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.

SHWEP is an experiment in community-supported scholarship. Join now for less than one pound per week to get access to special members-only podcast and oddcast episodes, take part in online discussions about each episode and help ensure the future of this unique listener-supported project

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Free and members-only | Members-only | Title list

Members only: Ↄ. Martiana Rises to the Occasion

We let the tape roll, and engage Ↄ. Martiana in further reflections on Capella, along with guest-appearances from some other (even crazier) late-antique Latin writers. Also, we deconstruct the whole idea of late antiquity.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Macrobius’ Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, Part II

We continue our read-through of Macrobius through a major section on arithmology, a palate-cleansing taxonomy of the virtues, and a detail-rich discussion of the descent of the soul, her acquisition of planetary subtle bodies, and a host of astrological lore both eschatological and indeed psychological.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Macrobius’ Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, Part I

We begin to read through Macrobius' Commentary with an eye for the esoteric. A whole world of literary/discursive theory opens before our eyes, wherein fictions hide the truth, the truth may be ineffable, and dreams are a weird kind of esoteric text. So what does that make a fictional dream which tells the genuine truth?

Members only: Mateusz Stróżyński on Spiritual Practices in Augustine

We continue our discussion of Augustine, turning to Prof Stróżyński's fruitful approach to spiritual practices as recorded (but often ignored) in the texts of Plotinus and Augustine. It emerges that there is a quiet but insistent thread of divinisation ‘hiding’ in the text of the Confessions, and that the human self may be, in a sense, god.

Members only: Mateusz Stróżyński on Augustine and Platonism

We are delighted to welcome Prof Stróżyński back to the podcast to deepen our understanding of Augustine's engagement with Platonist philosophy. The saint emerges as, in some ways, a model Plotinian thinker, in other ways something totally different from that, and, above all, as a philosophic thinker struggling with the reality of daily life in the collapsing western Roman empire.

Members only: Stephen Cooper on Marius Victorinus, Philosophy, Panpsychism, and a Modern Religious Platonism

We keep the tape running and continue our discussion with Prof Cooper, asking him how Victorinus' thought might provide useful tools for thinking toward a philosophically-satisfying Christianity today. Things get psychedelic, philosophic, and Platonistic.

Members only: David Hernández de la Fuente on Nonnus of Panopolis

We are delighted to speak with David Hernández de la Fuente on Nonnus of Panopolis, one of the last great epic poets of the Græco-Roman tradition, and a man with a lot to tell us about the interplay between Christianity and ‘paganism’ in late antiquity. Come for the indeterminate religiosity, stay for the esoteric Orphic lore.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Synesius On Dreams

The On Dreams of Synesius of Cyrene is one of the finest pieces of esoteric writing to survive from antiquity. It preserves fragments of the Chaldæan Oracles, conveys fully fleshed-out theories of veridical imagination, dream-divination, and magic based on kosmic correspondence, and gives us other valuable details of antique occult lore. It is also self-consciously an esoteric piece of writing, and seems to be suggesting that it is a polytheist message-in-a-bottle to be read by future generations, once the dark times of Christian persecution have passed. So we read it.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Eunapius, Part III: The Diviners’ Purge and the End of the Theurgic Revolution

We explore the tragic dénouement of Julian's reign and the rôle played therein by Maximus of Ephesus. Along the way we see a transfer of power to the Valentinianic dynasty, a ferocious political purge of suspected magicians and diviners, and learn of Maximus' final fate. We also get two descriptions of ancient, private divination-practices in action, but only one of them is something to try at home!

Members only: Storytime: Reading Eunapius Part II, The Emperor and the Thaumaturge

As we near the end of our Julian and his Amazing Friends series, we dive back into the text of Eunapius of Sardis to excavate Maximus of Ephesus, the wonder-worker who became Julian's closest friend and advisor. What happens when the Roman empire is guided by the insights of a theurgist, his gods, and the stars? We find out in this episode.

Members only: Into the Darkness with Michæl Motia

In a special episode, we ask Michæl Motia some more questions about Gregory of Nyssa. Come for the apophatic theology, stay for the apophatic anthropology.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Zosimus of Panopolis’ The Final Accounting

In this, our last Zosimus Storytime episode, we discuss the ‘Final Accounting’ or ‘Final Quittance’, a work in which Zosimus lays out for Theosebia the most recondite and hardcore spiritual practice to be found in his oeuvre. Part Hermetic, part demonic, all alchemical.

Members only: Storytime: Reading ‘The Visions of Zosimus’

In this episode we look at the collection of short texts often called ‘The Visions of Zosimus’, hallucinatory dream-narratives which Zosimus relates and then interprets for us. This is the earliest extant visionary alchemical allegory, and it's serious stuff.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Zosimus of Panopolis On the Letter Omega

We delve into On the Letter Omega, one of Zosimus of Panopolis' most cryptic and extraordinary texts (which is saying something). It turns out that to understand the technical implements of alchemy you need to understand the fall of the primordial human being into the materialised Thoth-Adam.

Members only: Bink Hallum on Zosimus Arabicus: The Final Quittance

In an extra episode with Dr Hallum we go all-in on the tangled textual web of the Arabic Zosimus. Who wrote what, and when? We then explore the incredible Muṣḥaf al-ṣuwar, our earliest alchemical emblem book, relating the text and images, and trying to make sense of it all.

Members only: Matteo Martelli Perfects the Tincture

We continue our discussion of the great Zosimus, with anecdotes from the laboratory, discussion of the rhetorics of secrecy and the esoteric in Zosimus' works, and of Zosimus' Nachleben as one of the great alchemical authorities down the ages.

Members only: Into the Light-Worlds with Charles Häberl

Our interview with Charles Häberl gets some extra time, and we explore the life and work of the contemporary scholar of a living Gnostic tradition, with the challenges, pitfalls, and huge opportunities furnished by that job-description. Along the way we look at aspects of the Mandæan community in diaspora, introduce the Sabæans, and address the question of Mandæan esotericism.

Members only: Into Syriac Spirituality in Theory and Practice with Paul Pasquesi

In an extended interview, Paul Pasquesi discusses the Makarian Homilies – an influential set of texts which is one of the key ingredients in the cultural synthesis later known as ‘Christian mysticism’ – the work of Isaac of Ninevah, and many other texts and ideas from the late-antique Syriac ascetical movement.

Members only: Into Coptic Magic with Korshi Dosoo

We go through a number of case-studies of early Christian magic with Korshi Dosoo. Come for the queer Christian love-spell and unlooked-for cameo appearance by the Gnostic Barbelo, stay for the Satan-Unicorn.

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.

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