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.

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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.

Episode 128: Porphyry and the Barbarians: Ethnicity, Religious Practice, and Esoteric Interpretation

We get into Porphyry's reception of Greek and non-Greek wisdom, and the ways in which esoteric truth is to be found in various cultural locales. We also discuss the one place where it is most definitely not to be found: Christianity.

Episode 127: Dorian Greenbaum on Porphyry and Astrology

We talk astrology in Porphyry with Dorian Greenbaum, historian of astrology and philosophy. Along the way we situate ourselves within the history of astrology in the third century, discuss astrological world-views, and consider whether the oikodespotēs is the same chap as the personal daimōn.

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.

Episode 126: Porphyry’s Gods: The Metaphysics and Physics of Divinity

We discuss the universe of Porphyry, which is crawling with gods, powers, and daimones, and some of the ways a human being might expect to navigate such a place. The episode features a long discursus on the theory of metempsychosis and a brief discursus on divine possession.

Episode 125: ‘Poet, Philosopher, Hierophant’: Introducing Porphyry of Tyre

We introduce Porphyry of Tyre, a most prolific Platonist writer and thinker. Come for the Platonist metaphysics, stay for the esoteric reading-strategies, exorcisms, divine possessions, and lost work on the River Styx.

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.

Episode 124: Charles M. Stang on the Divine Double in Late Antiquity

We discuss the motif of the divine twin, angelic counterpart, personal daimōn, and other forms of higher, divine self with Charles Stang. We may not be who we think we are, but that's good news.

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.

Episode 123: Jason BeDuhn on Mani and Manichæism

We discuss one of the most anomalous, vexing, and fascinating religious movements in history, the first to span east and west, the elusive but crucial Manichæism, and its prophet, the great Apostle of Light, Mani. The eternal struggle between light and darkness is on, and minds will be blown.

Members only: Into the Otherworld with Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

We ask Dr Edmonds some irresponsible questions about Otherworld journeys in ancient Greek religions and beyond. We receive fascinating answers thereto.

Episode 122: Radcliffe G. Edmonds III on the ‘Mithrasliturgie’

We discuss PGM IV 475-824, the famous ‘Mithrasliturgie’, with Radcliffe G. Edmonds III. Come for the immortalisation, divinisation, and visionary cosmic ascent, stay for the magical crocodile-surfing.

Episode 121: Mithras and the Stars: Astral Elements in the Cult of Mithras

We discuss all the amazing astral imagery associated with Mithraic temples, the extraordinary testimonies to ascent of the Mithraic soul given by Celsus and Porphyry, and ask what it all means. Salvation, astral ascent, initiatory mysteries, and weird planetary orderings abound.

Episode 120: Mysteries of the Rock-Born God: The Roman Cult of Mithras

We introduce the enigmatic evidence for an innovative initiatory cult of the Roman empire, the mysteries of Mithras. Come for the underground cave-temples, stay for the mysterious ravens and uncomfortably-placed scorpions.

Episode 119: Jean-Marc Narbonne on Plotinus in Dialogue with the Gnostics

A leading scholar of the interconnections between Plotinus' thought and the thought of the Gnostics whom he disliked so much, Jean-Marc Narbonne discusses some of the Plotinian texts and ideas which make more sense if we see them in dialogue with the Gnostics.

Members only: Dylan Burns Ascends to the Plēroma

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?

Episode 118: Dylan Burns on Sethian Gnosticism

We discuss the Platonistic Sethian tractates and the movements which lay behind them with Copticist and scholar of Platonistic esotericism Dylan Burns. Ancient texts, methodological distinctions, cosmic catastrophe, and salvation abound.