Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Value of Membership

One of the topics I've been thinking about recently is the value of membership in DeMolay. When you pay your lifetime dues to DeMolay (or your Advisor fees) what are you getting for your money? Is it a good value? For those involved in the program, it's easy to answer yes. But, for those we are trying to sell on our organization, it can be harder to explain.

DeMolay doesn't offer many "tangible" benefits. For instance, if you look at membership in a professional organization, they often trumpet their network of members, educational opportunities, accreditation programs, conferences. They do their best to show you why membership with them is valuable. As I read through some of this information, I asked myself why membership in DeMolay is valuable (both to members and Advisors.) I'm going to tackle this issue, from both perspectives, one at a time - making it a two part series.

Let's take a look at it from a member's perspective. What does the average DeMolay get out of his membership? To do this, I'm going to have to work off of some generic figures, so the numbers may not be entirely accurate for your Chapter, but they probably aren't far off. I'm also going to assume the young man chooses to be somewhat active.

Let's say it costs $60 to join your Chapter. If a young man joins at 12, that comes out to about $6.67 a year. I don't know many organizations that you can join for that price. If they are older, and say, join at 15, it's still only $10 a year. To put that into perspective, if a young man joins at 15, his membership costs him under $.03 a day. That's a mere pittance by any means. So, what does a young man get for his money?

  • Subsidized Chapter Activities (around $100 per year)
  • Refreshments After Meetings (around $5 per member, est. at 15 times a year.)
  • Subsidized Sports Tournament Costs (around $35 a tournament, per person)
  • Subsidized PA DeMolay Key Man Conference costs (around $100)
  • Subsidized PA DeMolay Convention costs (around $100.)
  • Opportunity to earn scholarships (potentially thousands of dollars)
  • Educational Opportunities and Field Trips
  • An Opportunity to Learn and Enhance Public Speaking Skills
  • A network of 15,000 current members, all over the world
  • An alumni network of several hundred thousand
If you were to add up the tangible benefits, all told, the average active members receives about $400 a year in return. That's not taking into account scholarships or the intangible benefits of networking and experiential learning.

I encourage you to think about these numbers - what do they mean to you? How can you use them to recruit new members into your Chapter?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, February 25, 2013

It's okay to fail!

Back when PA DeMolay started this blog, we introduced the concept of "Unplugging." The general idea of that concept can still be found in the original post, so I'm not going to go into here. However, a key part of the concept was the idea that it is okay for DeMolays to fail. Studies are beginning to find that the lack of learning from the experience of failure is leading to crucial challenges for today's youth. Thankfully, DeMolay provides a safe place for kids to fail and learn from their experiences. This isn't something that can simply be bought or taught, rather it has to occur and the learning must take place naturally. This kind of experience is one of the best kept secrets of DeMolay.

So, with this in mind, I share with you a recent article I read, entitled "Why Parents Need to Let Their Kids Fail." I ask that you to click the link and really dive into the material. The stories that one teacher recounts just goes to show how big of a problem this can be. I encourage all Advisors to thoroughly read that article and consider their roles in the Chapter and its operation.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Unknown Washington

As Americans, we all look to the leadership and integrity of our first President, George Washington. He is revered in the annals of American history and has been placed a pedestal so high, that many cannot even imagine him as a human being. It's no coincidence that the painting the decorates the Capitol Rotunda is titled "The Apotheosis of Washington." For those who have never encountered the term "apotheosis," it means "ascension into god-hood." Yes, Washington has become a god like figure to many Americans.

Yet, there is one group that holds Washington in even higher esteem - the Masonic family. There are dozens of Masonic organizations named after Bro. Washington. His place in Masonic history is well documented and much lauded. Even we, as DeMolays, honor his memory by emulating his position of prayer used at Valley Forge when we kneel. Heck, it was the Order of DeMolay that paid for the giant bronze statue of Washington that sits at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA. But, for all his greatness, Washington was just a man - a brilliant one, yes - but a man none the less.

As I was looking for an interesting blog topic for today, I stumbled across a blog on leadership over at One of the posts they have is titled "30 Things You Didn't Know About George Washington." I found the list to be a very interesting read and I think anyone affiliated with DeMolay or the Masonic Fraternity will find it intriguing as well.

"30 Surprise Facts About George Washington"

  • Washington was the only major founder who lacked a college education. John Adams went to Harvard, James Madison to Princeton, and Alexander Hamilton to Columbia, making Washington self-conscious about what he called his "defective education."
  • Washington never had wooden teeth. He wore dentures that were made of either walrus or elephant ivory and were fitted with real human teeth. Over time, as the ivory got cracked and stained, it resembled the grain of wood. Washington may have purchased some of his teeth from his own slaves.
  • Washington had a strangely cool and distant relationship with his mother. During the Revolutionary War and her son's presidency, she never uttered a word of praise about him and she may even have been a Tory. No evidence exists that she ever visited George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. Late in the Revolutionary War, Mary Washington petitioned the Virginia legislature for financial relief, pleading poverty—and, by implication, neglect by her son. Washington, who had been extremely generous to his mother, was justly indignant.
  • Even as a young man, Washington seemed to possess a magical immunity to bullets. In one early encounter in the French and Indian War, he absorbed four bullets in his coat and hat and had two horses shot from under him yet emerged unscathed. This led one Indian chief to predict that some higher power was guiding him to great events in the future.
  • By age 30 Washington had survived smallpox, malaria, dysentery, and other diseases. Although he came from a family of short-lived men, he had an iron constitution and weathered many illnesses that would have killed a less robust man. He lived to the age of 67.
  • While the Washingtons were childless—it has always been thought that George Washington was sterile—they presided over a household teeming with children. Martha had two children from her previous marriage and she and George later brought up two grandchildren as well, not to mention countless nieces and nephews.
  • That Washington was childless proved a great boon to his career. Because he had no heirs, Americans didn't worry that he might be tempted to establish a hereditary monarchy. And many religious Americans believed that God had deliberately deprived Washington of children so that he might serve as Father of His Country.
  • Though he tried hard to be fair and took excellent medical care of his slaves, Washington could be a severe master. His diaries reveal that during one of the worst cold snaps on record in Virginia—when Washington himself found it too cold to ride outside—he had his field slaves out draining swamps and performing other arduous tasks.
  • For all her anxiety about being constantly in a battle zone, Martha Washington spent a full half of the Revolutionary War with her husband—a major act of courage that has largely gone unnoticed.
  • Washington was obsessed with his personal appearance, which extended to his personal guard during the war. Despite wartime austerity and a constant shortage of soldiers, he demanded that all members of his personal guard be between 5'8" and 5'10"; a year later, he narrowed the range to 5'9" to 5'10."
  • While Washington lost more battles than he won, he still ranks as a great general. His greatness lay less in his battlefield brilliance—he committed some major strategic blunders—than in his ability to hold his ragged army intact for more than eight years, keeping the flame of revolution alive.
  • Washington ran his own spy network during the war and was often the only one privy to the full scope of secret operations against the British. He anticipated many techniques of modern espionage, including the use of misinformation and double agents.
  • Washington tended his place in history with extreme care. Even amid wartime stringency, he got Congress to appropriate special funds for a full-time team of secretaries who spent two years copying his wartime papers into beautiful ledgers.
  • For thirty years, Washington maintained an extraordinary relationship with his slave and personal manservant William Lee, who accompanied him throughout the Revolutionary War and later worked in the presidential mansion. Lee was freed upon Washington's death and given a special lifetime annuity.
  • The battle of Yorktown proved the climactic battle of the revolution and the capstone of Washington's military career, but he initially opposed this Franco-American operation against the British—a fact he later found hard to admit.
  • Self-conscious about his dental problems, Washington maintained an air of extreme secrecy when corresponding with his dentist and never used such incriminating words as 'teeth' or 'dentures.' By the time he became president, Washington had only a single tooth left—a lonely lower left bicuspid that held his dentures in place.
  • Washington always displayed extremely ambivalence about his fame. Very often, when he was traveling, he would rise early to sneak out of a town or enter it before he could be escorted by local dignitaries. He felt beleaguered by the social demands of his own renown.
  • At Mount Vernon, Washington functioned as his own architect—and an extremely original one at that. All of the major features that we associate with the house—the wide piazza and colonnade overlooking the Potomac, the steeple and the weathervane with the dove of peace—were personally designed by Washington himself.
  • A master showman with a brilliant sense of political stagecraft, Washington would disembark from his coach when he was about to enter a town then mount a white parade horse for maximum effect. It is not coincidental that there are so many fine equestrian statues of him.
  • Land-rich and cash-poor, Washington had to borrow money to attend his own inauguration in New York City in 1789. He then had to borrow money again when he moved back to Virginia after two terms as president. His public life took a terrible toll on his finances.
  • Martha Washington was never happy as First Lady—a term not yet in use—and wrote with regret after just six months of the experience: "I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else… And as I cannot do as I like, I am obstinate and stay home a great deal."
  • When the temporary capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, Washington brought six or seven slaves to the new presidential mansion. Under a Pennsylvania abolitionist law, slaves who stayed continuously in the state for six months were automatically free. To prevent this, Washington, secretly coached by his Attorney General, rotated his slaves in and out of the state without telling them the real reason for his actions.
  • Washington nearly died twice during his first term in office, the first time from a tumor on his thigh that may have been from anthrax or an infection, the second time from pneumonia. Many associates blamed his sedentary life as president for the sudden decline in his formerly robust health and he began to exercise daily.
  • Tired of the demands of public life, Washington never expected to serve even one term as president, much less two. He originally planned to serve for only a year or two, establish the legitimacy of the new government, then resign as president. Because of one crisis after another, however, he felt a hostage to the office and ended up serving two full terms. For all his success as president, Washington frequently felt trapped in the office.
  • Exempt from attacks at the start of his presidency, Washington was viciously attacked in the press by his second term. His opponents accused him of everything from being an inept general to wanting to establish a monarchy. At one point, he said that not a single day had gone by that he hadn't regretted staying on as president.
  • Washington has the distinction of being the only president ever to lead an army in battle as commander-in-chief. During the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, he personally journeyed to western Pennsylvania to take command of a large army raised to put down the protest against the excise tax on distilled spirits.
  • Two of the favorite slaves of George and Martha Washington—Martha's personal servant, Ona Judge and their chef Hercules—escaped to freedom at the end of Washington's presidency. Washington employed the resources of the federal government to try to entrap Ona Judge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and return her forcibly to Virginia. His efforts failed.
  • Washington stands out as the only founder who freed his slaves, at least the 124 who were under his personal control. (He couldn't free the so-called 'dower slaves' who came with his marriage to Martha.) In his will, he stipulated that the action was to take effect only after Martha died so that she could still enjoy the income from those slaves.
  • After her husband died, Martha grew terrified at the prospect that the 124 slaves scheduled to be freed after her death might try to speed up the timetable by killing her. Unnerved by the situation, she decided to free those slaves ahead of schedule only a year after her husband died.
  • Like her husband, Martha Washington ended up with a deep dislike of Thomas Jefferson, whom she called "one of the most detestable of mankind." When Jefferson visited her at Mount Vernon before he became president, Martha said that it was the second worst day of her life—the first being the day her husband died.
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, February 18, 2013

Grand High Poobah!

Today, I'm going to share a resource that is used with our Elected State Officers. One of their main jobs is to know and understand the Masonic fraternity so that they can accurately and succinctly represent DeMolay to other fraternal bodies. To do that, they often have to remember names and titles of the adult leaders of these organizations. We all know that titles can be very complex, so I devised a system to help our guys understand and aid them in matching names to faces. 

I recommend break a title down. Generally, they come in five parts. 

Part 1: The Salutation This is the part of the title that describes the office and is usually the strangest sounding to us.  Examples: Right Worshipful, Most Puissant, Right Eminent
Part 2: RankThis part of the title distinguishes the person from local or regional bodies.  
Remember the head of a local Lodge is a Master, so to distinguish the state level official we increase the rank.  Example: Grand, Supreme

Part 3: OfficeThis is the actual name of the office being held Examples: Master, Matron, Active 

Part 4: OrganizationThis tells us from what Masonic Body the dignitary is from. Example: Grand Chapter, Grand Lodge, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite - Northern Masonic Jurisdiction 

Part 5: JurisdictionThe area of Jurisdiction tells us who he or she has authority over, and where. Example: Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, North America 

When I'm teaching this to our guys, I usually color code each part of the title to make it easier. I also provide a complete list, with pictures, of each important person here in PA, so that the Elected State Officers can be better prepared. You can see the current (as of 2/18/2013) version of the presentation here.

So, next time you have to do some Marshaling in your Chapter, break those titles down - it'll be easy easier!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What You Wish You'd Known Before Your Job Interview

For many members of DeMolay, formal interviews seem to happen pretty often. Whether it be job interviews, State Officer interviews, team captain interviews, just to name a few; but, a lot of youth aren't to that point in their lives yet. With knowing that the formal PA DeMolay State Master Councilor interview will coming up real soon, my interest was struck when I came across a rather interesting infographic, from, about first impressions and how much they really mean.

Did you know that a 33% of employers can have a determined impression of you within 90 seconds of communicating? Talk about fast-paced!

It sounds almost impossible to present our "best selves" in 90 seconds, right? With the right techniques and proper interview  etiquette, you can take on the interview world with confidence at an all time high!

- "Dad" Matt Blaisdell

Monday, February 11, 2013

Delicious Graphics

Today, I just wanted to share something quick and easy with you. I stumbled across this infographic out on a blog located at, of which the owner is a member of the Masonic family. It's a great, short, reference for those planning after meeting refreshments.

In the words of "Dad" Dennis Snedden, "Meetings without refreshments suck!" So, don't let your meetings fall into that trap - use this handy reference!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I have been involved with DeMolay here in Pennsylvania for more than ten years. To some that may seem like a lot, while to others it's only a drop in the bucket. In that ten years, I have only been truly disappointed by a DeMolay or an Advisor on a handful of occasions. Unfortunately, today marks an addition to that list.

As I was getting ready to blog today, I found a comment awaiting moderation. It read as follows:

"Could you do your job and update the website. You have not even put any events on the calendar and it is already February. How do you expect me to go to events when you can't even put them on the website. I know that we have brought in kids this year and it is not shown on the website! So start doing your job and stop posting dumb blog posts."

I admit to being very taken aback by this remark. I wasn't initially sure how to respond to it, or if I should even post it. Then, I remembered a core tenet of the DeMolay program - teaching and mentoring. I also like to be as transparent as possible with my readers. With that in mind, I'm going to tackle this post from a couple of different angles.

First, as I have said before, if you're going to leave a comment, please sign it and let me know who I should respond to. An anonymous comment doesn't help anyone. When a person leaves a negative comment, and hides behind anonymity, I personally find it very cowardly. If you have an opinion that you'd like to state to me, please do so. I like to think I can take criticism well. We teach our Advisors and our State Officers to criticize in private rather than in public. This, however, was a very apparent shot at criticizing in public, but to what end? In the era of cyber bullying and web based issues, this kind of behavior does not solve any problems, it only exacerbates those that are present.

Next, I'd like to look at this from a "7 Cardinal Virtues" standpoint. We teach our members that Courtesy and Comradeship are key for DeMolays. Is this post courteous in any way? From my point of view, I don't believe it is. The 3rd Preceptor talks about reserving Courtesy for strangers, yet forgetting it for those that we are familiar with. I feel that this situation is a great example of that statement. I would hope that DeMolays in Pennsylvania would extend that kind of courtesy to everyone, but most especially to someone who works with the program.

Comradeship teaches that we should be looking out for our Brothers, ensuring that we stand with them. As has been said, "A house divided, cannot stand." Regardless of what you think of my job performance or my dedication, we are all on the same team. I'd rather you take a moment and help me perform to your expectations than to snipe at me from afar. As a person, I can only grow in that way.

Now, to address the concerns listed in the original message - the calendar and the membership numbers. Let's start with the Calendar. Last year, the PA DeMolay server suffered problems when the owner of the system passed away unexpectedly. At the same time, the computers malfunctioned, causing the entire Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania web system to crash. It took us nearly two months to get things back online. Part of that system was the Calendar on the PA DeMolay website (as well as on the Grand Lodge site.) Realizing the technical issues we faced, we have been in deep discussions about how best to solve the problems at hand. Repopulating the Calendar is a time intensive task. Until we decide which Calendar software we are going to use, we aren't investing the time. I can happily report that in the next couple of weeks, we will be transitioning to a Google Calendar that will provide better functionality and easier event management for our members. We didn't rush into this decision and we had to make it in consultation with other Masonic groups. While I apologize for the lack of events on the Calendar, I have been working diligently behind the scenes to improve the functionality and make it a better piece of software for our members. Unfortunately, this takes time, but, as I said, the issue should be solved shortly. Perhaps I should have been more transparent on this issue, however, I have told the same thing to anyone who has asked me (I just haven't broadcast it publicly.)

The next concern is about membership numbers. The poster is correct that new members have been initiated in 2013. After checking with "Dad" Berry, we have had one new member in January (from Westmoreland Chapter, by the way.) We haven't reported this on our site because the final membership goals for 2013 haven't been completed. Why? Because to finalize those numbers we have to have all of the Form 10's processed from the previous year. After talking with "Dad" Berry, we were still receiving 2012 Form 10's on January 15, 2013. The later the reports come to us, the harder it is for us to accurately post the information to you. We'd rather make sure the information we post is accurate and ready for press than to steam forward with wrong data. I understand the inconvenience of this method, but we've found it to be the most effective.

I hope this has answered the questions that have been raised and I will gladly discuss them further with anyone who is interested. You're welcome to call me at the office (800.266.8424 ext. 8) or to email me at I'll certainly respond. With that being said, you're not welcome to come to this blog and post anonymous comments that are meant to tear down instead of build up. I expect more out of DeMolays and adult volunteers. 

To the author of this post, I implore you, don't hide behind your screen. Reach out and contact me so that we can talk things through. I'd much rather discuss the issues with you directly than address them in this fashion. DeMolays are young men of character and our adult workers are mentors with integrity. I would hope that the original poster would have both of those qualities and come forward, at least to me.

To everyone else - this is the first, last, and only time I will respond to an anonymous posts. Further anonymous posts will be ignored and deleted.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, February 4, 2013

Remember that ritual post?

As part of my ongoing series on ritual, I present today an article I found over at Gary Dryfoo's page at It's a great article on how to work on memorizing ritual. While it is geared towards Masons, it is absolutely applicable to memorizing DeMolay Ritual as well. 

Learning & Memorizing Ritual

by Wor. Mark Waks. This article originally appeared in Masonry Universal issue 26.

Ritualist's Corner

One of the problems that most often plagues Masonry is poor ritual. By this, I don't just mean getting the words wrong -- I mean ritual that is drab and uninspiring, which fails to actually *teach* a candidate. Ritual is often mediocre, and it doesn't have to be; anyone can do ritual well, provided he knows a little about acting.
It isn't hard, actually; it's mostly a matter of knowing how to do it, plus a lot of practice. This article is intended to impart some guidelines on how to do Good Ritual. It doesn't demand a lot of time, or any particular talent, just a little drive to do well. Read it and play with it. With some practice, you should be able to use these techniques to good effect in your Lodge. The course is specifically aimed at dealing with the longer speeches, but much of it is also relevant to shorter pieces; I commend it to junior officers.
This is adapted from a lecture that I worked up for my own lodge; having done that, I figured I should try to spread these tips around for the common weal of the Craft. 

1: Figure out the Words

The first step of learning any ritual is to know what you're saying! This should be obvious, but is often overlooked, because brethren are afraid to admit that they don't already know the right words. Don't be afraid to admit your own limits -- I've never met *anyone* who gets every single word right every time.
Start out by listening to someone say the speech, preferably several times. Listen carefully, and make sure you understand what's being said; ask questions if you don't. (After Lodge, of course.)

Next, go through your book and mark words that you can't figure out, or that you're unsure of -- this is the point to catch any mistakes you may be making. Then call or get together with a Ritualist and talk through it, reading out of the book slowly. Have him correct any mistakes, and fill in the words you don't know. Take notes (preferably somewhere other than in the book), because you will forget the corrections as soon as you're on your own.

2: Understand the Speech

This step gets overlooked even more often than the previous one. Read through the ritual a couple of times, and make sure you really grasp it. Don't just know the words -- know what it's talking about. Find out who the characters being talked about are. Again, ask questions.

Now, start trying to understand the speech structurally. Any ritual is made up of components, separate pieces that are linked together. For example, a section may be talking about symbols, with three paragraphs per symbol: concrete meaning, abstract meaning, and purpose. Figure out what these pieces are -- you'll use them later.

The next step is especially useful for long speeches -- visualize the speech. Any speech can be thought of in terms of movements, places, rooms, stuff like that. Words are hard to remember in order; places are easy.  This is why we use symbols in the first place: because they are easy to learn and internalize. Use them.

3a: Small-Scale Memorization

This is never anyone's favorite part; anyone can do it, but no-one finds it simple. It's considerably easier if you do it right, though.

Start out by reading the speech over and over. Don't move on to the next step until you can read it from the quickly, without breaks or hesitation. Read it *out loud*, when you get the chance. This step is particularly important, and skipped more often than any other. Don't skip it -- this is how you get your brain and mouth trained to the words. It may sound silly, but it really matters -- the mental pathways used to talk are distinct from those used to read.

Now, start trying to learn sentences. Just sentences. Read the first word or two of the sentence, then try to fill in the remainder from memory. Don't fret if you can't do it immediately; it will probably take at least 5 or 10 times through before you're getting most of the sentences. You'll find some that are hard -- hammer those ones over and over (but don't totally neglect the rest while you do so). Again, get to the point where you're doing reasonably well on this, before going on to the next step.

3b: Large-Scale Memorization

Once you've got most of the sentences, try to move on to paragraphs. Again, some will be easy and some hard. Try to understand exactly why this sentence follows that one -- in most cases, the ritual does make sense. An individual paragraph is almost always trying to express a single coherent thought, in pieces; figure out what that thought is, and why all the pieces are necessary. Keep at this until you're able to get most paragraphs by glancing at the first word or two, or by thinking, "Okay, this is the description of truth," or something like that.

Finally, start putting it all together. This is where the structural analysis in Step 2 gets important. You visualized the speech, and figured out how it hooks together; use that visualization to connect the paragraphs. Make sure you have some clue why each paragraph follows the one before. In almost every case, the next paragraph is either a) continuing this thought, or b) moving on to a related thought. In both cases, you can make memorization much easier by understanding why it flows like that. Convince yourself that this paragraph obviously has to follow that one, and you'll never forget the order.

4: Smoothing It Out

You're now at the point where you've got pretty much all the sentences down, and most of the paragraphs, and you're able to get through the whole thing only looking at the book a few times. Now, start *saying* it.
When you're driving in the car; when you're alone at home; pretty much any time you have some privacy, try saying it all out loud, at full voice. Trust me, it sounds very different when you actually say it aloud. You'll find that you stumble more, and in different places. Some words turn out to be more difficult to pronounce than you expected. Try it a few times.

Start out by trying to do this frequently -- once, even twice every day. It'll be hard at first, but it'll gradually get easier. When you're starting to feel comfortable, slow down, but don't stop. Practice it every couple of days, then every week. Don't slow down below once a week. If you feel up to it, see if you can speed up your recitation. (But do not ever speed-talk the ritual in open Lodge -- that's for memorization and rehearsal only.)

5a: Mindset

Last part. You're now at the point where you pretty much have the ritual memorized. Now, the trick is learning how to perform it well. Very nearly everyone has some amount of stage fright; us acting types often have it even worse than most. The trick to overcoming it is control of the nerves.

Now that you're comfortable reciting the ritual, observe how you do it. By now, you're not thinking about it so much; your mouth is doing almost all the work, with the conscious mind simply making a few connections between paragraphs. That is the right state to be in. Think about how that feels, and learn it.

Before you go in to "perform", do some basic acting exercises. Take a few deep breaths; concentrate on not thinking. I think the ideal is a little light meditation, but it takes a fair bit of practice to be able to drop into that state on demand; for now, just worry about being calm. Being calm is far more important than anything else. If you're calm, you're unlikely to screw up too badly; if you're tense, you're far more likely to. Some people like to exercise the body a bit, to relax the mind; you should do what works for you.

5b: Acting

Now the final nuance, which separates merely competent ritual from the really good stuff. Now that you're able to let your mouth do all the talking, start listening to yourself. Think about the ritual again, but don't think about the words, think about what it means. What are the important bits? Emphasize those. How could you use your body or hands to illustrate a point? Try talking *to* the person in front of you, not just *at* them -- look them in the eye and make them get the point. You are teaching important lessons here; try to capture a little of the emotional intensity of that importance.

Think of your "performance" as a melding of two parts. Your mouth is providing the words, your mind and heart the emotion. Again, nothing beats practice. This is what rehearsal should really be for -- taking a dummy candidate in hand, and learning how to really get the point across. Don't fret if you find that you need to change "modes" now and then -- here and there you will need to think about the words briefly, when you change paragraphs or hit a hard sentence. That won't throw you, though, so long as you keep track of what you're saying; you've already figured out why each part leads into the next, and that will guide you when you stumble.


Don't expect to get all this down instantly; it takes most people a few years to really get good at it. Just try to advance yourself bit by bit. Learn the transitions and pieces first -- if you have that, you can get through the ritual. Next time, work on memorizing more thoroughly. The time after that, work on getting it really smooth. After a while, you can build up to the point where you have the luxury to act. And at that point, you will find that you start doing the kind of ritual that Masonry is meant to have -- both moving and interesting, enough so that the candidate (who is, remember, the whole point) actually *learns* what you're saying, and what it actually means. And if you really do it well, you'll find that you come to understand the meaning of the ritual a good deal better yourself...