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 10: Prayer to the Gods of Night: The Near-Eastern Roots of Astrology

The earliest known science of astrology developed in Mesopotamia as one and the same science as the first known astronomy. We chart the earliest known texts and their development.

Episode 9: Esoteric Orientalism Part II: The Greeks are Always Children?

The ancient Greeks tell us that they acquired their knowledge of disciplines like philosophy, geometry, and astronomy from their near-eastern neighbours. Were they right? This episode examines the evidence and some of the modern debates about the evidence.

Episode 8: Esoteric Orientalism Part I: Ancient Barbarian Sages

In part one of a two-part discussion of the roots of 'esoteric orientalism', we look at what we mean by 'orientalism' and introduce some of our favorite barbarian sages, including Zoroaster, Hermes Trismegistus, and ... Moses.

Episode 7: We’re Together In Dreams: Dreaming and Western Esotericism

Dreams are perhaps the most important point of access to the otherworlds, and everyone has them. But they are especially important for the history of western esotericism. In this episode we talk about dreams, their relation to myths, and ancient theories about dreaming.

Members only: Daniel Ogden on Three Ancient Mages

Professor Ogden gets personal, discussing three wonder-working mages of antiquity whose legacy has reverberated down the ages: Apollonius of Tyana, Jesus of Nazareth, and Alexander of Abonuteichos. Come for the itinerant holy men, stay for the talking snake-god.

Episode 6: Magicians, Ghosts, Amulets, and Spells: Daniel Ogden on Græco-Roman Magic

Before there was the high magic of the western esoteric tradition, there was good old western magic. Daniel Ogden, a specialist in all things magical in antiquity, leads us through the labyrinth of magical practice in the Græco-Roman world.

Episode 5: Methodologies for the Study of Magic

So what is magic, anyway? If you think the way magic works is mysterious and occult, try defining what the word ‘magic’ means! This episode discusses some methodological problems with the term ‘magic’, and what we can (and can't) do about them.

Members only: Robert Bolton on the (Immaterial, Immortal) Soul

The idea of a soul, a unified centre of consciousness, arises at a specific time and in specific places which we can locate historically. But what if this was not an invention, but a discovery of what had always been there? Dr Robert Bolton discussed the a priori reasons which might lead one to know that the soul is real.

Members only: Seaford on Soul, Ritual, and Money

Professor Seaford gets serious.

Episode 4: Richard Seaford on the Origins of the Soul

The idea of an inner self, a soul, arises more or less simultaneously in Greece and India in the sixth century BCE. Why? Richard Seaford has a theory.