show episodes
 
THE SECRET HISTORY OF ART takes you on a series of private guided tours of the world's greatest artworks. Best-selling author and professor of art history Noah Charney presents the history, symbolism, and importance of each work. The Secret History of Art is a series of lessons in miniature on great works of art around the world. By spending just a few minutes per masterpiece, you can learn the mysteries, stories, and secrets of some of civilization’s greatest treasures.
 
Journey into the past, and you'll discover the secret history of the future. From the world's first cyberattack in 1834, to 19th-century virtual reality, The Economist's Tom Standage and Slate's Seth Stevenson examine the historical precedents that can transform our understanding of modern technology, predicting how it might evolve and highlighting pitfalls to avoid. Discovering how people reacted to past innovations can also teach us about ourselves.
 
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show series
 
We speak with Anna van den Kerchove, a leading voice in the scholarly trend ‘reclaiming’ ancient Hermetism from its long sojourn outside the realms of respectability. We discuss Hermetic texts and the kinds of milieux in which they may have circulated in antiquity.By Earl Fontainelle
 
We discuss the important Hermetic idea (or should that be ‘practice’?) of becoming divine with Dr M. David Litwa, who has devoted considerable thought to the matter of deification. A fascinating conversation emerges, and Litwa blows our mind.By Earl Fontainelle
 
We discuss two world-building Hermetic texts from antiquity, the Latin Asclepius and the Korê Kosmou. We have seen Hermes as visionary pupil of the divine consciousness; now we see him as ancient esoteric sage, prophet of doom, and cosmic planetary deity.By Earl Fontainelle
 
We discuss the Poimandres, perhaps the most extraordinary Hermetic document surviving from antiquity. It's an apocalyptic vision granting gnôsis of how the world was created, how humanity came to be the way we are, and what we can do about it. Essential reading.By Earl Fontainelle
 
Please see content warning below Once upon a time, from the midst of normality, an extraordinary story began... In a time when the world was being shaped on the fields of war, a boy named Archie dared to find his own path by looking to the stars. In Part One of Cary, hear the incredible journey of Archie Leach; one that stretched from broken beginn…
 
As antiquity progressed, certain esoteric religious thinkers and philosophers came increasingly to doubt whether the nature of the highest reality could be expressed in words. They developed a new form of language to deal with the problem of talking about the ineffable: apophasis. We discuss speaking the silence in late antiquity.…
 
Clement stays esoteric. We examine the esoteric wisdom-lineages constructed by Clement, how he reads them, in the context of how he hides his reading of them. Plus, there seems to have been some genuine, contemporary esotericism going on in early Christianity.By Earl Fontainelle
 
We explore the esoteric writing methodologies of Clement's Stromateis – the innovative ‘public secrecy’, the reasons for Clement's esotericism, and the evocation of the mysteries and of the ineffable as aspects of esoteric rhetoric.By Earl Fontainelle
 
Hey Secret History listeners! We'd like to introduce a new show from Slate, Thrilling Tales of Modern Capitalism. Each episode dives into the history of a brand that shapes the way we live and work. This first episode is about The Carnival Corporation, the biggest cruise company in the world. Carnival made headlines at the start of the covid-19 cri…
 
We discuss Claudius Ptolemy (no relation), synthesiser of Hellenistic astronomy/astrology to the mediæval world and beyond, and his two great works, the Almagest and the Tetrabiblos. Come for the naturalistic account of astral causation, stay for the planetary talismans.By Earl Fontainelle
 
Speculations about the properties of number have been a major constituent of some western esoteric traditions. In this episode we examine the most important source of much of this tradition of arithmological thought, first- and second-century Neopythagoreanism, and the writings of one crucial thinker in particular: Nicomachus of Gerasa.…
 
In the previous episode we surveyed alchemy from its beginnings to the present day; in this episode we go back to the roots. Matteo Martelli has produced the first critical edition of the fragments of the Pseudo-Democritus, our earliest-known work of alchemy. We discuss the secrets found within its pages.…
 
We look at Marcion of Sinope, the final arch-heretic in our ‘unholy trinity’. Marcion compiled the first Christian textual canon – he wrote the first Bible – but this was not your grandma's Bible. Demiurgy, transcendence, and some interesting questions of textual hermeneutics abound.By Earl Fontainelle
 
Under the expert guidance of Geoffrey Smith, we explore the world-view of Valentinus – an elite intellectual Christian thinker of the second century – and his legacy – a reputation for the blackest heresy and a demiurgical Christian movement known nowadays as Valentinianism.By Earl Fontainelle
 
We take a deep breath before diving into detailed discussions of early esoteric Christianities to consider a few key terms and their historical development. What was orthodoxy? What was heresy? Who were the heresiologists, and what were they doing?By Earl Fontainelle
 
Professor Michael Williams leads us on a tour of ‘Gnosticism’, both as a term (used and misused by ancient heresiologists, Reformation-era polemicists, modern scholars, and even modern ‘Gnostics’) and as a group of late-ancient religious texts which are very, very interesting, but which should probably not be called ‘Gnostic’.…
 
Hello, Secret History fans! Here's an episode of another show we think you might like: Cautionary Tales from Pushkin Industries. Learning from our mistakes can be hard. Learning from other people’s mistakes...well, that’s a lot more fun. In Cautionary Tales, from Pushkin Industries, economist and journalist Tim Harford retells true stories of unexp…
 
We speak with papyrologist Korshi Dosoo about the history, interpretation, and makeup of the body of documents known nowadays as the Greek Magical Papyri. It all starts in ancient Egypt, but it doesn't stop until Aleister Crowley and the Mormons have made an appearance.By Earl Fontainelle
 
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.…
 
Hey Secret History of the Future fans! We're excited to introduce you to another show we think you'll like. It's called What Next: TBD, and it's a weekly show about tech, power, and the future. Secret History's very own Seth Stevenson guest hosted this episode. Check it out, and then subscribe here: https://slate.com/podcasts/what-next-tbd or where…
 
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.By Earl Fontainelle
 
In this episode we discuss the defense-speech of Apuleius against charges of having used magic to make a wealthy widow fall in love with him. Roman law, sorcery, and philosophy collide in a rhetorical tour-de-force, and we discuss whether fish are magical or not.By Earl Fontainelle
 
Apuleius was a great Latin-language Middle Platonist writer, whose works preserve some fascinating esoteric materials which had a major impact on the development of western esotericism in the Latin middle ages and beyond. We introduce the man and his famous occult novel, the Metamorphoses, or Golden Ass.…
 
Following the success of The Body Snatcher, Val Lewton has become one of RKO's most valuable and lauded producers. As well as the many opportunities now being presented to him, Lewton has also embarked upon his first true "A-Picture", a dark tale of madness and cruelty set within the walls of the most notorious asylum in the world. But as Hollywood…
 
We examine one of the strangest records of personal religious experience and divine epiphany from antiquity, the Hieroi Logoi of Ælius Aristides. Come for the incubation, dream-initiations, and miraculous powers, stay for the interminable descriptions of dyspepsia.By Earl Fontainelle
 
In this episode we look at three different homemade myths found in Plutarch's writings. All of them deal with the fate of the soul after death, all of them put the land of the dead in the sky, and all of them are exceedingly difficult to interpret. We have seen Plutarch interpret a myth esoterically; now we see him making his own esoteric myths.…
 
Radio was originally a social medium, as early radio sets (each of which could transmit as well as receive) turned cities into giant chatrooms, populated by Morse Code-tapping enthusiasts. But the excitement of this democratic, digital platform did not last, and radio was tamed by corporate interests in the 1920s. The utopian dream of platforms tha…
 
The first mechanical clocks were made to summon monks to prayer. Ever since, timekeeping technology has often been about control and obligation. But underneath a mountain in Texas, a new kind of clock is being built that’s meant to alter the way we think about time. Can it force us to connect our distant past with our distant future, tick by tick? …
 
At the dawn of the 20th century, chemists dreamed of extracting nitrogen from the air and turning it into a limitless supply of fertiliser. Sceptics thought they were crazy -- it was possible in theory, but it was unclear if it could be done in practice. What happened next changed the course of 20th-century history, and provides inspiration to inno…
 
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