Podcast Episodes Themed "Cosmic Ascent"

Episode 182: Ↄ. Martiana on Martianus Capella and the Marriage of Philology and Mercury

We discuss Martianus Capella and his extraordinary and vexing philological ascent-account, the Marriage of Philology and Mercury. Ↄ. Martiana guides us through a geocentric kosmos where liberal arts are planetary spheres, gods are physical elements, the planets are daimones, but absolutely nothing is as it seems.

Storytime: Reading Synesius On Dreams

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.

Episode 149: Exploring the Sefer ha-Razim

We explore the earliest-known Jewish ‘magic book’, the Sefer ha-Razim or Book of Mysteries. Angel-magic meets addressative practices aimed at old friends like Helios and Hermes, while Hellenistic astral cosmology collides with fiery heavenly palace-firmaments of the apocalyptic and Hekhalotic stamp.

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.

Episode 139: John Finamore on Iamblichean Theurgy in Theory and Practice

We discuss the practices lying behind the descriptions in the De mysteriis, and the theory behind the practices. Professor John Finamore is our guide through the labyrinth of evidence about theurgy.

Episode 133: A Word to Conjure With: On ‘Theurgy’ in Late Antiquity and Beyond

We talk about theurgy: what, where, when, and, indeed, how? It's more complicated than we thought. Come for the Chaldæan Oracles, stay for the Technical Brutal Death Metal.

Episode 126: Porphyry’s Gods: The Metaphysics and Physics of Divinity

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.

Ivan Miroshnikov on the Gospel of Thomas, Part I

In the first part of a two-part episode we explore the textual, theological, and other intricacies of interpreting the ‘fifth gospel’ with Ivan Miroshnkov, Coptologue, historian, and man of parts. Featuring a cameo appearance by ABBA.

Into the Otherworld with Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

We ask Dr Edmonds some irresponsible questions about Otherworld journeys in ancient Greek religions and beyond. We receive fascinating answers thereto.

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.

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 119: Jean-Marc Narbonne on Plotinus in Dialogue with the Gnostics

A leading scholar of the interconnections between Plotinus' thought and the thought of the Gnostics whom he disliked so much, Jean-Marc Narbonne discusses some of the Plotinian texts and ideas which make more sense if we see them in dialogue with the Gnostics.

Dylan Burns Ascends to the Plēroma

We continue our conversation with Dr Burns, concentrating on envisioning the audience for these Sethian texts and their ilk and the kinds of ritual practices we find adumbrated in the texts. Who were these Gnostics, and what were they doing?

Episode 118: Dylan Burns on Sethian Gnosticism

We discuss the Platonistic Sethian tractates and the movements which lay behind them with Copticist and scholar of Platonistic esotericism Dylan Burns. Ancient texts, methodological distinctions, cosmic catastrophe, and salvation abound.

The Secret (Life) of the One

We explore Plotinus' One and the (human) self's encounter with the One. ‘Naked with stillness, on the edge of dawn she stays.’

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 107: M. David Litwa on Deification in the Hermetica

We discuss the important Hermetic idea (or should that be ‘practice’?) of becoming divine with Dr M. David Litwa, who has devoted considerable thought to the matter of deification. A fascinating conversation emerges, and Litwa blows our mind.

Episode 106: Silent Encounters: The Esoteric in the Ancient Hermetica

We concentrate on the elements of the esoteric in the Hermetica that we have covered in the last few episodes, and discuss C.H. XIII and The Ogdoad Reveals the Ennead, our two most esoteric Hermetica.

Storytime: Reading the Corpus Hermeticum, Part III

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.

Storytime: Reading the Corpus Hermeticum, Part II

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.

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