Podcast Episodes Themed "Astrology"

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.

Episode 56: The First Western Esotericist: Philo of Alexandria

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.

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.

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.

Episode 41: Fate and Foreknowledge: Toward Hellenistic 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.

Episode 40: Wheels Within Wheels: Toward Western Esoteric Cosmology

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 27: Plato’s Timæus

In this episode we introduce Plato’s Timæus, the father of western esotericism’s single most influential dialogue. With this work Plato set the scene for pretty much all subsequent esoteric thought. Dig infinity!

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.

Kocku von Stuckrad on Western Esotericism

Kocku von Stuckrad, Professor of Religious Studies at the Universiteit van Groningen, reflects on the methodological issues involved in the study of (what is called) western esotericism, and on the academic field devoted to it in the larger academic context.

Episode 1: A Secret History of Secret History, Part I

A lightning summary of key major elements of western esotericism from late antiquity up to the middle ages, featuring a foray into the esoteric art of imaginal cocktail-mixing.