Podcast Episodes Themed "Subtle Body"

Episode 186: The Esoteric Proclus, Part I: The Life and Thought of an Esoteric Sage

We look further into Proclus' esoteric doings, as a sage whose privileged status is marked by inspirations and epiphanies, omens and miracles. We then attempt a (shamefully oversimplified) summary of some important aspects of his (meta)physics.

Storytime: Reading Hierocles on the Golden Verses, Part II

We continue our read-through of Hierocles' Commentary, focusing in detail on the treasure-trove that is Chapter XXVI. The telestic was never so initiatory (or is it civic?)!

Episode 184: Hierocles of Alexandria and the Pythagorean Golden Verses

We discuss Hierocles of Alexandria, strudent of Plutarch of Athens made good. He wrote an esoteric commentary on the poem known as the Golden Verses of the Pythagoreans. The poem is full of good advice and the Commentary tells us a lot about the nature and purification of the luminous subtle body.

Episode 183: The Great God Pan Lives: Introducing the Athenian Academy

We turn to the final flowering of polytheist Platonist philosophy, centred on Athens (and Alexandria). We review some useful historical data, discuss the history of ‘the Academy’ as a notional ‘school’ in antiquity, and introduce Plutarch of Athens and Syrianus, teachers of the great Proclus.

Storytime: Reading Macrobius’ Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, Part II

We continue our read-through of Macrobius through a major section on arithmology, a palate-cleansing taxonomy of the virtues, and a detail-rich discussion of the descent of the soul, her acquisition of planetary subtle bodies, and a host of astrological lore both eschatological and indeed psychological.

Episode 181: Macrobius and the Commentary on Scipio’s Dream

We explore the rich seam of late-antique esoteric lore that is Macrobius' Commentary on the Dream of Scipio. We discuss who Macrobius was, what he wrote, what he wrote about, and introduce who read him later on. He emerges as a crucial transmitter of astrologised, arithmologically-informed Platonism to the Latin west in the middle ages.

Storytime: Reading Synesius On Dreams

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.

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.

Episode 139: John Finamore on Iamblichean Theurgy in Theory and Practice

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.

Episode 136: The ‘Greater Kinds’, Souls, and Kosmos: Iamblichus’ Philosophy, Part II

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 132: Astral Accretions, Fate, and the Resurrection-Body: Other Subtle Bodies of Antiquity

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.

The Greek Iatromanteis: Katabasis, Metempsychosis, Soul-Flight, and the Question of ‘Shamanism’

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.

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