The SHWEP Blog

The SHWEP blog is for all manner of things which crop up in the life of the scholar of western esotericism but don’t fit into our chronological framework: the Living Esoteric Cultures Series of interviews, reflections on the academic field of the study of western esotericism, accounts of past or upcoming events, other notifications, and perhaps even the odd blog post.


I spoke about psychedelic Platonism to a bunch of academics!

I was invited to speak to the Philosophy of Psychedelics Exeter Research Group on the subject of psychedelic research and ancient Platonism. I argue that Platonism is way more psychedelics than psychedelics.

Bernd-Christian Otto on the Project ‘Alternative Rationalities and Esoteric Practices from a Global Perspective’

The project known as CAS-E (full title ‘Alternative Rationalities and Esoteric Practices from a Global Perspective’) is a major, state-funded, cross-disciplinary investigation of contemporary magic and related topics headquartered at the University of Erlangen. The scope of this thing is ridiculously ambitious. We discuss the project with one of its primary movers, Bernd-Christian Otto.

Daniel Schwemer on the MagEIA Project at the University of Würzburg

We discuss the academic project we have all been waiting for, MagEIA: Magic between Entanglement, Interaction, and Analogy, with one of its principal investigators, Daniel Schwemer. MagEIA will host cross-disciplinary conversations across specialisms in the study of ancient (bronze-age to late antiquity) magic. Amazing work, with amazing things to come.

The Sixth Annual Report of the SHWEP

We contemplate the year that was and plot and scheme for the year to come.

I was Interviewed by Gnostics!

Like the title says: I was interviewed by Gnostics.

Mathieu Ossendrijver on the Project ZODIAC – Ancient Astral Science in Transformation

We are delighted to speak with Mathieu Ossendrijver about an extraordinary project he heads in Berlin investigating the earliest origins and the dissemination of Mesopotamia's most popular export, the zodiac. Interesting things happen at the intersection between scientific and historical methodologies.

Emily Selove and Matt Melvin-Koushki on Two New Postgraduate Programmes in Magic

There are exciting things afoot in the study of magic and esotericism. Emily Selove of the University of Exeter and Matt Melvin-Koushki from the University of South Carolina tell us about two new graduate programmes in the study of magic and related subjects.

Rune Hjarnø on the Project of (Nordic) Animism, Part II

More Nordic animism, plus a dive into pop culture, where the Mighty Thor (Kirby version) rubs shoulders with ancient gods.

Rune Hjarnø on the Project of (Nordic) Animism, Part I

We speak with Dr Rune Hjarnø, a man interested in reigniting the spirit of animism within European cultures. Note that that's ‘reigniting’, not importing from ‘indigenous’ cultures. Come for the yule-goats, stay for the Q-shaman.

I was Interviewed on the Weird Christmas Podcast!

Mithras, sadly, ain't the reason for the season. And yet ....

The Fifth Annual Report of the SHWEP

We reflect on the past year of doing the podcast, and this time we don't bother predicting how at the end of this coming year we will definitely have finally covered Proclus, because it's just never true. We'll confidently promise Zosimus of Panopolis and Julian, but not Proclus.

Lucinda Martin on the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Past, Present, and Future

We are delighted to speak with Dr Lucinda Martin, Director of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica and Ritman Research Institute in Amsterdam, one of the world's great collections for the study of western esotericism. We discuss the history and current activities of this august institution, its recently having been awarded UNSECO status as a cultural treasure of the Netherlands, and more.

Cavan McLaughlin on Trans- States: Participant-Scholarship and the Boundaries of the Academy

We speak with Cavan McLaughlin, the guiding force behind a very interesting conference called Trans-States, which blurs the boundaries between the study of the esoteric and the esoteric itself. What happens when art, performance, ritual, magic(k), and a healthy does of humour meet in the crucible of the ‘academic conference’?

Esoteric Island Discs: Ben Chasny

Our castaway is Ben Chasny, guitarist and composer, whose long-time musical project Six Organs of Admittance is only the most well-known.

Fourth Annual Report of the SHWEP

We reflect on the year that was, with the usual divinatory prognostications for the year that will be, and wish our listeners a very esoteric 2022.

Esoteric Island Discs: Angela Voss

Our castaway is Angela Voss, researcher and lecturer on Renaissance astrology and Platonist esotericism, and performer and composer of early music.

Third Annual Report of the SHWEP

We reflect on a third year of doing the podcast, some of the things that went well, some unexpected setbacks, and prognosticate big changes to come ....

Rob Miller on the Esoteric and the New Tau Cross Album

We speak with Rob ‘The Baron’ Miller about the western esoteric influences on his music with Amebix and Tau Cross, and discuss the third Tau Cross album, Masters of Deception. It gets Gnostic.

Things called Hermes that are not Hermes

Exploring the Hermetic Tradition!

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