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Simon Magus and Gnosticism

To: [anon elist]
From: ('the wickedest person in cyberspace')
Subject: Re: Simon Magus and Gnosticism
Date: Kali Yuga 49941005 

Quoting: |anonymous
|The story of Simon Magus in Acts is a bit sketchy

Is there only one?

|but one comes away feeling like Simon kinda misses the boat when he offers to
|buy the power of the Holy Spirit. Simon is also looked upon none too kindly
|by the Church as the founder of Gnosticism and the father of heresy.  I'm not
|too sure this would be such a good monkier for this group.

Which 'Church'?  Roman Catholic?  Simon was the founder of Gnosticism?  Wow,
that's quite an accomplishment.  Father of heresy?  Any particular heresy or
all heresy?  I'd think that this character will come up many times within 
this elist.  We should start this off right. :>

Let me quote you some things from my library:

"Simon Magus (Simon the magician) is usually reputed to be the father of
gnosticism, but that only means he was the first well-known leader of a
gnostic movement.  He is mentioned in the New Testament where he appears
as a wonderworker [theurgist] from Samaria, giving out that he was some
great one, and bewitching the people with his magical practices.  He was
baptised, however, and then seeing the apostles administering the sacrament
of chrism, he asked them to give him the power to do this, offering them
money.  Peter rebuked him for attempting to purchase sacramental powers,
and ever after the offering of money with the aim of obtaining sacerdotal
powers has been known as *simony*.

"In the New Testament Simon Magus is represented as answering Peter in a
humble manner and requesting the latter to pray for him.  However, in 
legend he is represented as boastful, calling himself the omnipotent,
challenging the apostles of Rome, before Nero.  The latter event is
mentioned by several of the Fathers fo the Church.  He ascended into the
air, in imitation of the ascension of Elias and of Christ, but whilst he
was doing so the apostles counteracted his activity and he fell to earth
seriously injuring his legs.  Later he was reported as performing the 
yogic miracle of being buried alive.  He told his followers he would rise
on the third day, which again looks like an attempt to imitate Christ, in
all too literal fashion.  His disciples buried him carefully , but
St. Hippolytus, who tells the story, said they were still awaiting his
resurrection.  But the accounts of his death vary.

"In two works ascribed to St. Clement of Rome known as _Pseudo-Clementines_
we learn more of Simon Magus.  He is there connected with John the Baptist.
Jesus represents the sun and had twelve apostles corresponding with the
twelve signs of the zodiac.  John the Baptist represents the moon, and had
thirty disciples, corresponding with the thirty days during which the moon
completes its heavenly circuit.  These disciples corresponded with various
aeons.*  Owing to the fact that the moon does not occupy thirty full days,
one of these disciples is a young woman.  In one of these works she is
called Helen, in another Luna, which is a name for the moon herself.  John
the Baptist, it will be remembered, met an untimely death.  When he died
he was succeeded by Dositheus, but Simon, by magical means, supplanted
Dositheus, and then fell in love with Luna.  Dositheus and Simon together
with their thirty followers are mentioned by Origen.

"It was generally believed, among the early ecclesiastical writers that
Helen played an important part in the magical system of Simon.  Just as
Simon himself represented the *power of God*, so Helen represented the
*spirit of Truth*, and she was supposed to be a sort of reflection of
Divinity.  St. Justin Martyr tells us that Helen was originally a Greek
prostitute.  St. Epiphanius accuses Simon of making use of semen and
menstrual blood in his magical arts.  He is also said to have had fire
appearing above the water at baptism, which made his followers believe
he had a form of baptism superior to the orthodox.  St. Hippolytus tells
more about Simon Magus.  He says he produced certain effects through the
agency of demons.  He also explains his cosmogony.  *Fire*, according to
Simon was the principle of all things, therefore God, as is described by
Moses, is likened to a burning and consuming fire.  This perhaps shows
a Zoroastrian influence.  Six aeons, roots or powers, proceed in pairs
from the Fire.  Each pair consist, as it were, of a male and a female,
the former looking down on and taking care of its consort.  The first
pair are *Mind* and *Intelligence* which in a certain sense are heaven
and earth.  The second are *Voice* and *Name*, identified with the sun 
and moon.  The third are *Reason* and *Thought*, which are air and water.
These six roots contain the boundless power of the Universe, but existing
potentially, not in activity.  Hippolytus also says the followers of
Simon Magus make use of spells and philtres, induce demons to take dreams
to people, and venerate images, including those of Simon and Helen."

[* - for more on 'aeons' see below. - tyagi]

_A History of Magic, Witchcraft and Occultism_, by W.B. Crow, pp. 87-8.

In regards Gnosticism, which my Am. Heritage Dictionary assures me are
doctrines of 'early Christian sects':

"In the very early days of the Christian dispensation there arose various
sects of philosophers, all of whom exalted knowledge over faith.  Most of
them preached the doctrine that salvation is procured by knowledge, rather
than by faith and good works.  They were called *gnostics* and their
doctrine *gnosticism*.

"The gnostics distinguished knowledge or *gnosis* from faith or *pistis*,
claiming the former to be superior to the latter.  They generally regarded
matter as evil, and the whole world, they believed, was produced, not by
God, but by an inferior being, the *demiurge*, or even by an evil entity.
Christ is generally conceived by them as a redeemer, in some way 
representing the true God, but not usually as wholly divine.  The creation,
they taught, was effected by emanation, in a series of stages, personified
in various mythological figures called *aeons*.  Christ was usually
considered one fo them.  The whole collection of aeons, when complete, was
termed *the pleroma*.  Gnosticism is otherwise very varied in its teachings.

"Numerous forms of gnosticism, some with little in common, one with another,
appeared in the first two centuries of the Christian era.  After that the 
various schools of thought were cultivated unchanged for a few centuries,
then they died out, to be revived in modified form during the Middle Ages
and even in modern times."

Ibid, p. 87.

This is very interesting, I think, since such organizations as the OTO
are *directly* associated with Gnosticism (our Church is the EGC or
'Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica' - Gnostic Catholic Church) and there are
obvious elements of gnostic faith within writings of Crowley and other
Hermetics (e.g. Simon-Beast/Helen-Scarlet.Woman as well as the obvious
reference to the vulgar elements of sex magick).  

Seligmann offers a bit more:

"Mystical eroticism is also manifest in the doctrine of Simon Magus,
the most ancient of the Gnostics.  His numerous followers thought
that the supreme god, the father and most exalted power, had produced
by emanation a female, generative principle.  She in her turn gave
birth to the angels who fashioned the visible world.  These inferior
beings were jealous of their mother, and they drew her down to earth
and forced her to endure degrading incarnations.  She had been Helen
of Troy and lived in Simon's time in Tyre as a prostitute.  Simon
married her for the salvation of mankind; salvation comes not through
good works but through the grace of Simon and hope in Helen.

"Simon has become in the West the prototype of the evil wizard...."

_The History of Magic and the Occult_, by Kurt Seligmann, p. 65.

"Noticeable also is the importance given to women by the Hermetic.
In Majer's etching the virgin is, like her ancestor Eve, the instigator.
And a woman is the alchemist's symbol of nature.  He follows her tracks,
which lead to perfection.  It may be recalled that Magdalene and Sophia
are the most important and active figures in the _Pistis Sophia_, and 
that earthly incarnation of the heavenly mother is the main feature in
the dogma of Simon Magus."

Ibid, p. 128.

Fascinating, no?  There is a blizzard of mythos and esoterica hiding
with the Gnostic line, often associated with Simon Magus, it seems.

tyagi nagasiva

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