We discuss with Wouter Hanegraaff the history of scholarship of the Hermetica from Reitzenstein's Poimandres (1904) up to the modern day. We question 'the glory that was Greece' and investigate the glory that was Egypt.
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 One, Two 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.
SHWEP is an experiment in community-supported scholarship. Join now for less than one pound per week to get access to special members-only podcast and oddcast episodes, take part in online discussions about each episode and help ensure the future of this unique listener-supported project
Already a member? Log in here
Members only: Claire Hall on Prophecy in Origen
Origen's theory of prophecy – what it is, how it works, who constitutes a prophet, and so on – is fascinating, but he never lays it out in a straightforward way. For that you need Dr Claire Hall and Jaffa Cakes.
Professor Reppmann delves into Origen's self-castration (yes, really), anathematisation, and reappearance as the quintessential Christian esotericist.
Members only: Speaking the Silence: On Reading Apophatic Language
We explore the difficulties inherent in interpreting apophatic language if we take it really seriously. Expect roughly half an hour of complete silence.
It may be that it is possible to have too much serious metaphysics, highbrow esoteric science, and all that sort of thing. Before entering late antiquity in full earnest, listeners may wish to pause for a moment with Lucian, antiquity's great debunker. We are guided by Professor Karen ní Mheallaigh, a great lover of the great lover of lies.
Members only: Storytime: Exploring Book V of the Stromateis, Part II
We continue our reading of Clement's Stromateis, Book V, and continue to have our minds blown. Come for the esoteric reading methodologies, stay for the very first appearance of the actual Greek word esôterikos on the podcast!
Members only: Storytime: Exploring Book V of the Stromateis, Part I
In the first of a two-part episode, we read through Book V of Clement's Stromateis, which contains, among other things, perhaps the fullest surviving exposition on types of esoteric discourse from antiquity. Come for the ainigmata and symbola, stay for Abraham the astrologer.
Members only: The Writings of Clement of Alexandria
The surviving oeuvre of Clement of Alexandria hides some complicated textual issues. In this episode, not for the fainthearted, we discuss the various lost works, fragments, and alleged forgeries.
Members only: Geoffrey Smith Valentinicates Further
In a further conversation with Geoffrey Smith we try to imagine what Valentinus' circle at Rome might have looked like, we discuss the esoteric in early Christianity, and we delve into the further horizons of future research on Valentinianism.
We get deeper into the whole question of ‘What's so esoteric about the Gnostics and other esoteric groupings within early Christianity?’, and argue that the esoteric is always there within Christianity. Irenæus was right, heresy is permanent. And that's a good thing.
We examine the Ascension of Isaiah, an important Jewish-Christian apocalypse of the second century with a long history in later esoteric Christianities. The text gives us important insights into the struggles within the early church for authority between visionary, prophetic inspiration and hierarchical canonicity, and the ways in which the early church dealt with the inconvenient fact that the Rapture hadn't happened according to schedule. It also presents a deluxe terrain of angelic palaces and thrones, themes of descent and ascent, and some juicy details relating to ascent as a spiritual practice in antiquity.
Members only: Michael Williams on Early Christian Heterodoxies
We put a number of impossible-to-answer questions about ancient demiurgic traditions in proto-Christianity to Professor Williams, and receive some fascinating answers.
Members only: Korshi Dosoo Papyrologises Magically
We let the tape roll and get deeper into the world of ancient magic in Egypt. How secret was this stuff? And what really went on when you invoked a god to visible appearance? κρύβε!
Members only: Sarah Iles Johnston on Hekatē
In a special interview with Sarah Iles Johnston, expert on ancient Græco-Roman religion, relations between the living and dead, and theurgy, we discuss Hekatē, a fascinating goddess at the centre of the theurgic theory and practice of the Chaldæan Oracles and beyond.
Members only: Storytime: The Tale of Cupid and Psyche
At the heart of Apuleius' occult novel, the Metamorphoses, is one of the most influential esoteric allegories of the western tradition, the Tale of Cupid and Psyche. Join us in the wonderful literary place where fairy-tales meet metaphysical allegory.
Members only: Daniel Harris-McCoy Lives the Dream
Further discussion of Artemidorus and his dream-divination in context and in practice. We talk about Artemidorus' relationship to other forms of divination, the political implications of dreams, and much more.
Members only: Græme Miles Apollonicates Further
Apollonius of Tyana and his biographer raise fascinating questions of interpretation, both historical and esoteric. In this extended interview we explore the layered byways of interpreting the Sage of Tyana and of interpretation in Philostratus.
Members only: Jesus the Magician? Interrogating Ancient and Modern Discourses of Ritual Power in the Gospels
We explore the evidence in the New Testament for accusations that Jesus was a magus or a sorcerer. Turns out there's quite a lot of them. What we are to make of these accusations, that's the question. We discuss ancient critics, Gospel apologists, and modern scholars.
We turn to our most esoteric evangelist, John, and discuss his many writings, two of which – the Gospel and Apocalypse – have left an indelibly esoteric character on Christianity. Come for the logos-theology, stay from the Beast whose number is 666.
We discuss the crucial figure and thought of Paul, Jesus' weirdest apostle. Revelations, visions of cosmic ascent, exorcisms, divine mysteria, and a surprising amount of classically ‘Gnostic’ material abound.