|Excerpts from the Library of Durenmar|
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On the Code of Hermes
| The one single thing that keeps us together, the most useful
tool left to us by the Founders, is the Code. Never mind magic; never mind
political power; none of these things will do you one jot of good without an
understanding of the Code and what it means to us as magi; especially to we of
the First House, who have an even greater responsibility to the Order to lead
by example. Never enter a Tribunal meeting without at least a broad grasp of
the Code; never, never argue with a Quaesitor until you know it better than
your own name.
The basic precepts of the Code are best examined item by item; each of them has their own considerations and their own interpretations.
I, Bonisagus, hereby swear my everlasting loyalty to the Order of Hermes and its members.
Where Bonisagus, the first magus to speak the oath, spoke his own name, modern magi insert their own and their lineage. It is interesting that of all the Founders, only Bonisagus did not name his own master, the mysterious Roman tradition magus who taught our esteemed Founder. Several among the followers of Trianoma are engaged in a search for the direct antecedents of Bonisagus; at present, they have had no success.
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 Wizard's War. I hereby understand that Wizard's 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 Wizard's War, no retribution shall fall on he who slays me.
Now this is very important, for several reasons. Firstly, notice that the Founders regarded the loss of magical power, and the attempt to remove it, as even more grievous than the attempt to slay and therefore it heads the list of prohibitions. The ability to practice our Art is the most distinguished and primary reason for difference between us and the mundanes. Consider for a moment; how do you consider the mundanes? Now place yourself in their position, having fallen from the glories of magushood. Perhaps then you will realise why the Founders would have preferred death to loss of their Gift, and the depth of sacrifice Mercere made to the Order.
In their wisdom, the Founders realised that sometimes a disagreement between magi cannot be settled to the satisfaction of either party without spilt blood. Nevertheless; Wizard War is a serious matter. Ask yourself honestly and seriously whether you could actually kill someone; whether you hate anyone enough to do such a thing. Manys the time I have heard young firebrands threaten to See you at the next Full Moon to each other; if they had seen but one of such conflicts between truly powerful magi, or worse yet, had ever been on the receiving end of such a challenge when not made in jest but in deadly seriousness, as I have, then they would spend every full moon hiding under their beds. Wizard War is no joke, and should not be treated as one. Should you ever have recourse to this final sanction, then be very, very sure you have exhausted every other opportunity for resolving your problems. The Quaesitori are notorious for their thoroughness when investigating Wars, and if they find your reason inadequate when the dust has settled and the bodies are counted, you too will suffer the penalty you sought to bring on the head of your enemy.
Wizard War is no joke. It can cause bad blood between Houses for generations, it can ruin lives and careers, and it can cost you your life, win or lose. No offence is that grievous.
I will abide by the decisions made by fair vote at the Tribunal. I will have one vote at the Tribunal, and I will use it prudently. I will respect as equal the votes of all others at the Tribunal.
The Tribunals, both the local and the Grand, are the self-regulating bodies of the Order. Contrary to popular opinion, a Quaesitor has no right to make a ruling by fiat; any ruling a Quaesitor makes, unless in conditions of extreme emergency or by one of the extremely high ranking Quaesitori such as one of the Monitors, must be ratified by Tribunal. Thus does the voice of the Order make itself heard. Never, never, never disregard a Tribunal; do not fail to attend, or at the very least send your vote by proxy with one who you know and trust to speak for you. Failure to do so deprives you of your voice and of your rights.
I will not endanger the Order through my actions. Nor will I interfere with the affairs of mundanes and thereby bring ruin upon my Sodalis. I will not deal with devils, lest I imperil my souls of my Sodalis as well. I will not molest the faeries, lest their vengeance catch my Sodalis also.
Many are the arguments over this clause. House Jerbiton maintains a delicate web of associations with nobles and churchmen; House Merinita likewise with the various courts of the Fey. The key words here are endanger and interfere. Providing your actions are subtle and unnoticeable, and in no way reflect badly on the Order of Hermes, your House or your fellows, and you do not gain temporal power through the use of your Art, then within reason you can get away with a great deal. The watchwords are, never use blatant visible magic where many mundanes can see you, never be manoeuvred into acting magically on behalf of a faction in a war or conflict, and act always to the greater glory of the Order.
A word on demonology: there is no safe limit or way to practice this foul art. Of all the Code prohibitions, this is the most savage and dangerous, and the most rigidly prosecuted. In some Tribunals, even speaking with an infernal entity is grounds for execution. Have no truck with demons. If you discover one of your fellows falling under the sway of such creatures, do all you can to save him, but do not risk your own soul. If you discover one of your fellows trafficking in such foulness, hesitate not in going to the Quaesitori. Your life and your very soul could be at stake. Whether you choose to believe in the God of the Church or in older deities, believe in the malignant power of these fiends, and rightly fear it.
I will not use magic to scry upon members of the Order of Hermes, nor shall I use it to peer into their affairs.
Aside from the essential rudeness inherent in spying on another Hermetic magus, this clause protects the privacy of those engaged in delicate researches or on missions of espionage or even those who wish their research kept private; a grievous but understandable attitude in the other eleven Houses. Competition can be rife, and only the foolish would ever attempt to peer into the laboratory of a Verditius magus before one of their great competitions. Be prepared, nevertheless, for a Quaesitor to break this clause in pursuance of their duty; if, however, they use it for anything other than the pursuance of their duty, then they too are subject to the full weight of the Code. It does no harm to remind House Guernicus of this occasionally.
I will train apprentices who will swear to this Code, and should any of them turn against the Order and my Sodalis, I shall be the first to strike them down and bring them to justice. No apprentice of mine shall be called magus until he first swears to uphold this Code.
By rights, this clause makes it an obligation to train apprentices; this is not enforced, but is strongly encouraged. House Bonisagus, particularly, firmly approves of apprentice training, and likewise recognises the responsibility of a master to his apprentice long after the Gauntlet is passed. An apprentice is much more than just a laboratory assistant; they are our future, and we should invest in them accordingly.
I concede to Bonisagus the right to take my apprentice if he should find my apprentice valuable to him in his studies.
It is the traditional right of a Bonisagus magus to claim the apprentice of another magus if that apprentice is either interesting or useful to his specific researches. The Bonisagus magus traditionally declares an interest, then gives the magus three months of grace, often offering a gratuity in recognition of the time and expense a magus has gone to in training to that point, though such is not required. Apprentices are usually taken by their fifth year at the latest; much beyond that and the mindset of the House becomes too difficult to shift. It is regarded as exceptionally bad form to use this as a weapon, and often causes more trouble than it is worth. Membership of the First House is a great honour, and a prospective master should consider this carefully before choosing an apprentice.
Only perhaps one in three Bonisagus magi have been trained in the House from inception; the diversity that the new apprentices bring to us makes us strong and keeps our theoretical base broad and vital. It is a tool whereby the future prosperity of the Order can be guaranteed, and as such should be used with great care.
I shall further the knowledge of the Order and share with its members all that I find in my search for wisdom and power.
This clause is spoken by Bonisagus magi in place of the one above. Our researches must be free to the Order; all may benefit from our work. This is our role. If you are of the First House, it is your obligation to be open and forthright; we are a community of scholars and savants, and we should encourage and assist each other, that the whole may benefit. Secrecy serves no-one, and under the terms of this clause, is indeed illegal.
I request that, should I break this oath, I be cast out of the Order. If I am cast out, I ask my Sodalis to find me and slay me that my life may not continue in degradation and infamy.
It is a sad but true statement that those who are fallen from our Order are almost uniformly hunted down and slain. A magus who knows too much about the Order and is no longer under its aegis must be forcibly silenced lest he do us great and grievous harm. Unpleasant though this is, it should serve as further encouragement, as if you needed any, to remain within the law.
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 as one and grow hale and strong.
The traditional closing clause, stressing the unity and strength in that unity, that makes our Order what it is.
This oath I hereby swear on the third day of Pisces, in the nine hundred and fifth year of Aries. Woe to they who try to tempt me to break this oath, and woe to me if I succumb to the temptation.
Remember these words; live by them, strive to ensure you never transgress them in word or deed. The Code keeps us strong; it keeps us united. Obey its precepts, and train your apprentices to revere it as you do, and as those who came before you did.
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