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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
After the final Pythagorean died, all was quiet. And then, suddenly, people started going around calling themselves Pythagoreans. Growing long beards. Hailing Pythagoras as an ancient magus-sage. Positing a monad as the ultimate source of reality. Welcome to Neopythagoreanism.
Members only: Joel Kalvesmaki Expands Arithmetically
We continue our conversation with Joel Kalvesmaki on all manner of subjects numerical, psephical, arithmological, metaphysical, Christological, monadical, and even heretical.
Whenever anyone does something other than arithmetic with numbers, the name Pythagoras tends to crop up. Exactly how this strange situation came about is a fascinating story, and Dr Kalvesmaki has done groundbreaking work on the subject. This episode is a superb introduction to the origins of ‘gematria’ and arithmology.
Episode 46: After Pythagoras
When we last visited the Pythagoreans, they were going through some difficult times. In this episode we discuss what happened next. Pythagoreanism is dead, long live Pythagoreanism!
Episode 45: Stoic Physics and Esoteric Metaphysics
The Stoics had a naturalistic physical theory which, strangely, had a huge influence both on esoteric spirituality and on occult sciences. In this, our final episode on Stoicism, we discuss three key terms from Stoic physics and their surprising afterlives in western esotericism.