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: 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.

Episode 137: The Esoteric Iamblichus

We discuss the rich strata of the esoteric in the work of the sage of Chalcis. Starting from the evidence for socially-esoteric teaching within Iamblichus' school, we move on to discuss his constructions of esoteric wisdom lineages – notably the tradition of ‘the theurgists’ – his employment of tropes of hiding and revealing, and the parameters of the Iamblichean ‘ineffable’.

Episode 136: The ‘Greater Kinds’, Souls, and Kosmos: Iamblichus’ Philosophy, Part II

We enter into the kosmic reaches of Iamblichus' universe, populated by a host of fascinating fauna, including archangels, angels, daimones, heroes, archontes, and even – weirdest of all – human beings.

Episode 135: Esoteric Hermeneutics, Divine Hierarchy, and the Ineffable: The Philosophy of Iamblichus, Part I

We explore Iamblichus' extraordinary ‘esoteric-literalist’ approach to the Platonic corpus and the upper reaches of his complex metaphysics, the realms of the One(s) and the noetic-noeric levels of reality. Featuring special guest-star the Noeric Hebdomad.

Episode 134: Introducing Iamblichus of Chalcis

We introduce Iamblichus, known to later Platonists as ‘the Divine’, ‘the Great Iamblichus’, Platonist philosopher and wonder-working holy-man. Come for the basic biographical summary and discussion of the Iamblichean corpus of writings, stay for the levitation and miraculous apparitions.

Episode 133: A Word to Conjure With: On ‘Theurgy’ in Late Antiquity and Beyond

We talk about theurgy: what, where, when, and, indeed, how? It's more complicated than we thought. Come for the Chaldæan Oracles, stay for the Technical Brutal Death Metal.

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.

Episode 132: Astral Accretions, Fate, and the Resurrection-Body: Other Subtle Bodies of Antiquity

We discuss other subtle-body theories in antique esoteric literature from the Hermetica, the Platonists, Basilides, Origen, and other esoteric Christians, looking at theories of astral accretions, counterfeit spirits, resurrection-bodies, and more.

Episode 131: Soul-Flight, Noetic Bodies, and Pneumatic Vehicles: Toward a History of the Platonist Subtle Body

We discuss the soul-flight practices found in our testimonies to the ancient Greek iatromanteis, Middle-Platonist and other early testimony to the theory of a soul-vehicle, and the subtle-body theories of Plotinus and Porphyry.

Episode 130: Methodologies for Studying the Subtle Body

We formally introduce the ‘subtle body’, the mysterious tertium quid which, alongside the soul and the physical body, occupies a central place in the anthropologies of many esoteric traditions. Featuring the triumphant return of Doctor Strange to the podcast.

Episode 129: Nilüfer Akçay on Porphyry’s On the Cave of the Nymphs

We speak with Nilüfer Akçay, author of the only full-length English monograph on Porphyry's On the Cave of the Nymphs.

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.

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.