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 64: The Enigma of Early Christianity

We introduce Christianity. Just how did this movement get started in the first place? The crazy thing is, no one knows.

Members only: Beyond the ‘Underworld’ with Dylan Burns

We continue our conversation with Dylan Burns, exploring the contours of Platonist esotericism from a number of different angles.

Episode 63: Dylan Burns on the ‘Underworld of Platonism’

Building on our previous episode, where we introduced 'Middle Platonism', in this interview we investigate the middle Platonist 'Underworld', religio-philosophical texts of antiquity which became mainstays of later western esoteric traditions: the Chaldæan Oracles, the Hermetica, and the Gnostic tractates.

Members only: John Dillon Platonizes Further

We continue our conversation with Professor Dillon, exploring the contours of the Middle Platonist traditions in more detail, not excluding its esoteric 'underworld'.

Episode 62: John Dillon on Middle Platonism

Under the expert guidance of Professor John Dillon, we begin our exploration of what may be antiquity’s single most crucial current for the development of western esotericism: Middle Platonism.

Episode 61: The Esoteric and the State in Ancient Rome, Part 2: The State and the Stars

We trace the rise of the Hellenistic divinatory art of astrology through the Roman Republic into the first century of the Empire, and investigate how an esoteric science became a matter of highest concern to the Roman state. Expect uprisings, assassinations, and executions. Astrology used to be really exciting.

Episode 60: The Esoteric and the State in Ancient Rome, Part 1: Late Republican Esotericism

In the first of a two-episode series exploring the relationship between state power and esoteric ideas in the late Roman Republic and early empire, we look at what it meant to be esoteric at Rome, and investigate some upper-class Roman esotericists.

Episode 59: Introducing Rome

The Eternal City, and the empire she built, cast a long shadow down the ages. This episode consists of some preliminary historical musings on Rome, and, more importantly, on the idea of Rome.

Episode 58: Justin Rogers on Philo in Early Christianity

Justin Rogers guides us on a tour of the afterlife of Philo's work. How did the great Hellenistic Jewish thinker become a father of the Christian faith (and of Christian esoteric scriptural hermeneutics in particular)? We find out.

Episode 57: The Esoteric Philo

In this episode we explore the deeply esoteric thought of Philo of Alexandria. Expect hidden ancient perennial traditions, divine revelation, esoteric philosophic truths hidden in plain sight, arithmological speculations, and much more.

Episode 56: The First Western Esotericist: Philo of Alexandria

The first true western esotericist: Philo of Alexandria. In this episode we come to grips with what makes him so western, what makes him so esoteric, and introduce his fascinating life and work.

Episode 55: Naomi Janowitz on Jewish Magic and ‘The Jewish Magi’ in Antiquity

The Jews in antiquity were busy doing rituals of all sorts, many of which scholars want to call magical. They were also seen by their neighbours as especially skilled at various ritual arts which the neighbours called magical. Naomi Janowitz discusses Jewish magic and the ‘Jewish Magi’ in antiquity.

Members only: Frances Flannery Dreams On

Frances Flannery explores the problems of interpreting ancient accounts of visionary dreams. A wide-ranging interview featuring the first Book of Enoch, imaginal trees, and the platypus.

Episode 54: Frances Flannery on Jewish Dreams in Antiquity

In an interview bringing together both the visionary narratives of apocalyptic and the practical side of the Hekhalot traditions, Professor Frances Flannery leads us through the corridors of dreaming and the esoteric in antique Judaism.

Episode 53: Palaces of Heavenly Wisdom: The Hekhalot and Merkavah Traditions

We give an overview of the complex and fascinating Hekhalot and Merkavah texts, works not only describing the journey to God’s throne, but giving instructions on how to get there, and not merely enumerating the angelic hierarchies, but giving the tools to summon and command them.

Members only: Matthew Neujahr on Near-Eastern Roots of Apocalyptic

We explore the fascinating parallels between Near Eastern visionary materials and the Jewish apocalyptic texts of the Second Temple. Matthew Neujahr is our guide through the shifting sands of some seriously esoteric texts, as we sift what can be proven from the speculative material.

Episode 52: Enoch, Apocalyptic, and Abrahamic Faith

In this episode we explore further the amazing work 1 Enoch, taking in along the way ruminations on the history of the west, debates about the identity of the Enochic authors, and some hints as to the development of the Enochic tradition as a western esoteric ‘scripture’.

Episode 51: Enoch and the Book of Watchers

The text known as 1 Enoch is perhaps the greatest work of apocalyptic literature, and a kind of esoteric scripture within Judaism, Christianity, and Gnosticism. We meet the text and look at the evil giants and celestial visions of its first part, the Book of Watchers.

Episode 50: John J. Collins on Apocalyptic

In this episode Professor John J. Collins introduces a fascinating product of Second Temple Judaism, and a fertile vehicle for esoteric speculation beyond the bounds of Jewry – apocalyptic literature. All will be revealed!

Episode 49: The Long Secret History of the Jews Part II: Second-Temple Judaism

Judaism starts to get seriously esoteric in the time known as the Second Temple period. This episode gives some basic historical points of reference for this era of Jewish antiquity, setting the stage for the visionary journeys, apocalyptic revelations, and magic to come.