Earl Fontainelle public
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We discuss the spiritual life of Proclus with Danielle Layne. For those who know, we need say no more. For those who don't, divine erōs leads the prayerful theurgic practitioner to the endless, creative longing of the Dyad for her unattainable Beloved, and dancing is revealed for the theurgic activity it always was. A piglet dies, and death is ther…
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We discuss Proclus' titanic labours in the field of commentary – on many Platonic dialogues, but also on the Chaldæan Oracles, the Homeric poems, and a number of other texts – with Graeme Miles, an acute reader of Platonist philosophy and part of the team translating Proclus' Republic commentary into English. Come for Platonic commentary as spiritu…
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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.By Earl Fontainelle
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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.By Earl Fontainelle
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We discuss Martianus Capella and his extraordinary and vexing philological ascent-account, the Marriage of Philology and Mercury. Ↄ. Martiana guides us through a geocentric kosmos where liberal arts are planetary spheres, gods are physical elements, the planets are daimones, but absolutely nothing is as it seems.…
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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.…
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Craig talks with the ever knowledgeable and jolly Benito Cereno about Scandinavian elves, which you're starting to see more and more places in decorations and movies. All links mentioned on the show, along with info on Benito, can be found at WeirdChristmas.com at this link: https://weirdchristmas.com/2023/12/23/nisser-and-tomtar-scandinavian-elves…
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We discuss Marius Victorinus, a fascinating character from the tumultuous Roman scene in the mid fourth century who converted from Platonism to Platonism-plus-Christianity. His life and thought give us a valuable window onto the cultural scene in fourth-century Rome, as well, as some crucial data for the transmission of Platonist ideas into the Lat…
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The podcast turns from the eastern Roman empire to its western reaches, now falling into strife and decline as we move into the fifth century. In this episode we look at languages, especially Latin and Greek, and discuss how their intelligibility declined in the respective halves of the now-sundered empire. And we discuss the fate of Plato and Plat…
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In Part I of a two-part-series centred around the great Hypatia of Alexandria, we introduce the life, and the notorious death, of the Late Platonist philosopher Hypatia, one of late antiquity's most evocative enigmas. Plus, a Christian mob didn't destroy the Great Library at Alexandria, but that doesn't mean there weren't some scabrous goings-on.…
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We discuss arguably the greatest magical book of the Islamicate tradition, the Shams al-maʿārif al-kubrā or Great Sun of Knowledge. Turns out it isn't by al-Būnī as everyone thought, though there is some Būnī in there; but it has so much to tell us about Islamicate culture, Sufism, and the ‘project of forgetting’ of esoteric Islām among both Muslim…
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The sacking of Rome by Alaric and his Visigoths in the year 410 was an ideologically-charged event that left a permanent imprint on the culture of the west. We discuss two contemporary readings of what this event meant – one a polytheist and one a Christian – and, starting from these case-studies, a few of the crucial themes set in motion by the ‘F…
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We introduce Aḥmad al-Būnī, master sūfī and alphanumeric speculator, but most famous in the Islamicate world as an authority on magic. We sift the wheat from the chaff and get to the bottom of who al-Būnī was, what he really wrote, and what kind of reception he has had, both within and outside of Islam.…
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We discuss Sosipatra of Pergamum, an otherwise-unknown late polytheist holy woman and philosopher, depicted by her biographer Eunapius as a living goddess as well as a philosophic teacher in the lineage of Iamblichus. Come for the Late Platonist resistance to Christianity in the fourth century, stay for the mysterious Chaldæan strangers.…
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We are delighted to speak with Frederico Fidler about Sallustius' On the Gods and the World, a short manual of a popular nature outlining how Platonist metaphysics work, how traditional Hellenistic religion is thought to mirror those metaphysical realities, and how esoteric hermeneutics are the key to unlocking the truth in the vast tradition of my…
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We discuss the dynamics of Julian's esoteric religious/political formulation of Hellenism, and reflect on some of the very strange things that happen when esoteric religions like Iamblichean theurgy (and Christianity) are taken out of the small conclave and projected onto the corridors of power.By Earl Fontainelle
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We discuss universal salvation, a perennial idea within Christianity – that all of humanity, or maybe even everything in the universe, will be saved through Christ's salvific atonement – with Morwenna Ludlow of the University of Exeter. Starting from Clement of Alexandria and ending with the current state of play in sometimes-unlikely Christian cir…
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Our discussion with Jeremy Swist on The Emperor turns metaphysical, theurgic, and religious, as we discuss Julian's incredible synthesis of Iamblichean theology and metaphysics, traditional religions, and politics. Come for the pagan counter-church, stay for the transcendent solar metaphysics.By Earl Fontainelle
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Jeremy Swist, specialist on Late Platonism, late antiquity, and the great Julian the Faithful, lays out the political background and political project of The Emperor. Part I of a two-part discussion of late antiquity's greatest statesman. No bias here.By Earl Fontainelle
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Part I of a discussion of Evagrius of Pontus – ascetic, philosopher, developer of Origen's thought, and mystical writer – with Joel Kalvesmaki. In this episode we cover the life and work of the great sage, in particular his ‘gnostic trilogy’, and discuss the ‘Second Origenist Controversy’ which would decide the fate of his opinions vis à vis Orthod…
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Having introduced the Cappadocians, we must of course explore the thought of the Divine Gregory of Nyssa. Michæl Motia is our expert guide through the territories both of late-antique religious politics and the illuminated darkness of divine unknowing at the heart of Christian mysticism.By Earl Fontainelle
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We discuss the great theologians, ascetics, and philosophers of fourth-century Christianity, the Cappadocian Fathers with Father Sergey Trostyanskiy. Come for the Philokalia, the collection which smuggles Origenistic and other anathematised ideas into the very bosom of orthodoxy, stay for the presence of divine darkness to the soul.…
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Firmicus Maternus, a fairly prominent fourth-century intellectual from Sicily, wrote two works which survive: one is our earliest-surviving manual of astrological practice in Latin, and it shows a full-blooded belief in astral determinism, and the second is a rabid Christian polemic against traditional religious practices. Discuss.…
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‘With the rise of monotheism in the late Roman world, astrology became a forbidden science and began its long decline.’ Starting from this widespread, and completely false historical myth, we discuss the realities of monotheist astrologies across antiquity and beyond with Professor Kocku von Stuckrad.…
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We discuss the widespread idea of the ‘disenchantment’ of the modern world – the idea that ‘we don't believe in magic any more’ – with Jason Josephson-Storm. It turns out that the idea is a myth, that the myth is actually a number of complex, interacting myths, and that none of them is empirically-accurate.…
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We discuss the extraordinary late-antique novel of the early Christian church at Rome, known as the Pseudo-Clementine literature. Gnosticism, Jewish-Christianity, esotericism, scriptural and other forgery, and the problem of authenticity itself loom large as we quite improperly discuss a text meant only for true initiates.…
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We speak about illusion, magic, and reality with magical experience designer Ferdinando Buscema. He can make stuff disappear, find your card anywhere in the deck, and read your mind. He is, in short, a magician. But he is also, like Apuleius, Iamblichus, Ficino, and Crowley before him, a philosopher of magic.…
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The best show of the year: 19 stories of Christmas Weirdness from the annual Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest. Please visit WeirdChristmas.com to get information on the authors and to read the stories again. If you want to support the contest and help make more and bigger prizes for the writers next year, please visit Ko-Fi.com/weirdchristmas …
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I talk to Earl Fontainelle of the SHWEP (Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast). We try to trace down any textual evidence that would connect the origins of Christmas to ancient pagan sources, namely the Mithras cult and Emperor Constantine’s Sol Invictus cult. Listen here, on your favorite podcast app, or at the Podbean site. The SHWEP The…
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In one of the single most fascinating interviews we have ever had the pleasure of conducting, we speak with Charles Häberl on the Mandæans, a living religious tradition of Mesopotamia, now largely living in a global diaspora, which is the single Gnostic religion surviving from late antiquity. Forget Nag-Hammadi; it's all about San Antonio.…
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Benito and I discuss the traditions surrounding the Mari Lwyd, getting into similarities with other European wassailing and hobby horse traditions. A recording of the Mari Lwyd rhyme in action by the BBC. Benito's Links: Benito’s Christmas history videos Benito’s writing at Gumroad Apocrypals podcast Friends ‘Till the End podcast Progressively Horr…
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