Debate between Peter and Simon Magus before Emperor Nero
|Theology||Mostly henothisitc, crypto-polytheistic|
|Imperial Prophet||Maximilian Couture|
|Region||Worldwide (primarily Western Europe, Middle East, North America)|
34 AD |
Samaria, Roman Palestine
|Separated from||Samaritanism, Christianity|
|Churches||at least 904|
|Members||at least 254,390 (2019)|
Simon Magus was born in Gita, a city of northern Samaria, into a Samaritan Jewish family around the year 5 AD. The Gospel of Simon Magus details that his mother, Rachel, was already married to a man named Anthony when she was summoned to the court of the king of the Jews, Herod Archelaus. Rachel committed this adultery and became pregnant, and in shame she lied to her husband to make him believe the child was his. However, an angel visited her in a dream, announcing that her child will be named Simeon, and be known as the "Standing one". He will be great, born in divine power and authority, and all peoples of the earth will listen to him. On the day that Simon was born, the day became dark at the sixth hour, with terrible thunder and an earthquake. The firmament opened up, and revealed a great war in heaven fought between the angels of the Lord and the Devil. Later, a company of Greek philosophers from the west appeared at the court of Achelaus, saying that they perceived a sign in the heavens that the One Who Stands was born in Samaria, as prophesiesed by Heraclitus. Divining from a passage in the Iliad, the philosophers found the child in Gita, lauding him with praise. Herod, in his own right, felt responsible for the child's upbringing, and so financed him to be raised in the finest education of rhetoric and logic, even after Herod's exile to Vienna the next year.
Simon's background was well-known to Samaritan Judaism, as was the background of his disciples and principle audience. For the most part, however, he studied intensely into arts of persuasive speech and Pre-Socratic philosophy. He also displayed a natural affinity for magic at an early age, which became one of his most defining characteristics. When he was sixteen years old, he was ordered by his mother to go reap the fields, and Simon responded by ordering the reaper to do the work itself. And immediately, the reaping tool sprung to life and quickly tilled the field. This was the moment Simon first discovered his divine powers, and then spent three years in Egypt studying various forms of ancient mysticism. By the time he reached majority, Simon became fully aware of his cosmic authority and knowledge.
In the 14th year of Tiberius Caesar (28 AD), Simon traveled to Tyre and encountered a virgin woman named Luna. Simon made many approaches to her, revealing her true nature as the mother of all Wisdom and the Angels, which she had forgotten, but she rebuffed his every approach. He came to discover that she was betrothed to marry Dosithes, an itinerant preacher of wisdom and a Sadducee Rabbi. Dosithes held a small group of thirty disciples, sharing in secret knowledge and worshiping him as a god. Simon joined this group himself, requiring the baptism by fire which Dosithes first used. But when the fire was applied to Simon's hands it did not burn, but instead the ground opened up into a chasm between the people. Simon eventually seduced Luna to his bedchamber, and in their consummation she was enlightened to her true nature at last. When Dosithes discovered this act of adultery, however, he was thrown into a rage and attempted to beat Simon with a stick. However, Simon became intangible and avoided harm, causing Dosithes to worship Simon as the Standing One, around Passover of 30 AD. On the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Dosithes was immediately eaten alive by worms and died, as punishment for his blasphemy.
Simon married Luna just after Pentecost, and assumed leadership over the disciples of Dosithes. He kept a close inner circle of twelve followers, coming from various cities in Samaria where preached: Merinith, Phygellus, Alexander Demetrius, Hymenaeus, Nicolas, Diotrophes, Ariston, Demas, Hermogenes, Philetus, Niceta, and Nicostratus. He preached his theology and call to worship himself from Antipatris as far as Caesarea, targeted towards the isolated Samartian class of Jews that had been ostracized from Jerusalem for many years. The most famous of these was the "Sermon of the Depression" in the first year of his ministry. He occasionally was known to visit Judea as well, including the famous parable of the "Good Jew". His miracles, through his mastery over magic and Platonic elements, was instrumental towards his rise in fame. These included striking his enemies dead at a distance, invoking demons into both the living and dead, and borrowing his way through large mountains.
In 34 AD, Simon announced to his disciples that Jesus Christ had just ascended into heaven, assuming his part in power over the world, and this was now the call for his disciples to spread out from Samaria to preach to the Jews and Gentiles. It was at this point that the Magnesians first encountered the Apostles of Jesus. At first, Simon received the Apostles of Judea with great joy, seeing they also follow God and Jesus Christ. But, he quickly perceived that they were nothing more than deceitful sorcerers, and rebuked Peter for his lack of faith and piety. Peter refused to repent of his deeds, until he received a hefty bribe from Simon to return to Judea. Nicolas attempted to baptize new believers in Jerusalem, but after the persecution from Saul of Tarsus they were forced to relocate to Jericho.
While Marullus was governor of Judea (38 AD), Simon entertained Peter for a debate in Caesarea, before a neutral court of Jewish and Greek scholars, including some of his own disciples such as Ariston and Niceta. After many fierce arguments, Peter was ultimately defeated and driven from the court, and subsequently much of the city accepted Simon as a god. After receiving this and similar defeats across Palestine, the Twelve Apostles of Jesus were all forced to flee to the corners of the Earth, casting lots of where they would go. Simon in the meantime dispatched his disciples to various regions as well: Nicolas to Pergamos, Alexander Demetrius to Ephesus, Demas to Thessaloniki, and Ariston to Rome. It was also around this time, roughly the 40s AD, that Magnesians officially split off from Samaritan Judaism, and took on their modern name. Simon considered it foolish to beg and borrow money to finance his church, but instead would send spirits into peoples houses to steal the money instead.
Simon was believed to have a daughter from Luna, named Euobea, from whom many later Prophets would descend. In the early 50s AD, Simon began to attempt to work his way higher in politics of the ruling Herodian dynasty. Drusilla, the daughter of Herod Agrippa, was unhappily married to Gaius Azizus, the King of Emesa. Antonius Felix, the governor of Judea, was baptized a disciple of Simon, and asked him to help settle the matter of Agrippa's daughter. Simon disguised himself and approached Drusilla's bedchamber, and through various spells and incantations persuaded her to forsake the vows of her husband and conjoin with Felix instead. Herod Agrippa was outraged by this treachery, and ordered Simon to be arrested and executed. However, being unable to do so due to his descent from Archelaus, he instead had Simon banished from Palestine.
Simon arrived in Rome in 52 AD, and through his miracles persuaded many people towards his worship. Although the Apostle Peter had been the leader of the Christian community in Rome, Simon Magus focused on navigating the political ladders in the city towards larger power and prestige. He eventually baptized Titus Clodius Marcellus in 62 AD, who was consul of the Roman Empire, and was invited into his house. He became a favorite of Nero Caesar in 64 AD, and persuaded him to use the resources of the empire towards the extermination of the Christian heresy. The Romans constructed a statue to his honor around 60 AD, with an inscription reading "To the young god, Simon". Simon's "reign" over the city of Rome is described in the Gospel as a time of prosperity and luxury, when pleasures were abundant and the disciples of Simon reigned supreme.
In 67 AD, the Apostles Peter and Paul worked together in opposition of Simon, in one last desperate attempt to dissuade his followers. Rather than a debate like last time, Peter and Simon engaged in a contest of miracles and magic, which seemed to mark almost a stalemate. So Simon at last orchestrated a feat that would finally prove himself superior to any of the Apostles or their god. First, he asked Nero to have him executed, and his body buried underground. On the third day, Peter and Paul had boasted in the Forum of Julius that Simon is no more, and that he foolishly took his worthless cause to his own grave. But suddenly, Simon appeared before them on the Sacra Via, laughing and covered in a purple light. He then ascended straight up towards heaven, with a host of armed angels carried behind him. Seeing this feat of Simon being thus raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven, Nero Caesar immediately ordered that Peter and Paul both be brutally executed for their impiety and blasphemy. However, after Nero was expulsed from Rome in 68 AD, the Magnesians likewise lost all favor in the Roman court.
After Simon Magus ascended into heaven, the political situation in Rome changed drastically. Nero Caesar and his remaining allies were driven from Rome in 68 AD, and subsequently committed suicide. The political power of the Magnesians similarly broke down during the era of political transition. Emperor Galba ordered all the Magnesians to be driven from the city, and desecrated the existing statue of Simon Magus. The Magnesians relocated their center of command from Rome to the city of Magnesia in modern-day Turkey, where they would remain for the next thousand years.
The latter half of the first century AD saw the Magnesians gradually reorganize, establishing the same hierarchy of Prophets and Archprophets seen in the religion today. The twelve originally disciples of Simon Magus fought each other for control over the universal church, as multiple disciples claimed to be the official successor of the Standing One. The two most prominent candidates were Ariston in the west, and Diotrephes in the east. Ongoing persecution from both the Romans and the Christians continued, but it is unclear how many deaths of the disciples were true "martyrs" or were actually the earliest form of Magensian political assassinations, conducted subtly enough to look like fate.
By the 80s AD, when most of the original disciples had all died, the theologian Menander of Gerizim (52 - 124 AD) was accepted as Simon's true successor. Menander codified much of the basic Magnesian scriptures and doctrines, as described in the prologue of his own work, the Recollections of Menander. He had first adopted the title of "Imperial Prophet" sometime around 96 AD, and essentially assumed power as the successor of both the Standing One and the Emperor Nero. The last surviving disciple of Simon Magus, Nicolas of Tizrah, was also active around this same time in Ephesus and Pergamon, coining the famous proverb "Unless one copulates every day, he cannot have eternal life."
After Menander died, his office was succeeded by Apsethus the Libyan (90 - 178 AD), the first Magnesian leader not born in Samaria. Most textbooks of Magnesian spells and incantations trace back to his generation, as he was known for developing magical feats of his own well after the Apostolic Era. The most famous of these kind of spells was enabling large groups of birds to speak across Greece and Libya. This was also an era where a variety of different Gnostic sects started to appear, largely taking their inspiration directly from the teaching of Simon Magus. Apsethus, however, condemned Valentinus for being socially and sexually conservative. He likewise condemned Marcion of Sinope for his strict monotheism and other heresies.
Throughout the later Roman Empire, the Magnesians slowly and subtly worked their way into manipulating local Roman politics. Just as Simon Magus did in the days of Emperor Nero, Magnesian leaders were often known to persuade local political or military leaders to lead great persecutions of the Christians, hoping to slow down or reverse the ongoing growth of the Christian Church. This power started to reach its peak in the latter half of the third century AD, particularly after the reign of Emperor Decius. The chaos across the empire in the Crisis of the Third Century allowed for more direct control by the followers of Simon, instigating an empire-wide persecution of Christianity.
At the beginning of the fourth century AD, however, one of the greatest controversies emerged that almost split the religion. As Magnesians were known to use covert operations and infiltrations on a regular basis, then that required their followers to deny any association with Simon Magus, and participate in Christian or pagan rituals. Nepos of Alexandria (c.280-340 AD), father of the Neposian faction, believed this to be a bad practice, and people who participated in Christian rituals forfeits their place in the religion immediately. In 306 AD, the Magnesian-backed Emperor Maxentius seized control of the city of Rome, and subsequently permitted their disciples to return to the city. Having regained power in Rome that they had lost for a long time, the Neposians insisted that the former spies and infiltrators used by the Magnesians need to be re-baptized before being allowed back to Rome. The Neposians ultimately lost on this claim, however, and were subsequently condemned.
After Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of Milvin Bridge in 312 AD, the Magnesians began suffering a sharp decline. According to church tradition, the Christians gleefully butchered dozens of Magnesians subsequent to the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Faced with this fierce persecution, the religion fell back on their earlier practices of meeting in secret across the empire.
The development of Magnesianism throughout the Middle Ages can generally be divided into two eras: The Byzantine Era, before 1060 AD, and the French Era after 1060 AD. During the generations of the Dark Ages before the eleventh century AD, the Magnesians suffered as much from foreign invasions and social collapse as did the rest of Europe. They suffered particularly in this era, as well, because of the growing authoritarian power of the Christian Church across the western word which continued to threaten their existence. They remained centered at the city of Magnesia in Anatolia, near the heart of the Byzantine Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean. Some time before the tenth century AD, the Magnesians were so depleted that they changed the succession of the Imperial Prophet to be elective, rather than by blood.
In the eleventh century AD, the Magnesians could see that remaining focused in the Byzantine Empire was untenable. First, the Seljuk Turks were quickly sweeping through the Middle East and eastern Anatolia, and would soon threaten their position in the Aegean. Secondly, the shift of culture towards the High Middle Ages began opening new opportunities in the west, where the center of political power had shifted towards the Kingdoms of France and Germany. So in the year 1060 AD, the Imperial Prophet Stephen of Lesbos (r.1057-1096) shifted the entire focus of the religion to western Europe, centered at the city of Arles in southern France. This is the same headquarters they have remained at to this day.
After Magnesia fell to the Sultanate of Rum in 1078, the Magnesians under Stephen decided to turn their attention for the first time against the House of Islam. However, any kind of overt violence would not be the Magnesian way. As soon as Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1096, the Imperial Prophet extended a secret alliance with the Shia secret societies that existed in Egypt and Persia, on the pretense of aiding them against the common foe of the Christians in Palestine. In fact, after the Order of the Responditors were first founded in the 1080s, they may have been specifically trained in the arts of infiltration and assassination by the Ismali Order of Iran. However, in reality the Magnesians used these connections to greatly expand their influence and espionage across the Middle East, subtly manipulating events to throw the House of Islam into chaos.
The exploits of the Responditors were mentioned across many medieval chronicles throughout the era of the Crusades, culminating with the revolts of the Albigensians in the 13th century. After the Albigensian Crusade ended in massacres across France in 1229, references to the Responditors became far more sparse, and eventually disappeared in the late 14th century. According to Magnesian tradition, their growing influence over western politics began to reach a peak after the death of Pope Boniface VIII in 1303, and so the public work of the Responditors slowly began to become obsolete.
During the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, however, a crisis seized throughout the Magnesian organization that prompted them towards a Reformation. In the fifteenth century, many Imperial Prophets began to become a lot softer and more charitable than previous centuries, doing some selfless works of philanthropy to the poor. By the early 16th century, they had even adopted the doctrine that some people may receive salvation for free. Thomas Bose, a prominent Magnesian theologian in Germany, launched a great reformation within the religion across central and central Europe, and by the 1540s they had completely restored to their earlier doctrines.
Magnesianism has variously been described as monotheistic, dualistic, henotheistic, or polytheistic at different times, due to a very deep-rooted, complex theology involving the existence of multiple, interdependent deities. This is also complicated by Magnesians having no public canon of scripture, and keeping many details of theology a secret. The hierarchy of deities that emanate from the "First Principle" come in a series of layers, each layer referred to as an aeon. This is also referred to as the Great Tree of life, with the First Principle acting as the "root" and the lower elements and angels acting as "fruit". These emanations follows very closely with philosophies of Plato and Hereclitus, as each aeon becomes the perfect form of the level beneath it.
This theology begins with fire as the base element of the universe, and the first principle of all other elements both physical and intellectual. From this fire emanates the all-powerful, unknownable God that is a boundless and pure light, just as physical fire emanates physical light. This God is unapproachable, being higher than all other deities, but is nonetheless worshiped as the true Father of humanity. The emanation from the unknown god is the Standing One, which is subdivided into three forms: he who has stood, stands, and will stand, or alternatively: Incorruptible Form, Universal Mind, and Great Thought. Simon Magus is the physical incarnation of the Standing One, having been formed in the womb of Rachel the Samaritan. After his ascension in 67 AD, Simon is the sole intercessor from humanity to First Principle.
The emanation from the Standing One forms the next base elements of the world, generated by the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit forms the second of the Triumvirate of deities along with the Standing One, Simon Magus. It is also known as the Mother of All, or the First Thought, because from this aeon is emanated all other lower deities and angels. It first was incarnated on Earth as Helen of Troy, whose life was detailed by Homer in the Illiad. She passed from one physical form to another down the ages, and at one point struck the poet Stesichorus blind as punishment for his ill-treatment of her. One of her last forms to appear was as Luna of Tyre, a prostitute who became the wife of Simon Magus. She is also known in the Proverbs of Solomon as the divine incarnation of Wisdom. She is also referred to as the Queen of Heaven and the Whore of Babylon, often attributed with the doctrine of Perpetual Promiscuity.
The remainder of the Magnesian pantheon is generated by the lowest element of the Holy Spirit, namely Thought. It is said in the Great Declaration that eternal beings can only make things that are eternal themselves. So the emanation from the primal root is eternal, that is the Standing One and the angels, but the creations by those lesser deities are corruptible. Among these lower deities was Elohim and Satan, who became ideals of good and evil forces in Jewish scriptures. Elohim is described as flawed, weak and abusive of His own Creation, although He was initially commissioned by the Unknown God to create the world in their image.
Jesus is the third part of the Triumvirate of deities, added to the existing pair of deities between the Standing One (Simon Magus) and the Holy Spirit (Luna). Jesus is described as being the biological son of Elohim by Mary of Nazareth, and was initially conceived with the same flaws of His divine father. The Great Declaration and the works of Menander describe how Jesus was seduced away from following Elohim by Simon Magus in a series of spiritual visions, eventually convincing Him to depart from His father and join in Simon's deified triad. Thus, this made Simon Magus as the true companion and partner of Jesus, as well as being the spiritual form of Christ Himself.
Magnesianism's perspective on the order of the universe is greatly tied to their structure of theology. Fire is considered the Universal Principle of all reality, both in a physical and intellectual sense. This is possible with fire having two different natures, making it separate from all other elements: the intelligible part and the sensible part. The intelligible part of fire is its potential, immeasurable nature while the sensible part is manifest. Since the 19th century, Magnesians have associated this concept of fire with the explosion of the Big Bang.
The next set of base elements in the universe are derived from the Holy Spirit, just under the aeon of the Standing One. These are six root elements in total, segregated into three pairs or two triads. The higher triad is Mind, Voice, and Reason, or alternatively Heaven, Sun, and Air. The lower triad, respectively, are Reflection, Name, and Thought, or alternatively Water, Moon, and Earth. It is from these base elements that Elohim created the physical, corruptible world, which is distinctly separate from the spiritual, incorruptible world. However, Magnesianism does not have a distinction between the physical and spiritual heavens. Heaven, as in the sky as well as outer space, is considered to be endless and infinite in both time and space, being the abode and resting place of eternal beings of every higher aeon. For this reason, Magnesians believe that the physical world created by Elohim will dissolve away, but the immortal souls remain in the outer heavens forever.
The structure of the universe in both the heavens and the Earth are described as the Tree of Life, as mentioned previously, with the First Principle of fire being the root and the elements of the physical universe being the fruit. It is also described as a human body as well in the Great Declaration, where the brain represents the unknown God and the spinal column represents the base elements. The five books of Moses, outside of the laws, are considered to be representative of different human senses that perceive the fruits of the physical aeon: Genesis represents sight, Exodus hearing, Leviticus smell, Numbers taste, and Deuteronomy touch.
The six days of Creation in the beginning of Genesis is not taken literally, but represents the six elements emanating from the Holy Spirit, the divine form of Helen. The Garden of Eden, and its geography in Genesis chapter two, is an allegory for the biology of the womb, that is the uterus and surrounding organs. Two branches of the lowest aeon, in the physical world, are considered to be male and female components, and further allegories in Genesis are respective organs and excretions of these two entities, generating human life.
The end of the Great Declaration gives a commandment for his followers to keep all knowledge of salvation and the gods as a closely-guarded secret, in a passage commonly known as the Great Commission. The primary reason for this knowledge being secret is to prevent the corrupted, ignorant outside world from reacting violently to it. The Gospel of Simon Magus even suggests that his actual theology was not publicly disclosed even when he had control over the Roman government. This concept of secret knowledge goes back to the Garden of Eden, where the corrupt god Elohim commanded the first parents to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, so that they would remain ignorant of their corrupted fleshy state. The Serpent, however, was wise to reveal this knowledge to them, and seduce the woman to eat of the tree of knowledge.
Knowledge about the unknown God on any level, including the aeons even close to the highest level, is considered extremely difficult to comprehend. This is often contrasted greatly with the god Elohim, who is known on a personal level throughout the Jewish and Christian scriptures, particularly through His mandated laws. As the First Principle, which is unknown, is the generator of all other material and immaterial things, then it follows that it is impossible for anyone to know things about reality on a fundamental, objective level. Some knowledge about the gods can be known mathematically, as explained by Menander, where higher aeons are represented by certain mathematical progressions of ordered powers. But in practice, true knowledge of God can only be given by interceding with the Standing One, that is the Triumvirate of Simon, Helen, and Jesus.
Knowledge is also not equally the same for everyone who has it. A common saying from the Gospel is that the unskilled person should not teach the skilled. In a more detailed look, the Great Declaration says that knowledge is not commonly held by everyone, but only people who are granted the skills of understanding it. This forms a strict hierarchy of privileges within Magnesian organization, such that only certain levels of authority are permitted to know certain aspects of theology.
Knowledge is also, in its purest form, a direct emanation from the Holy Spirit. However, by being disseminated to human minds, which are of corrupted flesh, causes a corruption of the knowledge. This is caused because absolute truth is not self-evident, but filtered based on personal experiences, which are unequal. Imagination, being able to create knowledge that is not truth, becomes a very powerful tool in understanding the universe, but can equally be a dangerous weapon. Magensians early on cultivated the use of medicinal drugs as a way of controlling their imagination, and thus harness it to be able to manifest the limitless nature of God in their minds.
There is no public canon of scripture of the Magnesians, as the bulk of significant documentation of their theology is a closely-guarded secret. However, there are a total of fifteen books that are generally considered to be divinely-inspired to some extent:
- Eight Books of the Jews:
- Five Books of Law by Moses:
- Book of Genesis
- Book of Exodus
- Book of Leviticus
- Book of Numbers
- Book of Deuteronomy
- Proverbs of Solomon
- Visions of Isaiah
- Visions of Jeremiah
- Five Books of Law by Moses:
- Four Books of the Greeks:
- Epic of the Illiad by Homer
- First Book of Nature by Empedocles
- Second Book of Nature by Hereclitus
- Dialogue of Timaeus by Plato
- Three Books of the Simonions:
- Gospel of Simon Magus
- Great Declaration of Simon Magus
- Recollections of Menander
The human soul fits in a unique position along the tree of life according to the Great Declaration, being a direct emanation from the Standing One through the Holy Spirit. In this sense, human souls are just one step lower than the Triumvirate deities, and technically equal to the rank of Elohim if not higher. However, the vast majority of human souls are not aware of their power or heritage, but are severely hampered and weakened by being locked in the bodies of carnal flesh.
It is impossible, according to Magnesianism, for a soul to achieve any kind of divine purification while being part of the body, as the two forces are completely at odds with each other. However, it is the immortality of the soul that is the chief aim of the Magnesian faith in terms of salvation. Originally, the immortality of the soul was one of the most closely-guarded secrets of Magensian theology, and officially they declared that rather the soul is mortal and dies with the body. However, by the 14th century it had become common knowledge among members that the truth of their salvation was in the immortality of the soul. Once the immortality of the soul is fully realized, achieving ultimate enlightenment among the Magnesian secret knowledge is the key to liberating the soul from the body, and thus realizing their ultimate divinity.
Magnesianism is extremely liberal when it comes to their interpretation of the law, despite affirming divine inspiration when it comes to the books of Moses. The law, as created by the imperfect being of Elohim, is itself imperfect and insufficient for achieving any kind of good. The very first law placed in the Garden of Eden prevented the first parents from partaking in the knowledge of good and evil, which was a terrible act in itself. Evil, on the other hand, is seen to be an uncreated, preexisting force that is innate to Creation and the world itself.
As a result of this realization, Magnesians tend to specifically practice the opposite of many Mosaic laws, in direct defiance to the corrupted acts of Elohim. The works of Menander referred to this doctrine as the "Blessing of the Law", for whatever the law forbids people may see as beneficial, and vice verse. Evil is seen as ubiquitous across the world, and the more natural state of the human soul that preexists the Creation of Elohim. In the end, then, the Gospel decrees that there can be no peace in the world, but instead the sword is taken up to enforce right by means of might.
The exact organization and hierarchical structure of the Magnesians are shrouded in mystery and misinformation, as most of their logistics are tightly-kept secrets. The head of the religion is called the Imperial Pontiff, also called the Prophet of Rome, whose seat is held in the city of Arles, France. This office is considered to be the direct successor of Simon Magus himself, who was referred to as the "First Prophet" in Magnesian scriptures. Other titles of this offices include Ambassador of the Standing One, Archprophet of Europe, and Prince of the Princes of God. This office originally was considered hereditary to Simon's descendants, but became more of an elected office in the tenth century AD.
Since the expulsion of the Magnesians from Rome in 68 AD, the religion officially considers their followers to be the true successors of the Roman Empire, where Simon Magus naturally belongs at his place as Emperor of the world. Thus, the structure of the Magnesian ecclesiology operates like feudal nobility, where the offices of Emperor and Pontifix are merged together into the Imperial Pontiff. The Pontiff has absolute and autocratic rule over all Magnesians with almost no check to his power. When the he dies, a council of Archprophets convenes in Arles to elect the new leader, known as the Cyanocitta. The proceedings of this election are public information, making influences from bribes and campaigns commonplace.
Magnesians has no priestly order, but instead all offices in their hierarchy are known as Prophets. Each prophet administrates communities from a single metropolitan, answering to Archprophets in a greater area. They enter into Holy Orders at a very young age, as much as fifteen years old in some cases, and retire very early in mid life. Prophets are also trained to perform the majority of rituals known across the Six Holy Sacraments.
Another office in the clergy is the Prince-Monks, comprising Magensianism's very unique form of monasticism. The Prince-Monks live in the most privileged and lavish lifestyle, fed on outstanding, abundant taxes from the central church. They focus on living a secluded life, believing that being surrounded by worldly pleasures brings them closer to God. They are often found in grand buildings in the center of a city, where they spend their days praising their own future divinity and writing works of philosophy.
Further organization outside of these above facts are largely unknown, being kept as private information. Around the 11th century AD, the Magnesians created an elaborate network of spies and infiltrators as a way of seizing control of the former Roman Empire by means of subterfuge, rather than direct conflict. Known as the Responditors, this network of spies would easily blend in to any local community of command structure, presenting themselves as either Christian, Muslim or Pagan when necessary without remorse.
At their height of power around 1300 AD, the Responditors had undetected influence across the most powerful courts in Western Europe and the Middle East. They disappeared from historical record in the 15th century, but Magnesian traditions of their exploits continue. Since the mid 17th century, Magnesians maintain that the Responditors have continued to grow in their power unchecked. By the 20th century, Magnesians have taken credit for almost all major historical developments happening in Europe and America. No official procedure exist for church discipline in the Magnesian religion. Responditors were known to have a department of assassins, however. Even as recent as the 1980s, public critics of the Magnesians have ended up the victims of either suicides or fatal accidents.
There are a total of six holy sacraments in the Magnesian religion, and in general the number six is considered the holiest number in their arithmancy. The universe rests on six aeons and six roots of spiritual elements, and the physical world is perceived in six spiritual senses. These six sacraments are: Baptism, Eucharist, Confession, Anointing, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
Baptism is the initiation rite of Magnesians, applied to every new member of the religion since the days of Dosithes the Baptist. This form of baptism is done with fire, symbolizing the soul entering the primal element of fire and rising as a new creature, in the image of the Standing One. The Prophet conducts the ceremony with a bronze brazen, lit with a strong fire and burning incense. He puts the initiate's hands into the fire, branding him with a series of specific burns on the palms and fingers.
The Eucharist is administrated by a Prophet at every religious service. Bowels of nightshade and water are brought to the front of the congregation, and after the blessing of the Prophet, the nightshade and water are consumed by the members present. This ritual use of drugs is considered to miraculously become the very essence of the Standing One himself. Because of the doctrines on the limitations of human knowledge, these drugs are necessary to reach a level of consciousness to comprehend the unknown god. On certain special occasions, this ritual would also include an aspect known as a "Black Mass": a virgin woman is placed on the alter with the Eucharist laid on her body, and she must be brought to orgasm before the Eucharist is given out.
Confession is given privately by members of the congregation with their local Prophet. Due to their doctrines on hedonism and justice, Magnesians have an expectation of being successful in affluence and power, at the expense of their neighbors. Thus, confession is a time to admit their limitations and failures, confessing of times where they gave in to their conscience to withdraw from opportunities of wealth or power, as well as confess shameful acts of philanthropy. Lacking any kind of doctrine of grace, confession is followed through with acts of physical punishment.
Magensian Prophets also carry out a ritual of Anointing the Well. The most healthy, successful, and well-endowed members of the religion are given special privileges and honors in this ceremony, being blessed in the name of Simon Magus in recognition for their good work. Contrariwise, members of the congregation who are infirmed or poor are publicly shamed and mocked, being ridiculed for their acts of selflessness that brought them to this position.
Holy Orders are a series of vows and training given to a Magnesian that becomes either a Prophet or a Prince-Monk. Larger amounts of wealth and prestige, acquired by the most selfish means, is always associated with higher amounts of piety and holiness in Magnesianism. It is for that reason why Prophets and Prince-Bishops are always paid the largest salaries, as well as many similar privileges. Prince-Monks are known to have the most modern, fashionable clothes and cutting-edge technology at their disposal. They also are given the rite of prima nocta in matrimony, and the first privileges in the liturgical orgies.
Magnesians perform polyamerous marriages, which are officiated by a Prophet. This is distinctly separate from polygamy, as well as the group marriages of the Oneida Community, which no doubt were inspired by Magnesianism. Marriage vows in the religion recognize a single legal bond of marriage between a man and woman. However, this bond is purely for the purpose of procreation, and forbids any kind of special relationship of love or jealously. Specifically, the couple vows to permit and tolerate a multiplicity of sexual relationships for the purpose of love and pleasure, so long as the marriage bed is preserved for procreation. This kind of polyamerous relationship can include any kind of sexuality, including homosexuality, pedophilia or beastiality.
Magnesian philosophy is described as broadly Epicurean, as well as rooted in concepts of nihilism. Any amount of consent to base desires of lust, greed, or gluttony for the most self-centered reasons are upheld as the the most pious acts that bring one closer to God. Justice by the law, which is mandated by the evil creator god Elohim, is specifically denounced, and people attempting to either abide by or enforce such laws are subject to public ridicule. Desires of the human body such as envy or sexual arousal, are equally as valid as all other desires of the human body, such as hunger or thirst. If one member is in great desire for sexual relief, then denying him or her sex is seen as greatly inhuman as if he was denied food.
No real concern is ever given for the multiplicity of sexually-transmitted diseases, obesity or other health problems that come as a result of the Magnesian lifestyle. The physical, created body is only the creation of the flawed, evil creator Elohim, while the incorruptible soul is far more divine. Appeals to physical pleasure brings the soul closer to God, and the fact that medical problems arise in the carnal flesh is only further proof of the inconsistent and flawed nature of the creator. Due to the polytheistic nature of Magnesian theology, idolatry is fully permitted in the religion as well, not seen as any kind of sin or vice, but nonetheless not any kind of requirement or ritual as well.
Due to the polyamorous nature of Magnesian marriage, it is not uncommon for members to apply the same sexual favors or seductions to people outside the religion, and even in some cases as a form of recruitment. Jealousy and selflessness are considered to be great evils, and piety is measured by their success in life. If any member is found to be particularly poor or sickly, it is believed that he came to be this way as a result of being too charitable and selfless to his neighbors, thus placing himself in this poor state.
Liturgical worship services for the Magnesians are extremely boisterous and chaotic, where everyone's inner desires and lusts are completely unleashed. This form of disorganized worship brings their souls closer to the Standing One, between more solemn rituals such as the Eucharist or Baptism. Liturgical orgies are organized during these services as well, which by far and away are the most well-known practices the Magnesians perform.
Revenge is also considered to be a form of desire that should be immediately satisfied according to Magnesianism. Similar justified forms of violence can include the elimination of dissident or traitorous members, and discouraging members from acts of philanthropy. The "Golden Rule" from the Gospel of Simon Magus and the Great Declaration is "Do unto others as they do unto you". However, direct violence is generally unusual for Magnesians, as they more frequently favor methods of subtle espionage or assassinations instead.
Magnesians are also known to practice magic, and claim to perform feats similar to the miracles of Simon Magus. However, a clear distinction is made between these two. The miracles of Simon Magus was largely due to his nature as the Standing One, although the Gospel of Simon Magus frequently mentions his powerful proficiency for magic as well. Mysticism for Magnesians, however, are accomplished using rituals of necromancy.
A ritual sacrifice must first take place over an unwilling subject, which does not work for volunteers. This ritual takes place in a specific structure of an icosahedron, formed using either wires, ropes or beams. This specific kind of geometric figure is capable of capturing the soul within a prepared incantation, as explained in works of Neo-Platonic magic. These souls are bound by the angels and deities to not do anything of their own will, but are instead allowed to do the things that the person performing the ritual commands. By a series of specific incantations, only the person performing the ritual is capable of communicating with the imprisoned soul, placing him under his own power.
Various different powers and feats are possible using this necromancy, including but not limited to: invisibility, disguise, intangibility, flight, telekinesis, assassination, poltergeists, talking with animals, limited animation of the dead, and golems. Souls are also capable of being stored temporarily within the bodies of dumb animals, known as personal familiars. These kind of familiars can include dogs, cats, birds, or lizards.
Outside of necromancy, Magnesians are also known for exploring various kinds of alchemy to create mystical potions elixirs. Due to the typical lifestyle Magnesians live, these kind of potions are almost always for the purpose of quick self-gain. Some of these kind of potions involve aphrodisiacs, or other ways of seducing people into sexual consent. Other potions include various ways of achieving vast wealth or power, such as a formula to turn base metal into gold.