The Podcast

SHWEP is a roughly-chronological historical narrative: it starts way-back-when and moves forward from there. However, Episodes 0-4 are introductory materials. If you are a newcomer to the podcast, Episode Zero introduces the concept behind it. If you are a newcomer to the history of western esotericism, check out Episodes OneTwo and Three, which provide a lot of useful background. If you want to skip the intro and start exploring the nitty-gritty of the history of western esotericism, start with Episode Four and go from there.

Episode 35: Mystery and Immortality: Plato’s Phædo

The Phædo depicts Socrates' final hours, spent in philosophical discussion with his circle of friends. Socrates argues that the soul is immortal, and that the philosopher should rejoice to die. But his reasons for believing this are ... mysterious.

Episode 34: Mystery and Initiation in Plato

The idea of initiation is central to western esotericism, but its origins lie in the mystery-cults of the Græco-Roman world. How do we get from ancient ritual practices to a special kind of transcendent knowledge or wisdom? Via Plato, of course.

Plato disembodied head

Episode 33: Nowhere to Go But Up: Philosophic Ascent in Plato

Plato looked up with his intellect; the world of eternal truths he fixed his inner gaze on was located above the earthly realm. In this episode we examine the accounts which he gives us of the journey there.

Episode 32: Maya Alapin on Mathematical Structures in Plato’s Republic

We return to the mathematical structures within the text of Plato’s masterwork, guided by a scholar who has looked deeply into the question. Maya Alapin discusses how harmonic theory, music, ratios and proportions intertwine with textual meaning in the Republic.

Episode 31: Sun, Line, Cave: Plato’s Inner Republic

In this episode we explore three beautiful, linked passages in Plato’s masterwork, among the most influential Platonic texts for the history of western esotericism, which describe a world of transcendent truth accessed through the human mind.

Episode 30: Introducing Plato’s Republic

Plato’s Republic is widely regarded as his masterwork. It is complex and sly. We introduce the dialogue and try to come to grips with it in a general way, noting the intricate structure of the text itself.

Episode 29: Otherworlds, Inner Worlds, and Utopias

Plato’s Republic is the world’s first utopia. But what is a utopia, exactly, and how does it differ from the other invisible worlds we encounter in western esoteric traditions, the otherworlds and inner worlds? We survey types of esoteric space.

Episode 28: Christopher Gill on Plato’s Atlantis

Christopher Gill, Emeritus Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter, takes us deep into the territory of Atlantis, one of Plato’s most puzzling creations.

Episode 27: Plato’s Timæus

In this episode we introduce Plato’s Timæus, the father of western esotericism’s single most influential dialogue. With this work Plato set the scene for pretty much all subsequent esoteric thought. Dig infinity!

Episode 26: The Birth of the Symbol: Peter Struck on Ancient Greek Esoteric Hermeneutics

When looking for esoteric wisdom in a text, you need esoteric hermeneutics to find it. We discuss ancient techniques of esoteric reading with Professor Peter Struck, and along the way we learn some fundamental things about esoteric hermeneutics more generally.