We want to discuss the Testament of Solomon, an extraordinary demonological, angelogical, astrological, magical work from late antiquity. But we realise that, to get there, we need to spend some time exploring the earlier reaches of the ‘Solomonic tradition’. So we do. Come for the building of the First Temple, stay for the cloud upon the sanctuary.
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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Episode 149: Exploring the Sefer ha-Razim
We explore the earliest-known Jewish ‘magic book’, the Sefer ha-Razim or Book of Mysteries. Angel-magic meets addressative practices aimed at old friends like Helios and Hermes, while Hellenistic astral cosmology collides with fiery heavenly palace-firmaments of the apocalyptic and Hekhalotic stamp.
Members only: Beyond Curse-Tablets with Sarah Veale
In this special episode we continue the conversations we started earlier, digging into the relations between magic, religion, and philosophy in the Græco-Roman world.
Episode 148: Curses! Sarah Veale on Roman ‘Curse-Tablets’
We turn from the far-eastern, Jewish magic of the incantation-bowls to the far-western, polytheist magic of the Roman ‘curse-tablets’. Expect intriguing similarities across cultural divides, along with important differences. Featuring the Great Mother goddess, Isis, and a number of supporting players.
Members only: Daniel Waller Bowls On
We explore a few minority cases among the incantation bowls: the aggressive use of a bowl to curse an enemy, and the iconography (mostly demonic) which we find in some bowls. Come for the demons, stay for the demonic chickens.
Episode 147: Daniel James Waller on the Jewish Incantation-Bowls
We dive more deeply into the enigmatic corpus of late-antique Jewish ‘incantation bowls’ from Mesopotamia with the help of researcher Daniel Waller. We discuss the bowls as material objects, functional technology, and their place in late-antique Jewish culture.
Episode 146: Gideon Bohak on Late-Antique Jewish Magic
Gideon Bohak provides us with a superb introduction to the evidence for late-antique Jewish magic and to what that evidence tells us. Introducing the essential book of Jewish magic, the Sefer ha-Razim.
We wander through a bunch of important (but mushy) ideas helpful for understanding late antiquity and late-antique religion: monotheism, henotheism, polytheism, and dualism. Featuring the triumphant return of Rupert and Steve, and they brought some friends.
Episode 144: Politics and Religion in Late Antiquity, Part II: The Rise of Christianity and the Invention and Eclipse of ‘Paganism’
We dive into the history of late-antique Rome from the perspective of Jews, Christians, ‘pagans’, ‘heretics’, and others vis à vis the Roman state, and give some partial explanations for how the ‘impossible’ happened, and the Empire became the Christian Empire.
Episode 143: Politics and Religion in Late Antiquity, Part I: Geopolitics, Empire, and Rabbinic Judaism
At the end of the the third century, the podcast dives back into the realm where politics meets religion. In Part I, we discuss the geopolitical balance of the Roman and Sassanian states, the position of the Jews in late antiquity, and the basics of the future of Jewry, a new form of Jewish life and religion known as Rabbinic Judaism.
Episode 142: Run the Numbers: The Theology of Arithmetic
We explore the Theolegoumena arithmeticæ, the ‘Theology of Arithmetic’, our most complete extant arithmological treatise from antiquity. It tells us a lot about Neopythagorean theory of number in the Greek ‘alphanumeric age’, it may be by Iamblichus, and it informs us that the Dyad is ‘Daring’.
Members only: Brian Alt on Iamblichus, Late-Antique Egypt, and Ritual
We keep the tape rolling and explore the fascinating byways leading off from Iamblichus' engagement with Egyptian culture, finding that the fiction égyptienne is not as fictive as Hellenophile scholarship has led us to believe. Featuring a cameo appearance from Basilides of Alexandria.
Episode 141: Brian Alt on Sacred Materials, Divine Names, and Subtle Physiology in Iamblichean Theurgy
We explore the nitty-gritty of the ritual acts lying behind the theoretical discussions in the De mysteriis. Brian Alt is our guide on a journey through Iamblichean theurgy, its many parallels in Hermetica and ‘magical’ papyri from Egypt, and its echoes in earlier and later Platonism.
In a very special episode, we dive into the parameters of Weird Platonism with Danielle Layne. Come for the Iamblichean divine signatures, stay for the erotology of the Indefinite Dyad.
Members only: Gregory Shaw (Briefly) Divinises the Soul
We have a few more minutes of conversation with Professor Shaw, starting from the perennial Late Platonist problem of why there isn't only the One (or is there?).
We discuss the phenomenology and meaning of theurgy with Professor Gregory Shaw, whose many publications on the Sage of Chalcis have helped to free his religious ideas from the opprobrium of a century of scholarship and reposition them where they belong: as spiritual practices of late-antique philosophy.
In a further discussion with Professor Finamore, we explore Iamblichean geocentrism and mathematical (meta)physics, the experiential dimension of the noetic reality, and the phenomenology of calling gods and daimones to visible appearance through ritual.
We discuss the practices lying behind the descriptions in the De mysteriis, and the theory behind the practices. Professor John Finamore is our guide through the labyrinth of evidence about theurgy.
Episode 138: The Great Theurgy Debate: Porphyry’s Letter to Anebo, Iamblichus’ Response, and the Question(s) of Ritual
In a digression-filled survey, we attempt to give some idea of Porphyry's Letter to Anebo, of Iamblichus' responses to that Letter, and the general theological/practical approach found in the De mysteriis, antiquity's greatest philosophic manifesto for addressative ritual practice.
We explore the wonderful world of late-antique (theurgic) Platonism through the eyes of Eunapius, second-rate Sophist and first-rate fabulist. Come for the divinations, prophecies, divine interventions, and grand narratives of kosmic decline, stay for the kung-fu.