Order Of Hermes

The Order of Hermes traces its roots to the Sumner and ancient Egypt of antiquity, around the time when the first writing systems were developed. Before written language, names were thought to be inherent to the objects they designated as reflections of their true natures. If writing is the manipulation of names the writer is able to imprison the object and manipulate its very nature. The catching of names was considered a magical act in ancient societies so the ability to write was reserved for the clergy under the direct influence of gods of wisdom and magic.

Letters provided useful metaphors for abstract concepts, so for the first time in history thinkers were able to ascend from the physical world into whole new realms of ideas. Mystics then equated ideals with divinity developing Manicheic, Gnostic, Neoplatonic and other Dualistic theories around 2nd century AD. But the great intellectual upsurge of the 2nd century was soon squashed by the rapid expansion of Christianity which strove for orthodoxy in the Mediterranean region. Soon Rome fell and Western civilization fell onto Dark times. Hermetic scholars fragmented, the sharing of ideas halted and wizards secluded themselves in their towers for protection and to study free of the Church's inquiry.

From the summonings of Babylonian priests to Egyptian priest's divining the Nile's flooding from stars to Solomon's seals, which gave him control over world, it was the time of the greatest mages of Western tradition. It was also the time when the greatest grimoires and talismans were created. However, apart from Solomon we don't know their names and so the body of knowledge consisting of theurgia, goetia, astrology and alchemy was known as the work of a single Ascended being called Hermes Trismegistus.

It wasn't until 767 AD that the situation changed. Two mages, Bonisagus and Trianoma, gathered together eleven great magi and persuaded them to form an alliance. Thus, the Order of Hermes was born. Trianoma had the desire to unite the disparate magi of Europe into a single group who could learn from one another. She didn't know how to accomplish this goal until she came across Bonisagus. Bonisagus had created a consistent theory to describe magic which would allow Magi to share information. Trianoma became Bonisagus student and learned his magical theory. She then travelled Europe recruiting other wizards. Eleven magi joined her and agreed to found the Order of Hermes. Bonisagus and the eleven became the founders of the twelve houses.

During the Mystic Age the Order performed "The Great Experiment' in which they practiced magic in plain view of Sleepers. While it had it's peaks and valleys it was ultimately a disastrous failure, ending in flames with skirmishes against the Order of Reason and the founding of the Ascension War.

To the Order's benefit, it was the Hermetics who first came up with the idea of expanding the Order to include other Traditions. Once the Council of Nine was established the Order hid itself in the Fraternal Societies that hadn't been taken over by the Order of Reason. As convenience and science came into favor, the Order fell into obscurity through out the 20th century, slowly declining in new enrollment. The Order was thought to be a group of old wizards who cloister themselves in dusty libraries and had old arcane lore as their bread and butter. However, with the advent of modern technologies, the young and the brave new generation of Hermetics restructured the Order and devised new ways to do magick so that it would survive in the 21st century.

Fall and Reconciliation

If anyone should have been prepared for the Fall it was the Order of Hermes. After the terrific failure of the Great Experiment during the Mythic Age, the Order began amassing wealth and provisions for a second crash. For all intents and purposes, the Order should have survived the Fall and the Reconciliation unscathed, were it not for the huge number of Hermetic Masters with in Horizon and Doisstep. While more careful Hermetics put provisions aside and erected bulwarks, Masters from all the Houses tore through reality laying waste to age old Union foes. To make matters worse, once foes were vanquished, the Masters turned on their own. Petty jealousies erupted and the Order nearly fractured under internal pressures.

No insult or injury has proved fatal to the Order: like a snake it doesn't die it just sheds it's skin. Hermetics view the Fall and the Reconciliation as a painful period of growth. Once the dust began to settle, the Order applied its cultivated discipline and organization to putting itself back together. Houses Jerbiton, Tytalus, Quaesitori and Bonisagus emerged as the leaders of this new, modern Order. An agenda was set down and the rest of the Houses were quietly put back in line. This happened with a remarkable speed and efficiency with very little infighting. After the Fall, everyone was too humble to be overly disagreeable. The post-Fall world saw a re-enrollment in magical Fraternal Orders, giving the Order a crop of talented recruits to choose from.

Once it re-established itself, the Order went about counting the survivors and re-organizing the resistance under the Phoenix Council. It's goals are focused on marshaling the Council into an entity that can survive in the 21st Century and provide a formidable opponent against the other factions.

Current Status

Major Houses

  • Thig - Founded in 1846 by Joseph Ryelander, grew to be largest of the newly-founded Houses. House Thig is devoted to fusing Traditional Hermetic magic with Information technology. They focus largely on the Matrix and have close ties with the Virtual Adepts. Thig's power and influence grows daily as most of the new recruits end up joining this House, which makes the more Traditional wizards distrustful of their technomantic ways.
  • Verditus - Arguably the first Technomancers, house Verditus were artificers par excellence during the Mythic Age. Verditus fell out of prominence in the 16th century but has recently had a resurgence. Members of House Thig, frustrated with the house's emphasis on the Matrix reformed Verditus in the 1980's. After the Fall, they have been experimenting with the production of technology that functions based on Hermetic philosophy. Their focus is largely on hardware and cybernetics and have close ties to the Sons of Ether.
  • Jerbiton - A Founding House. As the more democratic age dawned, Jerbiton languished In Ex Miscellanea from the 13th century till the Fall. In the post-Fall world, Jerbiton has reformed, hand picking membership from today's Corporate Aristocracy. They handle public relations and are the corporate sharks of the Order.
  • Mercere - A Founding House. Traditionally Mercere acted as the messengers of the Order; membership was not restricted to the Awakened. Included in the ranks of Ex Miscellanea in 1630 AD in the 1930s they became part of House Fortunae where they remained until after the Fall. By far the most diverse of the Major Houses, they are largely made up of Aware Custos, Consors or Psychics. Some function as personal assistants of one sort or an other to the various other Houses, others are politicians or spies.
  • Skopos - Created in Ex Miscellanea in the late 1990's by Spiro Hatzis. What began as a minor House with only three members has blossomed in a booming major house. House Skopos studies quantum physics and maintain ties with Sons of Ether. They are explorers of the Tellurian and are devoted to mapping the Tellurian and the Deep Umbra.
  • Bonisagus - A Founding House. In the past, the Bonisagus were masters of magical knowledge and theory. While they are still unrivaled in sheer magical might and resources they have become custodians of the Art, devoted to maintaining the purity of the Hermetic Tradition. They maintain what is left of the ancient legacy of the Order and scavenge the Tellurian for lost relics and lore.
  • Flambeau - A Founding House. Studies the magic of warfare and the potent use of mystical forces. They have Zoroastrian roots they are the most extreme of Hermetic Houses, almost to the point of fanaticism. Tough, and militaristic, House Flambeau functions much as it has in the past: as magical muscle and metaphysical terrorists. If a situation escalates to violence, Flambeau is go to house.
  • Quaesitori - A Founding House. Their function has changed little since the Fall. They act as the judges and lawmakers of the Order.
  • Tytalus - A Founding House. Tytalus has always been devoted to improving themselves through conflict. In the post-Fall world, Tytalus is acts as an the internal police for the Order as well as for the Council at large. They make extensive study of the Nephandi and diablerie in order to root out corruption.
  • Fortunae - Founded in 1910 as part of House Ex Miscellanea by Hassam al-Jadidi ibnu Faridi; promoted to Full House in 1936. They are Masters of fate, fortune, social interactions, seers and chronomancers. Among their primary fields of study are Gematria, Pythagorean arithmosophy (and numerology in general), sacred geometry and chaos theory. House Fortunae function largely as big picture strategists for the Order and for the Council at large. They claim to maintain communication with the Oracles of Time.
  • Criamon - A Founding House. Dwindled into Ex Miscellanea in 18th century,and nearly went in extinct till the end of the 20th century. Though still the smallest of the Major Houses they have seen a disturbing resurgence as their specialized knowledge was crucial harrowing aftermath of the Fall. Cryptic, ecstatic seers and prophets, Criamon believe the key to Ascension lies in the study of Quiet, Paradox, Familiars and the Marauders. They care little for politics and are famous for covering their bodies with arcane tattoos.

The Minor Houses or House Ex Miscellena

House Ex Miscellena has always maintained open invitation to any mage who wishes to join the order but did not want swear alligence to an other house. Currently it contains the Minor Houses. By no means an exhaustive list, here are a few of the prominent Mintor Houses:

  • Solificati - Founded in 1315 AD as somewhat separate entity; have long history of alliances and conflict with the Order. Full House since 1999. Alchemists, traditionally of very noble blood. With the loss of several major laboratories in Hermetic horizon realms the Solificati were nearly wiped out in the aftermath of the Fall. Their numbers dwindled to the point of seeing their demotion to a Minor House.
  • Merinita - A Founding House. In Ex Miscellanea since 14th century. Students of the Fae.
  • Hong Lei (Crimson Thunder) - Adopted into Ex Miscellanea in 2000. Part of remains of former Chinese Wu Lung Craft (another part joined Akashic Brotherhood). Practice Confucian and Taoist rites, I Ching divination and feng-shui, invocations to ancestors and dragons.
  • Ngoma - Adopted into Ex Miscellanea in 2001. Formerly independent Craft, this group refused to become part of Dreamspeakers tradition during Grand Convocation and was virtually extinct by the end of 16th century. High ritualists of South Africa (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, probably Angola).
  • Xaos - Adopted into Ex Miscellanea in 2001. Profess a purposely eclectic approach to ritual magic; among many other styles, use Discordianism, neuro-linguistic programming and memetics.

Foci and Style

The Order still favors it's complicated esoteric symbolism, sacred math and geometry, as well as names and the traditional trappings of wizards (wands, arcane laboratory work, circles, languages, amulets etc) however, there has been a rise in the fusing of technology with the old Hermetic Arts. Veriditus and Thig have been experimenting heavily in both areas and have drawn recruits in numbers that disturb the more traditional Hermetics.