“I hereby swear my ever-lasting loyalty to the Order of Hermes and its members.
“I will not deprive nor attempt to deprive any member of the Order of his magical power. I will not slay nor attempt to slay any member of the Order, except in justly executed and formally declared Wizards’ War. I hereby understand that Wizards’ War is an open conflict between two magi who may slay each other without breaking this oath, and that should I be slain in a Wizards’ War, no retribution shall fall on he who slays me.
“I will abide by the decisions made by fair vote at Tribunal. I will have one vote at Tribunal, and I will use it prudently. I will respect as equal the votes of all others at Tribunal.
“I will not endanger the Order through my actions. Nor will I interfere with the affairs of mundanes and thereby bring ruin on my sodales. I will not deal with devils, lest I imperil my soul and the souls of my sodales as well. I will not molest the faeries, lest their vengeance catch my sodales also.
“I will not use magic to scry upon members of the Order of Hermes, nor shall I use it to peer into their affairs.
“I will train apprentices who will swear to this Code, and should any of them turn against the Order and my sodales, I shall be the first to strike them down and bring them to justice. No apprentice of mine shall be called a magus until he first swears to uphold this Code.
“I request that should I break this oath, I be cast out of the Order. If I am cast out of the Order, I ask my sodales to find me and slay me, that my life not continue in degradation and infamy.
“The enemies of the Order are my enemies. The friends of the Order are my friends. The allies of the Order are my allies. Let us work together as one and grow hale and strong.”
To be a Hermetic magus (or maga for the ladies) is to wield the raw, terrible power of magic, to heal or to harm as the magus wills it. The forces under the command of the wizard can be as subtle as a shift of colour or as blatant as the destruction of a mountain. They are unmatched in their abilities, limited only by their skill and imaginations.
To be a Hermetic magus is, however, to be burdened with responsibilities to your Order, your covenant and yourself. All magi swear the Hermetic Oath above and to be caught in a breach has serious consequences.
To be a Hermetic magus is usually to be fairly useless at ordinary things as well. You may be able to call the lightning from the clear blue sky, or to raise an army of shambling corpses to perform your lightest whim, but most magi struggle with obtaining and preparing their next meal (although some magi do find the phrase “How much is dinner for a man who can torch your inn to the ground?” to be helpful in this regard).
In short, to be a Hermetic magus is to wield power. Power with limitations and problems, but would you rather be ploughing the fields or mucking out the goats instead? Thought not.
Ave, sodales, and welcome to the Order of Hermes.