Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I’m currently working on a historical fantasy setting with a magic system based on real world practices and beliefs, and I need some ideas for new magic schools to include that feel authentic. The only ones I’ve been able to find from the real world are Scholomance and The Nekromanteion, but since Hermeticism is a major organized magical force in this world, I need to come up with ideas for an appropriate arcane academy for them.

Were there any places heavily associated with Hermetic learning in antiquity? And if not, does anyone have some suggestions for names locations and tropes for an original one that ties in with it authentically?

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    $\begingroup$ For those who don't know, Scholomance is to be pronounced with a sh, not with a sk. It is the German spelling of what Emily Gerard thought was the pronunciation of the Romanian word șolomanță /ʃolo'mant͡sə/. (German spelling because she did her folklore collecting in the German part of southern Transylvania, mostly Hermannstadt / Sibiu and Kronstadt / Brașov.) (And please note that the supposed sholomancery school is pure fairy tale, it never had any kind of historical reality. It is not even supposed to have ever existed in real life.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 2, 2022 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP - Scholomance sounds perfect for this application! $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    May 2, 2022 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ There are a number of magical schools that are not Hermetic. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    May 2, 2022 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ If you're asking how to name something you're sort of in luck. You can literally name things whatever you want, by virtue of it being your world. Unfortunately because naming things is entirely the result of worldbuilder discretion, it's too opinion based to make a good question for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 2, 2022 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ You should seriously check out Ars Magica, a unique RPG system in which most magic is explicitly Hermetic in a formal sense, but other magic can come from different traditions. I have never played it, but their analogue of the player's handbook is a fascinating exploration of rigorously designed magic systems. You can also download PDFs of earlier versions for free. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    May 2, 2022 at 3:18

1 Answer 1


Edit: If you are looking for sensible names and locations of academies in the ancient world, a good starting point is to build them around the locations of well-known Hermetic figures. It is believable these people had assistants and apprentices. I would call the academy something like "The thrice-blessed academy" translated into the local language.

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Unfortunately Wikipedia at least seems to have a big jump from Corpus Hermeticum era (100-300 AD) and the first historical figures. The first one is Zosimos in 400AD. Then we jump to Jabir who is from an entirely different civilisation.

Edit Edit: Another option is to simply have no Hermetic Academies. Come up with a reason it would be out of the spirit of Hermeticism to have central places of teaching. For example the Principle of Balance says there are always the same number of skilled Hermits in the world. Building an academy will only concentrate them in one spot. This is against some other Core Principle. Alternately we can train many skilled Hermits, but that will result in a large number of highly ignorant people elsewhere. For the final example the Principle of Mentalism says no formal teaching is necessary. Just teach yourself and this teaching will project to others without them knowing and they will find teaching themselves easier.

There is freedom here, since you can decide which parts of hermeticism are more true than others when designing your magic system.

A crude example is that by the Principle of Mentalism all skilled hermits have long distance telepathy. They find their apprentices this way and teach their classes remotely by projecting into the students' minds.

Seven Principles

There are two main books on Hermeticism. The Corpus Hermeticism and the Kybalion. The Corpus is hard going but the Kybalion is easy to read and very short. You can get a free PDF online.

Some of the philosophical principles suggest schools of magic, or at least approaches to wielding magic:

The principle of mentalism: The all is Mind; the Universe is Mental.

This suggests a school of magic or psionics where you control reality by meditation and concentrated force of will. Since all is mind, and you have a mind, you can master reality by mastering your mind.

The principle of vibration: Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.

These suggest magic schools where you take advantage of energy already present rather than brute forcing it. You do not cast a fireball on your opponent. You simply redirect the massive amount of energy he already has -- for example the momentum as the disc of the Earth hurtles through space -- so he flies into the sky or is smooshed into the ground.

The principle of rhythm: Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.

This suggests a system of magical give and take, where every effect on one object must be balanced by an effect on another object. So you cannot launch your foe into the sky without also smooshing something -- like a tree or a boulder -- into the ground.

I guess if there are two baddies you can launch one upwards and one downwards. Though this still creates an imbalance that you have killed two baddies and no goodies. The spell would be easier to cast if you killed two goodies as well.

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    $\begingroup$ I may be misreading, but I think the question was after "schools" in the sense of places where people go for instruction, whereas this answer is about "schools of magic" in the sense of different disciplines of study. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    May 2, 2022 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Cadence I think you might be right. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 2, 2022 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ thanks for the tips and suggestions! is there any historical/hermetic significance to the name "thrice-blessed academy" or did you come up with it on your own? $\endgroup$
    – Cascaden
    May 2, 2022 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Cascaden It is common to translate Hermes Trismegistus, the name of the legendary founder of hermeticism, to "Hermes the thrice-blessed". $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 3, 2022 at 0:54

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