The Podcast

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 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.

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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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.

Members only: Danielle Layne on Synthemata, Late-Platonist Ritual Praxis, and Weird 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?).

Episode 140: Gregory Shaw on the Phenomenology of Iamblichean Theurgy

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.

Members only: John Finamore Ascends to the Noetic Triad (While Still in the Body)

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.

Episode 139: John Finamore on Iamblichean Theurgy in Theory and Practice

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.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Eunapius of Sardis’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists

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.

Episode 137: The Esoteric Iamblichus

We discuss the rich strata of the esoteric in the work of the sage of Chalcis. Starting from the evidence for socially-esoteric teaching within Iamblichus' school, we move on to discuss his constructions of esoteric wisdom lineages – notably the tradition of ‘the theurgists’ – his employment of tropes of hiding and revealing, and the parameters of the Iamblichean ‘ineffable’.

Episode 136: The ‘Greater Kinds’, Souls, and Kosmos: Iamblichus’ Philosophy, Part II

We enter into the kosmic reaches of Iamblichus' universe, populated by a host of fascinating fauna, including archangels, angels, daimones, heroes, archontes, and even – weirdest of all – human beings.

Episode 135: Esoteric Hermeneutics, Divine Hierarchy, and the Ineffable: The Philosophy of Iamblichus, Part I

We explore Iamblichus' extraordinary ‘esoteric-literalist’ approach to the Platonic corpus and the upper reaches of his complex metaphysics, the realms of the One(s) and the noetic-noeric levels of reality. Featuring special guest-star the Noeric Hebdomad.

Episode 134: Introducing Iamblichus of Chalcis

We introduce Iamblichus, known to later Platonists as ‘the Divine’, ‘the Great Iamblichus’, Platonist philosopher and wonder-working holy-man. Come for the basic biographical summary and discussion of the Iamblichean corpus of writings, stay for the levitation and miraculous apparitions.

Episode 133: A Word to Conjure With: On ‘Theurgy’ in Late Antiquity and Beyond

We talk about theurgy: what, where, when, and, indeed, how? It's more complicated than we thought. Come for the Chaldæan Oracles, stay for the Technical Brutal Death Metal.

Members only: The Theory of the Soul-Vehicle in Late-Antique Platonism and Islamicate Medical Sciences

A paper on the late-antique Platonist pneumatic soul-vehicle, delivered to an academic workshop on medieval Islamicate medicine. A typical Monday, in other words.

Episode 132: Astral Accretions, Fate, and the Resurrection-Body: Other Subtle Bodies of Antiquity

We discuss other subtle-body theories in antique esoteric literature from the Hermetica, the Platonists, Basilides, Origen, and other esoteric Christians, looking at theories of astral accretions, counterfeit spirits, resurrection-bodies, and more.

Episode 131: Soul-Flight, Noetic Bodies, and Pneumatic Vehicles: Toward a History of the Platonist Subtle Body

We discuss the soul-flight practices found in our testimonies to the ancient Greek iatromanteis, Middle-Platonist and other early testimony to the theory of a soul-vehicle, and the subtle-body theories of Plotinus and Porphyry.

Episode 130: Methodologies for Studying the Subtle Body

We formally introduce the ‘subtle body’, the mysterious tertium quid which, alongside the soul and the physical body, occupies a central place in the anthropologies of many esoteric traditions. Featuring the triumphant return of Doctor Strange to the podcast.

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.

Members only: Storytime: A cavern pleasant, though involv’d in night. Reading Porphyry’s On the Cave of the Nymphs, Part II

We continue our read-through of Porphyry's masterwork of esoteric interpretation. Things get very astral, and we learn about the double nature of embodied life, the eschatological function of the Milky Way, and how milk and honey might come in handy in summoning up souls.