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: 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.

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.

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.

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?).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

We begin a detailed read-through of the greatest work of esoteric reading to survive from antiquity. Come for the depth-allegorical reading of the ancient wisdom, stay for the Mithraic lore, necromancy, and ghosts.

Members only: The Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides, Porphyry, and the Sethian Gnostics

We discuss the question of who might have written the Anonymous, and the possible ramifications that might have on the relationships between Sethian Gnosticism and Platonist philosophy in late antiquity. Another one for the hardcore.

Members only: Noetic Triads and Lost Palimpsests: Introducing the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides

We introduce an enigmatic text, the anonymous commentary on Plato's Parmenides, and discuss why it, and its noetic triad of hyparxis, noēsis, and zōē, have so many scholars of Platonism and Platonistic religious currents arguing and causing a fuss.

Members only: Ivan Miroshnikov on the Gospel of Thomas, Part II

We continue our discussion of the Gospel of Thomas, exploring its ancient readership, its relationship with the emergent proto-orthodoxy of the second-fourth centuries, its curious imagery of ‘standing’ and ‘eikōn’ in the context of Middle-Platonist thought, and much more.

Members only: Ivan Miroshnikov on the Gospel of Thomas, Part I

In the first part of a two-part episode we explore the textual, theological, and other intricacies of interpreting the ‘fifth gospel’ with Ivan Miroshnkov, Coptologue, historian, and man of parts. Featuring a cameo appearance by ABBA.

Members only: Charles M. Stang Doubles Down

Further musings with Charles M. Stang on the thought and importance of Henry Corbin, on the fate of the divine double in the modern period, and on the necessity of keeping Christianity weird.

Members only: Jason BeDuhn Separates the Light from the Darkness

We ask Jason BeDuhn some responsible and irresponsible questions about Mani and Manichæism, in which it emerges that the Religion of Light was a much more positive, even world-affirming faith than is commonly thought.