We speak about illusion, magic, and reality with magical experience designer Ferdinando Buscema. He can make stuff disappear, find your card anywhere in the deck, and read your mind. He is, in short, a magician. But he is also, like Apuleius, Iamblichus, Ficino, and Crowley before him, a philosopher of magic.
The SHWEP podcast is basically chronological, but there’s only so much chronology that anyone can take. The Oddcast features interviews from the whole historical scope of western esotericism. When the chronology catches up with episodes here, they migrate to the main podcast, but there’s no reason to wait years to listen to an interview we have now.
There are also interviews here which take in such a broad sweep of chronology that they belong in more general context, and here they shall remain.
Our discussion with Jeremy Swist on The Emperor turns metaphysical, theurgic, and religious, as we discuss Julian's incredible synthesis of Iamblichean theology and metaphysics, traditional religions, and politics. Come for the pagan counter-church, stay for the transcendent solar metaphysics.
Jeremy Swist, specialist on Late Platonism, late antiquity, and the great Julian the Faithful, lays out the political background and political project of The Emperor. Part I of a two-part discussion of late antiquity's greatest statesman. No bias here.
We discuss the extraordinary reception-history of the extraordinary text known as Sefer Yetsirah, the ‘Book of Formation‘. The Sefer Yetsirah would eventually become a foundational text for the Kabbalist movements of the high middle ages, but it was (and is) much more than that. Professor Langermann lays out the evolutions in reading this text from Sa‘adia Gaon to Aryeh Kaplan.
We let the tape roll and discuss some more fascinating byways of dualist Christianity in the middle ages. Come for the Cathar connections, stay for the addressative magic and visionary ascent practices.
We speak with Dr Bojana Radovanović on the Bogomils, a widespread Christian ‘heresy’ – dualist, demiurgic, docetist, ascetic, and esoterically-structured – arising in the tenth-century Balkans and spreading into such unlikely places as Constantinople and even the monastery of Mt Athos. We discuss the who, what, and when of Bogomilism, animadvert as to the why, and even speculate intriguingly on the how.
Members only: Juan Acevedo Neither Speaks nor Hides, but Signifies
Our conversation with Doctor Acevedo evolves into a long and, some might say, esoteric hermeneutical tour of linguistic theory and western ontology illuminated by the riddling wisdom of Heraclitus.
One of the most fundamental and intriguing questions in the philosophy of language is that of the relation between signs and the realities they signify. But what if the signs are letters and numbers simultaneously? And what if these are in fact the constitutive elements of reality itself? Juan Acevedo is our guide in an overview of the history and dynamics of alphanumeric cosmology in the western tradition.
Is ‘free will’ a given, a constant of the human condition? It might seem that way, but as Dylan Burns argues in this interview, the idea that humans possess a faculty of un-coerced decision-making actually arises at a specific time – late antiquity – and in a specific context – early Christian philosophy.
In Part I of a two-part series, we interview Dr Dylan Burns of the Universiteit van Amsterdam on the subjects of providence and fate in Greek philosophy, early Christian philosophy, and a number of esoteric currents partaking of both in late antiquity.
We continue our interview with Gyrus, starting from Copernicus' demolition of the polar cosmos and exploring the aftermath of this radical decentering of the cosmic structure of the west.
We talk cosmology with Gyrus, a man who has looked deeply into the patterning of space across time and culture. Moving from ‘horizontal’, landscape-base cosmologies to ‘vertical’, abstracted constructions of space, we discuss the human patterning of location and movement across a fairly mind-blowing swathe of history. You are where you are.
Professor Dillon returns to the SHWEP to talk about the life and times of Stephen MacKenna – Irish radical, Modernist literateur, amateur of the concertina, and the first and greatest translator of Plotinus into English.
Members only: Peter Grey on Magic(k) in Theory and Practice
Further discussion with Peter Grey, looking at aspects of the Crowley/Parsons/Hubbard story from magickal and scholarly perspectives.
We discuss the magickal activities of Jack Parsons, (Marjorie) Cameron, and L. Ron Hubbard in 1940's California with Peter Grey. Rockets fly, yachts set sail, and very, very strange things happen.
Members only: Bink Hallum Circles the Square
We continue our conversation with Dr Hallum, exploring some fascinating manuscript detective work revealing some unsolved mysteries of transmission, the Jewish and East Roman medieval magic-square traditions, early-modern translations and adaptations of the material, and much more.
We discuss those ‘magic squares’ that we find in esoteric texts from Indonesia to London, curious grids of numbers often used as astral-magical talismans with integrated alphanumeric mysteries. Bink Hallum has done the research, and lays out the story of the magic square from China to Agrippa.
Members only: Michael Noble Ascends to the Perfect Nature
We continue our interview with Michael Noble, exploring magical, exegetical, soteriological, prophetological, and other aspects of Rāzī's thought. Things get seriously esoteric, and you know that we do not say things like that lightly.
Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī was a Persian universal scholar and theologian, particularly well-known for his tafsīr or work of Qur'ānic interpretation, a mainstay of Sunni Islam to this day. Less well-known is his work of addressative, astral, talismanic ritual, The Hidden Secret. Michael Noble has published a study of this work in the context of Rāzī's thought and of the larger intellectual currents in which he swam. Come for the enduring legacy of staunch, but philosophically-rich, Sunni theology, stay for the orgies and severed heads.
We speak with an expert on the (religious) use of automata in the classical world, in an attempt to enter into the thought-world and technological practice of the ancient theurgists. Come for the living statues, stay for the giant snail-robot.