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 "Divinisation"
We discuss Sosipatra of Pergamum, an otherwise-unknown late polytheist holy woman and philosopher, depicted by her biographer Eunapius as a living goddess as well as a philosophic teacher in the lineage of Iamblichus. Come for the Late Platonist resistance to Christianity in the fourth century, stay for the mysterious Chaldæan strangers.
Episode 166: Joel Kalvesmaki on Evagrius’ Kephalaia Gnōstika: Philosophy, Scripture, and Apophatic Mysticism
In Part II of our discussion with Joel Kalvesmaki we explore the philosophy and mysticism of the Kephalaia Gnōstika, Evagrius' masterwork of mind-bending metaphysical aphorisms.
In a special episode, we ask Michæl Motia some more questions about Gregory of Nyssa. Come for the apophatic theology, stay for the apophatic anthropology.
Having introduced the Cappadocians, we must of course explore the thought of the Divine Gregory of Nyssa. Michæl Motia is our expert guide through the territories both of late-antique religious politics and the illuminated darkness of divine unknowing at the heart of Christian mysticism.
We discuss the great theologians, ascetics, and philosophers of fourth-century Christianity, the Cappadocian Fathers with Father Sergey Trostyanskiy. Come for the Philokalia, the collection which smuggles Origenistic and other anathematised ideas into the very bosom of orthodoxy, stay for the presence of divine darkness to the soul.
In an extended interview, Paul Pasquesi discusses the Makarian Homilies – an influential set of texts which is one of the key ingredients in the cultural synthesis later known as ‘Christian mysticism’ – the work of Isaac of Ninevah, and many other texts and ideas from the late-antique Syriac ascetical movement.
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.
Further musings with Charles M. Stang on the thought and importance of Henry Corbin, on the fate of the divine double in the modern period, and on the necessity of keeping Christianity weird.
We discuss the motif of the divine twin, angelic counterpart, personal daimōn, and other forms of higher, divine self with Charles Stang. We may not be who we think we are, but that's good news.
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 explore Plotinus' One and the (human) self's encounter with the One. ‘Naked with stillness, on the edge of dawn she stays.’
We discuss Plotinus on ‘magic’, in theory, and, yes, in practice. Come for magic as applied physics, stay for the apotropaic chickens.
We discuss Plotinus' controversial doctrine that some aspect of the human being never descends into the materialised kosmos, but remains eternally in the noetic. More importantly, we discuss Plotinus' descriptions of what it is like to be that higher aspect of the human being. Dig eternity!
Episode 112: We are the One: Plotinus’ Participatory Metaphysics
Plotinus' universe is uniquely full of the human self, which extends all the way from the sucking mud of matter's non-existence to the ultimate profundity of the One's non-existence, and all the existent bits in-between. We discuss some of the ways in which this human metaphysical terrain is explored in the Enneads.
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.
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.
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.
We discuss with Wouter Hanegraaff the history of scholarship of the Hermetica from Reitzenstein's Poimandres (1904) up to the modern day. We question 'the glory that was Greece' and investigate the glory that was Egypt.
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.