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.

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Episode 108: Anna van den Kerchove on the Hermetic Way in Antiquity

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.

Members only: Litwa Expands on the Hermetic Reception

We continue our discussion with Dr Litwa, following a few irresponsible, speculative alleyways, and learning a lot about the incredible reception of Hermetic literature outside of Hermetism in the process.

Episode 107: M. David Litwa on Deification in the Hermetica

We discuss the important Hermetic idea (or should that be ‘practice’?) of becoming divine with Dr M. David Litwa, who has devoted considerable thought to the matter of deification. A fascinating conversation emerges, and Litwa blows our mind.

Episode 106: Silent Encounters: The Esoteric in the Ancient Hermetica

We concentrate on the elements of the esoteric in the Hermetica that we have covered in the last few episodes, and discuss C.H. XIII and The Ogdoad Reveals the Ennead, our two most esoteric Hermetica.

Members only: Storytime: Reading the Corpus Hermeticum, Part III

We complete our reading of the Hermetic corpus, looking at tractates XI-XVIII (minus C.H. XV, which doesn't exist, and C.H. XIII, which we are discussing separately). Yet more inspiration, epiphany, and bafflement awaits the reader of these texts. Come for the hypercosmic god of eternity, stay for the musical cicada.

Members only: Storytime: Reading the Corpus Hermeticum, Part II

We continue reading, with C.H. VI-X posing all manner of baffling interpretive questions, as well as some of the most inspiring and gorgeous religious ideas from antiquity. Come for god as the hyperessential good, stay for the noetic garments of fire.

Members only: Storytime: Reading the Corpus Hermeticum, Part I

In this special episode we delve into the Corpus Hermeticum, seeking commonalities, differences, and the elusive threads which might help us figure out what is special about the theoretical Hermetic tradition in antiquity.

Episode 105: Other Hermetic Worlds: The Asclepius and Korê Kosmou

We discuss two world-building Hermetic texts from antiquity, the Latin Asclepius and the Korê Kosmou. We have seen Hermes as visionary pupil of the divine consciousness; now we see him as ancient esoteric sage, prophet of doom, and cosmic planetary deity.

Episode 104: Wouter Hanegraaff on the Poimandres

Wouter Hanegraaff has been reading the Poimandres with great attention. Come for the visionary encounter with the divine nous, stay for cosmogenesis as love story.

Episode 103: Corpus Hermeticum I, the Poimandres

We discuss the Poimandres, perhaps the most extraordinary Hermetic document surviving from antiquity. It's an apocalyptic vision granting gnôsis of how the world was created, how humanity came to be the way we are, and what we can do about it. Essential reading.

Episode 102: Professor Christian Wildberg on Emending the Corpus Hermeticum

We discuss the (poor) state of the texts collected in the Corpus Hermeticum with Professor Christian Wildberg, a man who proposes to do something about it.

Members only: Philhellenism and the Egyptian Other: Wouter Hanegraaff on Reading the Hermetica

We discuss with Wouter Hanegraaff the history of scholarship of the Hermetica from Reitzenstein's Poimandres (1904) up to the modern day. We question 'the glory that was Greece' and investigate the glory that was Egypt.

Episode 101: Brian Copenhaver on the Hermetica

We speak with Brian Copenhaver, translator of the Corpus Hermeticum and general man of parts vis á vis all things hermetic, to get some orientation on the ancient Hermetica and what they are all about.

Episode 100: Thrice-Greatest Hermes

We introduce the sage of sages, the barbarian philosopher of philosophers, the one and only (unless there were more of him) Thrice-Greatest Hermes. We also introduce his copious literary output, the Hermetica, and discuss these writings in an introductory way.

Episode 99: Total War: Polemical Esotericism in the Contra Celsum.

We explore the polemics and counter-polemics of Origen's Contra Celsum, with a particular eye toward the use (and abuse) of the esoteric as a strategy of tradition-building, exclusion, and totalising interpretation.

Episode 98: The True Account: Celsus, Origen, and Ideological Esotericism in Late Antiquity

An almost-unknown Middle Platonist philosopher named Celsus wrote the first-known anti-Christian polemical pamphlet some time in the later second century. This is The True Account. It is esoteric.

Members only: Claire Hall on Prophecy in Origen

Origen's theory of prophecy – what it is, how it works, who constitutes a prophet, and so on – is fascinating, but he never lays it out in a straightforward way. For that you need Dr Claire Hall and Jaffa Cakes.

Members only: Aron Reppmann on Origen: Castration, Rejection, and Redemption

Professor Reppmann delves into Origen's self-castration (yes, really), anathematisation, and reappearance as the quintessential Christian esotericist.

Episode 97: Aron Reppmann Introduces Origen of Alexandria

Professor Aron Reppmann introduces the life, thought, and esotericism of Origen of Alexandria, one of the greatest church-fathers, Platonist theologian par excellence, and revolutionary scriptural exegete.

The Darkness of God before the creation (detail, Fludd, Utriusque cosmi historia ... 1617-21). A picture's worth a thousand words? Or maybe a picture demands we keep silent in the face of the nothingness of the divine reality ....

Members only: Speaking the Silence: On Reading Apophatic Language

We explore the difficulties inherent in interpreting apophatic language if we take it really seriously. Expect roughly half an hour of complete silence.