We discuss Clement's endgame, where the Gnostic encounters god face-to-face after a lengthy transformative evolution into higher and higher spiritual forms. Things get seriously esoteric.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Cosmic Ascent"
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.
We examine the Ascension of Isaiah, an important Jewish-Christian apocalypse of the second century with a long history in later esoteric Christianities. The text gives us important insights into the struggles within the early church for authority between visionary, prophetic inspiration and hierarchical canonicity, and the ways in which the early church dealt with the inconvenient fact that the Rapture hadn't happened according to schedule. It also presents a deluxe terrain of angelic palaces and thrones, themes of descent and ascent, and some juicy details relating to ascent as a spiritual practice in antiquity.
Episode 79: Alone with the Alone: Numenius’ Metaphysics
We explore the philosophy of Numenius, in which we see the stirrings of a new type of apophatic discourse of transcendence which will come to be definitive of late antique metaphysics and theology.
We speak with papyrologist Korshi Dosoo about the history, interpretation, and makeup of the body of documents known nowadays as the Greek Magical Papyri. It all starts in ancient Egypt, but it doesn't stop until Aleister Crowley and the Mormons have made an appearance.
In a special interview with Sarah Iles Johnston, expert on ancient Græco-Roman religion, relations between the living and dead, and theurgy, we discuss Hekatē, a fascinating goddess at the centre of the theurgic theory and practice of the Chaldæan Oracles and beyond.
Episode 76: The Chaldæan Oracles and Theurgy
We have looked at what kind of world the Chaldæan Oracles set forth. We turn now to the ways in which the adept navigates that world – through ritual, epiphanic visions, cognitive disciplines, talismans, and by leaving the body through breathing. This is theurgy, and esoteric religion in antiquity would never be the same again.
Episode 75: The Chaldæan Oracles
We introduce one of the most extraordinary and influential texts of antiquity for the history of western esotericism: the Chaldæan Oracles. We discuss questions of authorship (Julian the Theurge, the Gods, or the Soul of Plato?) and the mythic metaphysics found in the text.
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 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.
We discuss the crucial figure and thought of Paul, Jesus' weirdest apostle. Revelations, visions of cosmic ascent, exorcisms, divine mysteria, and a surprising amount of classically ‘Gnostic’ material abound.
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 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.
Judaism starts to get seriously esoteric in the time known as the Second Temple period. This episode gives some basic historical points of reference for this era of Jewish antiquity, setting the stage for the visionary journeys, apocalyptic revelations, and magic to come.
Plato looked up with his intellect; the world of eternal truths he fixed his inner gaze on was located above the earthly realm. In this episode we examine the accounts which he gives us of the journey there.