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Acts 8:9-24 (ESV)

9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

What kind of magic was Simon probably practicing prior to his conversion? Just illusory tricks or real supernatural stuff?

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    We are not told.
    – Dottard
    Aug 11 at 8:36
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What kind of magic was Simon probably practicing prior to his conversion? Just illusory tricks or real supernatural stuff?

It was a mixture of both. Acts 8:9 New International Version

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great,

had practiced sorcery
μαγεύων (mageuōn)
Verb - Present Participle Active - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's 3096: To practice sorcery or magic. From magos; to practice magic.

This Greek word has quite a bit of extra-Biblical references as pointed out by Meyer:

μαγεύων] practising magical arts, only here in the N. T.; but see Eur. Iph. T. 1337; Meleag. 12; Clearch. in Athen. vi. p. 256 E; Jacobs, ad Anthol. VI. p. 29.

Its meaning had a supernatural dimension to it:

The magical exercises of the wizards, who at that time very frequently wandered about in the East, extended chiefly to an ostentatious application of their attainments in physical knowledge to juggling conjurings of the dead and demons, to influencing the gods, to sorceries, cures of the sick, soothsayings from the stars, and the like, in which the ideas and formulae of the Oriental-Greek theosophy were turned to display. See Neander, Gesch. d. Pflanz. u. Leit. d. christl. K. I. p. 99 f.; Müller in Herzog’s Encykl. VIII. p. 675 ff.

I'd imagine that Simon was one of the many people who made his living by this profession of sorcery. When he saw the real thing, he was quick to believe:

13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

But his old habit of trickery came back, so he asked Peter and John,

19 “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

In his mind, Simon confused true miracles with one true God and his old practice of sorcery/magic with false gods. But he was learning:

24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

What kind of magic did Simon practice?

He did both normal physical magic and supernatural sorcery.

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