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.

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

Episode 167: Jeremy Swist on the Emperor Julian, Part I: the Political Background and Political Project of the Emperor

Jeremy Swist, specialist on Late Platonism, late antiquity, and the great Julian the Faithful, lays out the political background and political project of The Emperor. Part I of a two-part discussion of late antiquity's greatest statesman. No bias here.

Episode 166: Joel Kalvesmaki on Evagrius’ Kephalaia Gnōstika: Philosophy, Scripture, and Apophatic Mysticism

In Part II of our discussion with Joel Kalvesmaki we explore the philosophy and mysticism of the Kephalaia Gnōstika, Evagrius' masterwork of mind-bending metaphysical aphorisms.

Episode 165: Joel Kalvesmaki on Evagrius of Pontus, the ‘Gnostic Trilogy’, and the Origenist Controversy

Part I of a discussion of Evagrius of Pontus – ascetic, philosopher, developer of Origen's thought, and mystical writer – with Joel Kalvesmaki. In this episode we cover the life and work of the great sage, in particular his ‘gnostic trilogy’, and discuss the ‘Second Origenist Controversy’ which would decide the fate of his opinions vis à vis Orthodoxy in the sixth century.

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.

Episode 164: Theology, Politics, and Radiant Darkness: Michæl Motia on Gregory of Nyssa

Having introduced the Cappadocians, we must of course explore the thought of the Divine Gregory of Nyssa. Michæl Motia is our expert guide through the territories both of late-antique religious politics and the illuminated darkness of divine unknowing at the heart of Christian mysticism.

Episode 163: Father Sergey Trostyanskiy on the Cappadocian Fathers, Part II

In Part II with Father Sergey, we explore the Platonist ‘mystical’ themes, esoteric imagery of divine darkness, and the limits of human knowledge in the Cappadocians. Христос воскрес!

Episode 162: Father Sergey Trostyanskiy on the Cappadocian Fathers, Part I

We discuss the great theologians, ascetics, and philosophers of fourth-century Christianity, the Cappadocian Fathers with Father Sergey Trostyanskiy. Come for the Philokalia, the collection which smuggles Origenistic and other anathematised ideas into the very bosom of orthodoxy, stay for the presence of divine darkness to the soul.

Episode 161: Claire Hall on Firmicus Maternus

Firmicus Maternus, a fairly prominent fourth-century intellectual from Sicily, wrote two works which survive: one is our earliest-surviving manual of astrological practice in Latin, and it shows a full-blooded belief in astral determinism, and the second is a rabid Christian polemic against traditional religious practices. Discuss.

Episode 160: Kocku von Stuckrad on Monotheist Astrologies in (Late) Antiquity

‘With the rise of monotheism in the late Roman world, astrology became a forbidden science and began its long decline.’ Starting from this widespread, and completely false historical myth, we discuss the realities of monotheist astrologies across antiquity and beyond with Professor Kocku von Stuckrad.

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’ 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 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.

Episode 159: Metals, Temples, and Living Statues: Shannon Grimes on Zosimus’ Egyptian Context

We fill in some of the historical, cultural, and economic background of Zosimus' life and practice with Shannon Grimes. Come for the economics of metallurgy and ancient Egyptian trade-guilds, stay for the living statues.

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.

Episode 158: Bink Hallum on the Extended Zosimus

We further explore the thought of Zosimus of Panopolis with Dr Bink Hallum, whose PhD research centred on the Arabic Zosimean corpus. We cover the basic (if confusing) textual situation, and then discuss astral influences, daimones and demons, mysterious talismans, Enochic ideas, and much more.

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.

Episode 157: Matteo Martelli Introduces Zosimus of Panopolis

We discuss the life, work, and thought of Zosimus of Panopolis, greatest alchemist of late antiquity, with Professor Matteo Martelli. All is One!

Episode 156: Recognising the Real in the Forgery: The Pseudo-Clementine Literature

We discuss the extraordinary late-antique novel of the early Christian church at Rome, known as the Pseudo-Clementine literature. Gnosticism, Jewish-Christianity, esotericism, scriptural and other forgery, and the problem of authenticity itself loom large as we quite improperly discuss a text meant only for true initiates.

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.

Episode 155: Charles Häberl on the Mandæans

In one of the single most fascinating interviews we have ever had the pleasure of conducting, we speak with Charles Häberl on the Mandæans, a living religious tradition of Mesopotamia, now largely living in a global diaspora, which is the single Gnostic religion surviving from late antiquity. Forget Nag-Hammadi; it's all about San Antonio.