So You Want To Be A Hermetic
|S A T O R
A R E P O
T E N E T
O P E R A
R O T A S
Note: This guide was written by a player. It is not officially sanctioned by staff. While best attempts have been made at accuracy, it is possibly inaccurate or out-of-date. If you see something that should be changed, please contact Bobbi on MUSH.
The Order of Hermes is one of the more difficult Traditions to play in Mage. They have a lot of rules and protocols, as well as being quite diverse due to encompassing all of the Western Magickal Tradition. This page is intended as a guide to playing a member of the Order of Hermes that will include resources for both Mage: The Ascension and real life mysticism. This will be updated over the next few days. The Order of Hermes page is useful for various related charts, but this is an effort to not make that page over-complicated.
Mage: The Ascension
Mage Revised Core
Order of Hermes Tradition Book
Order of Hermes Tradition Book Revised
Ars Magica is a useful source of inspiration, but not-canonical.
The Order of Hermes has a rigid hierarchical structure and along with it an Apprentice system. The Hermetic Apprenticeship takes place at one of three secret Chantries or directly through a Mentor (referred to as a pater or mater.) The Apprenticeship is usually a grueling years long process designed to break the recruit down so they can build themselves back up, as well as as training intended to lead towards Awakening.
|Degree||Description||Minimum sphere(s) (not just Arete)||Description|
|1st||Neophyte||Goetia||Typically 1-3 years, harsh drudgery, merciless, physical labor, teaches humility. Studies many languages, Awakened history, Hermetic philosophy, Enochian, and esoterica. Total immersion.|
|2nd||Zelator||Theurgia||Realization that various rote formula are themselves useless, way of focusing the will. Rapid advancement. Sent on "missions" and politically courted. Antinomian Praxis. Theory of Sphere magick.|
|3rd||Practicus||Magia||Receives Word and seeks to manifest with Will. Trains according to Word. Process of Awakening. As far as you can advance without Awakening. If terminal Degree, seen by many as a failure.|
|4th||Initiate||1 (Forces) and 1 (House Sphere, if any)||Must be fully Awakened and formally Initiated. Full member and may serve as a Tribune. Can publish, hold office, title, and land.|
|5th||Initiate Exemptus||2||Register to take on Apprentices, but usually not given one at this Degree. Usually attain this degree within a a year or less after Awakening.|
|6th||Adept||3, 1||Often achieved within three years of Awakening. Many Hermetics never attain this degree.|
|7th||Adept Major||4, 3, 1||Involved in power and politics of Tradition, and if capable can influence the Tradition as a whole. Few Hermetics ever attain this degree and almost none in less than ten years after Awakening.|
|8th||Magister Scholae||5, 3, 3||Pillar of The Order and shaper of it's destiny. Expected to realize the goals of The Order in every thought, actions, and exercise of mystic Will. Second Initiation at this level, and rumors of additional secret Initiations. Perhaps one in ten Hermetics are capable of attaining this Degree, and even fewer succeed in doing so.|
|9th||Magister Mundi||6 (NPC only)||The ArchMaster is more of a force of nature and at this level their concerns tend to be less involved with governance of The Order than the Master, and instead delve into other realms.|
|10th||Oracle||Ascension (NPC only)||None known to have definitively reached this Degree, implies Ascension. Many theories, including some relating to 10th Sphere.|
Reference: Order of Hermes 19-26, 58 Reference: Order of Hermes (Revised) 37-42
Every Hermetic belongs to a House. Some Houses have additional Spheres they focus on in addition to Forces.
There are Major Houses and Minor Houses, the latter typically being under the umbrella House of Ex Miscellanea. Over time Houses rise and fall in status, and some even cease to exist. While Houses are political, they are primarily gatherings of Hermetics with similar styles and practices of Hermeticism.
The Order of Hermes originates from the game Ars Magica, which is a High Medieval magic RPG. There was originally some cross-over between Ars Magica and Mage: The Ascension, particularly with The Tremere. This association lessened over editions and with changes in publishers. None of Ars Magica is to be considered canon, but it has a ton of material that can provide inspiration for various aspects of Hermeticism and Hermetic Houses.
- Advisory only, individual PCs can still self-identify with whatever fits them best
- Most information taken from Tradition Book: Order of Hermes (WW4664) 34-35
The Code of Hermes
The Code of Hermes is over a thousand years old and is an Oath taken by all initiated and Awakened Hermetics. Violating the Code can lead to punishment, including up to Gilgul. Breaking the Code does not necessarily mean one will be punished, and different Hermetics interpret and understand the Code differently. House Queasitor is in charge of Hermetic law and Tribunals are called to try those accused of violations. One's political standing can heavily influence how much or little one can get away with.
I. I swear everlasting loyalty to the Order and its members. The Order's friends and enemies are my friends and enemies, and I shall not spurn a friend nor succor an enemy.
II. I shall not through action or inaction endanger the Order, nor consort with devils or the undead, nor anger the fae.
III. I shall not deprive any Order mage of magical power, nor through action or inaction attempt to bring harm to an Order mage, except in justly declared and open certamen.
IV. I shall not spy by any means or manner upon another Order mage's private works, nor read an Order mage's mind, nor invade or observe an Order mage's Sanctum, save to guard against a clear, direct, forceful, and imminent threat to the safety of the Order.
V. If called before a Tribunal, I shall abide by its verdicts. If called to sit upon a Tribunal, I shall vote wisely, respect the votes of others, and support the Tribunal's verdicts.
VI. Upon reaching the Fifth Degree or higher, I shall train apprentices and instruct them in this Code. I bear the entire responsibility for my apprentice, and shall duly admonish, restrain, discipline or arrest an apprentice who endangers the Order, and shall yield same apprentice to the Order’s lawfully appointed agent or Tribunal.
VII. I solemnly swear to uphold this sacred Code of Hermes, and venture any risk or sacrifice to protect it. Should I breach it, may all the mages of the Order rise as one united and hunt me down and destroy me forevermore.
VIII. I solemnly swear to vigorously and actively pursue the Enemies of Ascension and to unmake their works in this world and in all others.
Reference: Order of Hermes (Revised) 44-45