The On Dreams of Synesius of Cyrene is one of the finest pieces of esoteric writing to survive from antiquity. It preserves fragments of the Chaldæan Oracles, conveys fully fleshed-out theories of veridical imagination, dream-divination, and magic based on kosmic correspondence, and gives us other valuable details of antique occult lore. It is also self-consciously an esoteric piece of writing, and seems to be suggesting that it is a polytheist message-in-a-bottle to be read by future generations, once the dark times of Christian persecution have passed. So we read it.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Astral Religion"
‘With the rise of monotheism in the late Roman world, astrology became a forbidden science and began its long decline.’ Starting from this widespread, and completely false historical myth, we discuss the realities of monotheist astrologies across antiquity and beyond with Professor Kocku von Stuckrad.
Episode 141: Brian Alt on Sacred Materials, Divine Names, and Subtle Physiology in Iamblichean Theurgy
We explore the nitty-gritty of the ritual acts lying behind the theoretical discussions in the De mysteriis. Brian Alt is our guide on a journey through Iamblichean theurgy, its many parallels in Hermetica and ‘magical’ papyri from Egypt, and its echoes in earlier and later Platonism.
We explore the wonderful world of late-antique (theurgic) Platonism through the eyes of Eunapius, second-rate Sophist and first-rate fabulist. Come for the divinations, prophecies, divine interventions, and grand narratives of kosmic decline, stay for the kung-fu.
Episode 131: Soul-Flight, Noetic Bodies, and Pneumatic Vehicles: Toward a History of the Platonist Subtle Body
We discuss the soul-flight practices found in our testimonies to the ancient Greek iatromanteis, Middle-Platonist and other early testimony to the theory of a soul-vehicle, and the subtle-body theories of Plotinus and Porphyry.
We discuss the universe of Porphyry, which is crawling with gods, powers, and daimones, and some of the ways a human being might expect to navigate such a place. The episode features a long discursus on the theory of metempsychosis and a brief discursus on divine possession.
Episode 122: Radcliffe G. Edmonds III on the ‘Mithrasliturgie’
We discuss PGM IV 475-824, the famous ‘Mithrasliturgie’, with Radcliffe G. Edmonds III. Come for the immortalisation, divinisation, and visionary cosmic ascent, stay for the magical crocodile-surfing.
We discuss all the amazing astral imagery associated with Mithraic temples, the extraordinary testimonies to ascent of the Mithraic soul given by Celsus and Porphyry, and ask what it all means. Salvation, astral ascent, initiatory mysteries, and weird planetary orderings abound.
Episode 116: Plotinus on Astrology with Marilynn Lawrence
We speak with Marilynn Lawrence, authority on Platonism, Hellenistic astrology, and the intersection of the two, about Plotinus' theoretical writings on the science of the stars.
We discuss Plotinus on ‘magic’, in theory, and, yes, in practice. Come for magic as applied physics, stay for the apotropaic chickens.
We complete our reading of the Hermetic corpus, looking at tractates XI-XVIII (minus C.H. XV, which doesn't exist, and C.H. XIII, which we are discussing separately). Yet more inspiration, epiphany, and bafflement awaits the reader of these texts. Come for the hypercosmic god of eternity, stay for the musical cicada.
We continue reading, with C.H. VI-X posing all manner of baffling interpretive questions, as well as some of the most inspiring and gorgeous religious ideas from antiquity. Come for god as the hyperessential good, stay for the noetic garments of fire.
In this special episode we delve into the Corpus Hermeticum, seeking commonalities, differences, and the elusive threads which might help us figure out what is special about the theoretical Hermetic tradition in antiquity.