with him the Holy Spirit, as
he himself says, let him say what is the name of the Power or in what
he discovered the epithet for the woman and nothing for himself at all.
And how and at what time is he found at Rome successively paying back
his debt, when in the midst of the city of the Romans the miserable
fellow fell down and died? And in what scripture did Peter prove to him
that he had neither lot nor share in the heritage of the fear of God?
And could the world not have its existence in the Good God, when all the
good were chosen by him? And how could it be a left-hand Power which
spake in the Law and Prophets, when it has preached the coming of the
Christ, the Good God, and forbids mean things? And how could there not
be one divine nature and the same spirit of the New and Old
Testament, when the Lord said: "I am not come to destroy the Law,
but to fulfil it"?
And that He might show that the Law was declared through Him and was
given through Moses, and that the grace of the Gospel has been preached
through himself and his carnal presence, He said to the Jews: "If ye
believe Moses, ye should also believe me; for he wrote about me."
There are many other arguments also to oppose to the contention of the
sorcerer. For how will obscene things give life, if it were not a
conception of daemons? When the Lord himself answers in the Gospel to
those who say unto him: "If such is the case of the man and the woman,
it is not good to marry." But He said unto them: "All do not hold this;
for there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the
kingdom of the heavens."
And He showed that natural abstinence from union is the gift of the
kingdom of the heavens; and again in another place He says with respect
to righteous marriage—which Simon of his own accord basely corrupting
treats according to his own desires—"Whom God has joined together let no
man put asunder."
6. And how unaware is again the vagabond that he confutes himself by
his own babbling, not knowing what he gives out? For after saying that
the Angels were produced by him through his Thought, he goes on to say
that he changed his form in every heaven, to escape their notice in his
descent. Consequently he avoided them through fear. And how did the
babbler fear the Angels whom he had himself made? And how will not the
dissemination of his error be found by the intelligent to be instantly
refuted by everyone, when the scripture says: "In the beginning
God made the heaven and the earth"?
And in unison with this word, the Lord in the Gospel says, as though to
his own Father: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth."
If, therefore, the maker of heaven and earth is naturally God, the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, all that the slanderer Simon says is
vain; to wit, the defective production of the world by the Angels, and
all the rest he has babbled about in addition to his world of Daemons,
and he has deceived those who have been led away by him.
ix. Hieronymus (In Matthaeum, IV. xxiv. 5). Text: S. Eusebii
Hieronymi Comment.; Migne Patrol. Grec., VII. col. 176.
Of whom there is one Simon, a Samaritan, whom we read of in the Acts
of the Apostles
, who said he was some Great Power. And among the
rest of the things written in his volumes, he proclaimed as follows:
"I am the Word of God; I am the glorious one, I the Paraclete, the
Almighty, I the whole of God."
x. Theodoretus (Hæreticarum Fabularum Compendium, I. i.). Text:
Opera Omnia (ex recensione Jacobi Simondi, denuo edidit Joann.
Ludov. Schulze); Halæ, 1769.
Now Simon, the Samaritan magician, was the first minister of his (the
evil practices who arose. Who, making his base of operations from Gittha,
which is a village of Samaria, and having rushed to the height of
sorcery, at first persuaded many, by the wonder-working he wrought, to
attend his school, and call him some divine Power. But afterwards seeing
the apostles accomplishing wonder-workings that were really true and
divine, and bestowing on those who came to them the grace of the Spirit,
thinking himself also worthy to receive equal power from them, when
great Peter detected his villainous intention, and bade him heal the
incurable wounds of his mind with the drugs of repentance, he
immediately returned to his former evil-doing, and leaving Samaria,
since it had received the seeds of salvation, ran off to those who had
not yet been tilled by the apostles, in order that, having deceived with
his magic arts those who were easy to capture, and having enslaved them
in the bonds of their own legendary lore,
he might make the teachings of the apostles difficult to be believed.
But the divine grace armed great Peter against the fellow's madness. For
following after him, he dispelled his abominable teaching like mist and
darkness, and showed forth the rays of the light of truth. But for all
that the thrice wretched fellow, in spite of his public exposure, did
not cease from his working against the truth, until he came to Rome, in
the reign of Claudius Cæsar. And he so astonished the Romans with his
sorceries that he was honoured with a brazen pillar. But on the arrival
of the divine Peter, he stripped him naked of his wings of deception,
and finally, having challenged him to a contest in wonder-working, and
having shown the difference between the divine grace and sorcery, in the
presence of the assembled Romans, caused him to fall headlong from a
great height by his prayers and captured the eye-witnesses of the wonder
This (Simon) gave birth to a legend somewhat as follows. He started
with supposing some Boundless Power; and he called this the Universal
And he said that this was Fire, which had a twofold energy, the
manifested and the concealed. The world moreover was generable, and had
been generated from the manifested energy of the Fire. And first from it
(the manifested energy) were emanated three pairs, which he also called
Roots. And the first (pair) he called Mind and Thought, and the second,
Voice and Intelligence, and the third, Reason and Reflection. Whereas he
called himself the Boundless Power, and (said) that he had appeared to
the Jews as the Son, and to the Samaritans he had descended as the
Father, and among the rest of the nations he had gone up and down as the
And having made a certain harlot, who was called Helen, live with
him, he pretended that she was his first Thought, and called her the
Universal Mother, (saying) that through her he had made both the Angels
and Archangels; and that the world was fabricated by the Angels. Then
the Angels in envy cast her down among them, for they did not wish, he
says, to be called fabrications. For which cause, forsooth, they induced
her into many female bodies and into that of the famous Helen, through
whom the Trojan War arose.
It was on her account also, he said, that he himself had descended,
to free her from the chains they had laid upon her, and to offer to men
salvation through a system of knowledge peculiar to himself.
And that in his descent he had undergone transformation, so as not to
be known to the Angels that manage the establishment of the world. And
that he had appeared in Judæa as a man, although he was not a man, and
that he had suffered, though not at all suffering, and that the Prophets
were the ministers of the Angels. And he admonished those that believed
on him not to pay attention to them, and not to tremble at the threats
of the Law, but, as being free, to do whatever they would. For it was
not by good actions, but by grace they would gain salvation.
For which cause, indeed, those of his association ventured on every
kind of licentiousness, and practised every kind of magic, fabricating
love philtres and spells, and all the other arts of sorcery, as though
in pursuit of divine mysteries. And having prepared his (Simon's) statue
in the form of Zeus, and Helen's in the likeness of Athena, they burn
incense and pour out libations before them, and worship them as gods,
calling themselves Simonians.
III.—The Simon of the Legends.
The so-called Clementine Literature:
A. Recognitiones. Text: Rufino Aquilei Presb. Interprete (curante
E.G. Gersdorf); Lipsiæ, 1838.
Homiliæ. Text: Bibliotheca Patrum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum
Selecta, Vol. I. (edidit Albertus Schwegler); Tubingensis, Stuttgartiæ,
B. Constitutiones. Text: SS. Patrum qui Temporibus
Apostolicis Floruerunt Opera (edidit J.B. Cotelerius); Amsteladami,
A. The priority of the two varying accounts, in the Homilies and
Recognitiones, of the same story is in much dispute, but this is a
question of no importance in the present enquiry. The latest scholarship
is of the opinion that "the Clementines are unmistakably a production of
the sect of the Ebionites."
The Ebionites are described as:
A sect of heretics developed from among the Judaizing Christians of
apostolic times late in the first or early in the second century. They
accepted Christianity only as a reformed Judaism, and believed in our
Blessed Lord only as a mere natural man spiritually perfected by exact
observance of the Mosaic law.
Clement, the hero of the legendary narrative, arrives at Cæsarea Stratonis
in Judæa, on the eve of a great controversy between Simon and the apostle
Peter, and attaches himself to the latter as his disciple (H. II. xv; R.I.
lxxvii). The history of Simon is told to Clement, in the presence of
Peter, by Aquila and Nicetas—the adopted sons of a convert—who had
associated with Simon.
Simon was the son of Antonius and Rachael, a Samaritan of Gittha, a
village six schoeni
from the city of Cæsarea (H.I. xxii), called a village of the Gettones (R.
II. vii). It was at Alexandria that Simon perfected his studies in magic,
being an adherent of John, a Hemero-baptist,
through whom he came to deal with religious doctrines.
John was the forerunner of Jesus, according to the method of
combination or coupling.
Whereas Jesus had twelve disciples, as the Sun, John, the Moon, had
thirty, the number of days in a lunation, or more correctly twenty-nine
and a half, one of his disciples being a woman called Helen, and a woman
being reckoned as half a man in the perfect number of the Triacontad, or
Plerôma of the Aeons (H.I. xxiii; R. II. viii). In the Recognitions
the name of Helen is given as Luna in the Latin translation of Rufinus.
Of all John's disciples, Simon was the favourite, but on the death of
his master, he was absent in Alexandria, and so Dositheus,
a co-disciple, was chosen head of the school.
Simon, on his return, acquiesced in the choice, but his superior
knowledge could not long remain under a bushel. One day Dositheus,
becoming enraged, struck at Simon with his staff; but the staff passed
through Simon's body like smoke, and Dositheus, struck with amazement,
yielded the leadership to Simon and became his disciple, and shortly
afterwards died (H.I. xxiv; R. II. xiii).
Aquila and Nicetas then go on to tell how Simon had confessed to them
privately his love for Luna (R. II. viii), and narrate the magic
achievements possessed by Simon, of which they have had proof with their
own eyes. Simon can dig through mountains, pass through rocks as if they
were merely clay, cast himself from a lofty mountain and be borne gently
to earth, can break his chains when in prison, and cause the doors to open
of their own accord, animate statues and make the eye-witness think them
men, make trees grow suddenly, pass through fire unhurt, change his face
or become double-faced, or turn into a sheep or goat or serpent, make a
beard grow upon a boy's chin, fly in the air, become gold, make and unmake
kings, have divine worship and honours paid him, order a sickle to go and
reap of itself and it reaps ten times as much as an ordinary sickle (R.
To this list of wonders the Homilies add making stones into
loaves, melting iron, the production of images of all kinds at a banquet;
in his own house dishes are brought of themselves to him (H.I. xxxii). He
makes spectres appear in the market place; when he walks out statues move,
and shadows go before him which he says are souls of the dead (H. IV. iv).
On one occasion Aquila says he was present when Luna was seen looking
out of all the windows of a tower on all sides at once (R. II. xi).
The most peculiar incident, however, is the use Simon is said to have
made of the soul of a dead boy, by which he did many of his wonders. The
incident is found in both accounts, but more fully in the Homilies
(I. xxv-xxx) than in the Recognitions (II. xiii-xv), for which
reason the text of the former is followed.
Simon did not stop at murder, as he confessed to Nicetas and Aquila "as
a friend to friends." In fact he separated the soul of a boy from his body
to act as a confederate in his phenomena. And this is the magical modus
operandi. "He delineates the boy on a statue which he keeps
consecrated in the inner part of the house where he sleeps, and he says
that after he has fashioned him out of the air by certain divine
transmutations, and has sketched his form, he returns him again to the
Simon explains the theory of this practice as follows:
"First of all the spirit of the man having been turned into the nature
of heat draws in and absorbs, like a cupping-glass, the surrounding air;
next he turns the air which comes within the envelope of spirit into
water. And the air in it not being able to escape owing to the confining
force of the spirit, he changed it into the nature of blood, and the blood
solidifying made flesh; and so when the flesh is solidified he exhibited a
man made of air and not of earth. And thus having persuaded himself of his
ability to make a new man of air, he reversed the transmutations, he said,
and returned him to the air."
When the converts thought that this was the soul of the person, Simon
laughed and said, that in the phenomena it was not the soul, "but some
who pretended to be the soul that took possession of people."
The coming controversy with Simon is then explained by Peter to Clement
to rest on certain passages of scripture. Peter admits that there are
falsehoods in the scriptures, but says that it would never do to explain
this to the people. These falsehoods have been permitted for certain
righteous reasons (H. III. v).
"For the scriptures declare all manner of things that no one of those
who enquire unthankfully may discover the truth, but (simply) what he
wishes to find" (H. III. x).
In the lengthy explanation which follows, however, on the passages
Simon is going to bring forward, such as the mention of a plurality of
gods, and God's hardening men's hearts, Peter states that in reality all
the passages which speak against God are spurious additions, but this is
to be guarded as an esoteric secret.
Nevertheless in the public controversy which follows, this secret is
made public property, in order to meet Simon's declaration: "I say that
there are many gods, but one God of all these gods, incomprehensible and
unknown to all" (R. II. xxxviii); and again: "My belief is that there is a
Power of immeasurable and ineffable Light, whose greatness is held to be
incomprehensible, a power which the maker of the world even does not know,
nor does Moses the lawgiver, nor your master Jesus" (R. II. xlix).
A point of interest to be noticed is that Peter challenges Simon to
substantiate his statements by quotations either from the scriptures of
the Jews, or from some they had not heard of, or from those of the Greeks,
or from his own scriptures (R. II. xxxviii).
Simon argues that finding the God of the Law imperfect, he concludes
this is not the supreme God. After a wordy harangue of Peter, Simon is
said to have been worsted by Peter's threatening to go to Simon's
bed-chamber and question the soul of the murdered boy. Simon flies to Tyre
(H.) or Tripolis (R.), and Peter determines to pursue him among the
The two accounts here become exceedingly contradictory and confused.
According to the Homilies, Simon flees from Tyre to Tripolis, and
thence further to Syria. The main dispute takes place at Laodicæa on the
unity of God (XVI. i). Simon appeals to the Old Testament to show
that there are many gods (XVI. iv); shows that the scriptures contradict
themselves (XVI. ix); accuses Peter of using magic and teaching doctrines
different to those taught by Christ (XVII. ii-iv); asserts that Jesus is
not consistent with himself (XVII. v); that the maker of the world is not
the highest God (XVIII. i); and declares the Ineffable Deity (XVIII. iv).
Peter of course refutes him (XVIII. xii-xiv), and Simon retires.
The last incident of interest takes place at Antioch. Simon stirs up
the people against Peter by representing him as an impostor. Friends of
Peter set the authorities on Simon's track, and he has to flee. At
Laodicæa he meets Faustinianus (R.), or Faustus (H.), the father of
Clement, who rebukes him (H. XIX. xxiv); and so he changes the face of
Faustinianus into an exact likeness of his own that he may be taken in his
place (H. XX. xii; R.X. liii). Peter sends the transformed Faustinianus to
Antioch, who, in the guise of Simon, makes a confession of imposture and
testifies to the divine mission of Peter. Peter accordingly enters Antioch
The story of Simon in the Apostolic Constitutions is short and
taken from the Acts, and to some extent from the Clementines,
finishing up, however, with the mythical death of Simon at Rome, owing to
the prayers of Peter. Simon is here said to be conducted by daemons and to
have flown (ιπτατο) upwards. The
details of this magical feat are given variously elsewhere.
The only point of real interest is a vague reference to Simonian
literature (VI. xvi), in a passage which runs as follows:
For we know that the followers of Simon and Cleobius having composed
poisonous books in the name of Christ and his disciples, carry them
about for the deception of you who have loved Christ and us his
So end the most important of the legends. To these, however, must be
added others of a like nature of which the scene of action is laid at Rome
in the time of Nero.
I have not thought it worth while to refer to the original texts for these
utterly apocryphal and unauthenticated stories, but simply append a very
short digest from the excellent summary of Dr. Salmon, the Regius
Professor of Divinity in Dublin University, as given in Smith and Wace's
Dictionary of Christian Biography.
The Greek Acts of Peter and Paul give details of the conflict
and represent both apostles as having taken part in it. Simon and Peter
are each required to raise a dead body to life. Simon, by his magic, makes
the head move, but as soon as he leaves the body it again becomes
lifeless. Peter, however, by his prayers effects a real resurrection. Both
are challenged to divine what the other is planning. Peter prepares
blessed bread, and takes the emperor into the secret. Simon cannot guess
what Peter has been doing, and so raises hell-hounds who rush on Peter,
but the presentation of the blessed bread causes them to vanish.
In the Acts of Nereus and Achilleus,
another version of the story is given. Simon had fastened a great dog at
his door in order to prevent Peter entering. Peter by making the sign of
the cross renders the dog tame towards himself, but so furious against his
master Simon that the latter had to leave the city in disgrace.
Simon, however, still retains the emperor's favour by his magic power.
He pretends to permit his head to be cut off, and by the power of glamour
appears to be decapitated, while the executioner really cuts off the head
of a ram.
The last act of the drama is the erection of a wooden tower in the
Campus Martius, and Simon is to ascend to heaven in a chariot of fire.
But, through the prayers of Peter, the two daemons who were carrying him
aloft let go their hold and so Simon perishes miserably.
Dr. Salmon connects this with the story, told by Suetonius
and Dio Chrysostom,
that Nero caused a wooden theatre to be erected in the Campus, and that a
gymnast who tried to play the part of Icarus fell so near the emperor as
to bespatter him with blood.
So much for these motley stories; here and there instructive, but
mostly absurd. I shall now endeavour to sift out the rubbish from this
patristic and legendary heap, and perhaps we shall find more of value than
at present appears.
Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, art. "Acts of the Apostles."
Claudius was the fourth of the Cæsars, and reigned from A.D. 41-54.
Lit., stood on a roof; an Eastern metaphor.
The technical term for this transmigration, used by Pythagoreans and
others, is μεταγγισμος, the
pouring of water from one vessel (αγγος)
This famous lyric poet, whose name was Tisias, and honorific title
Stesichorus, was born about the middle of the seventh century B.C., in
Sicily. The story of his being deprived of sight by Castor and Pollux
for defaming their sister Helen is mentioned by many classical writers.
The most familiar quotation is the Horatian (Ep.
Infamis Helenæ Castor offensus vicem
Fraterque magni Castoris victi prece.
Adempta vati redidere lumina.
That is to say, the heretics.
In a preceding part of the book against the "Magicians."
Deuteronomy, iv. 24.
Heracleitus of Ephesus flourished about the end of the sixth
century B.C. He was named the obscure from the difficulty of his
I put the few direct quotations we have from Simon in italics.
Isaiah, v. 7.
I Peter, i. 24.
Empedocles of Agrigentum, in Sicily, flourished about B.C. 444.
Isaiah, i. 2.
I Corinth., xi. 32.
το μηκετι γινομενον.
See Jeremiah, i. 5.
Genesis, ii, 10.
Veins and arteries are said not to have been distinguished by
A lacuna unfortunately occurs here in the text. The missing words
probably identified "that which is commonly called by everyone the
navel" with the umbilical cord.
This is omitted by Miller in the first Oxford edition.
Odyssey, x. 304, seqq.
Cf. Isaiah, ii. 4.
Cf. Luke, iii. 9.
Genesis, iii. 24.
λογος; also reason.
used in Xenophon (Ana. v. 4, 12) of two bands of dancers
facing each other in rows or pairs.
He who has stood, stands and will stand.
The Middle Distance.
There is a lacuna in the text here.
δια της ιδιας
Undergo the passion.
παρεδρους C.W. King calls
these "Assessors." (The Gnostics and their Remains, p. 70.)
This is presumably meant for a grim patristic joke.
A medicinal drug used by the ancients, especially as a specific
The conducting of souls to or from the invisible world.
is one who bears burdens, a carrier; in a bad sense it means lewd.
Or the conception (of the mind).
Cf. 1 Thess., v. 8.
A famous actor and mime writer who flourished in the time of
Augustus (circa A.D. 7); there are extant some doubtful fragments
of Philistion containing moral sentiments from the comic poets.
Matth., v. 17.
John, v. 46, 47.
Matth., xix. 10-12.
Matth., xix. 6.
αρχη the same word is
translated "dominion" when applied to the aeons of Simon.
Genesis, i. 1.
Matth., xi. 25.
"The all-evil Daemon, the avenger of men," of the Prologue.
"Rootage," rather, to coin a word.
ριζωμα must be distinguished from
ριζα, a root, the word used a
few sentences later.
Dictionary of Christian Biography (Ed. Smith and Wace),
art. "Clementine Literature," I. 575.
Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, etc. (Ed. Blunt), art. "Ebionites."
The two accounts are combined in the following digest, and in the
references H. stands for the Homiles and R. for the
Some twenty-three miles.
We have little information of the Hemero-baptists, or Day-baptists.
They are said to have been a sect of the Jews and to have been so
called for daily performing certain ceremonial ablutions (Epiph.,
Contra Hær., I. 17). It is conjectured that they were a
sect of the Pharisees who agreed with the Sadducees in denying the
resurrection. The Apostolic Constitutions (VI. vii) tell us
of the Hemero-baptists, that "unless they wash themselves every
day they do not eat, nor will they use a bed, dish, bowl, cup, or
seat, unless they have purified it with water."
κατα τον της
This has led to the conjecture that the translation was made from
the false reading Selene instead of Helene, while Bauer has used
it to support his theory that Justin and those who have followed
him confused the Phoenician worship of solar and lunar divinities
of similar names with the worship of Simon and Helen.
This is not to be confused with the Dositheus of Origen, who
claimed to be a Christ, says Matter (Histoire Critique du
Gnosticisme, Tom. i. p. 218, n. 1st. ed., 1828).
πατηρ εν απορρητοις.
Hegesippus (De Bello Judaico, iii. 2), Abdias (Hist.,
i, towards the end), and Maximus Taurinensis (Patr. VI. Synodi
ad Imp. Constant., Act. 18), say that Simon flew like Icarus;
whereas in Arnobius (Contra Gentes, ii) and the Arabic
Preface to Council of Nicæa there is talk of a chariot of fire, or
a car that he had constructed.
Cotelerius in a note (i. 347, 348) refers the reader to the
passages in the Recognitions
and in Jerome's Commentary
, which I have already quoted. He also says that the
author of the book, De Divinis Nominibus
(C. 6), speaks of
"the controversial sentences of Simon" (Σιμωνος
). The author is the Pseudo-Dionysius the
Areopagite, and I shall quote later on some of these sentences,
though from a very uncertain source. Cotelerius also refers to the
Arabic Preface to the Nicaean Council. The text referred to will
be found in the Latin translation of Abrahamus Echellensis, given
in Labbé's Concilia (Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova Collectio
edd. Phil. Labbæus et Gabr. Cossartius, S.J., Florentiæ, 1759,
Tom. ii, p. 1057, col. 1), and runs as follows:
"Those traitors (the Simonians) fabricated for themselves a
gospel, which they divided into four books, and called it the
'Book of the Four Angles and Points of the World.' All pursue
magic zealously, and defend it, wearing red and rose-coloured
threads round the neck in sign of a compact and treaty entered
into with the devil their seducer."
As to the books of the followers of Cleobius we have no further
Art. "Simon Magus," Vol. IV. p. 686.
Bolland, Acta SS. May iii. 9.
Orat. xxi. 9.
A REVIEW OF AUTHORITIES.
The student will at once perceive that though the Simon of the
Acts and the Simon of the fathers both retain the two features
of the possession of magical power and of collision with Peter, the
tone of the narratives is entirely different. Though the apostles
are naturally shown as rejecting with indignation the pecuniary
offer of the thaumaturge, they display no hate for his personality,
whereas the fathers depict him as the vilest of impostors and
charlatans and hold him up to universal execration. The incident of
Simon's offering money to Peter is admittedly taken by the fathers
from this account, and therefore their repetition in no way
corroborates the story. Hence its authenticity rests entirely with
the writer of the Acts, for Justin, who was a native of
Samaria, does not mention it. As the Acts are not quoted from
prior to A.D. 177, and their writer is only traditionally claimed to
be Luke, we may safely consider ourselves in the domain of legend
and not of history.
The same may be said of all the incidents of Simon's career; they
pertain to the region of fable and probably owe their creation to
the Patristic and Simonian controversies of later ages.
The Simon of Justin gives us the birthplace of Simon as at Gitta,
and the rest of the fathers follow suit with variation of the name.
Gitta, Gittha, Gittoi, Gitthoi, Gitto, Gitton, Gitteh, so run the
variants. This, however, is a matter of no great importance, and the
little burg is said to-day to be called Gitthoï.
The statement of Justin as to the statue of Simon at Rome with
the inscription "SIMONI DEO SANCTO" has been called in question by
every scholar since the discovery in 1574 of a large marble fragment
in the island of the Tiber bearing the inscription "SEMONI SANCO DEO
FIDIO," a Sabine God. A few, however, think that Justin could not
have made so glaring a mistake in writing to the Romans, and that if
it were a mistake Irenæus would not have copied it. The coincidence,
however, is too striking to bear any other interpretation than that
perhaps some ignorant controversialist had endeavoured to give the
legend a historical appearance, and that Justin had lent a too ready
ear to him. It is also to be noticed that Justin tells us that
nearly all the Samaritans were Simonians.
We next come to the Simon of Irenæus which, owing to many
similarities, is supposed by scholars to have been taken from
Justin's account, if not from the Apology, at any rate from
Justin's lost work on heresies which he speaks of in the Apology.
Or it may be that both borrowed from some common source now lost to
The story of Helen is here for the first time given. Whether or
not there was a Helen we shall probably never know. The "lost sheep"
was a necessity of every Gnostic system, which taught the descent of
the soul into matter. By whatever name called, whether Sophia,
Acamôth, Prunîcus, Barbêlo, the glyph of the Magdalene, out of whom
seven devils are cast, has yet to be understood, and the mystery of
the Christ and the seven aeons, churches or assemblies (ecclesiæ),
in every man will not be without significance to every student of
Theosophy. These data are common to all Gnostic aeonology.
If it is argued that Simon was the first inventor of this
aeonology, it is astonishing that his name and that of Helen should
not have had some recognition in the succeeding systems. If, on the
contrary, it is maintained that he used existing materials for his
system, and explained away his improper connection with Helen by an
adaptation of the Sophia-mythos, it is difficult to understand how
such a palpable absurdity could have gained any credence among such
cultured adherents as the Simonians evidently were. In either case
the Gnostic tradition is shown to be pre-Christian. Every initiated
Gnostic, however, must have known that the mythos referred to the
World-Soul in the Cosmos and the Soul in man.
The accounts of the Acts and of Justin and Irenæus are so
confusing that it has been supposed that two Simons are referred to.
For if he claimed to be a reïncarnation of Jesus, appearing in
Jerusalem as the Son, he could not have been contemporary with the
apostles. It follows, therefore, that either he made no such claim;
or if he made the claim, Justin and Irenæus had such vague
information that they confused him with the Simon of the Acts;
or that the supposition is not well-founded, and Simon was simply
inculcating the esoteric doctrine of the various manifestations or
descents of one and the same Christ principle.
The Simon of Tertullian again is clearly taken from Irenæus, as
the critics are agreed. "Tertullian evidently knows no more than he
read in Irenæus," says Dr. Salmon.
It is only when we come to the Simon of the Philosophumena
that we feel on any safe ground. The prior part of it is especially
precious on account of the quotations from The Great Revelation
(η μεγαλη αποφασις) which we hear of from no
other source. The author of Philosophumena, whoever he was,
evidently had access to some of the writings of the Simonians, and
here at last we have arrived at any thing of real value in our
It was not until the year 1842 that Minoides Mynas brought to
Paris from Mount Athos, on his return from a commission given him by
the French Government, a fourteenth-century MS. in a mutilated
condition. This was the MS. of our Philosophumena which is
supposed to have been the work of Hippolytus. The authorship,
however, is still uncertain, as will appear by what will be said
about the Simon of Epiphanius and Philaster.
The latter part of the section on Simon in the Philosophumena
is not so important, and is undoubtedly taken from Irenæus or from
the anti-heretical treatise of Justin, or from the source from which
both these fathers drew. The account of the death of Simon, however,
shows that the author was not Hippolytus from whose lost work
Epiphanius and Philaster are proved by Lipsius to have taken their
The Simon of Origen gives us no new information, except as to the
small number of the Simonians. But like other data in his
controversial writings against the Gnostic philosopher Celsus we can
place little reliance on his statement, for Eusebius Pamphyli
writing in A.D. 324-5, a century afterwards, speaks of the Simonians
as still considerable in numbers.
The Simon of Epiphanius and Philaster leads us to speak of a
remarkable feat of scholarship performed by R.A. Lipsius,
the learned professor of divinity in the university of Jena. From
their accounts he has reconstructed to some extent a lost work of
Hippolytus against heresies of which a description was given by
Photius. This treatise was founded on certain discourses of Irenæus.
By comparing Philaster, Epiphanius, and the Pseudo-Tertullian, he
recovers Hippolytus, and by comparing his restored Hippolytus with
Irenæus he infers a common authority, probably the lost work of
Justin Martyr, or, may we suggest, as remarked above, the work from
which Justin got his information.
The Simon of Theodoret differs from that of his predecessor only
in one or two important details of the aeonology, a fact that has
presumably led Matter to suppose that he has introduced some later
Gnostic ideas or confused the teachings of the later Simonians with
those of Simon.
The Simon of the legends is so entirely outside any historical
criticism, and the stories gleaned from the Homilies and
Recognitions are so evidently fabrications—most probably added
to the doctrinal narrative at a later date—and so obviously the
stock-in-trade legends of magic, that not a solitary scholar
supports their authenticity. Probably one of the reasons for this is
the strong Ebionism of the narratives, which is by no means
palatable to the orthodox taste. In this connection the following
table of the Ebionite scheme of emanation may be of interest:
(The One Being, The principles of all things.)
The Four elements.
(This mixture produces)
(The Leader of the future cycle.)
(The leader of the present cycle.)
(Heaven, light, life, etc.)
(Earth, fire, death, etc.)
(The Union of Spirit and Body, of Truth and
John the Baptist.
There remains but to mention the curious
theory of Bauer and the Tubingen school. It is
now established by recent theological
criticism that the Clementine writings were
the work of some member or members of the
Elkesaites, a sect of the Ebionites, and that
they were written at Rome somewhere in the
third century. The Elkessæans or Elkesaites
founded their creed on a book called
Elkesai, which purported to be an angelic
revelation and which was remarkable for its
hostility to the apostle Paul. As the
Recognitions contain much anti-Paulinism,
Bauer and his school not only pointed out the
Ebionite source of the Clementine literature,
but also put forward the theory that whenever
Simon Magus is mentioned Paul is intended; and
that the narrative of the Acts and the
legends simply tell the tale of the jealousy
of the elder apostles to Paul, and their
attempt to keep him from the fullest enjoyment
of apostolic privileges. But the latest
scholarship shakes its head gravely at the
theory, and however bitter controversialists
the anti-Paulinists may have been, it is not
likely that they would have gone so far out of
their way to vent their feelings in so
grotesque a fashion.
In conclusion of this Part let us take a
general review of our authorities with regard
to the life of Simon and the immoral practices
attributed to his followers, including a few
words of notice on the lost Simonian
literature, and reserving the explanation of
his system and some notice of magical
practices for Part III.
I have distinguished the Simon of the
fathers from the Simon of the legends, as to
biography, "by convention" and not "by
nature," as the Simonians would say, for the
one and the other is equally on a mythical
basis. It is easy to understand that the
rejection of the Simon of the legends is a
logical necessity for those who have to
repudiate the Ebionite Clementines. Admit the
authenticity of the narrative as regards
Simon, and the authenticity of the other
incidents about John the Baptist and Peter
would have to be acknowledged; but this would
never do, so Simon escapes from the clutches
of his orthodox opponents as far as this count
But the biographical incidents in the
fathers are of a similar nature precisely to
those in the Clementines, and their sources of
information are so vague and unreliable, and
at such a distance from the time of their
supposed occurrence, that we have every reason
to place them in the same category with the
Clementine legends. Therefore, whether we
reject the evidence or accept it, we must
reject both accounts or accept both. To reject
the one and accept the other is a prejudice
that a partisan may be guilty of, but a
position which no unbiassed enquirer can with
justice take up.
The legends, however, may find some excuse
when it is remembered that they were current
in a period when the metal of religious
controversy was glowing at white heat.
Orthodox Christians had their ears still
tingling with the echoing of countless
accusations of the foulest nature to which
they had been subjected. Not a crime that was
known or could be imagined that had not been
brought against them; they naturally,
therefore, returned the compliment when they
could do so with safety, and though in these
more peaceful and tolerant days much as we may
regret the flinging backwards and forwards of
such vile accusations, we may still find some
excuse for it in the passionate enthusiasm of
the times, always, however, remembering that
the readiest in accusation and in putting the
worst construction on the actions of others,
is generally one who unconsciously brings a
public accusation against his own lower
This has been well noticed by Matter, who
writes as follows:
"There is nothing so impure," says Eusebius,
"and one cannot imagine anything so
criminal, but the sect of the Simonians goes
far beyond it."
The bolt of Eusebius is strong; it is even
too strong; for one can imagine nothing that
goes beyond the excess of criminality; and
Eusebius, belonging to a community who were
just escaping from punishments into which
accusations no less grave had caused them to
be dragged, should not perhaps have allowed
himself to speak as he does. But man is made
thus; he pursues when he ceases to be
All societies that have secret rites and a
public position, as was the case with all the
early communities of Christians and Gnostics,
have had like accusations brought against
them. The communities of the Simonians and
Christians may or may not have been impure, it
is now impossible to pronounce a positive
opinion. The important point to notice is that
the accusations being identical and the
evidence or want of evidence the same,
condemnation or acquittal must be meted out to
both; and that if one is condemned and the
other acquitted, the judgment will stand
condemned as biassed, and therefore be set
aside by those who prefer truth to prejudice.
So eager were the fathers to discredit
Simon that they contradict themselves in the
most flagrant fashion on many important
points. On the one hand we hear that Samaria
received the seed of the Word from the
apostles and Simon in despair had to flee, on
the other hand Justin, a native of Samaria,
tells us, a century after this supposed event,
that nearly all the Samaritans are Simonians.
The accounts of Simon's death again are
contradictory; if Simon perished so miserably
at Rome, it is the reverse of probable that
the Romans would have set up a statue in his
honour. But, indeed, it is a somewhat
thankless task to criticize such manifest
inventions; we know the source of their
inspiration, and we know the fertility of the
religious imagination, especially in matters
of controversy, and this is a sufficient sieve
wherewith to sift them out of our heap.
I must now say a few words on Simonian
literature of which the only geniune specimens
we can in any way be certain are the
quotations from the Apophasis of Simon
in the text of the Philosophumena.
That there was a body of Simonian
scriptures is undoubtedly true, as may be seen
from the passages we have quoted from the
Recognitions, Jerome, Pseudo-Dionysius and
the Arabic Preface to the Nicaean Council, and
for some time I was in hopes of being able to
collect at least some scattered fragments of
these works, but they have all unfortunately
shared the fate of much else of value that the
ignorance and fear of orthodoxy has committed
to the flames. We know at any rate that there
was a book called The Four Quarters of the
World, just as the four orthodox gospels
are dedicated to the signs of the four
quarters in the old MSS., and that a
collection of sentences or controversial
replies of Simon were also held in repute by
Simonians and were highly distasteful to their
speak of a book by the disciples of Simon
called De la Prédication de S. Paul,
but neither from their references nor
elsewhere can I find out any further
information. In Migne's Encyclopédie
also, a reference is given to M. Miller (Catalogue
des Manuscripts Grecs de l'Escurial, p.
112), who is said to mention a Greek MS. on
the subject of Simon ("un écrit en grec
relatif à Simon"). But I cannot find this
catalogue in the British Museum, nor can I
discover any other mention of this MS. in any
At last I thought that I had discovered
something of real value in Grabe's
Spicilegium, purporting to be gleanings of
fragments from the heretics of the first three
but the date of the authority is too late to
be of much value. Grabe refers to the
unsatisfactory references I have already given
and, to show the nature of these books,
according to the opinion of the unknown author
or authors of the Apostolic Constitutions
(Grabe calls him the "collector," and for some
reason best known to himself places him in the
quotes the following passage from their
"Such were the doings of these people with
names of ill-omen slandering the creation and
marriage, providence, child-bearing, the Law
and the Prophets; setting down foreign names
of Angels, as indeed they themselves say, but
in reality, of Daemons, who answer back to
them from below."
It is only when Grabe refers to the
Simonian Antirrhêtikoi Logoi, mentioned
by the Pseudo-Dionysius, which he calls "vesani
Simonis Refutatorii Sermones," that we get any
A certain Syrian bishop, Moses Barcephas,
writing in the tenth century,
professes to preserve some of these
controversial retorts of Simon, which the
pious Grabe—to keep this venom, as he calls
it, apart from the orthodox refutation—has
printed in italics. The following is the
translation of these italicized passages:
"God willed that Adam should not eat of
that tree; but he did eat; he, therefore, did
not remain as God willed him to remain: it
results, therefore, that the maker of Adam was
"God willed that Adam should remain in
Paradise; but he of his own disgraceful act
fell from thence: therefore the God that made
Adam was impotent, inasmuch as he was unable
of his own will to keep him in Paradise."
"(For) he interdicted (he said) Adam from
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, by
tasting which he would have had power to judge
between good and evil, and to avoid this, and
follow after that."
"But (said he) had not that maker of Adam
forbidden him to eat of that tree, he would in
no way have undergone this judgment and this
punishment; for hence is evil here, in that he
(Adam) had done contrary to the bidding of
God, for God had ordered him not to eat, and
he had eaten."
"Through envy (said he) he forbade Adam to
taste of the tree of life, so that, of course,
he should not be immortal."
"For what reason on earth (said he) did God
curse the serpent? For if (he cursed him) as
the one who caused the harm, why did he not
restrain him from so doing, that is, from
seducing Adam? But if (he cursed him) as one
who had brought some advantage, in that he was
the cause of Adam's eating of that good tree,
it needs must follow that he was distinctly
unrighteous and envious; lastly, if, although
from neither of these reasons, he still cursed
him, he (the maker of Adam) should most
certainly be accused of ignorance and folly."
Now although there seems no reason why the
above contentions should not be considered as
in substance the arguments employed by Simon
against his antagonists of the dead-letter,
yet the tenth century is too late to warrant
verbal accuracy, unless there may have been
some Syrian translation which escaped the
hands of the destroyers. The above quoted
specimen of traditionary Simonian logic,
however, is interesting, and will, we believe,
be found not altogether out of date in our own
Finally, there is one further point that I
have reserved for the end of this Part in
order that my readers may constantly keep it
in mind during the perusal of the Part which
We must always remember that every single
syllable we possess about Simon comes from the
hands of bitter opponents, from men who had no
mercy or toleration for the heretic. The
heretic was accursed, condemned eternally by
the very fact of his heresy; an emissary of
Satan and the natural enemy of God. There was
no hope for him, no mercy for him; he was
The Simon of our authorities has no friend; no
one to say a word in his favour; he is hounded
down the byways of "history" and the highways
of tradition, and to crush him is to do God
service. One solitary ray of light beams forth
in the fragment of his work called The
Great Revelation, one solitary ray, that
will illumine the garbled accounts of his
doctrine, and speak to the Theosophists of
to-day in no uncertain tones that each may
Methinks there is much reason in his
sayings. If thou consider rightly of the
matter, [Simon] has had great wrong.
M.E. Amélineau, "Essai sur le Gnosticisme
Égyptien," Annales du Musée Guimet,
Tom. xvi. p. 28.
Mosheim's Institutes of Ecclesiastical
History (Trans. etc., Murdock and Soames;
ed. Stubbs 1863), Vol. I., p. 87, note,
gives the following list of those who have
maintained the theory of two Simons:
Vitringa, Observ. Sacrar., v. 12, §
9, p. 159, C.A. Heumann, Acta Erudit.
Lips. for April, A.D. 1727, p. 179, and
Is. de Beausobre, Diss. sur l'Adamites,
pt. ii. subjoined to L'Enfants' Histoire
de la Guerre des Hussites, i. 350, etc.
Dr. Salmon also holds this theory.
Dict. Christ. Biog., art. "Helena,"
Vol. II, p. 880.
Hist. Eccles., ii. 13.
Quellenkritik des Epiphanios.
Cf. Dr. Salmon's art. "Hippolytus
Romanus," Dict. Christ. Biog., iii.
Histoire Critique du Gnosticisme,
Tom. i. p. 197 (1st ed. 1828).
Les Bibles, et les Initiateurs Religieux
de l'Humanité, Louis Leblois, i. 144;
from Uhlhorn, Die Homilien und
Recognitionen, p. 224.
Hist. Eccles., ii. 13.
Op. cit., i. 213.
Op. cit., ii. 217.
Op. cit., 32.
Tom. xxiii, "Dictionnaire des Apocryphes,"
Vol. II., Index, pp. lxviii, lxix.
Spicilegium SS. Patrum ut et Haereticorum
Sæculorum post Christum natum, I, II et III;
Johannes Ernestus Grabius; Oxoniæ, 1714, ed.
alt., Vol. I., pp. 305-312.
Comment. de Paradiso, c. i., pp. 200,
et seqq., editionis Antverpiensis,
anno 1567, in 8vo.
Grabe is also interesting for a somewhat
wild speculation which he quotes from a
British Divine (apud Usserium in
Antiquitatibus Eccles. Britannicae),
that the tonsure of the monks was taken from
the Simonians. (Grabe, op. cit., p,
In the epistle of St. Ignatius Ad
(§ 11), Simon is called "the
first-born Son of the Devil" (πρωτοτοκον διαβολου υιον
); and St. Polycarp
seems to refer to Simon in the following
passage in his Epistle Ad Philipp.
"Everyone who shall not confess that
Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is
antichrist, and who shall not confess the
martyrdom of the cross, is of the Devil; and
he who translates the words of the Lord
according to his own desires, and says there
is neither resurrection nor judgment, he is
the first-born of Satan."
THE THEOSOPHY OF SIMON.
In treating of eschatology and the
beginning of things the human mind is ever
beset with the same difficulties, and no
matter how grand may be the effort of the
intellect to transcend itself, the finite must
ever fail to comprehend the infinite. How much
less then can words define that which even the
whole phenomenal universe fails to express!
The change from the One to the Many is not to
be described. How the All-Deity becomes the
primal Trinity, is the eternal problem set for
man's solution. No system of religion or
philosophy has ever explained this
inexplicable mystery, for it cannot be
understood by the embodied Soul, whose vision
and comprehension are dulled by the grossness
of its physical envelope. Even the illuminated
Soul that quits its prison house, to bathe in
the light of infinitude, can only recollect
flashes of the Vision Glorious once it returns
again to earth.
And this is also the teaching of Simon when
I say there are many gods, but one God of
all these gods, incomprehensible and unknown
to all, ... a Power of immeasurable and
ineffable Light, whose greatness is held to
be incomprehensible, a Tower which the maker
of the world does not know.
This is a fundamental dogma of the Gnôsis
in all climes and in all ages. The demiurgic
deity is not the All-Deity, for there is an
infinite succession of universes, each having
its particular deity, its Brahmâ, to use the
Hindû term, but this Brahmâ is not THAT which
is Para-Brahman, that which is beyond Brahmâ.
This view of the Simonian Gnôsis has been
magnificently anticipated in the Rig Veda
(x. 129) which reads in the fine translation
of Colebrooke as follows:
That, whence all this great creation
Whether Its will created or was mute,
The Most High Seer that is in highest
He knows it—or perchance even He knows
In treating of emanation, evolution,
creation or whatever other term may be
given to the process of manifestation,
therefore, the teachers deal only with one
particular universe; the Unmanifested
Root, and Universal Cause of all Universes
lying behind, in potentiality (δυναμις),
in Incomprehensible Silence (σιγη
ακαταληπτος). For on the "Tongue of
the Ineffable" are many "Words" (λογοι),
each Universe having its own Logos.
Thus then Simon speaks of the Logos of
this Universe and calls it Fire
This is the Universal Principle or
ολων αρχη), or Universal Rootage (ριζωμα
των ολων). But this Fire is not the
fire of earth; it is Divine Light and Life
and Mind, the Perfect Intellectual (το
τελειον νοερον). It is the One
Power, "generating itself, increasing
itself, seeking itself, finding itself,
its own mother, its own father, its
sister, its spouse: the daughter, son,
mother, and father of itself; One, the
Universal Root." It is That, "which has
neither beginning nor end, existing in
oneness." "Producing itself by itself, it
manifested to itself its own Thought (επινοια)."
It is quite true that this symbology of
Fire is not original with Simon, but there
is also no reason to suppose that the
Samaritan teacher plagiarized from
Heracleitus when we know that the major
part of antiquity regarded fire and the
sun as the most fitting symbols of Deity.
Of the manifested elements, fire was the
most potent, and therefore the most
fitting symbol that could be selected in
But what was the Fire of Heracleitus,
the Obscure (ο σκοτεινος), as Cicero, with the rest of the
ancients, called him, because of his
difficult style? What was the Universal
Principle of the "weeping philosopher,"
the pessimist who valued so little the
estimation of the vulgar (οχλολοιδορος)?
It certainly was no common "fire,"
certainly no puerile concept to be brushed
away by the mere hurling of an epithet.
Heracleitus of Ephesus (flor. c.
503 B.C.) was a sincerely religious man in
the highest sense of the word, a reformer
who strongly opposed the degenerate
polytheism and idolatry of his age; he
insisted on the impermanence of the
phenomenal universe, of human affairs,
beliefs and opinions, and declared the One
Eternal Reality; teaching that the Self of
man was a portion of the Divine
Intelligence. The object of his enquiry
was Wisdom, and he reproached his
vain-glorious countrymen of the city of
Diana with the words: "Your knowledge
of many things does not give you wisdom."
In his philosophy of nature he declared
the One Thing to be Fire, but Fire of a
mystical nature, "self-kindled and
self-extinguished," the vital quickening
power of the universe. It was that
Universal Life, by participation in which
all things have their being, and apart
from which they are unsubstantial and
unreal. This is the "Tree of Life" spoken
of by Simon.
In this Ocean of Fire or Life—in every
point or atom of it—is inherent a longing
to manifest itself in various forms, thus
giving rise to the perpetual flux and
change of the phenomenal world. This
Divine Desire, this "love for everything
that lives and breathes," is found in many
systems, and especially in the Vedic and
Phoenician Cosmogony. In the Rig Veda
(x. 129), it is that Kâma or Desire "which
first arose in It (the Unknown Deity),"
elsewhere identified with Agni or Fire. In
the fragments of Phoenician Cosmogony,
recovered from Sanchuniathon, it is called
and Erôs (ερως).
In its pure state, the Living and
Rational Fire of Heracleitus resides in
the highest conceivable Heaven, whence it
descends stage by stage, gradually losing
the velocity of its motion and vitality,
until it finally reaches the Earth-stage,
having previously passed through that of
"Water." Thence it returns to its parent
In this eternal flux, the only repose
was to be found in the harmony that
occasionally resulted from one portion of
the Fire in its descent meeting another in
its ascent. All this took place under Law
and Order, and the Soul of man being a
portion of the Fire in its pure state, and
therefore an exile here on Earth, could
only be at rest by cultivating as the
highest good, contentment (ευαρεστησις,
or acquiescence to the Law.
The author of the Philosophumena
professes to give us some additional
information on this philosopher who
"bewailed all things, condemning the
ignorance of all that lives, and of all
men, in pity for the life of mortals," but
the obscure philosopher does not lend
himself very easily to the controversial
purposes of the patristic writer.
Heracleitus called the Universal Principle
απαντων αρχη) Intellectual Fire (πυρ
νοερον), and said that the sphere
surrounding us and reaching to the Moon
was filled with evil, but beyond the
Moon-sphere it was purer.
The sentences that the author quotes
from Heracleitus in Book IX, are not only
obscure enough in themselves, but are also
rendered all the more obscure by the
polemical treatment they are subjected to
by the patristic writer. Heracleitus makes
the ALL inclusive of all Being and
Non-Being, all pairs of opposites,
"differentiation and non-differentiation,
the generable and ingenerable, mortal and
immortal, the Logos and Aeon, and the
Father and Son," which he calls the "Just
God." This ALL is the "Sadasat-Tatparam
yat" of the Bhagavad Gîtâ,
inclusive of Being (Sat), Non-Being (Asat),
and That Which transcends them (Tatparam
This Logos plays an important part in
the system of the Ephesian sage, who says
that they who give ear to the Logos (the
Word or Supreme Reason) know that "All is
παντα ειδεναι). Such an admission
he calls, "Reflex Harmony" (παλιντροπος
αρμονιη), like unto the Supernal
Harmony, which he calls Hidden or Occult,
and declares its superiority to the
Manifested Harmony. The ignorance and
misery of men arise from their not acting
according to this Harmony, that is to say,
according to (Divine) Nature (κατα
He also declares that the Aeon, the
Emanative Deity, is as a child playing at
creation, an idea found in both the Hindû
and Hermetic Scriptures. In the former the
Universe is said to be the sport (Lîlâ) of
Vishnu, who is spoken of in one of his
incarnations as Lîlâvatâra, descending on
earth for his own pleasure, when as
Krishna he assumed the shape of man as a
pretence (a purely Docetic doctrine),
hence called Lîlâ-mânusha-vigraha; while
in the latter we learn from a magic
papyrus that Thoth (the God of Wisdom)
created the world by bursting into "seven
peals of laughter." This, of course,
typifies the Bliss of the Deity in
Emanation or Creation, caused by that
Divine Love and Compassion for all that
lives and breathes, which is the
well-spring of the Supreme Cause of the
Diving into the Mystery of Being,
Heracleitus showed how a thing could be
good or evil, and evil or good, at one and
the same time, as for instance sea water
which preserved and nourished fishes but
destroyed men. So also, speaking in his
usual paradoxical manner, which can only
be understood by a full comprehension of
the dual nature of man,—the real divine
entity, and the passing and ever-changing
manifestation, which so many take for the
whole man—he says:
The immortals are mortal, and the
mortals immortal, the former living the
death of the latter, and the latter
dying the life of the former.
Thus all externals are transitory, for
"no one has ever been twice on the same
stream, for different waters are
constantly flowing down," and therefore in
following externals we shall err, for
nothing is efficient and forcible except
through Harmony, and its subjection to the
Divine Fire, the central principle of
Such was the Fire of the distinguished
Ephesian, and of like nature was the Fire
of Simon with its three primordial
hypostases, Incorruptible Form (αφταρτος
μορφη), Universal Mind (νους των ολων), and Great Thought (επινοια
μεγαλη), synthesized as the
Universal Logos, He who has stood, stands
and will stand (ο εστως, στας, στησομενος).
But before passing on to the aeonology
of Simon, a short delay, to enquire more
fully into the notions of the Initiated
among the ancients as to the nature of
Mystic Fire, will not be without
If Simon was a Samaritan and learned in
the esoteric interpretation of scripture,
he could not have failed to be acquainted
with the Kabalah, perhaps even with the
now lost Chaldæan Book of Numbers.
Among the books of the Kabalah, the
Zohar, or "Book of Splendour," speaks
of the mysterious "Hidden Light," that
which Simon calls the Hidden Fire (το
κρυπτον), and tells us of the
"Mystery of the Three Parts of the Fire,
which are One" as follows:
Began Rabbi Sim-on and said: Two verses
are written, "That YHVH thy Elohim is a
devouring fire, a zealous Ail (El)" (Deut.
iv. 24); again it is written, "But you
that cleave unto YHVH your Elohim, are
alive, every one of you, this day" (Deut.
iv. 4). On this verse "That YHVH thy
Elohim is a consuming fire," this we
said to the companions; That it is a
fire which devours fire, and it is a
fire which devours itself and consumes
itself, because it is a fire which is
more mighty than fire, and it has been
so confirmed. But, Come, See! Whoever
desires to know the wisdom of the Holy
Unity should look in that flame arising
from a burning coal or a lighted lamp.
This flame comes out only when united
with another thing. Come, See! In the
flame which goes up are two lights: one
light is a bright white and one light is
united with a dark or blue; the white
light is that which is above and ascends
in a straight path, and that below is
that dark or blue light, and this light
below is the throne to the white light
and that white light rests upon it, and
they unite one to the other so that they
are one. And this dark light, or blue
colour, which is below, is the precious
throne to the white. And this is the
mystery of the blue. And this blue dark
throne unites itself with another thing
to light that from below, and this
awakes it to unite with the upper white
light, and this blue or dark, sometimes
changes its colour, but that white above
never changes its colour, it is always
white; but that blue changes to these
different colours, sometimes to blue or
black and sometimes to a red colour, and
this unites itself to two sides. It
unites to the above, to that white upper
light, and unites itself below to the
thing which is under it, which is the
burning matter, and this burns and
consumes always from the matter below.
And this devours that matter below,
which connects with it and upon which
the blue light rests, therefore this
eats up all which connects with it from
below, because it is the nature of it,
that it devour and consume everything
which depends on it and is dead matter,
and therefore it eats up everything
which connects with it below, and this
white light which rests upon it never
consumes itself and never changes its
light, and therefore said Moses; "That
YHVH thy Elohim is a consuming fire."
Surely He consumes. It devours and
consumes every thing which rests under
it; and on this he said: "YHVH is thy
Elohim" not "our Elohim," because Moses
has been in that white light, Above,
which neither devours nor consumes.
Come, See! It is not His Will to light
that blue light that should unite with
that white light, only for Israël;
because they cleave or connect under
Him. And, Come, See! Although the nature
of that dark or blue light is, that it
shall consume every thing which joins
with it below, still Israël cleaves on
Him, Below, ... and although you cleave
in Him nevertheless you exist, because
it is written: "You are all alive this
day." And on this white light rests
above a Hidden Light which is stronger.
Here is the above mystery of that flame
which comes out from it, and in it is
the Wisdom of the Above.
And if Chaldæa gave the impulse which
enshrined the workings of the Cosmos in
such graphic symbology as the above, we
are not surprised to read in the Chaldæan
ascribed to Zoroaster, that "all things
are generated from One Fire."
And this Fire in its first energizing was
intellectual; the first "Creation" was of
Mind and not of Works:
For the Fire Beyond, the first, did not
shut up its power (δυναμις
into Matter (υλη
by Works, but by Mind, for the fashioner
of the Fiery Cosmos is the Mind of Mind.
A striking similarity with the Simonian
system, indeed, rendered all the closer by
the Oracle which speaks of that:
Which first leaped forth from Mind,
enveloping Fire with Fire, binding them
together that it might interblend the
while retaining the flower of its own
This "flower" of Fire and the vorticle
idea is further explained by the Oracle
Thence a trailing whirlwind, the flower
of shadowy Fire, leaping into the wombs
(or hollows) of worlds. For thence it is
that all things begin to stretch below
their wondrous rays.
Compare this with the teaching of Simon
that the "fruit" of the Tree is placed in
the Store-house and not cast into the
In his aeonology, Simon, like other
Gnostic teachers, begins with the Word,
the Logos, which springs up from the
Depths of the Unknown—Invisible,
Incomprehensible Silence. It is true that
he does not so name the Great Power, He
who has stood, stands and will stand; but
that which comes forth from Silence is
Speech, and the idea is the same whatever
the terminology employed may be. Setting
aside the Hermetic teachings and those of
the later Gnôsis, we find this idea of the
Great Silence referred to several times in
the fragments of the Chaldæan Oracles. It
is called "God-nourished Silence"
σιγη θεοθρεμμων), according to whose divine
decrees the Mind that energizes before all
energies, abides in the Paternal Depth.
This unswerving Deity is called the
Silent One by the gods, and is said to
consent (lit. sing together) with the
Mind, and to be known by the Souls
through Mind alone.
Elsewhere the Oracles demonstrate this
Power which is prior to the highest Heaven
as "Mystic Silence."
The Word, then, issuing from Silence is
first a Monad, then a Duad, a Triad and a
Hebdomad. For no sooner has
differentiation commenced in it, and it
passes from the state of Oneness (μονοτης),
than the Duadic and Triadic state
immediately supervene, arising, so to say,
simultaneously in the mind, for the mind
cannot rest on Duality, but is forced by a
law of its nature to rest only on the
joint emanation of the Two. Thus the first
natural resting point is the Trinity. The
next is the Hebdomad or Septenary,
according to the mathematical formula 2n-1,
the sum of n things taken 1, 2, 3
... n, at a time. The Trinity being
manifested, n here =3; and 23-1
Thus Simon has six Roots and the
Seventh Power, seven in all, as the type
of the Aeons in the Plerôma. These all
proceed from the Fire. In like manner also
the Cabeiric deities of Samothrace and
Phoenicia were Fire-gods, born of the
Fire. Nonnus tells us they were sons of
the mysterious Hephaestus (Vulcan),
and Eusebius, in his quotations from
Sanchuniathon, that they were seven
The Vedic Agni (Ignis) also, the God of
Fire, is called "Seven-tongued" (Sapta-jihva)
and "Seven-flamed" (Sapta-jvâla).
In the Hibbert Lectures of 1887,
Prof. A.H. Sayce gives the following Hymn
of Ancient Babylonia to the Fire-god, from
The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western
Asia (iv. 15):
1. The (bed) of the earth they took for
their border, but the god appeared not,
2. from the foundations of the earth he
appeared not to make hostility;
3. (to) the heaven below they
extended (their path), and to the heaven
that is unseen they climbed afar.
4. In the Star(s) of Heaven was not
their ministry; in Mazzaroth (the
Zodiacal signs) was their office.
5. The Fire-god, the first-born
supreme, into heaven they pursued and no
father did he know.
6. O Fire-god, supreme on high, the
first-born, the mighty, supreme enjoiner
of the commands of Anu!
7. The Fire-god enthrones with
himself the friend that he loves.
8. He reveals the enmity of those
9. On the work he ponders in his
10. O Fire-god, how were those seven
begotten, how were they nurtured?
11. Those seven in the mountain of
the sunset were born;
12. those seven in the mountain of
the sunrise grew up.
13. In the hollows of the earth they
have their dwelling;
14. on the high places of the earth
their names are proclaimed.
15. As for them, in heaven and earth
they have no dwelling, hidden is their
16. Among the sentient gods they are
17. Their name in heaven and earth
18. Those seven from the mountain of
the sunset gallop forth;
19. those seven in the mountain of
the sunrise are bound to rest.
20. In the hollows of the earth they
set the foot.
21. On the high places of the earth
they lift the neck.
22. They by nought are known; in
heaven and in earth is no knowledge of
Though I have no intention of
contending that Simon obtained his ideas
specifically from Vedic, Chaldæan,
Babylonian, Zoroastrian, or Phoenician
sources, still the identity of ideas and
the probability, almost amounting to
conviction for the student, that the
Initiated of antiquity all drew from the
same sources, shows that there was nothing
original in the main features of the
This is also confirmed by the
statements in Epiphanius and the
Apostolic Constitutions that the
Simonians gave "barbarous" or "foreign
names" to their Aeons. That is to say,
names that were neither Greek nor Hebrew.
None of these names are mentioned by the
Fathers, and probably the Greek terms
given by the author of the
Philosophumena and Theodoret are
exoteric equivalents of the mystery names.
There is abundant evidence, from gems,
monuments and fragments, to show that
there was a mystery language employed by
the Gnostic and other schools. What this
language was no scholar has yet been able
to tell us, and it is sufficiently evident
that the efforts at decipherment are so
far abortive. The fullest and most
precious examples of these names and of
this language are to be found in the
papyri brought back by Bruce from
Abyssinia at the latter end of the last
Jamblichus tells us that the language
of the Mysteries was that of ancient Egypt
and Assyria, which he calls "sacred
nations," as follows:
But, you ask, why among our symbolical
we prefer barbarous (words) to our
respective native (tongues)? There is
also for this a mystic reason. For it
was the gods who taught the sacred
nations, such as the Egyptians and
Assyrians, the whole of their sacred
dialect, wherefore we think that we
ought to make our own dialects resemble
the speech cognate with the gods. Since
also the first mode of speech in
antiquity was of such a nature, and
especially since they who learnt the
first names concerning the gods, mingled
them with their own tongue—as being
suited to such (names) and conformable
to them—and handed them down to us, we
therefore keep unchanged the rule of
this immemorial tradition to our own
times. For of all things that are suited
to the gods the most akin is manifestly
that which is eternal and immutable.
The existence of this sacred tongue
perhaps accounts for the constant
distinction made by Homer between the
language of the gods and that of men.
Diodorus Siculus also asserts that the
Samothracians used a very ancient and
peculiar dialect in their sacred rites.
These "barbarous names" were regarded
as of the greatest efficacy and sanctity,
and it was unlawful to change them. As the
Chaldæan Logia say:
Change not the barbarous names, for in
all the nations are there names given by
the gods, possessing unspeakable power
in the Mysteries.
And the scholiast
adds that they should not be translated
It is, therefore, most probable that
Simon used the one, three, five, and seven
syllabled or vowelled names, and that the
Greek terms were substitutes that
completely veiled the esoteric meaning
from the uninitiated.
The names of the seven Aeons, as given
by the author of the Philosophumena,
are as follows: The Image from the
Incorruptible Form, alone ordering all
things (εικων εξ αφθαρτου μορφης κοσμουσα μονη παντα),
also called The Spirit moving on the
Waters (το πνευμα το επιφερουμενον
επανω του υδατος) and The Seventh
εβδομη δυναμις); Mind (νους)
and Thought (επινοια),
also called Heaven (ουρανος)
and Earth (γη);
and Name (ονομα),
also called Sun (ηλιος)
and Moon (σεληνη);
and Reflection (ενθυμησις),
also called Air (αηρ)
and Water (υδορ).
The first three of these are
sufficiently explained in the fragment of
Simon's Great Revelation, preserved
in the Philosophumena, and become
entirely comprehensible to the student of
the Kabalah who is learned in the
emanations of the Sephirothal Tree. Mind
and Thought are evidently Chokmah and
Binah, and the three and seven Sephiroth
are to be clearly recognized in the scheme
of the Simonian System which is to follow.
Of the two lower Syzygies, or Lower
Quaternary of the Aeons, we have no
details from the Fathers. We may, however,
see some reason for the exoteric
names—Voice and Name, Reason and
Reflection—from the following
(1) We should bear in mind what has
already been said about the Logos, Speech
and Divine Names. (2) In the Septenary the
Quaternary represents the Manifested and
the Triad the Concealed Side of the Fire.
(3) The fundamental characteristics of the
manifested universe with the Hindûs and
Buddhists are Name (Nâma) and Form (Rûpa).
(4) Simon says that the Great Power was
not called Father until Thought (in
manifestation becoming Voice) named
him Father. (5) Reason and Reflection are
evidently the two lowest aspects,
principles, or characteristics, of the
divine Mind of man. These are included
in the lower mind, or Internal Organ (Antah-karana),
by the Vedântin philosophers of India and
called Buddhi and Manas, being
respectively the mental faculties used in
the certainty of judgment and the doubt of
This Quaternary, among a host of other
things, typifies the four lower planes,
elements, principles, aspects, etc., of
the Universe, with their Hierarchies of
Angels, Archangels, Rulers, etc., each
synthesized by a Lord who is supreme in
his own domain. Seeing, however, that the
outermost physical plane is so vast that
it transcends the power of conception of
even the greatest intellect, it is useless
for us to speculate on the interplay of
cosmic forces and the mysterious
interaction of Spheres of Being that
transcend all normal human consciousness.
It is only on the lowest and outermost
plane that the lower Quaternary symbolizes
the four Cardinal Points. The Michael
(Sun), Gabriel (Moon), Uriel (Venus), and
Raphael (Mercury) of the Kabalah, the four
Beasts, the Wheels of Ezekiel, were
living, divine, and intelligent Entities
pertaining to the inner nature of man and
the universe for the Initiated.
It is to be presumed that the Simonians
had distinct teachings on this point, as
is evidenced by the title of their lost
work, The Book of the Four Angles and
Points of the World. The Four Angles
were probably connected with the four
ducts or Streams of the "River going forth
from Eden to water the Garden." These
Streams have their analogy on all planes,
and cosmically are of the same nature as
the Âkâsha-Gangâ—the Ganges in the Akâshic
Ocean of Space—and the rest of the Rivers
in the Paurânic writings of the Hindûs.
But before going further it will be as
well to have a Diagram or Scheme of the
Simonian Aeonology, for presumably the
School of Simon had such a Scheme, as we
know the Ophites had from the work of
Origen, Contra Celsum.
DIAGRAM OF THE SIMONIAN
Of course no Diagram is anything more
than a symbolical mnemonic, so to say; in
itself it is entirely insufficient and
only permits a glance at one aspect, or
face, of the world-process. It is a step
in a ladder merely, useful only for
mounting and to be left aside when once a
higher rung is reached. Thus it is that
the whole of the elements of Euclid were
merely an introduction to the
comprehension of the "Platonic Solids,"
which must also, in their turn, be
discarded when the within or essence of
things has to be dealt with and not the
without or appearance, no matter how
"typical" that appearance may be.
Sufficient has already been said of the
Universal Principle, of the Universal Root
and of the Boundless Power—the Parabrahman
(That Which transcends Brahmâ),
Mûla-Prakriti (Root-Nature), and Supreme
Îshvara, or the Unmanifested Eternal
Logos, of the Vedântic Philosophers. The
next stage is the potential unmanifested
type of the Trinity, the Three in One and
One in Three, the Potentialities of
Vishnu, Brahmâ, and Shiva, the
Preservative, Emanative, and Regenerative
Powers—the Supreme Logos, Universal
Ideation and Potential Wisdom, called by
Simon the Incorruptible Form, Universal
Mind and Great Thought. This Incorruptible
Form is the Paradigm of all Forms, called
Vishva Rûpam or All-Form and the Param
Rûpam or Supreme Form, in the Bhagavad
spoken also of as the Param Nidhânam or
which Simon also calls the Treasure-house
θησαυρος and Store-house
an idea found in many systems, and most
elaborately in that of the
Between this Divine World, the
Unmanifested Triple Aeon, and the World of
Men is the Middle Distance—the Waters of
Space differentiated by the Image or
Reflection of the Triple Logos (D)
brooding upon them. As there are three
Worlds, the Divine, Middle, and Lower,
which have been well named by the
Valentinians the Pneumatic (or Spiritual),
Psychic (or Soul-World), and Hylic (or
Material), so in the Middle Distance we
have three planes or degrees, or even
seven. This Middle Distance contains the
Invisible Spheres between the Physical
World and the Divine. To it the Initiated
and Illuminati, the Spiritual Teachers of
all ages, have devoted much exposition and
explanation. It is divine and infernal at
one and the same time, for as the higher
parts—to use a phrase that is clumsy and
misleading, but which cannot be
avoided—are pure and spiritual, so the
lower parts are corrupted and tainted. The
law of analogy, imaging and reflection,
hold good in every department of emanative
nature, and though pure and spiritual
ideas come to men from this realm of the
Middle Distance, it also receives back
from man the impressions of his impure
thoughts and desires, so that its lower
parts are fouler even than the physical
world, for man's secret thoughts and
passions are fouler than the deeds he
performs. Thus there is a Heaven and Hell
in the Middle Distance, a Pneumatic and
The Lord of this Middle World is One in
his own Aeon, but in reality a reflection
of the triple radiance from the
Unmanifested Logos. This Lord is the
Manifested Logos, the Spirit moving on the
Waters. Therefore all its emanations or
creations are triple. The triple Light
above and the triple Darkness below, force
and matter, or spirit and matter, both
owing their being and apparent opposition
to the Mind, "alone ordering all things."
The Diagram to be more comprehensible
should be so arranged, mentally, that each
of the higher spheres is found within or
interpenetrating the lower. Thus, from
this point of view, the centre is a more
important position than above or below.
External to all is the Physical Universe,
made by the Hylic Angels, that is to say
those emanated by Thought, Epinoia, as
representing Primeval Mother Earth, or
Matter; not the Earth we know, but the
Adamic Earth of the Philosophers, the
Potencies of Matter, which Eugenius
Philalethes assures us, on his honour, no
man has ever seen. This Earth is, in one
sense, the Protyle for which the most
advanced of our modern Chemists are
searching as the One Mother Element.
The idea of the Spirit of God moving on
the Waters is a very beautiful one, and we
find it worked out in much detail in the
Hindû scriptures. For instance, in the
we find a description of the emanation of
the present Universe by the Supreme
Spirit, at the beginning of the present
Kalpa or Aeon, an infinity of Kalpas and
Universes stretching behind. This he
creates endowed with the Quality of
Goodness, or the Pneumatic Potency. For
the three Qualities (or Gunas) of Nature (Prakriti)
are the Pneumatic, Psychic and Hylic
Potencies of the Waters of Simon.
At the close of the past (or Pâdma)
Kalpa, the divine Brahmâ, endowed with
the quality of goodness, awoke from his
night of sleep, and beheld the universe
void. He, the supreme Nârâyana, the
incomprehensible, the sovereign of all
creatures, invested with the form of
Brahmâ, the god without beginning, the
creator of all things; of whom, with
respect to his name Nârâyana, the god
who has the form of Brahmâ, the
of the world, this verse is repeated:
"The waters are called Nârâ, because
they were the offspring of Nara (the
supreme spirit); and, as, in them, his
progress (in the character of Brahmâ)
took place, he is thence named Nârâyana
(he whose place of moving was the
Sir Wm. Jones translates this
well-known verse of Manu
The waters are called Nârâh, because
they were the production of Nara, or the
spirit of God; and, since they were his
first Ayana, or place of motion, he
thence is named Nârâyana or moving on
Substantially the same statement is
made in the Linga, Vâyu, and
Mârkandeya Purânas, and the
Bhâgavata explains it more fully as
Purusha (the Spirit) having divided the
egg (the ideal universe in germ), on his
issuing forth in the beginning, desiring
a place of motion (Ayanam) for himself,
pure he created the waters pure.
In the Vishnu Purâna, again,
Brahmâ, speaking to the Celestials, says:
I, Mahâdeva (Shiva), and you all are but
The beautiful symbol of the Divine
Spirit moving and brooding over the
Primordial Waters of Space—Waters which as
differentiation proceeds become more and
more turbid—is too graphic to require
further explanation. It is too hallowed by
age and sanctified by the consent of
humanity to meet with less than our
Dissertation on our Diagram could be
pursued to almost any length, but
sufficient has already been said to show
the points of correspondence between the
ideas ascribed to Simon and universal
Let us now enquire into the part played
by Epinoia, the Divine Thought, in the
cosmic process, reserving the part played
by her in the human drama to when we come
to treat of the soteriology of Simon. We
have evidently here a version of the great
Sophia-mythus, which plays so important a
part in all Gnostic systems. On the one
hand the energizings of the mother-side of
Divine Nature, on the other the history of
the evolution of the Divine Monad, shut
into all forms throughout the elemental
spheres, throughout the lower kingdoms, up
to the man stage.
The mystery of Sophia-Epinoia is great
indeed, insoluble in its origins; for how
does that which is Divine descend below
and create Powers which imprison their
parent? It is the mystery of the universe
and of man, insoluble for all but the
Logos itself, by whose self-sacrifice
Sophia, the Soul, is finally freed from
Epinoia is a Power of many names. She
is called the Mother, or All-Mother,
Mother of the Living or Shining Mother,
the Celestial Eve; the Power Above; the
Holy Spirit, for the Spiritus in some
systems is a feminine power (in a
symbolical sense, of course),
pre-eminently in the Codex Nazaræus,
the scripture of the Mandaïtes. Again she
is called She of the Left-hand, as opposed
to the Christos, He of the Right-hand; the
Man-woman; Prouneikos; Matrix; Paradise;
Eden; Achamôth; the Virgin; Barbelo;
Daughter of Light; Merciful Mother;
Consort of the Masculine One; Revelant of
the Perfect Mysteries; Perfect Mercy;
Revelant of the Mysteries of the Whole
Magnitude; Hidden Mother; She who knows
the Mysteries of the Elect; the Holy Dove,
who has given birth to the two Twins;
Ennoia; and by many another name varying
according to the terminology of the
different systems, but ever preserving the
root idea of the World-Soul in the
Macrocosm and the Soul in Man.
Within every form, aye, even apparently
the meanest, is Epinoia confined; for
everything within is innate with Life;
every form contains a spark of the Divine
Fire, essentially of the same nature as
the All; for in the Roots, and also in all
things—since all is built on their type—is
"the whole of the Boundless Power together
in potentiality, but not in
The reason given for this imprisonment
of Sophia in most of the systems is that
she endeavoured to create without her
Syzygy, the Father or Nous, wishing to
imitate alone the self-generating power of
the Supreme. Thus through ignorance she
involved herself in suffering, from which
she was freed by repentance and
experience. What explanation of this
supreme mystery was publicly ventured on
by Simon we cannot know, for the patristic
accounts are confused and contradictory.
Irenæus tells us that:
She was the first Conception (Epinoia)
of his Mind, the Mother of All, by whom
in the beginning he conceived in his
Mind, the making of the Angels and
This Epinoia, leaping
forth from him (the Boundless
Power), and knowing what was the will of
her Father, descended to the Lower
Regions and generated the Angels and
Powers, by whom also he said the world
was made. And after she had generated
them, she was detained by them through
envy, for they did not wish to be
thought the progeny of another. As for
himself he was entirely unknown by them;
and it was his Thought (Epinoia) that
was made prisoner by the Powers and
Angels that had been emanated by her.
And she suffered every kind of indignity
at their hands to prevent her
reäscending to her Father, even to being
imprisoned in the human body and
transmigrating into other female bodies,
as from one vessel into another.
Tertullian's account differs by the
important addition that the "design of the
Father was prevented"; how or why he does
She was his first Suggestion whereby he
suggested the making of the Angels and
Archangels; that she sharing in this
design had sprung forth from the Father,
and leaped down into the Lower Regions;
and that there, the design of the Father
being prevented, she had brought forth
Angelic Powers ignorant of the Father,
the artificer of this world (?); by
these she was detained, not according to
his intention, lest when she had gone
they should be thought to be the progeny
of another, etc.
The Philosophumena say nothing
on this point, except that Epinoia "throws
all the Powers in the World into confusion
through her unsurpassable Beauty."
Philaster renders confusion worse
confounded, by writing:
And he also dared to say that the World
had been made by Angels, and the Angels
again had been made by certain endowed
with perception from Heaven, and that
they (the Angels) had deceived the human
He asserted, moreover, that
there was a certain other Thought (Intellectus)
who descended into the world for the
salvation of men.
Epiphanius further complicates the
problem as follows:
This Power (Prunîcus and Holy Spirit)
descending from Above changed its
form.... And through the Power from
Above ... displaying her beauty, she
drove them to frenzy, and on this
account was she sent for the despoiling
of the Rulers who brought the World into
being; and the Angels themselves went to
war on her account; and while she
experienced nothing, they set to work to
mutually slaughter each other on account
of the desire which she infused into
them for herself.
Theodoret briefly follows Irenæus.
In these contradictory accounts we have
a great confusion between the rôles played
by Nous and Epinoia, the Father and
Thought, the Spirit and Spiritual Soul.
Then again how did the Lower Regions come
into existence, for Epinoia to descend to
them? This lacuna is filled by the fuller
information of the Philosophumena
which shows us the scheme of
self-emanation out or down into matter by
similitude, thus confining the problem of
"evil" to space and time, and not raising
it into an eternal principle. Naturally it
is not to be supposed that the origin of
"evil" is solvable for man in his present
state, therefore whether it was according
to the design or contrary to the design of
the Father, will ever depend upon the
point of view from which we severally
regard the problem.
Law, Justice, and Compassion are not
incompatible terms to one whose heart is
set firm on spiritual things; and the view
that evil is not a thing in itself, but
exists only because of human ignorance, is
one that must commend itself to the truly
religious and philosophical mind. Thus
evil is not a fixed quantity in itself, it
depends on the internal attitude each man
holds with regard to externals as to
whether they are evil or no.
For instance, it is not evil for an
animal or savage to kill, for the light of
the higher law is not yet flaming brightly
in their hearts. That only is evil if we
do what is displeasing to the Self. This
may perhaps throw some light on the
Simonian dogma of action by accident (ex
accidenti), or institution (θεσει),
as opposed to action according to nature (naturaliter
the same idea as the teaching of
Heracleitus to act according to nature (κατα
φυσιν) which he explains as
according to the Unmanifested Harmony
which we can hear by straining our ears to
catch that still small voice within, the
Voice of the Silence, the Logos or Self.
Simon presumably refers to this in the
phrase "the things which sound within" (τα
ενηχα), an idea remarkably
confirmed by Psellus,
who quotes the following Logion:
When thou seest a most holy, formless
Fire shining and bounding throughout the
depths of the whole Cosmos, give ear to
the Voice of the Fire.
This brings us to a consideration of
the teachings of Simon with regard to the
Lesser World, the Microcosm, Man, and to
the scheme of his soteriology. Evidently
Simon taught the ancient, immemorial
doctrine that the Microcosm Man was the
Mirror and Potentiality of the Cosmos, the
Macrocosm, as we have already seen above.
Whatever was true of the emanation of the
Universe, was also true of Man, whatever
was true of the Macrocosmic Aeons was true
of the Microcosmic Aeons in Man, which are
potentially the same as those of the
Cosmos, and will develop into the power
and grandeur of the latter, if they can
find suitable expression, or a fit
vehicle. This view will explain the reason
of the ancients for saying that we could
only perceive that of which we have a germ
already within us. Thus it is that
By earth earth we perceive; by water,
water; by aether, aether; fire, by
destructive fire; by friendship,
friendship; and strife by bitter strife.
And if the potentiality of all resided
in every man, the teaching on this point
most forcibly has been, Qui se
cognoscit, in se omnia cognoscit—He
who knows himself, knows all in himself—as
Q. Fabius Pictor tells us. And, therefore,
the essential of moral and spiritual
training in ancient times was the
attainment of Self-Knowledge—that is to
say, the attainment of the certitude that
there is a divine nature within every man,
which is of infinite capacity to absorb
universal Wisdom; that, in brief, Man was
essentially one with Deity.
With Simon, as with the Hermetic
philosophers of ancient Egypt, all things
were interrelated by correspondence,
analogy, and similitude. "As above, so
below," is the teaching on the Smaragdine
Table of Hermes. Therefore, whatever
happened to the divine Epinoia, the
Supreme Mother, among the Aeons, happened
also to the human Spiritual Soul or
Monadic Essence, in its evolution through
all stages of manifestation. This Soul is
shut into all forms and bodies,
successively up to the stage of man.
From one point of view this teaching
has been conclusively proved by Modern
Science. The evolution of the external
form has been traced throughout all the
kingdoms and is no longer in question. The
ancient teachers of evolution, though less
exact in detail, were more accurate in
fact, in postulating a "something within"
which alone could make the external
evolution of form of any intelligible
purpose. The Spiritual Soul—the Life,
Consciousness, Spirit, Intelligence,
whatever we may choose to call it—was
formless in itself, but ever assuming new
forms by a process called metempsychosis,
metasomatosis, metangismos, etc., which in
the human stage becomes reïncarnation, the
rebirth or Punarjanman of the Hindûs.
So much has been written on
metempsychosis and reïncarnation of late
that it is hardly necessary to dwell on a
now so familiar idea. In its widest sense
the whole process of nature is subject to
this mode of existence, and in its more
restricted sense it is the path of
pilgrimage of the Soul in the desert of
Matter. In treating of a philosophical
conception, which has already been
completely established as far as its
"visible side" is concerned by the
researches of Modern Science in the field
of evolution, it is a waste of time to
obscure the main issue by a rehashing of
the superstitious belief that the human
Soul might pass back to the brute. It may
be that this superstition arose from the
consideration that the body and lower
vestures of the Soul were shed off and
gradually absorbed by the lower creation
in the alchemical processes of nature.
This was the fate of the "Purgations" of
the Soul, but the Soul itself when once it
had passed from bodies of the lower
kingdoms, to bodies in the man-stage,
could not retrogress beyond the limits of
that human kingdom.
By a glance at the Diagram, and
regarding it from the microcosmic point of
view, it is easy to see that the inner
nature of man is more complex than the
elementary trichotomy of Body, Soul, and
Spirit, might lead us to suppose. Each
plane of Being, for which the Soul has its
own appropriate Vesture, is generated from
an "indivisible point," as Simon called
it, a zero-point, to use a term of modern
Chemistry; six of which are shown in the
Diagram, and each plane of Being is
bounded by such zero-points, for they are
points like that of the Circle whose
centre is everywhere and circumference
To pass on to the soteriology of Simon.
The general concept of this presents no
difficulty to the student of Eastern
Religions. The idea that the great
teachers are Avatâras, incarnations, or
descents, of the Supreme Being, appearing
on earth to aid mankind, is simple enough
to comprehend in itself, and would be open
to little objection, were it not for the
theological dogmas and mythological
legends that are wont to be so busily
woven round the lives of such teachers. In
the present age it is hardly necessary for
us, with the experience of the past before
our eyes, to raise dissension as to
whether such a manifestation is entirely
divine, or entirely human, or perfectly
human and divine at one and the same time,
or neither or all of these.
Eastern philosophy, regarding not only
the external phenomenal world as
ever-changing and impermanent, but also
all appearance or manifestation—no matter
how subjective it may be to us now—as not
the one Truth in itself, which it claims
alone to be without change, it is easy to
see the reason why the Gnostic
Philosophers for the most part held to
Doceticism—that is to say that the body of
a Saviour was not the Saviour himself, but
an appearance. The heat of polemical
controversy may have led to exaggerated
views on both sides, but the philosophical
mind will not be distressed at the thought
that the body is an appearance or mask of
the real man, and that it forms no part of
his eternal possession. None the less the
body is real to us here, for we all have
bodies of a like nature, and appearances
are real to appearances. Yet this does not
invalidate the further consideration that
there are other bodies, vestures, or
vehicles of consciousness, besides the
gross physical "coat of skin," for the use
of the spiritual man, each being an
"appearance" in comparison to the higher
vehicle, which is in its turn an
"appearance" to that which is more subtle
and less material or substantial than
Thus, in the descent from the Divine
World, the Soul transforms itself, or
clothes itself in forms, or bodies, or
vestures, which it weaves out of its own
substance, like to the Powers of the
Worlds it passes through, for every Soul
has a different vehicle of consciousness
for every World or Plane.
But the doctrine of the Soter, or
Saviour, does not apply until the
Christ-stage or consummation is reached.
Following the idea of rebirth, there is a
spiritual life cycle, or life-thread, on
which the various earth-lives are strung,
as beads on a necklace, each successive
life being purer and nobler, as the Soul
gains control of matter, or the driver
control of the chariot and steeds that
speed him through the experiences of life.
As the end of this great cycle approaches,
an earthly vehicle is evolved that can
show forth the divine spirit in all the
fulness possible to this world or phase of
Now as the problem can be viewed from
either the internal or external point of
view, we have the mystery of the Soul
depicted both from the side of the
involution of spirit into matter and of
the evolution of matter into spirit. If,
on the one hand, we insist too strongly on
one view, we shall only have a one-sided
conception of the process; if, on the
other, we neglect one factor, we shall
never solve the at present unknown
quantity of the equation. Thus the Soul is
represented as the "lost sheep" struggling
in the meshes of the net of matter,
passing from body to body, and the Spirit
is represented as descending, transforming
itself through the spheres, in order to
finally rescue its Syzygy from the bonds
that are about her.
The Soul aspires to the Spirit and the
Spirit takes thought for the Soul; as the
Simonians expressed it:
The male (Heaven, i.e., the Nous or
Christ, or Spiritual Soul) looks down
from above and takes thought for its
co-partner (or Syzygy); while the Earth
(i.e., the Epinoia or Jesus, or Human
Soul) from below receives from the
Heaven the intellectual (in the
spiritual and philosophical sense, of
course) fruits that come down to it and
are cognate with the Earth (i.e., of the
same nature essentially as Epinoia, who
is essentially one with Nous).
When this mystery is represented
dramatically, so to say, and personified,
these two aspects of the Soul are depicted
as two persons. Thus we have Simon and
Helen, his favourite disciple, Krishna and
Arjuna, etc. In the Canonical Gospels the
favourite disciple is said to be John, and
the women-disciples are placed well in the
background. In the Gnostic Gospels,
however, the women-disciples are not so
ostracized, and the view taken by these
early communities of philosophical and
mystical Christians throws much light on
that wonderful history of the Magdalene
that has so touched the heart of
Christendom. For instance, in the
Pistis-Sophia, the chief of all the
disciples, the most spiritual and
intuitive, is Mary Magdalene. This is not
without significance when we remember the
love of the Christ for Mary "out of whom
he had cast seven devils."
The allegory is a striking one, and
perfectly comprehensible to the student of
comparative religion. As there are seven
Aeons in the Spiritual World, seven
principles or aspects of the Spiritual
Soul, so here on Earth, by analogy, there
are seven lower aspects, or impure
reflections. As there are seven Cardinal
Virtues, the Prajnâ-Pâramitâs, or
Perfections of Wisdom, of the Buddhists,
so there are seven Cardinal Vices, and
these must be cast out by the spiritual
will, before the repentant Mary, or Human
Soul, can be purified.
This is the mystery of the Helen, the
"lost sheep." Then follows the mystical
marriage of the Lamb, the union of the
Human and Spiritual Soul in man, referred
to so often in the Gospels and other
Naturally the language used is
symbolical, and has naught to do with sex,
in any sense. Woe unto him or her who
takes these allegories of the Soul as
literal histories, for nothing but sorrow
will follow such materialization of divine
mysteries. If Simon or his followers fell
into this error, they worked their own
downfall, under the Great Law, as surely
do all who forge such bonds of matter for
their own enslavement.
But with condemnation we have nothing
to do; they alone who are without sin have
the right to cast stones at the
Magdalenes of this world; and they who are
truly without sin use their purity to
cleanse their fellows, and do not sully it
with the stains of self-righteous
condemnation. We, ordinary men and women
of the age, are all "lost sheep," human
souls struggling in ignorance; shall we
then stone our fellows because their
theology has a different nomenclature to
our own? For man was the same in the past
as he is to-day. The Human Soul has ever
the same hopes and fears, loves and hates,
passions and aspirations, no matter how
the mere form of their expression differs.
That which is important is the attitude we
hold to the forms with which we are
surrounded. To-day the form of our belief
is changed; the fashion of our dress is
scientific and not allegorical, but are we
any nearer the realization that it is a
dress and no more, and not the real
expression of the true man within?
Let us now take a brief glance at the
Symbolical Tree of Life, which plays so
important a part in the Simonian Gnôsis.
Not, however, that it was peculiar to this
system, for several of the schools use the
same symbology. For instance, in the
the idea is immensely expanded, and there
is much said of an Aeonian Hierarchy
called the Five Trees. As this, however,
may have been a later development, let us
turn to the ancient Hindû Shâstras, and
select one out of the many passages that
could be adduced, descriptive of the
Ashvattha Tree, the Tree of Life, "the
Ashvattha of golden wings," where the
bird-souls get their wings and fly away
happily, as the Sanatsujátîya tells
us. The passage we choose is from the
Bhagavad Gîtâ, that marvellous
philosophical episode from the
Mahâbhârata, which from internal
evidence, and at the very lowest estimate,
must be placed at a date anterior to
Simon. At the beginning of the fifteenth
Adyâya we read:
They say the imperishable Ashvattha is
with root above and branches below, of
which the sacred hymns are the leaves.
Who knows this, he is a knower of
knowledge. Upwards and downwards stretch
its branches, expanded by the potencies
(Gunas); the sense-objects are its
sprouts. Downwards, too, its roots are
stretched, constraining to action in the
world of men. Here neither its form is
comprehended, nor its end, nor
beginning, nor its support. Having cut
with the firm sword of detachment (sc.
non-attachment to the fruit of action)
this Ashvattha, with its overgrown
roots, then should he (the disciple)
search out that Supreme whither they who
come never return again, (with the
thought) that now he is come to that
primal Being, whence the evolution of
old was emanated.
For what is this "sword of detachment"
but another aspect of the "fiery sword" of
Simon, which is turned about to guard the
way to the Tree of Life? This "sword" is
our passions and desires, which now keep
us from the golden-leaved Tree of Life,
whence we may find wings to carry us to
the "Father in Heaven." For once we have
conquered Desire and turned it into
spiritual Will, it then becomes the "Sword
of Knowledge"; and the way to the Tree of
Spiritual Life being gained, the purified
Life becomes the "Wings of the Great Bird"
on which we mount, to be carried to its
Nest, where peace at last is found.
The simile of the Tree is used in many
senses, not the least important of which
is that of the heavenly "vine" of the
reïncarnating Soul, every "life" of which
is a branch. This explains Simon's
citation of the Logion so familiar to us
in the Gospel according to Luke:
Every tree not bearing good fruit is cut
down and cast into the fire.
This also explains one of the inner
meanings of the wonderful passage in the
Gospel according to John:
I am the true vine and my Father is the
husbandman. Every branch in me that
beareth not fruit he taketh away; and
every branch that beareth fruit he
purgeth it that it may bear more fruit.
For only the spiritual fruit of every
life is harvested in the "Store-house" of
the Divine Soul; the rest is shed off to
be purified in the "Fire" of earthly
Into the correspondence between the
world-process of Nature, and that which
takes place in the womb of mortal woman,
it will not be necessary to enter at
length. No doubt Simon taught many other
correspondences between the processes of
Cosmic Nature and Microcosmic Man, but
what were the details of this teaching we
can in no way be certain. Simon may have
made mistakes in physiology, according to
our present knowledge, but with the
evidence before us all we can do is to
suspend our judgment. For in the first
place, we do not know that he has been
correctly reported by his patristic
antagonists, and, in the second, we are
even yet too ignorant of the process of
the nourishment of the foetus to pronounce
any ex cathedrâ statement. In any
case Simon's explanation is more in
agreement with Modern Science than the
generality of the phantasies on scientific
subjects to which the uninstructed piety
of the early Fathers so readily lent
itself. As to whether the Initiated of the
ancients did or did not know of the
circulation of the blood and the functions
of the arterial system, we must remain in
doubt, for both their well known method of
concealing their knowledge and also the
absence of texts which may yet be
discovered by the industry of modern
exploration teach us to hold our judgment
Again, seeing the importance which the
symbolical Tree played in the Simonian
System, it may be that there was an
esoteric teaching in the school, which
pointed out correspondences in the human
body for mystical purposes, as has been
the custom for long ages in India in the
Science of Yoga. In the human body are
at least two "Trees," the nervous, and
vascular systems. The former has its
"root" above in the cerebrum, the latter
has its roots in the heart. Along the
trunks and branches run currents of
"nervous ether" and "life" respectively,
and the Science of Yoga teaches its
disciples to use both of these forces for
mystical purposes. It is highly probable
also that the Gnostics taught the same
processes to their pupils, as we know for
a fact that the Neo-Platonists inculcated
like practices. From these considerations,
then, it may be supposed that Simon was
not so ignorant of the real laws of the
circulation of the blood as might
otherwise be imagined; and as to the
nourishment of the embryo, modern
authorities are at loggerheads, the
majority, however, inclining to the
opinion of Simon, that the foetus is
nourished through the umbilical cord.
The last point of importance to detain
us, before passing on to a notice on the
magical practices ascribed to Simon, is
the allegorical use made by the Simonians
of Scripture. Here again we have little to
do with the details reported, but only
with the idea. It was a common belief of
the sages of antiquity that the
mythological part of the sacred writings
of the nations were to be understood in an
allegorical fashion. Not to speak of
India, we have the Neo-Platonic School
with its analogetical methods of
interpretation, and the mention of a work
of Porphyry in which an allegorical
interpretation of the Iliad was
attempted. Allegorical shows of a similar
nature also were enacted in the Lesser
Mysteries and explained in the Greater, as
Julian tells us in the Mother of the
and Plutarch on the Cessation of
Much evidence could be adduced that
this was a widespread idea held by the
learned of antiquity, but space does not
here allow a full treatment of the
subject. What is important to note is that
Simon claimed this as a method of his
School, and therefore, in dealing with his
system, we cannot leave out so important a
factor, and persist in taking allegorical
and symbolical expressions as literal
teachings. We may say that the method is
misleading and has led to much
superstition among the ignorant, but we
have no right to criticize the literal and
historical meaning of an allegory, and
then fancy that we have criticized the
doctrine it enshrines. This has been the
error of all rationalistic critics of the
world bibles. They have wilfully set on
one side the whole method of ancient
religious teaching, and taken as literal
history and narrative what was essentially
allegorical and symbolical. Perhaps the
reason for this may be in the fact that
wherever religion decays and ignorance
spreads herself, there the symbolical and
allegorical is materialized into the
historical and literal. The spirit is
forgotten, the letter is deified. Hence
the reäction of the rationalistic critic
against the materialism and literalism of
sacred verities. Nevertheless, such
criticism does not go deep enough to
affect the real truths of religion and the
convictions of the human soul, any more
than an aesthetic criticism on the shape
of the Roman letters and Arabic figures
can affect the truth of an algebraical
formula. Rationalistic criticism may stir
people from literalism and dogmatic
crystallization, in fact it has done much
in this way, but it does not reach the
Now Simon contended that many of the
narrations of Scripture were allegorical,
and opposed those who held to the
dead-letter interpretation. To the student
of comparative religion, it is difficult
to see what is so highly blameworthy in
this. On the contrary, this view is so
worthy of praise, that it deserves to be
widely adopted to-day, at the latter end
of the nineteenth century. To understand
antiquity, we must follow the methods of
the wise among the ancients, and the
method of allegory and parable was the
manner of teaching of the great Masters of
But supposing we grant this, and admit
that all Scriptures possess an inner
meaning and lend themselves to
interpretation on every plane of being and
thought, who is to decide whether any
particular interpretation is just or no?
Already we have writers arising, giving
diametrically opposite interpretations of
the same mystical narrative, and though
this may be an advance on bald physical
literalism, it is by no means encouraging
to the instructed and philosophical mind.
If the Deity is no respecter of
persons, times, or nations, and if no age
is left without witness of the Divine, it
would seem to be in accordance with the
fitness of things that all religions in
their purity are one in essence, no matter
how overgrown with error they may have
become through the ignorance of man. If,
again, the root of true Religion is one,
and the nature of the Soul and of the
inner constitution of things is identical
in all climes and times, as far as its
main features are concerned, no matter
what terminology, allegory, and symbology
may be employed to describe it; and not
only this, but if it be true that such
subjective things are as potent facts in
human consciousness as any that exist, as
indeed is evidenced by the unrivalled
influence such things have had on human
hearts and actions throughout the history
of the world—then we must consider that an
interpretation that fits only one system
and is found entirely unsuitable to the
rest, is no part of universal religion,
and is due rather to the ingenuity of the
interpreter than to a discovery of any law
of subjective nature. The method of
comparative religion alone can give us any
certainty of correct interpretation, and a
refusal to institute such a comparison
should invalidate the reliability of all
Now Simon is reported to have
endeavoured to find an inner meaning in
scriptural narratives and mythologies, and
against this method we can have nothing to
say; it is only when a man twists the
interpretation to suit his own prejudices
that danger arises. Simon, however, is
shown to have appealed to the various
sacred literatures known in his time, an
eclectic and theosophical method, and one
that cannot very well be longer set on one
side even in our own days.
The primitive church was not so
forgetful of symbology as are the majority
of the Christian faith to-day. One of the
commonest representations of primitive
Christian art was that of the "Four
Rivers." As the Rev. Professor Cheetham
We find it repeated over and over again
in the catacombs, either in frescoes or
in the sculptured ornaments of
sarcophagi, and sometimes on the bottoms
of glass cups which have been discovered
The interpretations given by the early
divines were many and various; in nearly
every case, however, it was an
interpretation which applied to the
Christian system alone, and accentuated
external differences. Little attempt was
made to find an interpretation in nature,
either objective or subjective, or in man.
Simon, at any rate, made the attempt—an
effort to broaden out into a universal
system applying to all men at all times.
This is also the real spirit of pure
Christianity which is so often
over-clouded by theological partisanship.
A true interpretation must stand the test
of not only religious aspiration, but also
philosophical thought and scientific
Nor again should we find cause to
grieve at an attempted interpretation of
the Trojan Horse, that was fabricated by
the advice of Athena (Minerva-Epinoia),
for did not George Stanley Faber, in the
early years of this century, labour with
much learning to prove its identity with
the Ark. True he only turned similar myths
into the terms of one myth and got no
further, but that was an advance on his
immediate predecessors. Simon, however,
had centuries before gone further than
Faber, as far as theory is concerned, by
seeking an interpretation in nature. But,
in his turn, as far as our records go, he
only attempted the interpretation of one
aspect of this graphic symbol, saying that
it typified "ignorance." An
interpretation, however, to be complete
should cover all planes of consciousness
and being from the physical human plane to
the divine cosmic. The Ark floating on the
Waters of the Deluge and containing the
Germs of Life, the Mundane Egg in the
Waters of Space, and the Mare with her
freight of armed warriors, all typify a
great fact in nature, which may be studied
scientifically in the development of the
germ-cell, and ethically by analogy, as
the egg of ignorance, the germs in which
are, from the lower aspect, our own evil
In speaking of such allegories and
tracing the correspondences between
certain symbologies and the natural facts
of embryology, Simon speaks of the "cave"
which plays so important a part in so many
religious allegories. As the child is born
in a "cave," so the "new man" is also born
in a "cave," and all the Saviours are so
recorded to have been born in their birth
legends. The Mysteries of antiquity were
for the most part solemnized in caves, or
rock-cut temples. The Epoptæ deemed such
caverns as symbols both of the physical
world and Hades or the Unseen World, which
surrounds every child of man. Into such a
cave, in the middle of the Ocean, Cronus
shut his children, as Porphyry
tells us. It was called by the name Petra,
or Rock, and from such a Rock Mithras is
said to have been born.
Faber endeavours to identify this
symbolical cave with the Ark,
which may be permissible from one aspect,
as the womb of mother nature and of the
human mother correspond analogically.
In the "new birth" of the mysteries,
the Souls were typified as bees born from
the body of an ox, for they were to gather
the honey of wisdom, and were born from
the now dead body of their lower natures.
In the cave were two doors, one for
immortals, the other for mortals. In this
connection the cave is the psychic womb
that surrounds every man, of which
Nicodemus displays such ignorance in the
Gospels. It is the microcosmic Middle
Distance; by one door the Lower Soul
enters, and uniting with its immortal
consort, who descends through the door of
the immortals, becomes immortal.
The cavern is overshadowed by an olive
tree—again the Tree of Life to which we
have referred above—on the branches of
which the doves rest, and bring back the
leaves to the ark of the body and the
prisoner within it.
But space does not permit us to pursue
further this interesting subject, which
requires an entire treatise by itself, or
even a series of volumes. Enough, however,
has been said to show that the method of
interpretation employed by Simon is not
without interest and profit, and that the
tolerant spirit of to-day which animates
the best minds and hearts in Christendom
will find no reason to mete out to Simon
wholesale condemnation on this score.
There are also many other points of
interest that could be elaborated upon, in
the fragments of the system we are
reviewing, but as my task is in the form
of an essay, and not an exhaustive work, I
must be content to pass them by for the
present, and to hurry on to a few words on
that strange and misunderstood subject,
commonly known as Magic.
What Magic, the "Great Art" of the
ancients, was in reality is now as
difficult to discover as is the true
Religion that underlies all the great
religions of the world. It was an art, a
practice, the Great and Supreme Art of the
most Sacred Science of God, the Universe
and Man. It was and it is all this in its
highest sense, and its method was what is
now called "creation." As the Aeons
imitated the Boundless Power and emanated
or created in their turn, so could man
imitate the Aeons and emanate or create in
his turn. But "creation" is not
generation, it is a work of the "mind," in
the highest sense of the word. By
purification and aspiration, by prayer and
fasting, man had to make his mind
harmonious with the Great Mind of the
Universe, and so by imitation create pure
vehicles whereby his consciousness could
be carried in every direction of the
Universe. Such spiritual operations
required the greatest purity and piety,
real purity and true piety, without
disguise or subterfuge, for man had to
face himself and his God, before whom no
disguise was possible. The most secret
motives, the most hidden desires, were
revealed by the stern self-discipline to
which the Adepts of the Science subjected
But as in all things here below, so
with the Art of Magic, it was two-fold.
Above I have only spoken of the bright
side of it, the path along which the
World-Saviours have trodden, for no one
can gain entrance to the path of
self-sacrifice and compassion unless his
heart burns with love for all that lives,
and unless he treads the way of wisdom
only in order that he may become that Path
itself for the salvation of the race. But
there is the other side; knowledge is
knowledge irrespective of the use to which
it may be put. The sword of knowledge is
two-edged, as remarked above, and may be
put to good or evil use, according to the
selfishness or unselfishness of the
But corruptio optimi pessima,
and as the employment of wisdom for the
benefit of mankind—as, for instance,
curing the sick, physically and morally—is
the highest, so the use of any abnormal
power for the advantage of self is the
vilest sin that man can commit.
There are strange analogies in Nature,
and the higher the spiritual, the lower
the corresponding material process; so
that we find in the history of
magic—perhaps the longest history in the
world—extremes ever meeting. Abuse of
spiritual powers, and the vilest physical
processes, noxious, fantastic, and
pestilential, are recorded in the pages of
so-called magical literature, but such
foul deeds are no more real Magic than are
the horrors of religious fanaticism the
outcome of true Mohammedanism or
Christianity. This is the abuse, the
superstition, the degeneration of all that
is good and true, rendered all the more
vile because it pertains to denser planes
of matter than even the physical. It is a
strange thing that the highest should pair
with the lowest where man is concerned,
but it ever remains true that the higher
we climb the lower we may fall.
Man is much the same in nature at all
times, and though the Art was practised in
its purity by the great World-Teachers and
their immediate followers, whether we call
it by the name Magic or no, it ever fell
into abuse and degeneracy owing to the
ingrained ignorance and selfishness of
man. Thus the Deity and Gods or Daemons of
one nation became the Devil and Demons of
another; the names were changed, the facts
remained the same. For if we are to reject
all such things as superstition,
hallucination, and what not, the good must
go with the bad. But facts, whether good
or bad, are still facts, and man is still
man, no matter how he changes the fashion
of his belief. The followers of the
World-Teachers cannot hold to the
so-called "miracles" of their respective
Masters and reject all others as false in
fact, no matter from what source they may
believe they emanate. In nature there can
be nothing supernatural, and as man stands
mid-way between the divine and infernal,
if we accept the energizing of the one
side of his nature, we must also accept
that of the other. Both are founded on
nature and science, both are under law and
The great Master of Christendom is
reported to have told his disciples that
if they had but faith they should do
greater works than even he had done.
Either this was false or else the
followers have been false to their
Teacher. There is no escape from the
dilemma. And such "works" are to be
wrought by divine Magic alone, or if the
term be disliked, by whatever name the
great Science of the Soul and Divine
things may be called.
For the last two hundred years or so it
has been the fashion to deride all such
matters, perhaps owing to a reäction
against over-credulity on the part of
those who held to the letter of the law
and forgot its spirit; but to-day it is no
longer possible to entirely set aside this
all-important part of man's nature, and it
now calls for as strict a scientific
treatment as the facts of the physical
universe have been subjected to.
Hypnotism, Mesmerism, Spiritualism and
Psychical Research, are the cloud no
bigger than a man's hand that is forcing
the facts of Magic again on the attention
of both the theological and scientific
world. Hypnotism and Psychical Research
are already becoming respectable and
attracting the attention of the generality
of men of science and of our clergy.
Spiritualism and Mesmerism are still
tabooed, but wait their turn for popular
recognition, having already been
recognized by pioneers distinguished in
science and other professions.
Of course I speak only of the facts of
these arts, I do not speak of the theories
All these processes are in the very
outermost court of the Temple of True
Magic, even if they are not outside the
precinct. But they are sufficient for our
purpose, and should make the serious
thinker and unprejudiced enquirer pause
before pronouncing the words, superstition
and hallucination, in too confident a
tone, for he now must see the necessity of
having a clear idea of what he means by
It is not uncommon of late to hear the
superficially instructed setting down
everything to "suggestion," a word they
have picked up from modern hypnotic
research, or "telepathy," a name invented
by psychical research—the ideas being as
old as the world—forgetting that their
mind remains in precisely the same
attitude with regard to such matters as it
was in previously when they utterly denied
the possibility of suggestion and
telepathy. But to the earnest and patient
student hypnotism and the rest are but the
public reäppearance of what has always
existed in spite of the denial of two
hundred years or so, and instead of
covering the whole ground is but the
forward spray from the returning wave of
psychism which will sweep the nations off
their feet and moral balance, if they will
not turn to the experience of the past and
gain strength to withstand the inrush.
The higher forms of all these things,
in the Western World, should have now been
in the hands of the ministers of the
Church, in which case we should not have
had the reäppearance of such powers in the
hands of vulgar stage exhibitions and
mercenary public mediumship.
But so it is; and in vain is it any
longer to raise the cry of fraud and
hallucination on the one hand and of the
devil on the other. This is a mere
shirking of responsibility, and nothing
but a reasonable investigation and an
insistence on the highest ideals of life
will help humanity.
I do not intend to enter into any
review of the "wonders" attributed to
Simon, neither to deny them as
hallucinations, nor attribute them to the
devil, nor explain them away by
"suggestion." As a matter of fact we do
not even know whether Simon did or
pretended to do any of the precise things
mentioned. All we are competent to decide
is the general question, viz., that any
use of abnormal power is pernicious if
done for a personal motive, and will
assuredly, sooner or later, react on the
Here and there in the patristic
accounts we light on a fact worthy of
consideration, as, for example, when Simon
is reported to have denied that the real
soul of a boy could be exorcised, and said
that it was only a daemon, in this case a
sub-human intelligence or elemental, as
the Mediæval Kabalists called them. Again
the Simonians are said to have expelled
any from their Mysteries who worshipped
the statues of Zeus or Athena as being
representatives of Simon and Helen; thus
showing that they were symbolical figures
for some purpose other than ordinary
worship; and probably the sect in its
purity possessed a body of teaching which
threw light on many of the religious
practices of the times, and gave them a
rational interpretation, quite at variance
with the fantastic diabolism which the
Fathers have so loudly charged against
The legends of magic are the same in
all countries, fantastic enough to us in
the nineteenth century, in all conscience,
and most probably exaggerated out of all
correct resemblance to facts by the
excited imagination of the legend-tellers,
but still it is not all imagination, and
after sifting out even ninety-nine per
cent of rubbish, the residue that remains
is such vast evidence to the main facts
that it is fairly overwhelming, and
deserves the investigation of every honest
But the study is beset with great
difficulty, and if left in the hands of
untrained thinkers, as are the majority of
those who are interested in such matters
in the present day, will only result in a
new phase of credulity and superstition.
And such a disastrous state of affairs
will be the distinct fault of the leaders
of thought in the religious,
philosophical, and scientific world, if
they refuse the task which is naturally
theirs, and if they are untrue to the
responsibility of their position as the
directors, guardians, and adjusters of the
popular mind. Denial is useless, mere
condemnation is of small value,
explanation alone will meet the
Thus when we are brought face to face
with the recital of magical wonders as
attributed to Simon in the patristic
legends, it is not sufficient to sweep
them on one side and ticket them with the
contemptuous label of "superstition." We
must recognize that whether or not these
things were actually done by Simon, the
ancient world both Pagan and Christian
firmly believed in their reality, and that
if our only attitude towards them is one
of blank denial, we include in that denial
the possibility of the so-called
"miracles" of Christianity and other great
religions, and therewith invalidate one of
the most important factors of religious
thought and history. That the present
attitude of denial is owing to the absurd
explanation of the phenomena given by the
majority of the ancient worthies, is
easily admissible, but this is no reason
why the denial of the possibilities of the
existence of such things should be logical
As to the wonders ascribed to Simon,
though extraordinary, they are puerile
compared to the ideals of the truly
religious mind, and if Simon used such
marvels as proofs of the truth of his
doctrine, he unduly took advantage of the
ignorance of the populace and was untrue
to his better nature.
Again, setting aside all historical
criticism, if Simon, as the Acts
report, thought to purchase spiritual
powers with money, or that those who were
really in possession of such powers would
ever sell them, we can understand the
righteous indignation of the apostles,
though we cannot understand their cursing
a brother-man. The view of the Christian
writer on this point is a true one, but
the dogma that every operation which is
not done in the name of the particular
Master of Christendom is of the Devil—or,
to avoid personifications, is evil—can
hardly find favour with those who believe
in the brotherhood of the whole race and
that Deity is one, no matter under what
Finally, to sum up the matter, we have
cited our authorities, and reviewed them,
and then endeavoured to sift out what is
good from the heap, leaving the rubbish to
its fate. Removed as we are by so many
centuries from the fierce strife of
religious controversy which so deeply
marked the rise of Christianity, we can
view the matter with impartiality and seek
to redress the errors that are patent both
on the side of orthodoxy and of
heterodoxy. It is true we cannot be free
of the past, but it is also true that to
identify ourselves with the hates and
strifes of the ancients, is merely to
retrogress from the path of progress. On
the contrary, our duty should be to
identify ourselves with all that is good
and beautiful and true in the past, and so
gleaning it together, bind it into a sheaf
of corn that, when ground in the mills of
common-sense and practical experience, may
feed the millions of every denomination
who for the most part are starving on the
unsatisfying husks of crude dogmatism.
There is no need for a new revelation, in
whatever sense the word is understood, but
there is every need for an explanation of
the old revelations and the undeniable
facts of human experience. If the Augean
stables of the materialism that is so
prevalent in the religion, philosophy and
science of to-day, are to be cleansed, the
spiritual sources of the world-religions
can alone be effectual for their
cleansing, but these are at present hidden
by the rocks and overgrowth of dogma and
ignorance. And this overgrowth can only be
removed by explanation and investigation,
and each who works at the task is,
consciously or unconsciously, in the train
of the Hercules who is pioneering the
future of humanity.
Julius Caesar, III. ii. 106-8.
Op. cit. i. 4. Compare the
Diagram and explanation of the Middle
Distance infra. The Moon is the
"Lord" of the lower plane of the Middle
Distance, the Astral Light of the
medieval Kabalists. This is a doctrine
common to the Hermetic, Vedântic, and
many other schools of Antiquity.
Philos., ix. 10.
Zohar, i. 50b, Amsterdam
and Brody Editions: quoted in Isaac
Myer's Qabbalah, pp. 376, 377.
See Cory's Ancient Fragments, 2nd
ed.; not the reëdited third edition,
which is no longer Cory's work.
εισι παντα πυρος ενος εκγεγαωτα—Psell.
Proc. in Theol. 333—in Tim.
—I have ventured
the above translation for this difficult
combination from the meaning of the term
found elsewhere in the Oracles, in the
metaphorical sense of "source" (compare
also Plato, Phæd.
245 C., 856 D.,
πηγη και αρχη χινησεως
source and beginning of motion"), and
also from the meaning of
), as "a cup-shaped
The idea of this Crater is
interestingly exemplified in the Twelfth
Book of Hermes Trismegistus, called "His
Crater, or Monas," as follows:
"10. Tat. But wherefore,
Father, did not God distribute the Mind
to all men?
"11. Herm. Because it pleased
him, O Son, to set that in the middle
among all souls, as a reward to strive
"12. Tat. And where hath he
"13. Herm. Filling a large Cup
or Bowl (Crater) therewith, he sent it
down, giving also a Cryer or Proclaimer.
"14. And he commanded him to proclaim
these things to the souls of men.
"15. Dip and wash thyself, thou that
art able, in this Cup or Bowl: Thou that
believeth that thou shalt return to him
that sent this cup; thou that
acknowledgest whereunto thou wert made.
"16. As many, therefore, as
understood the Proclamation, and were
baptized, or dowsed into the Mind,
these were made partakers of knowledge,
and became perfect men, receiving the
This striking passage explains the
mystic "Baptism of Fire," or Mind,
whereby man became one with his Divine
Monas, which is indeed his "Mother
Vortex" or Source.
Proc. in Parm.
Proc. in Theol. Plat., 171, 172.
Proc. in Tim., 167.
Proc. in Theol., 321.
Proc. in Crat.
Præp. Evan., i. 10.
The names of these seven flames of the
Fire, with their surface translations,
are as follows: Kâlî, Dark-blue; Karâlî,
Terrible; Mano-javâ, Swift as Thought;
Su-lohitâ, Deep-red colour; Su-dhûmra-varnâ,
Deep-purple colour; Ugrâ or Sphulinginî,
Hot, Passionate, or Sparkling; Pradîptâ,
Shining, Clear. These are the literal
meanings; the mystic meanings are very
different, and among other things denote
the septenary prismatic colours and
other septenaries in nature.
Hibbert lectures, 1887: "Lecture
on the Origin and Growth of Religion as
illustrated by the Religion of the
Ancient Babylonians," pp. 179, 180.
See Schwartze's Pistis-Sophia and
Amélineau's Notice sur le Papyrus
De Mysteriis Liber, vii. 4.
Compare also Herodot. ii, 54—φονη ανθρωπηιη.
Psel. Schol. in Orac. Magic, p.
A. Aphthartos Morphê. B. Nous tôn Holôn.
c. Epinoia Megalê. D. Eikôn. a. Nous. b.
Phônê. c. Logismos. d. Enthumêsis. e.
Onoma. f. Epinoia.
Ibid., xi. 18, 38.
Wilson's Trans. i. pp. 55 et seqq.
Prabhavâpyaya: Pra-bhava=the forth-being
or origin, and Apy-aya=the return or
reabsorption. It is the same idea as the
Ayana simply means "moving."
Mânava-Dharma Shâstra, i. 10.
Op. cit., iv. 251.
This Gnostic gospel, together with the
treatises entitled, The Book of the
Gnoses of the Invisible and The
Book of the Great Logos in each Mystery
(the Bruce MSS.), is especially referred
to, as, with the exception of the
Codex Nazaræus, being the only
Gnostic works remaining to us. All else
comes from the writings of the Fathers.
xv, 1, 2
The most advanced theory, however, is
that the foetus derives nourishment from
the amniotic fluid, and Dr. Jerome A.
Anderson sums up his highly interesting
paper on the "Nutrition of the Foetus"
in the American Journal of Obstetrics
Vol. XXI, July, 1888, as follows:
"To briefly sum up the facts
supporting amniotic nutrition:
"1st. The constant presence of
nutritive substances in the amniotic
fluid during the whole period of
"2nd. The certainty of the absorption
by a growing, almost skinless, foetus of
any nutritive material in which it is
"3rd. The permeability of the
digestive tract at an early period, and
the necessary entrance therein,
according to the laws of hydrostatics,
of the albuminous amniotic fluid.
"4th. The presence of, as it seems to
me, bonâ fide débris of
digestion, or meconium, in the lower
"5th. The presence of urine in the
bladder, and bile in the upper
intestine; their normal locations.
"6th. The mechanical difficulties
opposing direct nutrition through the
placenta, and the impossibility of
nourishment by this method during the
early stages of embryonic life previous
to the formation of the placenta or
"7th. The evident material source of
the fluid, as shown by the hydrorrheas
of pregnancy, as well as in the
exhaustion the mother experiences, in
some cases, at least, under its loss and
"8th. The entire absence during
gestation of any trace of the placenta
in certain animals, notably the
Oratio V, In Matrem Deorum.
De Defectu Oraculorum, xxi.
Dictionary of Christian Antiquities,
art. "Four Rivers, The."
The Homeric Cave of Nymphs,
περι του εν Οδυσσεια των Νυμφων αντρου.
λεγουσιν εκ πετρας γεγεννησθαι αυτον—Just.
Mart. Dial. cum. Tryph.
Cabiri, ii, 363.