The Podcast

SHWEP 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.

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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.

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!

Episode 26: The Birth of the Symbol: Peter Struck on Ancient Greek Esoteric Hermeneutics

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.

Episode 25: The Esoteric Plato

Plato was long considered an esoteric author who hid his true doctrines within his dialogues. We look at some of the reasons for his reputation as the esoteric author par excellence, and discuss modern academic debates around the ‘esoteric question’.

Episode 24: Introducing the Father of Western Esotericism: Plato

The greatest philosopher of the western world was a trickster. In this episode we introduce Plato, the father of western esotericism, and discuss his importance to the esoteric traditions.

Episode 23: Miguel Herrero de Jauregui on Ancient ‘Orphism’

The elusive 'Orphics' of antiquity continue to present a puzzle to scholars after several centuries of debate and the discovery of amazing new evidence. Dr Miguel Herrero helps us to navigate the fascinating question of ancient 'Orphism'.

Episode 22: Severed Heads and Cosmic Eggs: Orpheus and Esotericism

The greatest musician of antiquity was also the founder of mystery-rites, the author of curious theological poetry, and the most famous man to make the journey to the underworld while still alive. In this episode we examine the myth of Orpheus and the Orphic myths.

Episode 21: Elementary: Empedocles and the Secret History of the Elements

Empedocles: the last great poetic philosopher of antiquity, and a cosmic thinker of mind-blowing ambition. This episode looks at his influential theory of the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water – but magic, reincarnation, exiled gods, and cosmic catastrophe come into the discussion as well.