In this special episode we continue the conversations we started earlier, digging into the relations between magic, religion, and philosophy in the Græco-Roman world.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Theurgy"
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 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 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 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 134: Introducing Iamblichus of Chalcis
We introduce Iamblichus, known to later Platonists as ‘the Divine’, ‘the Great Iamblichus’, Platonist philosopher and wonder-working holy-man. Come for the basic biographical summary and discussion of the Iamblichean corpus of writings, stay for the levitation and miraculous apparitions.
We talk about theurgy: what, where, when, and, indeed, how? It's more complicated than we thought. Come for the Chaldæan Oracles, stay for the Technical Brutal Death Metal.
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.
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.
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.
Episode 122: Radcliffe G. Edmonds III on the ‘Mithrasliturgie’
We discuss PGM IV 475-824, the famous ‘Mithrasliturgie’, with Radcliffe G. Edmonds III. Come for the immortalisation, divinisation, and visionary cosmic ascent, stay for the magical crocodile-surfing.
We continue our conversation with Dr Burns, concentrating on envisioning the audience for these Sethian texts and their ilk and the kinds of ritual practices we find adumbrated in the texts. Who were these Gnostics, and what were they doing?
Episode 95: The Third Century and (the Long) Late Antiquity
As the podcast enters the third century, we discuss the parameters of ‘late antiquity’, and what makes something ‘late-antique’. Special bonus material: the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire!
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.
Episode 76: The Chaldæan Oracles and Theurgy
We have looked at what kind of world the Chaldæan Oracles set forth. We turn now to the ways in which the adept navigates that world – through ritual, epiphanic visions, cognitive disciplines, talismans, and by leaving the body through breathing. This is theurgy, and esoteric religion in antiquity would never be the same again.
Episode 75: The Chaldæan Oracles
We introduce one of the most extraordinary and influential texts of antiquity for the history of western esotericism: the Chaldæan Oracles. We discuss questions of authorship (Julian the Theurge, the Gods, or the Soul of Plato?) and the mythic metaphysics found in the text.