The Orders are large groups of mages in Mage: The Awakening, united along philosophical lines (but not always completely by choice). These groups find newly Awakened mages, provide them with mentors, rotes and other resources, then initiates them into the larger Awakened society. The Orders themselves are much like societies; hiding among the people of the Fallen World (i.e. Freemasons) and manipulating things to suit the goals of the Orders. A gathering of the orders is called a Caucus. Mages without allegiance to an Order are referred to as Apostates.
Through conflict one purges weakness and becomes greater than one could imagine. Claiming descent from the Ungula Draconis (or "Claw of the Dragon") of Atlantis, members of the Adamantine Arrow say that their Order arose from the Exiles who protected the shards of fallen Atlantis. Carrying both weapons that brought death and instruments that created life. Members of the Adamantine Arrow follow the Adamant Way which encourages strength and adaptability. The name "Adamantine" refers to the durability of the order's resolve and illustrious shine of their honor.
Modernists in every sense of the word, the Council of Free Assemblies, also called the Free Council for short, claims neither ancient texts nor links to the ancient island of Atlantis. Instead they forge ahead feeling that Sleepers have touched on the supernal through modern ideas, science and technology. By learning these ideas the Free Council hopes to change the face of magic and revitalize it for the modern age.
The Guardians of the Veil are the sons and daughters of Visus Draconis (or "Eye of the Dragon") and serve as enforcers, secret police and spies for the Lex Magica and Consilii that hold to its tenets. Oftentimes social pariahs, they are considered by Awakened society to be assassins. The Guardians seek to keep the Diamond Wheel (their vision of the sacred path of creation) moving, whole, safe, and in balance; with this in mind they may make the sacrifices other Orders are simply unwilling to make so that all may fulfill the true destiny of magic.
Lore masters who hold (or seek) all the keys to all the doors, the Mysterium seeks out knowledge for its own sake. The Mysterium comes from the remains of Alae Draconis (or Dragon's Wing), the research and development branch of Atlantean society. Now they seek to reclaim the lost lore of the world and remember the lessons of fallen Atlantis. The secrets of the Mysterium aren't made free to the general public at large. There is usually a price to be paid, more often than not including tests of discretion and loyalty as well as requests for goods and/or services. Knowledge without wisdom is meaningless, and few hold this truth as deeply as the Mysterium.
Silver Ladder is a humanist Order dedicated to the ideal of lifting every human soul to its natural level of enlightenment, healing the Fallen World of the Exarchs’ influence. The Silver Ladder hold a unique perspective on the Fall: it was a masterstroke on the part of the Exarchs making it much more difficult for the Oracles to find new allies in the Supernal War, but the 'game' is by no means over. The Silver Ladder spend their days planning a counterstrike that will equal or exceed the Exarchs in cunning and daring: turning the Lie of the Fallen Realm back upon itself, and storming the Supernal Realms with the entire human race united against the Exarchs.
Apostates are those mages who have declined to become part of the orders of magical society. While having still awakened to a Watchtower, Apostates practice magic outside any established organisational structure, which not only includes the four Atlantean orders and the Free Council, but also the Seers of the Throne and the Banishers. The reasons to become an Apostate may come from either an active refusal of the orders of the existing magical society, or, in the case of The Mad, an inescapable consequence of the insanity that arises from their encounter with magic.