The SHWEP Blog

The SHWEP podcast is basically chronological, but there’s only so much chronology that anyone can take. This blog is for all manner of other things which crop up in the life of the scholar of western esotericism, but don’t fit into our chronological framework:  interviews which fall outside the narrative of the podcast, reflections on the academic field of the study of western esotericism, accounts of of past or upcoming events, other notifications, and perhaps even the odd blog post.

John Crowley on the Ægypt Cycle

Ægypt is one of the great occult novels (if we want to make ‘occult novel’ a thing). We are delighted to speak with its author, John Crowley (no relation) about his writing practice, western esotericism, and the question of what the heck happened at the end of the third book.

Crystal Addey on Platonism, Theurgy, and Ecology

Crystal Addey is a scholar, philosopher, and woman of parts. Her work on ancient theurgy has broken new ground in recent years, and we see her continue to forge ahead in this interview, in which she asks whether the thought of the ancient Platonists can provide us with valuable insights in the face of environmental crisis. The answer is 'yes', of course, but the contours of that 'yes' will perhaps surprise many people who think they understand the history of western philosophy.

Emily Selove on the Magical Book of al-Sakkaki

Emily Selove shares her current work on the fascinating Sirāj al-Dīn al-Sakkākī, well-known Arabic grammarian and little-known sorcerer. We discuss Sakkākī's extraordinary grimoire, the quest for the universal Perfect Man, a theory of language which might unite grammar and magic, and the identity of the mysterious ‘Peacock the Greek’.

Laurence Caruana on Visionary Art and the Fall of Sophia

Laurence Caruana is a painter, author, and speaker. His work draws deeply on the western esoteric traditions, particularly of late antiquity, and even more particularly on the central Sethian myth as found in the Apocryphon of John and other ‘Gnostic’ texts. We discuss modern artistic practice, the Fall of Sophia, and a host of other topics of interest to the modern visionary painter.

Aron Reppmann Introduces Origen of Alexandria

Professor Aron Reppmann introduces the life, thought, and esotericism of Origen of Alexandria, one of the greatest church-fathers, Platonist theologian par excellence, and revolutionary scriptural exegete.

Claire Hall on Firmicus Maternus

Firmicus Maternus, a fairly prominent fourth-century intellectual from Sicily, wrote two works which survive: one is our earliest-surviving manual of astrological practice in Latin, and it shows a full-blooded belief in astral determinism, and the second is a rabid Christian polemic against traditional religious practices. Discuss.

Amy Hale on the Magical Life and Art of Ithell Colquhoun

We speak with Amy Hale, anthropologist, folklorist, and writer of weird and wonderful pieces, on the life, art, and legacy of Ithell Colquhoun, one of the 20th century's most important (if widely overlooked) esoteric artists.

I Was Interviewed by Freemasons!

Some freemasons from Pennsylvania got in touch and asked to interview me. It was interesting and fun.

Allegra Baggio-Corradi on Niccolò Leonico Tomeo

Allegra Baggio-Corradi of the Warburg Institute guides us through the life and thought of a leading figure of the forgotten esoteric Renaissance, the Paduan Niccolo Toméo.

Randall Hall on the Theurgic Saxophone

We talk to saxophonist Randall Hall, whose work fuses the very, very modern and the authentically ancient in a quest for a ‘ritual-symbolic’, theurgic musical practice.

Julian Strube on the Debate Over Dropping the ‘Western’ in ‘Western Esotericism’

Things never stand still for very long in a young field like Western Esotericism Studies. In this interview we discuss the lively current debate over whether the term ‘western’ should be dropped altogether with a proponent of the ‘get rid of it’ position.

Thoughts on ESSWE 7

We reflect on the amazing seventh ESSWE conference, held 2-4 July 2019 in Amsterdam. Western esotericism is coming home!

Blood and Rockets: The Making of an Occult Music Video

The first in our Living Esoteric Culture series, looking at the ways in which the esoteric exists in culture, makes culture, sometimes enters into the popular or mainstream, and what happens along the way.

Light in Darkness: An Audio Tour of an Important New Exhibition on the Life and Thought of Jacob Böhme

An audio tour of the first major international exhibition devoted to the life and work of the great Christian esotericist Jacob Böhme.

First Annual Report of the SHWEP

We reflect on a year of doing this podcast, and on the year to come.

An Interview with Dr Liana Saif on the Present and Future Study of Islamic Esotericism

The future of the study of western esotericism will encompass all the western monotheist traditions. And the future is now!

On the Necessity of Useless Scholarship

There has never been a better time to study ‘useless’ subjects. Get involved!