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.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Plotinus"
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.
In a very special episode, we dive into the parameters of Weird Platonism with Danielle Layne. Come for the Iamblichean divine signatures, stay for the erotology of the Indefinite Dyad.
We have a few more minutes of conversation with Professor Shaw, starting from the perennial Late Platonist problem of why there isn't only the One (or is there?).
We discuss the phenomenology and meaning of theurgy with Professor Gregory Shaw, whose many publications on the Sage of Chalcis have helped to free his religious ideas from the opprobrium of a century of scholarship and reposition them where they belong: as spiritual practices of late-antique philosophy.
Episode 138: The Great Theurgy Debate: Porphyry’s Letter to Anebo, Iamblichus’ Response, and the Question(s) of Ritual
In a digression-filled survey, we attempt to give some idea of Porphyry's Letter to Anebo, of Iamblichus' responses to that Letter, and the general theological/practical approach found in the De mysteriis, antiquity's greatest philosophic manifesto for addressative ritual practice.
We explore the wonderful world of late-antique (theurgic) Platonism through the eyes of Eunapius, second-rate Sophist and first-rate fabulist. Come for the divinations, prophecies, divine interventions, and grand narratives of kosmic decline, stay for the kung-fu.
Episode 137: The Esoteric Iamblichus
We discuss the rich strata of the esoteric in the work of the sage of Chalcis. Starting from the evidence for socially-esoteric teaching within Iamblichus' school, we move on to discuss his constructions of esoteric wisdom lineages – notably the tradition of ‘the theurgists’ – his employment of tropes of hiding and revealing, and the parameters of the Iamblichean ‘ineffable’.
We enter into the kosmic reaches of Iamblichus' universe, populated by a host of fascinating fauna, including archangels, angels, daimones, heroes, archontes, and even – weirdest of all – human beings.
Episode 135: Esoteric Hermeneutics, Divine Hierarchy, and the Ineffable: The Philosophy of Iamblichus, Part I
We explore Iamblichus' extraordinary ‘esoteric-literalist’ approach to the Platonic corpus and the upper reaches of his complex metaphysics, the realms of the One(s) and the noetic-noeric levels of reality. Featuring special guest-star the Noeric Hebdomad.
A paper on the late-antique Platonist pneumatic soul-vehicle, delivered to an academic workshop on medieval Islamicate medicine. A typical Monday, in other words.
Episode 131: Soul-Flight, Noetic Bodies, and Pneumatic Vehicles: Toward a History of the Platonist Subtle Body
We discuss the soul-flight practices found in our testimonies to the ancient Greek iatromanteis, Middle-Platonist and other early testimony to the theory of a soul-vehicle, and the subtle-body theories of Plotinus and Porphyry.
Episode 130: Methodologies for Studying the Subtle Body
We formally introduce the ‘subtle body’, the mysterious tertium quid which, alongside the soul and the physical body, occupies a central place in the anthropologies of many esoteric traditions. Featuring the triumphant return of Doctor Strange to the podcast.
Episode 127: Dorian Greenbaum on Porphyry and Astrology
We talk astrology in Porphyry with Dorian Greenbaum, historian of astrology and philosophy. Along the way we situate ourselves within the history of astrology in the third century, discuss astrological world-views, and consider whether the oikodespotēs is the same chap as the personal daimōn.
We discuss the question of who might have written the Anonymous, and the possible ramifications that might have on the relationships between Sethian Gnosticism and Platonist philosophy in late antiquity. Another one for the hardcore.
We introduce an enigmatic text, the anonymous commentary on Plato's Parmenides, and discuss why it, and its noetic triad of hyparxis, noēsis, and zōē, have so many scholars of Platonism and Platonistic religious currents arguing and causing a fuss.
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.
We introduce Porphyry of Tyre, a most prolific Platonist writer and thinker. Come for the Platonist metaphysics, stay for the esoteric reading-strategies, exorcisms, divine possessions, and lost work on the River Styx.
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.
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.