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.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Initiation"
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.
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.
Apuleius was a great Latin-language Middle Platonist writer, whose works preserve some fascinating esoteric materials which had a major impact on the development of western esotericism in the Latin middle ages and beyond. We introduce the man and his famous occult novel, the Metamorphoses, or Golden Ass.
We examine one of the strangest records of personal religious experience and divine epiphany from antiquity, the Hieroi Logoi of Ælius Aristides. Come for the incubation, dream-initiations, and miraculous powers, stay for the interminable descriptions of dyspepsia.
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 35: Mystery and Immortality: Plato’s Phædo
The Phædo depicts Socrates' final hours, spent in philosophical discussion with his circle of friends. Socrates argues that the soul is immortal, and that the philosopher should rejoice to die. But his reasons for believing this are ... mysterious.
Episode 34: Mystery and Initiation in Plato
The idea of initiation is central to western esotericism, but its origins lie in the mystery-cults of the Græco-Roman world. How do we get from ancient ritual practices to a special kind of transcendent knowledge or wisdom? Via Plato, of course.
Episode 23: Miguel Herrero de Jauregui on Ancient ‘Orphism’
The elusive 'Orphics' of antiquity continue to present a puzzle to scholars after several centuries of debate and the discovery of amazing new evidence. Dr Miguel Herrero helps us to navigate the fascinating question of ancient 'Orphism'.
Episode 13: From Mystery to ‘Mysticism’
What is the relationship between the ancient initiatory rituals known as mystery-cults and the modern concept of 'mysticism'? In this episode we survey the strange story of the conceptual development of the terms ‘mystic’, ‘mystical’, and ‘mystery’ down the ages.
Episode 12: Richard Seaford on the Mysteries
With the inimitable Prof. Seaford as our mystagogue, we explore the world of the ancient Greek mystery-cults, the crucial source for western esoteric tropes of secrecy, silence, initiation, and much more.