Podcast Episodes Themed "Astrology"

Storytime: A cavern pleasant, though involv’d in night. Reading Porphyry’s On the Cave of the Nymphs, Part I

We begin a detailed read-through of the greatest work of esoteric reading to survive from antiquity. Come for the depth-allegorical reading of the ancient wisdom, stay for the Mithraic lore, necromancy, and ghosts.

Episode 128: Porphyry and the Barbarians: Ethnicity, Religious Practice, and Esoteric Interpretation

We get into Porphyry's reception of Greek and non-Greek wisdom, and the ways in which esoteric truth is to be found in various cultural locales. We also discuss the one place where it is most definitely not to be found: Christianity.

Episode 127: Dorian Greenbaum on Porphyry and Astrology

We talk astrology in Porphyry with Dorian Greenbaum, historian of astrology and philosophy. Along the way we situate ourselves within the history of astrology in the third century, discuss astrological world-views, and consider whether the oikodespotēs is the same chap as the personal daimōn.

Episode 123: Jason BeDuhn on Mani and Manichæism

We discuss one of the most anomalous, vexing, and fascinating religious movements in history, the first to span east and west, the elusive but crucial Manichæism, and its prophet, the great Apostle of Light, Mani. The eternal struggle between light and darkness is on, and minds will be blown.

Episode 121: Mithras and the Stars: Astral Elements in the Cult of Mithras

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 120: Mysteries of the Rock-Born God: The Roman Cult of Mithras

We introduce the enigmatic evidence for an innovative initiatory cult of the Roman empire, the mysteries of Mithras. Come for the underground cave-temples, stay for the mysterious ravens and uncomfortably-placed scorpions.

Marilynn Lawrence Casts the Chart

We further explore matters astrological, Plotinian, Platonist, scientific, divinatory, symbolic, and more, and address the problem of astrologers getting it right when that shouldn't really be possible.

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.

Episode 109: Christian Bull on the Way of Hermes in Antiquity

In our final episode in the Hermetica series, we discuss the way of Hermes in antiquity with Christian Hervik Bull. Come for the renunciation, immortalisation, and hypercosmic ascent, stay for the animated statues.

Episode 108: Anna van den Kerchove on the Hermetic Way in Antiquity

We speak with Anna van den Kerchove, a leading voice in the scholarly trend ‘reclaiming’ ancient Hermetism from its long sojourn outside the realms of respectability. We discuss Hermetic texts and the kinds of milieux in which they may have circulated in antiquity.

Episode 103: Corpus Hermeticum I, the Poimandres

We discuss the Poimandres, perhaps the most extraordinary Hermetic document surviving from antiquity. It's an apocalyptic vision granting gnôsis of how the world was created, how humanity came to be the way we are, and what we can do about it. Essential reading.

Episode 102: Professor Christian Wildberg on Emending the Corpus Hermeticum

We discuss the (poor) state of the texts collected in the Corpus Hermeticum with Professor Christian Wildberg, a man who proposes to do something about it.

Episode 89: The Astrology of Vettius Valens

We examine the life, work, and legacy of Vettius Valens, second-century Roman astrologer and author of the Anthologies, the most hard-core practical handbook of astrological practice which survives from antiquity.

Episode 88: Claudius Ptolemy and the Tetrabiblos

We discuss Claudius Ptolemy (no relation), synthesiser of Hellenistic astronomy/astrology to the mediæval world and beyond, and his two great works, the Almagest and the Tetrabiblos. Come for the naturalistic account of astral causation, stay for the planetary talismans.

Episode 82: I Got Soul, And I’m Super Bad: Basilides of Alexandria

Basilides of Alexandria, one of the first Christian philosophers and scriptural exegetes, is known as one of the great Gnostic heresiarchs of the second century. But what did he actually teach? It's mind-blowing and it's esoteric.

Episode 78: Inter philosophos occultorum curiosior: Numenius of Apamea

We investigate the esoteric practice of one of Middle Platonism's most enigmatic figures, the great Numenius of Apamea.

Episode 69: Plutarch’s Myths of Cosmic Ascent

In this episode we look at three different homemade myths found in Plutarch's writings. All of them deal with the fate of the soul after death, all of them put the land of the dead in the sky, and all of them are exceedingly difficult to interpret. We have seen Plutarch interpret a myth esoterically; now we see him making his own esoteric myths.

Episode 66: Astrology, Politics, and Platonism in the Early Empire: The Case of Thrasyllus

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.

Episode 61: The Esoteric and the State in Ancient Rome, Part 2: The State and the Stars

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.

Episode 60: The Esoteric and the State in Ancient Rome, Part 1: Late Republican Esotericism

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.