I was asked how the Mage society in my work actually works, there are one or two spoilers in here, so if you don't wish to know, look away. :-)
This is part of a full glossary and index which will be published at the end of the tale.
There are five grades of Mage.
An apprentice is bonded to a master for twenty years, during which period he/she is fed, clothed, housed, trained and given a small allowance. They are constantly supervised and monitored to prevent them from breaking the rules and/or killing themselves.
A journeyman/woman is bonded to the same master for a further one hundred years during which they are expected to find work within and without the magical community and pay back their debt of training (not necessarily money, but time and obligation). Many end up in the world of scientific academia where control of the elements and power manipulation helps them reach fairly high levels in universities and research laboratories throughout the world. They are warned not to become too conspicuous. Many also do research within the magical community as well as in various disciplines; magic is too much fun not to play with it.
A few end up working for the Council's enforcement groups around the world and essentially make sure that as few people as possible come into contact with real magic and/or clean up the mess in cases where it goes wrong or there has been a confrontation with the Coalition. It normally requires a high level of discipline to work in enforcement, though there are exceptions and the casualty rate can be quite high.
A Mage is a fully qualified magic user. He or she is financially independent and free of ties to a master, though most retain ties of affection and respect. They can more or less live where they want and do as they want so long as they follow the Councils rules.
Though not a title as such, a High Mage is a one who has mastered the hidden higher magics in the iso depth and quantum layer fields. Whilst many Mages will touch upon one area or another (power, spells, healing, etc.) only a High Mage is master of all.
A Seer is a specialised Mage, highly intelligent and capable in gestalt of correlating masses of information. Specifically a female genome trait, they are very rare and treasured by those races and organisations that use them.
Conduct between the various levels would appear to an outsider to be old-fashioned with a lot of formal greetings and respect. Juniors are always expected to address a senior with the formal title on a first greeting though many Mages are relaxed about it from close acquaintances and friends amongst journeymen and women. This is mostly due to the relationships being feudal in nature with obligations and responsibilities clearly defined between one rank and another.
Council of the Wise.
This is the ruling council of the vast majority of the Mages on our world. It is highly secretive and spends most of its efforts making sure most of the planet never notices Mages and magic.
It's led by Simon Magus who was the first (on our world) to discover longevity spells and has an inner circle of approximately twenty Mages. There is an outer circle who can call for a meeting of the Council of ten Mages, though they are not permitted to vote. The inner circle oversees the activities of the Continental Bureaus who regulate the magical users in Council territories. They are also the judge, jury and executioner (if necessary) of any Mages who step out of line, though a death penalty is very unusual.
The Continental Bureaus have been known by various names over the centuries, though have been around since about 1,000 AD, save only for the now former Council of the Magi who were the original pre-500 BC Council of the Wise and who became its enforcement arm and worked mostly in what is known as the fertile crescent, China and India, where the early great civilisations grew and kept tabs on civilisation as a whole.
Coalition of the Pure.
The ruling committee of those Mages in opposition to the Council who believe that, as on many other worlds, Mages should be in charge and lording it over the rest of mankind. Whilst many in Council territories have sympathy with some of their aims, few if any have sympathy with their methods. Cruel, avaricious, misogynistic and violent, they tend to treat lesser Mages in their territories as servants or, in the case of female Mages, sex slaves and the vast majority of mundanes as slaves to do their bidding. The lesser Mages of the Coalition, though most assuredly not female Mages, are trained very much in the use of power spells to deal with Council members they come across, though none are as powerful as any High Mage. The High Mages of the Coalition spend a lot of their time trying to keep control over the politicians and rulers of their territories, who often enough resent the Coalition, though are unable to do much other than passively resist them. They are very strong in Russia proper and have influence over various ex-Soviet and former communist bloc territories though oddly not China. Generally though, the numbers game of humans to Mages works against the Coalition. Their empires fall in ruins as people generally do not take well to being ruled over in anything other than a benevolent manner. The number of Mages is estimated at 5,000; though not all are active or even involved with the Coalition.