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 "Subtle Body"
Episode 175: Jay Bregman on Synesius of Cyrene
We dive into the fascinating life and thought of Synesius of Cyrene, Platonist philosopher and student of Hypatia of Alexandria, and Orthodox bishop of Ptolemaïs. Committed Christian or pagan bishop? We'll see ....
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.
We discuss the practices lying behind the descriptions in the De mysteriis, and the theory behind the practices. Professor John Finamore is our guide through the labyrinth of evidence about theurgy.
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 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.
We discuss other subtle-body theories in antique esoteric literature from the Hermetica, the Platonists, Basilides, Origen, and other esoteric Christians, looking at theories of astral accretions, counterfeit spirits, resurrection-bodies, and more.
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.
Storytime: A cavern pleasant, though involv’d in night. Reading Porphyry’s On the Cave of the Nymphs, Part II
We continue our read-through of Porphyry's masterwork of esoteric interpretation. Things get very astral, and we learn about the double nature of embodied life, the eschatological function of the Milky Way, and how milk and honey might come in handy in summoning up souls.
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 Orpheus, Abaris the Hyperborean, Aristeas of Proconnesus, Epimenides of Crete, Hermotimus of Clazomenæ, Pythagoras, and Empedocles, the soul-manipulating healer-seers of ancient Greece. Come for the out-of-body soul-journeying, stay for the katabatic descents.