The Value of Neo-Platonic Discourses: An Interview with Dr. Edward Butler

The Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, dating from about 300 BC in Lindos, Island of Rhodes, Greece. Photo by SaffronBlaze.

Any novice to the study of magic will eventually come upon Neo-Platonism, largely through the writing of Iamblichus in De mysteriis, translated in English as On the Mysteries. Ceremonial magicians, practitioners of magic schools, and astrological mages are all known to read or discuss De mysteriis at some point in their studies. In De mysteriis, Iamblichus mentions the cosmic mechanisms behind magic, in a work that largely argues that the only true good is union with the gods.¹ A contemporary and student of Porphyry, Iamblichus was one of the main philosophers in the Neo-Platonic tradition. Neo-Platonism was a major philosophical ideology from the third to eighth century AD. Not merely followers of Plato’s writings, Neo-Platonists immersed, borrowed, and unified nearly the entire Hellenic tradition of philosophy, religion, and literature, save the Stoic and Epicurean schools of thought.² They created an immense and intelligent system that analyzed a thousand years of intellectual culture and connected the science and ethics of Plato and Aristotle with myth, literature, and religious practice.³   

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