We introduce the enigmatic evidence for an innovative initiatory cult of the Roman empire, the mysteries of Mithras. Come for the underground cave-temples, stay for the mysterious ravens and uncomfortably-placed scorpions.
The main SHWEP podcast 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 One, Two 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.
If you want to explore further, be sure to check out the SHWEP Oddcast, which features interviews with specialists that have not yet been integrated into the main SHWEP chronology.
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A leading scholar of the interconnections between Plotinus' thought and the thought of the Gnostics whom he disliked so much, Jean-Marc Narbonne discusses some of the Plotinian texts and ideas which make more sense if we see them in dialogue with the Gnostics.
Members only: Dylan Burns Ascends to the Plêroma
We continue our conversation with Dr Burns, concentrating on envisioning the audience for these Sethian texts and their ilk and the kinds of ritual practices we find adumbrated in the texts. Who were these Gnostics, and what were they doing?
Episode 118: Dylan Burns on Sethian Gnosticism
We discuss the Platonistic Sethian tractates and the movements which lay behind them with Copticist and scholar of Platonistic esotericism Dylan Burns. Ancient texts, methodological distinctions, cosmic catastrophe, and salvation abound.
Members only: The Secret (Life) of the One
We explore Plotinus' One and the (human) self's encounter with the One. ‘Naked with stillness, on the edge of dawn she stays.’
Episode 117: The Esoteric Plotinus, Part II: Unsaying the Real
We discuss the ineffable in Plotinus: how it is deployed, how it is esoteric, how scholars have tried to deal with it, and how not least among its paradoxical functions is to call us to the highest initiation.
Members only: Marilynn Lawrence Casts the Chart
We further explore matters astrological, Plotinian, Platonist, scientific, divinatory, symbolic, and more, and address the problem of astrologers getting it right when that shouldn't really be possible.
Episode 116: Plotinus on Astrology with Marilynn Lawrence
We speak with Marilynn Lawrence, authority on Platonism, Hellenistic astrology, and the intersection of the two, about Plotinus' theoretical writings on the science of the stars.
We discuss aspects of the esoteric found in two distinct sources – Porphyry's Life of Plotinus and Plotinus' own writings – and think through them. The esoteric Platonist exegete meets the late pagan holy man; are they the same person?
We discuss Plotinus on ‘magic’, in theory, and, yes, in practice. Come for magic as applied physics, stay for the apotropaic chickens.
Members only: Ascending Further with Mateusz Stróżyński
With Mateusz Stróżyński as our anagogue, we travel further up the winding ways of Plotinian philosophy as way-of-life and transformative, practical disciline.
We discuss Plotinian anthropology and spiritual practices with Mateusz Stróżyński. Come for the stripping away of the illusory, bodily self, stay for the luminous, all-encompassing sphere of the higher reality.
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!
Episode 112: We are the One: Plotinus’ Participatory Metaphysics
Plotinus' universe is uniquely full of the human self, which extends all the way from the sucking mud of matter's non-existence to the ultimate profundity of the One's non-existence, and all the existent bits in-between. We discuss some of the ways in which this human metaphysical terrain is explored in the Enneads.
We talk about how Plotinus defined himself and his lineage, versus how modern scholars tend to define these things. We discuss Plotinus' unusual esoteric perennialism, his allegiance to the Ancients, and why, though he may have been a Platonist, he didn't think so.
Episode 111: ‘The Philosopher of our Time’: Introducing Plotinus
Plotinus was the greatest philosopher of late antiquity, and one of the most crucial thinkers for the long story of western esotericism. We introduce his amazing philosophy and the basics of his biography.
Episode 110: Matthew Neujahr on the Sibylline Oracles
We discuss the Sibylline Oracles, a strange, sprawling, extremely complex collection of oracular hexameters from antiquity. Matthew Neujahr is our guide through a textual and prophetic labyrinth of ancient woman sages, Hellenic, Jewish, and Christian prophetic concerns, and the high uncanny.
Episode 109: Christian Bull on the Way of Hermes in Antiquity
In our final episode in the Hermetica series, we discuss the way of Hermes in antiquity with Christian Hervik Bull. Come for the renunciation, immortalisation, and hypercosmic ascent, stay for the animated statues.
Members only: Anna van den Kerchove Hermeticises Further
We ask Anna van den Kerchove some seriously irresponsible questions about ancient Hermetism, the fate of the Hermetica, and the intellectual milieu of late antiquity (and even the second century). She answers with both scholarly care and aplomb.
We speak with Anna van den Kerchove, a leading voice in the scholarly trend ‘reclaiming’ ancient Hermetism from its long sojourn outside the realms of respectability. We discuss Hermetic texts and the kinds of milieux in which they may have circulated in antiquity.