We introduce Plutarch of Chæronea: first-century man-of-letters, pioneering biographer, and transmitter of ancient esoteric Platonism to the western tradition.
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.
Showing all episodes | View members-only episodes
We look at the fascinating figure of Thrasyllus: astrologer, power-player in the imperial Roman court of Tiberius, philosopher … and editor of the works of Plato.
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.
Episode 65: Graeme Miles on Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius of Tyana was a first-century wandering philosopher-sage, famous in later tradition as a great Pythagorean and wonder-working holy man. We look at the man himself and at his powerful myth.
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.
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.
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.