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Title: Simon Magus
Author: Mead, George Robert Stow
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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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:

I.--Sources of Information.

II.--A Review of Authorities.

III.--The Theosophy of Simon.



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";[1] not
quoted prior to A.D. 177;[2] earliest MS. not older than the sixth
century, though some contend for the third.

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. fourteenth

ii. Irenaeus (_Contra Haereses_, 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 Praescriptionibus adversus Haereticos_, 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 Haeresibus_); date of birth unknown, died probably
A.D. 387.

viii. Epiphanius (_Contra Haereses_, ii. 1-6); born A.D. 310-20, died
404; MS. eleventh century.

ix. Hieronymus (_Commentarium in Evangelicum Matthaei_, 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 century.

III.--_The Simon of the Legends._

A. The so-called Clementine literature.

i. _Recognitiones_, 2. _Homiliae_, 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 mediaeval 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[3] that took

     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

     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 Saeculi Secundi_ (edidit Io. Car. Th. Eques de Otto); Jenae,
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,[4] but even thought worthy of honours; a certain Samaritan,
     Simon, who came from a village called Gitta; who in the reign of
     Claudius Caesar[5] 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,[6] but was made by him his first

ii. Irenaeus (_Contra Haereses_, I. xxiii. 1-4). Text: _Opera_ (edidit
Adolphus Stieren); Lipsiae, 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 Caesar.

     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.[7] She also was in that
     Helen, on whose account the Trojan War arose; wherefore also
     Stesichorus[8] 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
     Judaea, 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 assertions.

iii. Clemens Alexandrinus (_Stromateis_, ii. 11; vii. 17). Text: _Opera_
(edidit G. Dindorfius); Oxoniae, 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
called Entychitae.

iv. Tertullianus, or Pseudo-Tertullianus (_De Praescriptionibus_, 46).
Text: _Liber de Praes_., 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; Lipsiae, 1859.

In the _Praescriptions_ 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 Judaea, and that of the Father in Samaria.

v. [Hippolytus (?)] _(Philosophumena_, vi. 7-20). Text: _Refutatio
Omnium Haeresium_ (ediderunt Lud. Duncker et F.G. Schneidewin);
Gottingae, 1859.

     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 followed[9] 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,[10] 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 destroying,"[11] 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 obscure.[12] 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 the foundation_."[13]

     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 the concealed.

     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."[14] 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)."[15] 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 production.

     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 Empedocles[16] says:

     "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[17] 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,[18] 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 aside."[19]

     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."[20] 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.[21]

     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,"[22] 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 Word.

     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,"[23] 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[24] 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[25] ... 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),[26] 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
     numerical order.

     _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[28] and instruction, and the
     "bitter" is turned into the "sweet"--that is to say, spears into
     reaping hooks and swords into ploughshares[29]--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."[30]

     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[31] 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."[32] 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 fitting utterance,[33] 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_,[34] _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._

     "_So he_[35] _was one; for having her_[36] _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_[37]
     _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

     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

     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."[38] 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[40] in Judaea, 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 (Simon's) grace.

     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 people.

     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,"[41] 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 mysteries.

     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[42] 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 Simon.

vii. Philastrius (_De Haeresibus_, i). Text: _Patres Quarti Ecclesiae
Saeculi_ (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.

     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 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 Haereses_, ii. 1-6). Text: _Opera_ (edidit G.
Dindorfius); Lipsiae, 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[43] 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
     psychopompy[44] 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 Prunîcus[45] 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 heaven.

     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 Thought,[46] 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";[47] and that all
     this was in the mimes of Philistion,[48] 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,[49] and every
     one that believed in the _Old Testament_ was subject to death.

     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 word[50] 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"?[51] 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."[52] 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."[53] 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."[54]

     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[55] God made the heaven and the
     earth"?[56] 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."[57] 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

     "I am the Word of God; I am the glorious one, I the Paraclete, the
     Almighty, I the whole of God."

x. Theodoretus _(Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium_, I. i.). Text: _Opera
Omnia_ (ex recensione Jacobi Simondi, denuo edidit Joann. Ludov.
Schulze); Halae, 1769.

     Now Simon, the Samaritan magician, was the first minister of his
     (the Daemon's)[58] 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,[59]
     he might make the teachings of the apostles difficult to be

     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
     Caesar. 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 for salvation.

     This (Simon) gave birth to a legend somewhat as follows. He started
     with supposing some Boundless Power; and he called this the
     Universal Root.[60] 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 Holy Spirit.

     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 Judaea 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

III.--_The Simon of the Legends_.

The so-called Clementine Literature:

A. _Recognitiones_. Text: Rufino Aquilei Presb. Interprete (curante E.G.
Gersdorf); Lipsiae, 1838.

_Homiliae_. Text: _Bibliotheca Patrum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum
Selecta_, Vol. I. (edidit Albertus Schwegler); Tubingensis, Stuttgartiae,

B. _Constitutiones_. Text: _SS. Patrum qui Temporibus Apostolicis
Floruerunt Opera_ (edidit J.B. Cotelerius); Amsteladami, 1724.

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."[61] 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.[62]

Summary.[63] Clement, the hero of the legendary narrative, arrives at
Caesarea Stratonis in Judaea, 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[64] from the city of Caesarea (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,[65] through whom he came to deal with religious

John was the forerunner of Jesus, according to the method of combination
or coupling.[66] 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.[67]

Of all John's disciples, Simon was the favourite, but on the death of
his master, he was absent in Alexandria, and so Dositheus,[68] 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. II. xi).

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
daemon[69] 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 Laodicaea 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).[70] 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
Laodicaea 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 in triumph.

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 ([Greek: hiptato]) upwards. The details of this magical feat are
given variously elsewhere.[71]

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 servants.[72]

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.[73] 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

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_,[75] 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[76] and Dio
Chrysostom,[77] 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.


[Footnote 1: Smith's _Dictionary of the Bible_, art. "Acts of the

[Footnote 2: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 3: Lit. powers.]

[Footnote 4: The Romans.]

[Footnote 5: Claudius was the fourth of the Caesars, and reigned from
A.D. 41-54.]

[Footnote 6: Lit., stood on a roof; an Eastern metaphor.]

[Footnote 7: The technical term for this transmigration, used by
Pythagoreans and others, is [Greek: metangismos], the pouring of water
from one vessel ([Greek: angos]) into another.]

[Footnote 8: 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._
xvii. 42-44):

    Infamis Helenae Castor offensus vicem
    Fraterque magni Castoris victi prece.
    Adempta vati redidere lumina.

[Footnote 9: That is to say, the heretics.]

[Footnote 10: In a preceding part of the book against the "Magicians."]

[Footnote 11: _Deuteronomy_, iv. 24.]

[Footnote 12: Heracleitus of Ephesus flourished about the end of the
sixth century B.C. He was named the obscure from the difficulty of his

[Footnote 13: I put the few direct quotations we have from Simon in

[Footnote 14: _Isaiah_, v. 7.]

[Footnote 15: _I Peter_, i. 24.]

[Footnote 16: Empedocles of Agrigentum, in Sicily, flourished about B.C.

[Footnote 17: [Greek: phronaesis], consciousness?]

[Footnote 18: Syzygies.]

[Footnote 19: _Isaiah_, i. 2.]

[Footnote 20: _I Corinth._, xi. 32.]

[Footnote 21: [Greek: to maeketi ginomenon.]]

[Footnote 22: See _Jeremiah_, i. 5.]

[Footnote 23: _Genesis_, ii, 10.]

[Footnote 24: Veins and arteries are said not to have been distinguished
by ancient physiologists.]

[Footnote 25: 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.]

[Footnote 26: This is omitted by Miller in the first Oxford edition.]

[Footnote 27: _Odyssey_, x. 304, _seqq._]

[Footnote 28: [Greek: logos].]

[Footnote 29: Cf. _Isaiah_, ii. 4.]

[Footnote 30: Cf. _Luke_, iii. 9.]

[Footnote 31: Or adorning.]

[Footnote 32: _Genesis_, iii. 24.]

[Footnote 33: [Greek: logos]; also reason.]

[Footnote 34: [Greek: antistoichountes]; used in Xenophon (_Ana._ v. 4,
12) of two bands of dancers facing each other in rows or pairs.]

[Footnote 35: He who has stood, stands and will stand.]

[Footnote 36: Thought.]

[Footnote 37: The Middle Distance.]

[Footnote 38: There is a lacuna in the text here.]

[Footnote 39: [Greek: dia taes idias epignoseos.]]

[Footnote 40: Undergo the passion.]

[Footnote 41: [Greek: paredrous] C.W. King calls these "Assessors."
(_The Gnostics and their Remains_, p. 70.)]

[Footnote 42: This is presumably meant for a grim patristic joke.]

[Footnote 43: A medicinal drug used by the ancients, especially as a
specific against madness.]

[Footnote 44: The conducting of souls to or from the invisible world.]

[Footnote 45: [Greek: prounikos: prouneikos] is one who bears burdens, a
carrier; in a bad sense it means lewd.]

[Footnote 46: Or the conception (of the mind).]

[Footnote 47: Cf. 1 _Thess_., v. 8.]

[Footnote 48: 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.]

[Footnote 49: [Greek: plaeroma]]

[Footnote 50: Scripture.]

[Footnote 51: _Matth._, v. 17.]

[Footnote 52: _John_, v. 46, 47.]

[Footnote 53: _Matth._, xix. 10-12.]

[Footnote 54: _Matth._, xix. 6.]

[Footnote 55: [Greek _archae_] the same word is translated "dominion"
when applied to the aeons of Simon.]

[Footnote 56: _Genesis_, i. 1.]

[Footnote 57: _Matth._, xi. 25.]

[Footnote 58: "The all-evil Daemon, the avenger of men," of the

[Footnote 59: Mythologies.]

[Footnote 60: "Rootage," rather, to coin a word. [Greek: rizoma] must be
distinguished from [Greek: riza], a root, the word used a few sentences

[Footnote 61: _Dictionary of Christian Biography_ (Ed. Smith and Wace),
art. "Clementine Literature," I. 575.]

[Footnote 62: _Dictionary of Sects, Heresies_, etc. (Ed. Blunt), art.

[Footnote 63: The two accounts are combined in the following digest, and
in the references H. stands for the _Homiles_ and R. for the

[Footnote 64: Some twenty-three miles.]

[Footnote 65: 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 Haer._, 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."]

[Footnote 66: [Greek: kata ton taes suzugias logon.]]

[Footnote 67: 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.]

[Footnote 68: 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).]

[Footnote 69: An elemental.]

[Footnote 70: [Greek: pataer en aporraetois].]

[Footnote 71: 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
Nicaea there is talk of a chariot of fire, or a car that he had

[Footnote 72: Cotelerius in a note (i. 347, 348) refers the reader to
the passages in the _Recognitions_ and in Jerome's _Commentary on
Matthew_, 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" ([Greek: Simonos antirraetikoi logoi]). 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. Labbaeus et Gabr. Cossartius, S.J., Florentiae, 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

As to the books of the followers of Cleobius we have no further

[Footnote 73: A.D. 54-68.]

[Footnote 74: Art. "Simon Magus," Vol. IV. p. 686.]

[Footnote 75: Bolland, _Acta SS._ May iii. 9.]

[Footnote 76: vi. 12.]

[Footnote 77: _Orat._ xxi. 9.]



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.[78]

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 Irenaeus 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 Irenaeus 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 us.

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 (_ecclesiae_), 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 Irenaeus are so confusing
that it has been supposed that two Simons are referred to.[79] 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 Irenaeus 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

The Simon of Tertullian again is clearly taken from Irenaeus, as the
critics are agreed. "Tertullian evidently knows no more than he read in
Irenaeus," says Dr. Salmon.[80]

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_ ([Greek: hae
megalae apophasis]) 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 rubbish heap.

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 Irenaeus 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 accounts.

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

The Simon of Epiphanius and Philaster leads us to speak of a remarkable
feat of scholarship performed by R.A. Lipsius,[82] 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 Irenaeus. By comparing Philaster, Epiphanius,
and the Pseudo-Tertullian, he recovers Hippolytus, and by comparing his
restored Hippolytus with Irenaeus 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.[83]

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

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 Principle of all things.)
 /                                                                          \
                 SPIRIT.                              MATTER.
                    |                           The Four elements.
                    |                        (This mixture produces)
                    |                                    |
                    |                                    |
                THE SON.                             THE DEVIL.
    (The Leader of the future cycle.)    (The leader of the present cycle.)
                    |                                    |
                    |                                    |
              GREAT THINGS.                        LITTLE THINGS.
       (Heaven, light, life, etc.)           (Earth, fire, death, etc.)
                    |                                    |
                    |                                    |
                  ADAM.                                 EVE.
                (Truth.)                              (Error.)
                    \________________    _______________/
                                     \  /
              (The union of Spirit and Body, of Truth and Error.)
                     ________________/  \_______________
                    /                                   \
               INFERIOR MEN.                       SUPERIOR MEN.
                 Ishmael.                              Isaac.
                 Esau.                                 Jacob.
                 Aaron.                                Moses.
                 John the Baptist.                     Jesus.
                 Antichrist.                           Christ.
\_____________________________________ ___________________________________/
                             (Completion, rest.)[85]

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 Elkessaeans 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

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 is concerned.

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."[86]

     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 opponents. Matter[88] and Amélineau[89] 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 Théologique_,[90] 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 other author.

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 centuries A.D.,[91] 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
fourth century[92]), quotes the following passage from their legendary

"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

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 new information.

A certain Syrian bishop, Moses Barcephas, writing in the tenth
century,[93] 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 impotent."

"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

"(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

"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 follows.

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 irretrievably damned.[95] 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 say:

     Methinks there is much reason in his sayings. If thou consider
     rightly of the matter, [Simon] has had great wrong.[96]


[Footnote 78: M.E. Amélineau, "Essai sur le Gnosticisme Égyptien,"
_Annales du Musée Guimet_, Tom. xvi. p. 28.]

[Footnote 79: 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.]

[Footnote 80: _Dict. Christ. Biog._, art. "Helena," Vol. II, p. 880.]

[Footnote 81: _Hist. Eccles._, ii. 13.]

[Footnote 82: _Quellenkritik des Epiphanios_.]

[Footnote 83: _Cf._ Dr. Salmon's art. "Hippolytus Romanus," _Dict.
Christ. Biog._, iii. 93, 94.]

[Footnote 84: _Histoire Critique du Gnosticisme_, Tom. i. p. 197 (1st
ed. 1828).]

[Footnote 85: _Les Bibles, et les Initiateurs Religieux de l'Humanité_,
Louis Leblois, i. 144; from Uhlhorn, _Die Homilien und Recognitionen_,
p. 224.]

[Footnote 86: _Hist. Eccles._, ii. 13.]

[Footnote 87: _Op. cit._, i. 213.]

[Footnote 88: _Op. cit._, ii. 217.]

[Footnote 89: _Op. cit._, 32.]

[Footnote 90: Tom. xxiii, "Dictionnaire des Apocryphes," Vol. II.,
Index, pp. lxviii, lxix.]

[Footnote 91: _Spicilegium SS. Patrum ut et Haereticorum Saeculorum post
Christum natum, I, II et III_; Johannes Ernestus Grabius; Oxoniae, 1714,
ed. alt., Vol. I., pp. 305-312.]

[Footnote 92: P. 306.]

[Footnote 93: _Comment. de Paradiso_, c. i., pp. 200, _et seqq._,
editionis Antverpiensis, anno 1567, in 8vo.]

[Footnote 94: 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, 697.)]

[Footnote 95: In the epistle of St. Ignatius _Ad Trallianos_ (§ 11),
Simon is called "the first-born Son of the Devil" ([Greek: prototokon
Diabolou huion]); and St. Polycarp seems to refer to Simon in the
following passage in his Epistle _Ad Philipp._ (§ 7):

"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_."]



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 he says:

     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

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 came,
    Whether Its will created or was mute,
    The Most High Seer that is in highest Heaven,
    He knows it--or perchance even He knows not.

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 ([Greek: dynamis]),
in Incomprehensible Silence ([Greek: sigae akatalaeptos]). For on the
"Tongue of the Ineffable" are many "Words" ([Greek: logoi]), each
Universe having its own Logos.

Thus then Simon speaks of the Logos of this Universe and calls it Fire
([Greek: pyr]). This is the Universal Principle or Beginning ([Greek:
ton holon archae]), or Universal Rootage ([Greek: rizoma ton holon]).
But this Fire is not the fire of earth; it is Divine Light and Life and
Mind, the Perfect Intellectual ([Greek: to teleion noeron]). 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 ([Greek: epinoia])."

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 manifested

But what was the Fire of Heracleitus, the Obscure ([Greek: ho
skoteinos]), 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 ([Greek: ochloloidoros])? 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 Pothos ([Greek: pothos]) and Erôs ([Greek: eros]).

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 source.

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 ([Greek: euarestaesis]), 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 ([Greek: ton hapanton archae])
Intellectual Fire ([Greek: pur noeron]), and said that the sphere
surrounding us and reaching to the Moon was filled with evil, but beyond
the Moon-sphere it was purer.[97]

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 yat).[98]

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 One" ([Greek: hen panta eidenai]). Such an
admission he calls, "Reflex Harmony" ([Greek: palintropos harmoniae]),
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 ([Greek: kata phusin]).

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 Universe.

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.[99]

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 Life.

Such was the Fire of the distinguished Ephesian, and of like nature was
the Fire of Simon with its three primordial hypostases, Incorruptible
Form ([Greek: aphthartos morphae]), Universal Mind ([Greek: nous ton
holon]), and Great Thought ([Greek: epinoia megalae]), synthesized as
the Universal Logos, He who has stood, stands and will stand ([Greek: ho
estos, stas, staesomenos]).

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 advantage.

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 Chaldaean _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
([Greek: to krupton]), 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

And if Chaldaea 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 Chaldaean Oracles ([Greek: logia]),[101] ascribed to
Zoroaster, that "all things are generated from One Fire."[102] 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 ([Greek:
     dunamis]) into Matter ([Greek: hulae]) by Works, but by Mind, for
     the fashioner of the Fiery Cosmos is the Mind of Mind.[103]

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
     mother-vortices,[104] while retaining the flower of its own

This "flower" of Fire and the vorticle idea is further explained by the
Oracle which says:

     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.[106]

Compare this with the teaching of Simon that the "fruit" of the Tree is
placed in the Store-house and not cast into the Fire.

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
Chaldaean Oracles. It is called "God-nourished Silence" ([Greek: sigae
theothremmon]), according to whose divine decrees the Mind that
energizes before all energies, abides in the Paternal Depth.[107] Again:

     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.[108]

Elsewhere the Oracles demonstrate this Power which is prior to the
highest Heaven as "Mystic Silence."[109]

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 ([Greek: monotaes]), 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
2^{n}-1, the sum of _n_ things taken 1, 2, 3 ... _n_, at a time. The
Trinity being manifested, _n_ here =3; and 2^{3}-1 = 7.

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),[110] and Eusebius, in his quotations
from Sanchuniathon, that they were _seven_ in number.[111] The Vedic
Agni (Ignis) also, the God of Fire, is called "Seven-tongued"
(Sapta-jihva) and "Seven-flamed" (Sapta-jvâla).[112]

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

     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 seven.

     9. On the work he ponders in his dwelling-place.

     10. O Fire-god, how were those seven begotten, how were they

     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 name.

     16. Among the sentient gods they are not known.

     17. Their name in heaven and earth exists not.

     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 them.[113]

Though I have no intention of contending that Simon obtained his ideas
specifically from Vedic, Chaldaean, 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 Simonian system.

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 century.[114]

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 terms ([Greek: saemantika])
     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

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.[116] Diodorus Siculus also asserts that the Samothracians used a
very ancient and peculiar dialect in their sacred rites.[117]

These "barbarous names" were regarded as of the greatest efficacy and
sanctity, and it was unlawful to change them. As the Chaldaean Logia say:

     Change not the barbarous names, for in all the nations are there
     names given by the gods, possessing unspeakable power in the

And the scholiast[119] adds that they should not be translated into

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

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 ([Greek: eikon ex aphthartou morphaes kosmousa
monae panta]), also called The Spirit moving on the Waters ([Greek: to
pneuma to epipheroumenon epano tou hudatos]) and The Seventh Power
([Greek: hae ebdomae dunamis]); Mind ([Greek: nous]) and Thought
([Greek: epinoia]), also called Heaven ([Greek: ouranos]) and Earth
([Greek: gae]); Voice ([Greek: phonae]) and Name ([Greek: onoma]),[120]
also called Sun ([Greek: haelios]) and Moon ([Greek: selaenae]); Reason
([Greek: logismos]) and Reflection ([Greek: enthumaesis]), also called
Air ([Greek: aaer]) and Water ([Greek: hudor]).

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

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 considerations:

(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_ ([Greek: onomasai]) 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

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


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 Gîtâ_[122] spoken also
of as the Param Nidhânam or Supreme Treasure-house,[123] which Simon
also calls the Treasure-house [Greek: thaesauros] and Store-house
[Greek: apothaekae], an idea found in many systems, and most elaborately
in that of the _Pistis-Sophia_.

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 Hylic state.

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 _Vishnu Purâna_,[124] 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 imperishable origin[125] 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
     first (Ayana)[126] progress (in the character of Brahmâ) took
     place, he is thence named Nârâyana (he whose place of moving was
     the waters)."

Sir Wm. Jones translates this well-known verse of Manu[127] as follows:

     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 the

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 Nârâyana.[128]

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 highest admiration.

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 Theosophy.

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 her bonds.

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 Nazaraeus_, 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 actuality_."

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.

Irenaeus 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 Archangels.

     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 not say.

     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 race.

     He asserted, moreover, that there was a certain other Thought
     (Intellectus) who descended into the world for the salvation of

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

Theodoret briefly follows Irenaeus.

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

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 ([Greek: thesei]), as opposed to action
according to nature (_naturaliter_ or [Greek: phusei])--evidently the
same idea as the teaching of Heracleitus to act according to nature
([Greek: kata phusin]) 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" ([Greek: ta enaecha]), an idea remarkably confirmed by
Psellus,[129] 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 Empedocles taught:

     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 nowhere.

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 itself.

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 evolution.

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 mystical

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 _Pistis-Sophia_[130] 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

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.[131]

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 existence.

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 in suspense.

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.[132]

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 Gods_,[133] 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 hidden doctrines.

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 the past.

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
such enquiries.

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 tells us:

     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 observation.

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 Epoptae 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[136] tells
us. It was called by the name Petra, or Rock, and from such a Rock
Mithras is said to have been born.[137]

Faber endeavours to identify this symbolical cave with the Ark,[138]
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

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 themselves.

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 order.

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

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 put forward.

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 the terms.

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

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 Mediaeval 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 student.

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 difficulty.

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 or scientific.

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 form worshipped.

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.


[Footnote 96: _Julius Caesar_, III. ii. 106-8.]

[Footnote 97: _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.]

[Footnote 98: xi. 37.]

[Footnote 99: _Philos._, ix. 10.]

[Footnote 100: _Zohar_, i. 50_b_, Amsterdam and Brody Editions: quoted
in Isaac Myer's _Qabbalah_, pp. 376, 377.]

[Footnote 101: See Cory's _Ancient Fragments_, 2nd ed.; not the reëdited
third edition, which is no longer Cory's work.]

[Footnote 102: [Greek: eisi panta puros henos ekgegaota]--_Psell.
24--Plet. 30._]

[Footnote 103: _Proc. in Theol._ 333--_in Tim._ 157.]

[Footnote 104: [Greek: paegaious krataeras]--I have ventured the above
translation for this difficult combination from the meaning of the term
[Greek: paegae], found elsewhere in the Oracles, in the metaphorical
sense of "source" (compare also Plato, _Phaed._ 245 C., 856 D., [Greek:
paegae kai archae chinaeseos]--"the source and beginning of motion"),
and also from the meaning of [Greek: krataer] (_cratêr_), as "a
cup-shaped hollow."

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 for.

"12. _Tat._ And where hath he set it?

"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 Mind."

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.]

[Footnote 105: _Proc. in Parm._]

[Footnote 106: _Proc. in Theol. Plat._, 171, 172.]

[Footnote 107: _Proc. in Tim._, 167.]

[Footnote 108: _Proc. in Theol._, 321.]

[Footnote 109: _Proc. in Crat._]

[Footnote 110: _Dionys._, xiv.]

[Footnote 111: _Praep. Evan._, i. 10.]

[Footnote 112: 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.]

[Footnote 113: _Hibbert lectures_, 1887: "Lecture on the Origin and
Growth of Religion as illustrated by the Religion of the Ancient
Babylonians," pp. 179, 180.]

[Footnote 114: See Schwartze's _Pistis-Sophia_ and Amélineau's _Notice
sur le Papyrus Gnostique Bruce_.]

[Footnote 115: _De Mysteriis Liber_, vii. 4.]

[Footnote 116: Compare also _Herodot._ ii, 54--[Greek: phonae

[Footnote 117: _Lib._ v.]

[Footnote 118: _Psel._ 7.]

[Footnote 119: _Psel. Schol. in Orac. Magic_, p. 70.]

[Footnote 120: Theodoret gives [Greek: ennoia].]

[Footnote 121: A. Aphthartos Morphê. B. Nous tôn Holôn. c. Epinoia
Megalê. D. Eikôn. a. Nous. b. Phônê. c. Logismos. d. Enthumêsis. e.
Onoma. f. Epinoia.]

[Footnote 122: xi. 47.]

[Footnote 123: _Ibid._, xi. 18, 38.]

[Footnote 124: Wilson's Trans. i. pp. 55 _et seqq._]

[Footnote 125: Prabhavâpyaya: Pra-bhava=the forth-being or origin, and
Apy-aya=the return or reabsorption. It is the same idea as the Simonian

[Footnote 126: Ayana simply means "moving."]

[Footnote 127: _Mânava-Dharma Shâstra_, i. 10.]

[Footnote 128: _Op. cit._, iv. 251.]

[Footnote 129: 14.]

[Footnote 130: 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 Nazaraeus_, being the only
Gnostic works remaining to us. All else comes from the writings of the

[Footnote 131: xv, 1, 2]

[Footnote 132: 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 gestation.

"2nd. The certainty of the absorption by a growing, almost skinless,
foetus of any nutritive material in which it is constantly bathed.

"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 intestine.

"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 umbilical vesicle.

"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 rapid

"8th. The entire absence during gestation of any trace of the placenta
in certain animals, notably the salamander."]

[Footnote 133: Oratio V, _In Matrem Deorum_.]

[Footnote 134: _De Defectu Oraculorum_, xxi.]

[Footnote 135: _Dictionary of Christian Antiquities_, art. "Four Rivers,

[Footnote 136: _The Homeric Cave of Nymphs_, [Greek: peri tou en
Odusseia Numphon antrou].]

[Footnote 137: [Greek: legousin ek petras gegennaesthai auton]--Just.
Mart. _Dial. cum. Tryph._]

[Footnote 138: _Cabiri_, ii, 363.]

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