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Podcast episode

Episode 57: The Esoteric Philo

In this episode we explore the deeply esoteric thought of Philo of Alexandria. Expect hidden ancient perennial traditions, divine revelation, esoteric philosophic truths hidden in plain sight, arithmological speculations, and much more.

Podcast episode

Episode 129: Nilüfer Akçay on Porphyry’s On the Cave of the Nymphs

We speak with Nilüfer Akçay, author of the only full-length English monograph on Porphyry's On the Cave of the Nymphs.

Oddcast episode

Bink Hallum on ‘Magic Squares’

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.

Podcast episode

So What is Western Esotericism, Anyway?

An introduction to the podcast, discussing briefly what we mean by ‘western esotericism’. This episode also answers the burning question, ‘What’s so “secret” about The Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast?’ and features a short quiz to test your knowledge of western esoteric history.

Podcast episode

Episode 99: Total War: Polemical Esotericism in the Contra Celsum

We explore the polemics and counter-polemics of Origen's Contra Celsum, with a particular eye toward the use (and abuse) of the esoteric as a strategy of tradition-building, exclusion, and totalising interpretation.

Oddcast episode

Philosophising the Occult: Michael Noble on The Hidden Secret of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī

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.

Podcast episode

Members only: Philhellenism and the Egyptian Other: Wouter Hanegraaff on Reading the Hermetica

We discuss with Wouter Hanegraaff the history of scholarship of the Hermetica from Reitzenstein's Poimandres (1904) up to the modern day. We question 'the glory that was Greece' and investigate the glory that was Egypt.

Podcast episode

Episode 114: Plotinus the Magician? Ritual Practice and Power in Platonism

We discuss Plotinus on ‘magic’, in theory, and, yes, in practice. Come for magic as applied physics, stay for the apotropaic chickens.

Podcast episode

Episode 54: Frances Flannery on Jewish Dreams in Antiquity

In an interview bringing together both the visionary narratives of apocalyptic and the practical side of the Hekhalot traditions, Professor Frances Flannery leads us through the corridors of dreaming and the esoteric in antique Judaism.

Podcast episode

Members only: The Secret Life of the Undescended Self

We discuss Plotinus' controversial doctrine that some aspect of the human being never descends into the materialised kosmos, but remains eternally in the noetic. More importantly, we discuss Plotinus' descriptions of what it is like to be that higher aspect of the human being. Dig eternity!

Podcast episode

Episode 100: Thrice-Greatest Hermes

We introduce the sage of sages, the barbarian philosopher of philosophers, the one and only (unless there were more of him) Thrice-Greatest Hermes. We also introduce his copious literary output, the Hermetica, and discuss these writings in an introductory way.

Oddcast episode

Tatiana Bur on Living Statues, Then and Now

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.

Oddcast episode

Dylan Burns on Providence, Fate, and Dualism in Antiquity

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.

Podcast episode

Episode 61: The Esoteric and the State in Ancient Rome, Part 2: The State and the Stars

We trace the rise of the Hellenistic divinatory art of astrology through the Roman Republic into the first century of the Empire, and investigate how an esoteric science became a matter of highest concern to the Roman state. Expect uprisings, assassinations, and executions. Astrology used to be really exciting.

Podcast episode

Episode 15: For the Love of Wisdom: The Birth of Philosophy

When we look at the origins of Greek philosophy, we rightly emphasise man's desire to understand the world and his place in it. But there was much more to it than that. Western philosophy begins with revelation, myth, and poetry.

Podcast episode

Members only: Matthew Neujahr on Near-Eastern Roots of Apocalyptic

We explore the fascinating parallels between Near Eastern visionary materials and the Jewish apocalyptic texts of the Second Temple. Matthew Neujahr is our guide through the shifting sands of some seriously esoteric texts, as we sift what can be proven from the speculative material.

Podcast episode

Episode 38: The Esoteric Aristotle, Part I

Aristotle might not spring to mind when contemplating the names of esoteric heroes of the past. But the figure of Plato's greatest student in fact had an esoteric afterlife to rival that of Plato himself!

Podcast episode

Episode 47: The Numbers Don’t Lie: Joel Kalvesmaki on ‘Pythagorean’ Number

Whenever anyone does something other than arithmetic with numbers, the name Pythagoras tends to crop up. Exactly how this strange situation came about is a fascinating story, and Dr Kalvesmaki has done groundbreaking work on the subject. This episode is a superb introduction to the origins of ‘gematria’ and arithmology.