The greatest philosopher of the western world was a trickster. In this episode we introduce Plato, the father of western esotericism, and discuss his importance to the esoteric traditions.
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 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.
Episode 23: Miguel Herrero de Jauregui on Ancient ‘Orphism’
The elusive 'Orphics' of antiquity continue to present a puzzle to scholars after several centuries of debate and the discovery of amazing new evidence. Dr Miguel Herrero helps us to navigate the fascinating question of ancient 'Orphism'.
The greatest musician of antiquity was also the founder of mystery-rites, the author of curious theological poetry, and the most famous man to make the journey to the underworld while still alive. In this episode we examine the myth of Orpheus and the Orphic myths.
Empedocles: the last great poetic philosopher of antiquity, and a cosmic thinker of mind-blowing ambition. This episode looks at his influential theory of the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water – but magic, reincarnation, exiled gods, and cosmic catastrophe come into the discussion as well.
Episode 20: All for One, and One for All: Parmenides of Elea
Parmenides is the original philosopher of pure Being. And he learned all about Being from a goddess on a trip through the underworld. Philosophy used to be really interesting.
Episode 19: Riddle Me This: Heraclitus of Ephesus
Heraclitus was a combative, obscure, grumpy philosopher who thought everyone was stupid. He was also a pioneer in esoteric modes of discourse, being the earliest philosopher to write in 'riddles', and made several crucial contributions to western esotericism.
Episode 18: Don’t Spill the Beans: Pythagorean Silence
One of the key legacies of ancient Pythagoreanism is its mystique of esoteric silence. We examine the figure of the late-antique 'Pythagorean' philosopher, whose silence is a higher form of speech, and the dynamics of esoteric discourse which cannot, by definition, be revealed.
Episode 17: The Enigma of Pythagoreanism
The historical journey from a holy man specialising in soul-manipulation to a fertile philosophic movement innovating in advanced mathematics, astronomy, and harmonic theory is one of the stranger stories of western intellectual history. In this episode we tell it.
Episode 16: The Enigma of Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos is revered in the western esoteric traditions as the founder of mathematical mysteries, the discoverer of musical harmony, and the esoteric philosopher par excellence. We survey the earliest evidence and examine the ancient mystagogue and psychagogue who may have founded philosophy.
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.