- Simon Magus
- (first century)Gnostic wonder-worker and sorcerer. Simon Magus’ Christian opponents said that he was a DEMON or had obtained his powers from the DEVIL. Simon Magus became the prototypical heretic and black magician.Simon came from Samaria. He was attracted to Christianity and the miracles associated with it, and he was converted to the faith by Philip the Deacon, whose magic impressed Simon.According to Acts 8:9–24, the apostles Peter and John were sent to Samaria to deliver the Holy Spirit into the population by a laying on of hands. When Simon witnessed their supernatural work, he offered the apostles money: “Give me this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands shall receive the Holy Spirit.” The apostles, angry that Simon should expect to buy holy power, had him thrown out of the church. Peter told him, “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money.” Simon’s name gave rise to the term simony, the sin of buying or selling a church office. Simon traveled to Rome, where he impressed people with his occult ability, and then to Egypt, where he allegedly learned how to make himself invisible, levitate, move objects with his mind, handle fire unharmed, and shapeshift into an animal. He may have accomplished some of these feats through illusion and hypnosis. The Roman emperor Nero was impressed, however, and named him court magician.According to the Acts of Peter, an apochryphal text, the apostle Peter went to Rome to challenge Simon and expose him of fraud. They tried to outdo each other in magical feats. Simon is said to have died after he attempted to levitate off the top of the Roman Forum and fell to earth, breaking his legs. Simon is credited with founding a Gnostic sect that became known as the Simonians.See pact.
Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. Rosemary Ellen Guiley. 2009.