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.
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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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.
Episode 44: Esoteric Hermeneutics in Stoicism
The contribution of Stoicism to the art of esoteric reading, both of texts and of the secret correspondences within the universe, is little studied. This episode sifts the evidence to set the record straight.
Members only: Christopher Gill Gets Stoical
In this special episode we discuss the Stoic idea of fate in its several dimensions, and the Stoicism Today project, bringing practical Stoicism back in the twenty-first century.
Episode 43: Christopher Gill on Stoicism
Strangely enough, one of the least 'esoteric' schools of antique philosophy, the Stoics, had a profound influence on a number of aspects of western esotericism. In this episode we learn the basics of what they were about from an expert.
Members only: Chris Brennan Gets Fatal(istic)
'Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute And found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost.'
Episode 42: Chris Brennan on Hellenistic Astrology
Historical discussions often fail to help us 'get inside' the subject we are looking at. In this episode we talk to Chris Brennan, Hellenistic astrologer and historian, for some theoretical and practical light on the realities of ancient astrology.
The synthesis of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greek sciences of the stars gave rise to the art of astrology in Hellenistic Egypt. Astrology went on to become a defining aspect of western culture, and the master-discipline of western esotericism. We look at how it happened.
We are moving with astral ineluctability toward the birth of true astrology in the Hellenistic period. But first we need to get from Mesopotamian astronomy to the Greek world. This episode bridges the gap between middle-eastern astral science and the Hellenistic flourishing of Greek astronomy.
Episode 39: The Esoteric Aristotle, Part 2
In this episode we survey the philosophical and occult Pseudo-Aristotles of late antiquity and the middle ages, dipping into a couple of wonderful manuscripts along the way.
Episode 38: The Esoteric Aristotle, Part I
Aristotle might not spring to mind when contemplating the names of esoteric heroes of the past. But the figure of Plato's greatest student in fact had an esoteric afterlife to rival that of Plato himself!
Members only: Peter Adamson On Plato and Beyond
Professor Adamson enters the speculative realm at the edges of Platonic interpretation, addressing issues ranging from the rise of the ineffable in late antique Platonism to the status of the giraffe in Plato's thought.
Episode 37: Peter Adamson on Plato
We discuss Plato with Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at the LMU in Munich and presenter of the History of Philosophy Podcast, asking the question: how can the Plato of analytic philosophy be the same man as the esoteric Plato?
Episode 36: Plato’s Parmenides and Metaphysics
At the heart of western esotericism lies a space where logic becomes something that transcends logic; Plato's dialogue the Parmenides is perhaps the first work to occupy that space. Join us for a look at Plato's most baffling work.
Episode 35: Mystery and Immortality: Plato’s Phædo
The Phædo depicts Socrates' final hours, spent in philosophical discussion with his circle of friends. Socrates argues that the soul is immortal, and that the philosopher should rejoice to die. But his reasons for believing this are ... mysterious.
Episode 34: Mystery and Initiation in Plato
The idea of initiation is central to western esotericism, but its origins lie in the mystery-cults of the Græco-Roman world. How do we get from ancient ritual practices to a special kind of transcendent knowledge or wisdom? Via Plato, of course.