Western esotericism, also called esotericism and esoterism, is a scholarly term applied as a label to a wide range of groups and schools of thought which share a general air de famille. It refers to a wide array of ideas and movements which have developed within Western society, and which have remained largely distinct from both orthodox Judeo-Christian religion and Enlightenmentrationalism. A trans-disciplinary field, esotericism has pervaded various forms of Western philosophy, religion, pseudoscience, art, literature, and music, continuing to have an impact on intellectual ideas and popular culture.
The precise definition of Western esotericism has been debated by various academics, with a number of different alternatives proposed. One scholarly model adopts its definition of "esotericism" from certain esotericist schools of thought themselves, treating "esotericism" as a perennialist hidden, inner tradition. A second perspective argues that it is a category that encompasses world views which seek to embrace an 'enchanted' world view in the face of increasing de-enchantment. A third view, propounded by Wouter Hanegraaff, views Western esotericism as a category encompassing all of Western culture's "rejected knowledge" that is accepted by neither the scientific establishment nor orthodox religious authorities.
Arcane is a scientist whose obsession with gaining immortality has led him to create monstrous creatures known as "Un-Men" as well as other monstrous biogenetic experimentations involving the dead. He was able to resurrect his deceased brother Gregori as the Patchwork Man. He is also a skilled magician, which he is able to channel through his horrific experiments.
Living in the mountains of Europe with his niece Abigail, Arcane was introduced in Swamp Thing Volume 1 #2 after luring the plant based hero to his castle home. Arcane sought to use his scientific and magic abilities to transform his body into Swamp Thing's form, while changing Swamp Thing back into Alec Holland. At first very grateful to be human again, Alec soon overheard Arcane discussing his evil intentions now that he can carry them out. Alec then succeeds in breaking the spell Arcane cast, and sacrifices his humanity, so Arcane becomes a frail old man again. Pursued by Swamp Thing, Arcane fell to his death, only to be resurrected by his minions in a new body. He then attacked Swamp Thing twice more before truly dying, the first time as a hulking corpse-like beast (only to be destroyed by vengeful ghosts) and later as a spider-like cyborg piloting a massive dragonfly-like vehicle. It is after his second death that his soul was consigned to Hell.
A general distinction can be made between (a) civil lawjurisdictions (including Catholic canon law and socialist law), in which the legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, which is still the case in some religious communities, particularly Jewish, and some countries, particularly Islamic. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law.
The Fourth Way is an approach to self-development described by George Gurdjieff which he developed over years of travel in the East (ca. 1912). It combines what he saw as three established traditional "ways" or "schools", those of the mind, emotions and body, or of yogis, monks and fakirs respectively, and is sometimes referred to as "The Work", "Work on oneself" or "The System". The exact origins of Gurdjieff's teachings are unknown, but people have offered various sources.
The term was further used by his disciple P. D. Ouspensky in his lectures and writings. After Ouspensky's death his students published a book entitled The Fourth Way based on his lectures.
According to this system, the three traditional schools, or ways, "are permanent forms which have survived throughout history mostly unchanged, and are based on religion. Where schools of yogis, monks or fakirs exist, they are barely distinguishable from religious schools. The fourth way differs in that it is not a permanent way. It has no specific forms or institutions and comes and goes controlled by some particular laws of its own."