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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Members only: Dylan Burns Ascends to the Plêroma

We continue our conversation with Dr Burns, concentrating on envisioning the audience for these Sethian texts and their ilk and the kinds of ritual practices we find adumbrated in the texts. Who were these Gnostics, and what were they doing?

Members only: Marilynn Lawrence Casts the Chart

We further explore matters astrological, Plotinian, Platonist, scientific, divinatory, symbolic, and more, and address the problem of astrologers getting it right when that shouldn't really be possible.

Members only: Ascending Further with Mateusz Stróżyński

With Mateusz Stróżyński as our anagogue, we travel further up the winding ways of Plotinian philosophy as way-of-life and transformative, practical disciline.

Members only: Was Plotinus a Platonist? Lineage, Identity, and Scholarship

We talk about how Plotinus defined himself and his lineage, versus how modern scholars tend to define these things. We discuss Plotinus' unusual esoteric perennialism, his allegiance to the Ancients, and why, though he may have been a Platonist, he didn't think so.

Members only: Anna van den Kerchove Hermeticises Further

We ask Anna van den Kerchove some seriously irresponsible questions about ancient Hermetism, the fate of the Hermetica, and the intellectual milieu of late antiquity (and even the second century). She answers with both scholarly care and aplomb.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Nothing to say.

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.

Members only: An Antidote to Esotericism: Karen ní Mheallaigh on Lucian of Samosata

It may be that it is possible to have too much serious metaphysics, highbrow esoteric science, and all that sort of thing. Before entering late antiquity in full earnest, listeners may wish to pause for a moment with Lucian, antiquity's great debunker. We are guided by Professor Karen ní Mheallaigh, a great lover of the great lover of lies.

Members only: Storytime: Exploring Book V of the Stromateis, Part II

We continue our reading of Clement's Stromateis, Book V, and continue to have our minds blown. Come for the esoteric reading methodologies, stay for the very first appearance of the actual Greek word esôterikos on the podcast!

Members only: Storytime: Exploring Book V of the Stromateis, Part I

In the first of a two-part episode, we read through Book V of Clement's Stromateis, which contains, among other things, perhaps the fullest surviving exposition on types of esoteric discourse from antiquity. Come for the ainigmata and symbola, stay for Abraham the astrologer.

Members only: The Writings of Clement of Alexandria

The surviving oeuvre of Clement of Alexandria hides some complicated textual issues. In this episode, not for the fainthearted, we discuss the various lost works, fragments, and alleged forgeries.

Members only: Geoffrey Smith Valentinicates Further

In a further conversation with Geoffrey Smith we try to imagine what Valentinus' circle at Rome might have looked like, we discuss the esoteric in early Christianity, and we delve into the further horizons of future research on Valentinianism.

Members only: Michael Williams on Early Christian Heterodoxies

We put a number of impossible-to-answer questions about ancient demiurgic traditions in proto-Christianity to Professor Williams, and receive some fascinating answers.

Members only: Korshi Dosoo Papyrologises Magically

We let the tape roll and get deeper into the world of ancient magic in Egypt. How secret was this stuff? And what really went on when you invoked a god to visible appearance? κρύβε!