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Observations placeholder

Simon Magus – Homilia II 26 Rehm



Type of Spiritual Experience


Magic talk, some of it symbolic

A description of the experience

As quoted in Gershom Scholem – On the Kabbalah and its symbolism

In the semi-gnostic chapters of the 'homilies' on Simon Magus we find a striking parallel to the ….conceptions of the Jewish thaumaturges and to the likewise semi-gnostic ideas of the Book Yetsirah. Simon Magus is quoted as boasting that he had created a man, not out of the earth, but out of the air by theurgic transformations (theiai tropai) and-- exactly as later in the instructions concerning the making of the golem-reduced him to his element by 'undoing' the said transformations.

First, he says, the human pneuma transformed itself into warm nature and sucked up the surrounding air like a cupping glass. Then, he transformed this air that had taken form within the pneuma into water, then into blood . . ., and from the blood he made flesh. When the flesh had become firm, he had produced a man, not from earth but from air, so convincing himself that he could make a new man. He also claimed that he had returned him to the air by undoing the transformations.

What here is accomplished by transformations of the air, the Jewish adept does by bringing about magical transformations of the earth through the influx of the 'alphabet' of the Book Yetsirah.

In both cases such creation has no practical purpose but serves to demonstrate the adept's 'rank' as a creator. It has been supposed that this passage in the Pseudo-Clementines came, by ways unknown, to the alchemists, and finally led to Paracelsus' idea of the homunculus.  The parallel with the Jewish golem is certainly more striking. The 'divine transformations' in the operation of Simon Magus remind one very much of the creative 'transformations' (temuroth) of letters in the Book Yetsira.

The source of the experience

Simon Magus

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps