So You Want To Be A Hermetic

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Orderofhermes.png S A T O R


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 While best attempts have been made at accuracy, it is possibly inaccurate or out-of-date.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

Blood Treachery

Other RPGs

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

Founding House (767) Status (2003 - present) Specialization
Bjornaer (767/1465-1466) Isolated themselves after the Massasa war and were demoted to Ex Miscellanea. Less than a year later they joined the Verbena. Shapeshifting
Bonisagus (767-present) United the first 12 Houses, emerged barely active after Conflagration of Doissetep. Magical Theory (Prime)
Criamon (767/1700s-1999) Absorbed into Ex Miscellanea, fell into Quiet and nearly wiped out during Week of Nightmare. Enigmas
Diedne (767-1012) Wiped out during the Schism War, but rumor some are in The Dreaming preparing for revenge. Druids
Flambeau (767-present) One of the largest House of Hermes despite large losses battling during the Conflagration of Doissetep and Second Massasa War. War Magic
Jerbiton (767/1300s-present) Absorbed into Ex Miscellanea (1300s), occupies a valuable niche bring Hermetic thought to the masses. Mundane Affairs
Mercere (767/1630/1930s) Absorbed into Ex Miscellanea, and then later joined Fortunae. Messengers
Merinita (767/1300s-Present) Notables vanished into the Otherworlds, and subsequently absorbed into Ex Miscellanea. Their power continues to wane. Faeries
Quaesitor (767-Present) Were looked to for leadership after Conflagration, but refused. Active, but battered. Justice (Mind or Spirit)
Tremere (767-1202) Expelled due to vampiric corruption. Two Massasa Wars have been fought against them. Hierarchy / Magical Dueling
Tytalus (767-Present) Lead the failed Second Massasa War, devastated in strength, numbers, and reputation. Will (Mind)
Verditius (767/1600s/2001-Present) Censured and demoted to Ex Miscellanea, almost nothing until it merged with Thig and once again became a Great House. Enchantment (Correspondence or Matter)
Newer House (after 767) Status (2003 - present) Specialization
Ex Miscellanea (817-Present) Immensely larger and more powerful than ever before; includes Criamon, Hong Lei, Jerbiton, Merinita, Ngoma, Skopos, Xaos. Variety
Fortunae (1910/1936-Present) Started in Ex Miscellanea, and and quickly became one of the great Houses. Strained after the Second Massasa War, but doing extremely well. Numerology (Entropy)
Golo (1171-1188) Absorbed into Order of Reason / Bonisagus / Verditius, precursor of Sons of Ether. Natural Philosophy / Ether
Hong Lei (2000-Present) Descended from the Wu Lung. Currently on probationary status within Ex Miscellanea. Chinese Ritual Magic
Janissary (1700-2001) Engaged in internal Hermetic political warfare, past revealed by Euthanatoi, wiped out during Second Massasa War. Enforcement of Hermetic Law
Luxor (1872-1936) First black Hermetic Master founded first American Hermetic House. Ignored by the Order and absorbed into Sons of Ether. Science, Spiritualism, and Religion
Ngoma (1300s/2001-Present) Much older Craft that never joined Traditions due to insult at Grand Convocation. Very recently joined Ex Miscellanea, and have huge ambitions. African Ritual Magic
Shaea (1412/1982-Present) Member of Ex Miscellanaea that went to leave the Order and was was given full House status to convince them to stay. True Names (Time)
Skopos (2000-Present) Newest and and smallest house, but active in Ex Miscellanea and has lots of potential. Quantum Reality
Solificati (1315/1999-Present) Former Tradition, rejoined as a Full Hermetic House after the Conflagration and Reckoning. Seeks to be the Tenth Seat. Alchemy (Matter)
Tharsis (1522-1897) Wiped out due to diabolic corruption, their fall almost took the whole Order with them. Weather
Thig (1846-2001) Crippled after Doissetep Conflagration and Concordia War, took over name and leadership of Verditius. Technomancy
Validas (1557-1700) Expelled due to diabolic corruption, may still be an independent Infernal sect in rural England. Summoning / Enochian
Xaos (2001-Present) Active and influential within Ex Miscellanea. Ex-Thig that refused joining Verditius. A joke masquerading as a House or a House masquerading as a joke. Neo-Discordian / Chaos Magick
Ziracah (1327/1645-1780) Great House subsumed into Ex Miscellanea after Naseby Catastophe. Destroyed by King George III's forces in Hellfire Club Incident. Desire

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