The synthesis of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greek sciences of the stars gave rise to the art of astrology in Hellenistic Egypt. Astrology went on to become a defining aspect of western culture, and the master-discipline of western esotericism. We look at how it happened.
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 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.
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.
We are moving with astral ineluctability toward the birth of true astrology in the Hellenistic period. But first we need to get from Mesopotamian astronomy to the Greek world. This episode bridges the gap between middle-eastern astral science and the Hellenistic flourishing of Greek astronomy.
Episode 39: The Esoteric Aristotle, Part 2
In this episode we survey the philosophical and occult Pseudo-Aristotles of late antiquity and the middle ages, dipping into a couple of wonderful manuscripts along the way.
Episode 38: The Esoteric Aristotle, Part I
Aristotle might not spring to mind when contemplating the names of esoteric heroes of the past. But the figure of Plato's greatest student in fact had an esoteric afterlife to rival that of Plato himself!
Members only: Peter Adamson On Plato and Beyond
Professor Adamson enters the speculative realm at the edges of Platonic interpretation, addressing issues ranging from the rise of the ineffable in late antique Platonism to the status of the giraffe in Plato's thought.
Episode 37: Peter Adamson on Plato
We discuss Plato with Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at the LMU in Munich and presenter of the History of Philosophy Podcast, asking the question: how can the Plato of analytic philosophy be the same man as the esoteric Plato?
In the Cratylus Socrates and friends discuss the nature of linguistic meaning, and explore the process of ‘esoteric etymology’, by which the secrets hidden within names reveal the true nature of the names' referents. Come for the earliest discussion of linguistic theory, semiotics, and logic in the western canon, stay for the esoteric etymologies and the language spoken by the gods themselves.
Episode 36: Plato’s Parmenides and Metaphysics
At the heart of western esotericism lies a space where logic becomes something that transcends logic; Plato's dialogue the Parmenides is perhaps the first work to occupy that space. Join us for a look at Plato's most baffling work.
Episode 35: Mystery and Immortality: Plato’s Phædo
The Phædo depicts Socrates' final hours, spent in philosophical discussion with his circle of friends. Socrates argues that the soul is immortal, and that the philosopher should rejoice to die. But his reasons for believing this are ... mysterious.
Episode 34: Mystery and Initiation in Plato
The idea of initiation is central to western esotericism, but its origins lie in the mystery-cults of the Græco-Roman world. How do we get from ancient ritual practices to a special kind of transcendent knowledge or wisdom? Via Plato, of course.
Plato looked up with his intellect; the world of eternal truths he fixed his inner gaze on was located above the earthly realm. In this episode we examine the accounts which he gives us of the journey there.
We return to the mathematical structures within the text of Plato’s masterwork, guided by a scholar who has looked deeply into the question. Maya Alapin discusses how harmonic theory, music, ratios and proportions intertwine with textual meaning in the Republic.
In a conversation ranging from neolithic Scotland to avant-garde Europe in the 1920s, with many stops along the way , geometer and philosopher Adam Tetlow discusses some of the crucial, and oft-ignored, arithmetical and geometrical concepts from Plato’s dialogues.
Episode 31: Sun, Line, Cave: Plato’s Inner Republic
In this episode we explore three beautiful, linked passages in Plato’s masterwork, among the most influential Platonic texts for the history of western esotericism, which describe a world of transcendent truth accessed through the human mind.
Episode 30: Introducing Plato’s Republic
Plato’s Republic is widely regarded as his masterwork. It is complex and sly. We introduce the dialogue and try to come to grips with it in a general way, noting the intricate structure of the text itself.
Episode 29: Otherworlds, Inner Worlds, and Utopias
Plato’s Republic is the world’s first utopia. But what is a utopia, exactly, and how does it differ from the other invisible worlds we encounter in western esoteric traditions, the otherworlds and inner worlds? We survey types of esoteric space.
Members only: Further Travels in Atlantis with Christopher Gill
In this extended interview, Professor Gill takes us further into the imagined territory of Plato's Atlantis, noting possible historical influences and discussing attempts down the ages to interpret the strange story.
Episode 28: Christopher Gill on Plato’s Atlantis
Christopher Gill, Emeritus Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter, takes us deep into the territory of Atlantis, one of Plato’s most puzzling creations.
Episode 27: Plato’s Timæus
In this episode we introduce Plato’s Timæus, the father of western esotericism’s single most influential dialogue. With this work Plato set the scene for pretty much all subsequent esoteric thought. Dig infinity!
When looking for esoteric wisdom in a text, you need esoteric hermeneutics to find it. We discuss ancient techniques of esoteric reading with Professor Peter Struck, and along the way we learn some fundamental things about esoteric hermeneutics more generally.