We want to discuss the Testament of Solomon, an extraordinary demonological, angelogical, astrological, magical work from late antiquity. But we realise that, to get there, we need to spend some time exploring the earlier reaches of the ‘Solomonic tradition’. So we do. Come for the building of the First Temple, stay for the cloud upon the sanctuary.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Jews"
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.
We explore a few minority cases among the incantation bowls: the aggressive use of a bowl to curse an enemy, and the iconography (mostly demonic) which we find in some bowls. Come for the demons, stay for the demonic chickens.
Episode 147: Daniel James Waller on the Jewish Incantation-Bowls
We dive more deeply into the enigmatic corpus of late-antique Jewish ‘incantation bowls’ from Mesopotamia with the help of researcher Daniel Waller. We discuss the bowls as material objects, functional technology, and their place in late-antique Jewish culture.
Episode 146: Gideon Bohak on Late-Antique Jewish Magic
Gideon Bohak provides us with a superb introduction to the evidence for late-antique Jewish magic and to what that evidence tells us. Introducing the essential book of Jewish magic, the Sefer ha-Razim.
We wander through a bunch of important (but mushy) ideas helpful for understanding late antiquity and late-antique religion: monotheism, henotheism, polytheism, and dualism. Featuring the triumphant return of Rupert and Steve, and they brought some friends.
Episode 128: Porphyry and the Barbarians: Ethnicity, Religious Practice, and Esoteric Interpretation
We get into Porphyry's reception of Greek and non-Greek wisdom, and the ways in which esoteric truth is to be found in various cultural locales. We also discuss the one place where it is most definitely not to be found: Christianity.
The Jews in antiquity were busy doing rituals of all sorts, many of which scholars want to call magical. They were also seen by their neighbours as especially skilled at various ritual arts which the neighbours called magical. Naomi Janowitz discusses Jewish magic and the ‘Jewish Magi’ in antiquity.
Episode 50: John J. Collins on Apocalyptic
In this episode Professor John J. Collins introduces a fascinating product of Second Temple Judaism, and a fertile vehicle for esoteric speculation beyond the bounds of Jewry – apocalyptic literature. All will be revealed!
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.
Episode 11: The Long Secret History of Judaism, Part I
The Jews and Judaism are at the very core of western cuture and of western esotericism. This episode touches on the history of the early Jewish peoples, introduces biblical criticism, and discusses some of the key contributions of Judaism to western esotericism.