Cosmology and Daimons as intermediaries

Daimons out of place

unexpected supernatural intervention

imagining evil daimons

rites of relocation - exorcism and hostile magic

Daimons in place

daimons as the spirits of the dead

guardian daimons


Theory of Theurgy

divine part of human being

mind - nous or pneuma

soul - psyche

body - soma

becoming like the gods

cosmic sympathy - all things in the cosmos interrelate


Shift from locative to utopian cosmology

daimons as archons of the world

rites of relocation - escape of spirits in exile


Mechanics of Theurgy

systasis - meeting with the god

invocation vs. ascent

bringing down the gods - statues and symbols

rising up to the gods - anagoge

lightening - pneuma and the sun's rays

paths and ways - conduit and iunx

passwords and guardians

immortalization and release from fate


Issues for Discussion:

What is the appeal of theurgy for thinkers in the first several centuries CE?

What does Johnston identify as different about theurgy from earlier religious forms? 

How does theurgy fit in to Smith's categories of locative and utopian religious cosmologies?

Theurgy as magic vs. religion -contrast the attacks of  Porphyry and Plotinus with the defenses of Iamblichus, Sallustius, and Proclus

Theurgy and theory - how does formulating theories fight against charge of magic?

Ritual procedures in the Mithras Liturgy - what (in order), who, when/where, why, how

Compare Mithras Liturgy and Eighth Book of Moses


Historical context of theurgy

Chaldaean Oracles

Julian the Chaldaean

Julian the Theurgist

Marcus Aurelius (2nd century CE)

Theurgy and Neoplatonism in the Roman Empire

Plotinus (205-269/270 CE)

Porphyry (232-305 CE)

Iamblichus (250-325 CE)

Proclus (412-485 CE)

Damascius (462-539 CE)

Psellus - Michael Psellus (c.1019-1078)

Theurgy, Christianity, and Paganism in the Roman Empire

Constantine (272-337 CE)

Flavius Claudius Julianus (331-363CE) - Julian the Apostate

Maximus of Ephesus (d. 370 CE) and Sallustius


Theurgy and Elitism

Academic and Imperial circles

parent-child relation in transmission

theurgy and theology - Porphyry vs. Iamblichus

theurgy vs. goetia - religion and magic