Throughout history, magicians have maintained an oath of secrecy. This oath is a cornerstone of the magician's art, in that it both binds magicians into a world-wide brotherhood and serves as a constant reminder of their responsibilities as deceptive entertainers.
The original magician's oath was written some 2,400 years ago by Charlatates, the Greek father of modern magic. Over the years, the oath has been modified to keep up with changing times (for example, the bit about not performing for women has been removed), but its core has remained intact.
The current magician's oath, as used in the ascension ceremony though which every magician must pass before being recognized, is as follows:
I swear by Hermes the magician, by Merlin, Houdin, and Tarbell, and I take to witness all the magicians, all the wizards, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following oath.
To consider dear to me as my parents him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and if necessary to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise except where copyright is concerned; to impart to my sons and the sons of the master who taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone the precepts and the instruction.
I will perform regimens for the entertainment of my guests according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.
To please no one will I perform to cruelly deceive nor put my guests at risk of death.
But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art.
I will not cut the living in two, even for the thrill of a moribund crowd; save that I will restore them again to one.
In every house where I come I will enter only for the entertainment of my guests, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves, lest I be tempted to reveal that which must remain hidden.
All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.
If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.
Unfortunately, not all magicians keep to this oath. Some put on masks and reveal the secrets of magic. Other use the conjurer's art to convince the unwary that they really do possess the ability to magically bend spoons, contact the dead, cure disease, see the future, or help you free up a lot of money that's trapped in Nigeria. These individuals are not respected by the magic community, and are often completely ignored at the Annual Global Magician's Cabbalistic Masked Ball and Barbecue.