On The Level Podcast

Improving Your Masonic Ritual with W:. Andrew Gluchov

February 21, 2024 Christopher Burns Season 3 Episode 5
On The Level Podcast
Improving Your Masonic Ritual with W:. Andrew Gluchov
On The Level Podcast
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When Worshipful Andrew Gluchov stopped by, we didn't anticipate just how much his Masonic insights would intertwine with the hilarity of everyday life. What do lodge repairs and the Wilhelm scream have in common? You might be surprised to find out in our candid chat that dives into how Freemasonry isn't just about solemn rituals but also about the unexpected surprises and life lessons that come with leadership roles. As we swap tales ranging from the challenges of personal improvement to the quirky delight of 'secret words', you'll see how the bonds formed in the brotherhood extend beyond the lodge walls.

Ever wondered how to handle the spotlight when the pressure is on? Our conversation pivots to the art of performance, both in Masonic rituals and the metaphorical stages of life. Discover the subtle yet powerful techniques, like strategic pauses and sensory engagement, which can transform a ceremony—or any public speaking engagement—into a captivating experience. I reveal a few stage secrets from my own adventures in the third degree, showing how embracing a role fully makes for compelling and memorable moments.

Prepare to be charmed by the quirks of Masonic practice, as we explore how different interpretations of the same role can immensely impact the candidate's journey. I'll delve into how my foray into theatrical Masonry led to a Joker-inspired twist during rituals and how these creative flourishes can foster a deeper connection for those new to the craft. By the end of our discussion, you'll appreciate the blend of solemnity and levity that defines our approach to Freemasonry and life.

#freemasonry, #Podcast #bluelodge #masonicritual

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Speaker 1:

We have to decide what to do with the time that is given to us. You've reached the internet's home for all things masonry. Join on the level podcast as we plumb the depths of our ancient craft and try to unlock the mysteries, dispel the fallacies and utilize the teachings of pre-masonry to unlock the greatness within each of us. I have you now. Oh, that is what's called the Wilhelm screen, if you're familiar with movie making.

Speaker 1:

When I stopped recording with Fred, who was a little bit more old school, I was like I'm going to have fun and I made a new intro. So you'll hear Star Wars references, you'll hear Lord of the Rings references and anything I do. I love the Wilhelm screen. Whenever I hear it in a new movie, I'm like that's the Wilhelm screen. And my boy and I we do the same.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, she actually finds it more than I do sometimes. So welcome, welcome to on the level podcast. We have with us today a very special guest. This is a worshipful Andrew Glukoff. Worshipful. Welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you.

Speaker 3:

Happy to be here and love the intro. It's got a little techno. You like that. I love it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's like mixing in and out. My wife hates it. She thinks it's ridiculous, and that's how I knew I was on the right track.

Speaker 3:

I've been told by many times of my wife do not troll your wife, Do not troll your wife. So what do I do? Trroll my wife.

Speaker 1:

It's a job as a husband. They keep us in check. We make their life hell.

Speaker 3:

It's like don't push the red button. What are you going to do? You're going to push the red button.

Speaker 1:

Well, I do want people to know who you are, so worshipful Glukoff can probably do a better job introducing himself, but I'll tell you he is a past master of Sarasota Lodge. In his year he experienced a very difficult situation, which we won't get into in depth here, but he had to fund the roof remodel, which someone masters will understand. What that does to your plans for a year.

Speaker 3:

I totally derailed it. I was two years old when that roof was put on that building.

Speaker 1:

Wow. Well, you are young Mason.

Speaker 3:

I'm 41 now, so I'm classified as young because I'm not. Now they've changed the rules. You don't have to be 50 to get an ARP card, but I still use that as the benchmark. I'm too young to get an ARP card.

Speaker 1:

Tell us a little bit about your Masonic history, just so people get a feel for you, because this podcast goes all over the world.

Speaker 3:

Well, let's see. I was raised a master Mason in 2005 at a very small lodge in Orlando, florida. It doesn't exist anymore. It merged with a larger lodge in 2009. And then in 2011, I moved back to Sarasota, went to high school there and joined Sarasota Lodge, number 147. And immediately got involved. I was an officer at Mount Mariah, number 400. And so I had the itch to get involved and ended up climbing through the line pretty quickly, just based on opportunity and just the way things shook out. I was worst of master in 2015 and then spent seven years as a treasure of Sarasota and enjoyed it, enjoyed being able to be active.

Speaker 1:

Seven years as a treasure. You enjoyed it.

Speaker 3:

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la la la. I'm a statutory accountant by trades. I'm already dealing with numbers. That's actually was that stuff was easy compared to the work I do. Nine to five.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm sure the work wasn't hard, as with anything in Freemasonry. If anything was hard it was relationships with people probably.

Speaker 3:

Oh, absolutely. Yeah as you know from sitting in the east you hear everything. And once you, once you, you drank from that fountain. It's like, it's like Constantine, it's like move it kind of once you've gone and seen the other side, there's no going back. Right, right. And that's and that same thing. You know, even though I was a past master, I was still an officer. You see things very differently, you hear things very differently, yeah, and and you know, you can't go back to that. Ignorance is bliss anymore.

Speaker 1:

The world is bliss, isn't it? It really is. I mean, I want to be, I want to know things, but then every time I learn something new I'm like man. I wish I didn't know that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, no, I agree, let's see what you have to you know you don't want to be an idiot.

Speaker 1:

You got to know things and that means you have to learn how to deal with the bad stuff that comes up and accept it.

Speaker 3:

And then you know, there's the desire to continue to grow, do better. Sometimes it's learn what not to do.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes, you can't learn more than anything. You learn what not to do.

Speaker 3:

Whether I joke about that, like, yeah, my brother, who's five years older than me, I learned a lot about what not to do with him. Yeah, but that's part of what you know an older sibling does you know. He teaches you what to do and then, through his mistakes, you learn what not to do.

Speaker 1:

Some people aren't capable of learning lessons through other people's. You know I was talking about that in the podcast with my wife that wisdom is the accumulation of mistakes, but the ability to gain wisdom from observing other people's mistakes is a much higher level of wisdom than experiencing them yourself.

Speaker 3:

Self-realization is difficult for a lot of people. A lot of people can't really fully identify their own flaws.

Speaker 1:

Well, we tell ourselves stories all the time and we start to believe the things we tell ourselves and that becomes our reality, I guess.

Speaker 3:

Yeah well, perception is not reality. It's like the email thing, email 101, you know you write an email or a text message or something and you view it as it's going to go one direction. This is how I see this message being written, but they interpret it completely different.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, oh, we both had that experience. I know for a fact because we've had it with each other.

Speaker 3:

We've had it with each other and we've had it with others. Yes, and you know, I'd like to think that we both have learned a lot over time.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely.

Speaker 3:

How not to handle things in text format.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, I've learned how not to handle from my mistakes, how not to handle things in person, through text, through email, through third parties. Like I learned a lot of lessons the hard way and it makes you better. Well, the great thing is that people have forgiven me for my when I make a mistake. You know, and that's the great part, Like they give you another chance and that's important, Right.

Speaker 3:

But I think part of that is also because you've taken steps like like we make mistakes and the key is and my music director in high school we were in marching band always said if you're going to lay egg, lay dinosaur egg. You're going to make a mistake. Make a good mistake, but then it's about what you do afterwards.

Speaker 1:

Right, Own it, learn from it. Yeah, own it learn from it.

Speaker 3:

I think that's where the that forgiveness comes from, is that you know we're always we're flawed beings. We're always trying to be better. I mean making good men better. That's what Mason resolve that Well, the better part is we have to make mistakes in order to get better. Yeah. And the fact that we acknowledge it.

Speaker 1:

And you, just you, made a perfect segue into the topic of our entire podcast today, which is making mistakes top of the top.

Speaker 1:

Making mistakes ties greatly into ritual work, because, in my opinion, this ritual work is designed to trip you up, make mistakes there are parts that are very similar and makes you really focus on where you're at and it's almost, I think, built to make you humble, built to make you think and make mistakes and keep you, you know, in a place of always trying to improve yourself.

Speaker 1:

This could have been structured much simpler, easier to communicate the same ideas, but it wasn't. It was done in this way where you know you might do in a degree something and in this, when you talk about it later in the lecture, it's slightly different. Even in the degrees you say something and later in the degree you might say the same thing again, but slightly differently, and you can get caught up in that and make mistakes very easily. And I think that's kind of like the whole point of the fraternity is you're never going to achieve perfection, no matter how hard you try, but it is about the journey of self-improvement and always trying to do better. You're never at a point where you're like I'm good, I did it, whoo, I'm done, yeah, punch your car to go home and, as a successful note that you never get to that point.

Speaker 3:

But that's what I try to get there.

Speaker 1:

I think it's why it's easier for us to forgive each other, because when you see somebody's trying, you got to give them the benefit of that, you got to give them the chance you have to support them in their journey, even if they're not on the same level as you they could be. You know, maybe they've been doing this longer and they're quicker to Discover their issues. Maybe they're not we're here at yet and you see that they're slow to Apologize and slow to make amends, and you know that's. We see as Mason's the entire journey and we try to recognize it and we try to help people below us and ask for help from people Above us on the journey.

Speaker 3:

That's kind of what this fraternity is about right, it's the, it's the people who don't try, or, you know, if they make a mistake, they don't really make any steps to do anything about it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, those are the ones that really frustrate you, because yeah, we're all capable of being better, yeah, but we have to accept the fact that we're flawed, yeah, and and though there are brothers out there that that will not accept that reality that I, oh, I screwed up, you know, you know, let me, let me, you know, say, you know, either say I'm sorry or try again and depend, you know, whatever arena it happens to be it, but I mean, and that applies to all aspects of life, yeah you know my dad always joke.

Speaker 3:

You know my mom's perfect. She makes one mistake every year. She's allowed one. You know spider-man says everyone gets one, but I think he was just, you know, brown nose and to get in her good graces.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes exactly as men. We make one mistake per hour. That's what we're allowed, I think oh boy.

Speaker 3:

I got a lot of work to do.

Speaker 1:

Oh, you're even exceeding that one, huh.

Speaker 3:

Oh, one hour, way more than that. I Think I get that. I think I bring it down when I'm sleeping.

Speaker 1:

I mean, but they're different mistakes. Usually it's not gonna be the same one an hour after hour.

Speaker 3:

That's really though.

Speaker 1:

Yeah it's insanity that is, doing the same thing and expecting a different result, is what they say the definition of insanity is. So we are here today, you and I, to try to talk about some esoteric ritual work. Now, we're not, we're not here to like talk about the work itself, the words, the floor work, but more, I Think how can you help masons improve? And ritual work would be more of the title of our Podcast, and you are someone that's. Ever since I've been engaged in Sarasota Lodge, have been always helping with the ritual, teaching the new guys ritual work. I've seen you be a Lodge instructor. I think you are a lot. Are you the Lodge instructor this year?

Speaker 3:

I'm back in it again I got roped in so here we go.

Speaker 1:

We have a lot of instructor with us on the podcast right now.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you know, things kind of stabilize with home. You know my daughters got some special needs, but we've got them identified and a strategy. So once that was taken care of. It's like okay, you know, this opens up a little bit of Capacity to be able to take on some of the other things. We actually had a practice last night, you know, and I've already got one phone call today about some ritual stuff.

Speaker 3:

You know I enjoy it. You know not everyone does. I know you love ritual. You know where we're kind of cut from the same cloth and that in that fashion, we just enjoy it.

Speaker 1:

I can't stay away from it. Even now that I'm here and no one's asking me to do anything, I'm trying to find new stuff to memorize that I might. It's like in the state of Florida. We have these proficiency cards where you you learn the work, you memorize it, you go to the district instructor who hears you do the work from memory and then if you are Um proficient not perfect- proficient 95.

Speaker 3:

Proficiency is the requirement.

Speaker 1:

So 95 sounds Like oh, 95 is not that bad, but when you're giving a lecture and you're talking for 30 minutes and you've got 7000 words, maybe it's not a lot. You can miss at 95% at that level, so it is kind of a. It is a good gauge that somebody who's gotten proficiency cards, at least at the time, knew this stuff. Now I think what separates the, the, the real guys, from the paper guys are the ones that use the proficiencies that they've gained. And you are like me and that you, you really try to never say no to an offer to do ritual work.

Speaker 3:

The lost word. Don't let anyone. It's not what the ritual tells you. The real lost word is no, yeah. That, that's our. That's the secret word of Mason is no, yeah, yeah, as you get roped into everything.

Speaker 1:

We're simple, peter sabinkech, he, he popped into Lodge last year. Well, I was in the midst of my chaos because I was saying yes to everything and he's like brother, brother. And he told me, like a week before, at the Lodge meeting, I have learned the secret word of a master Mason. I have found it in the Scottish right and I'm gonna give it to you at the next meeting. He built it up, man, I was looking forward to it. I was like, oh, I got an inside. And then he took me aside and whispered in my ear yeah, the word is no. Right.

Speaker 3:

It that that was one that took me many years to figure out. Yeah basically, it wasn't until my daughter was born in 2018 that I actually started to learn it at all and then kind of be able to Start actually developing a work-life balance, because you can basically can get ahead of you and Take over your life if you let it.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's the thing. It's a fraternal organization, it's a volunteer organization and they always need help, and the fact that people are asking you to do things is an honorable thing. That means they think highly enough of you that you can do the work, but you are responsible for your own time, so you need to decide when you can and can't do something. It's important for people to realize no Must become part of your vocabulary. When you become a Mason, you can do everything. You're going to have to say no sometimes.

Speaker 3:

Right and like when you join other Masonic organizations, you have to find balance. Like, yeah, I remember our good you know past friend Rusty Glendini and I used to meet with Prospects at the lodge. So we kind of started the open house thing back.

Speaker 3:

You did a way way long time ago, yep, and he would always say as part of his stick is you know, take your time, don't join things too quick, because people talk about like the Shriners, because it's stuff that they know, because you're gonna hate the mailman come October, november, when all those dudes notices come in. Now Scottish Wright in the Southern jurisdiction got smart and if you get on there, if you're on their auto pay setup, they charge you in June yeah and Rusty was against it at first.

Speaker 3:

He was the personal rep for the the Valley of Tampa for a long time before, before you pass, but looking back I realized it was genius, because you're taking the hit then and not the end of the year with all those dudes. Notices holidays. Christmas, everything just, just just sucks the finances out of you.

Speaker 3:

So yeah that's actually really smart idea. So I like I'm on the the auto pay and and I don't regret it whatsoever, I was. It took a little bit to get used to like, oh yeah, that comes out in June. But looking back, I wish more organizations did that. Where they, you could basically pay early and you know even better if you can do an auto pay setup. I know a lot of the most organizations are done Decentralized, where the local bodies run everything, versus Scottish right, which is very centralized, so you don't get quite as much flexibility on that seal. I mean, a regular lodge isn't gonna have something set up to really handle that. But I would love if more organizations offered like a mid-year setup.

Speaker 1:

I would love it if, like we could have all of this lumped into one payment that you pay a small monthly fee and and you just get dinged your $25 a month, or whatever it is, to pay everybody off and they just manage it for you.

Speaker 3:

I mean, you just thought about business.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's a future business venture sir, not for me, but somebody needs to do that. I Would. I would be signed up like here's my credit card. Just take care of it. I don't. I don't have to worry about it. It's a monthly thing. My wife won't know.

Speaker 3:

It's big nothing deal, it's it goes back to the future. Armor me, shut up and take my money take my money please.

Speaker 1:

No, your lodge instructor, you just did lodge instruction last. Yes, you've been doing lodge instruction for 10 years, 15 years, something like that. Well, 2005 you joined.

Speaker 3:

You said yeah, but my first time officially as a lodge instructor Was at a small daylight lodges you know here Liberty Lodge, back in 2018, when they first started.

Speaker 1:

That's Liberty Lodge number 412 in Brainton Florida.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's a daylight lodge. They meet on Saturday mornings. You know it's got. It's got its niche, and especially in an area here where you have a lot of Older Masons who may not be able to drive at night. Yeah has, it serves a purpose. Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah. Yeah, I was a charter member.

Speaker 1:

Honestly, I'm a young guy and I love the idea of I don't have to Maniacally go from work to lodge stuff. I can get up on the weekend Morning and handle it before my day gets started. That's a great setup, I think.

Speaker 3:

I was well, it all depends, like. For me it was great until my daughter started doing stuff on Saturday mornings and I was like well, that's the end of that, yeah so right now it's soccer, so also that was dance.

Speaker 1:

Like drive like 20 minutes to get there right where Schvall Hart makes a good point. They call it a daylight lodge. So why the hell is it dark when I'm going to the lodge? You know you got to get up pretty early to get over there for breakfast before the meeting. It's still dark.

Speaker 3:

I got nothing on that one. Yeah, I got nothing.

Speaker 1:

So give us. I have some of my own personal tip. I have severe anxiety, as I'm sure you know. I've talked about it.

Speaker 1:

I make fun of it all the time all the time I I'm the brown pants guy. I'm always crapping my pants when I'm in front of people and there are some things that when I was going to sit in the east for the first time, I was on message boards begging for help because I was too embarrassed to help people. I knew that knew me, ask them for help and Expose how weak and terrified I was. So I would go online and they like please help me, please help me. In like three weeks I'm gonna be doing this degree and I got so much advice and I took a couple nuggets and really took it to heart and used it in my first degree and a lot of that stuff became staples that I fall back on now and when I teach other people, I teach them these things that help with the ritual work, especially if you have some anxiety About public speaking and performing.

Speaker 1:

Right so let's dig into that, let's talk about some of your tips.

Speaker 3:

Let's go for it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, like. Well, what are the top things you think of when you think of how to improve as a mason in ritual work?

Speaker 3:

I did. I had a class that I taught when I was involved with the D M A Florida for public speaking and I created the the lesson plan and the first player, the work first part, is the pregame friend. You know you have to know your audience and so you got a cater to that. Well, let's take that and apply it to you know, to to blue watch and in masonry, the first thing I always teach is slow down. Basically I can't stress them slow the bleep down, just just slow down, because we talk faster than we think we talk and when we start getting to the um, the See like that's us getting ahead of ourselves and trying to catch up.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so one of the things I was taught in radio by my dad that was, if you start losing it, give dead air. Like that it doesn't sound like you don't know what you're doing. Little dead air is okay, even in competition. You have eight seconds before they call a buck. That's a great opportunity. If you are starting to lose it, just stop for a moment, take a quick breath and go. You slow down. If you talk really slow while doing ritual like this, there's less chance of you stumbling, and if you need to slow it down just a little more to catch a word it doesn't sound all that weird.

Speaker 3:

Plus, most of our ritual is conversational. We're talking to someone and they're talking back to us. It's conversational. You don't want to sound like a robot while you're doing it. You want to have a little bit of an inflection. If it's a question, make it sound like a question and it actually will help the person you're talking to remember what their line is, because they know it's an answer For York Wright. When I was captain of the host, that was one of the things that helped me remember my lines, because there's a lot you do a huge amount of the opening from that spot because you have to explain all the different chairs and stuff. So it allowed me to remember what my line was based on. The question it was no different than catechism. You get a question, granted. Those are kind of vague questions. Sometimes just two words is your question. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

It at least allows you to keep track of where you are, because it's easy to get lost, especially if you start rushing.

Speaker 1:

Yes, absolutely so. Your first tip and I wrote it down is slow down. Now, when I started doing my research, this is the one thing that everybody suggested as well, and it was number one on my list as well slow down, and it's the one thing I always tell people. Like I've heard you tell people, even though you think you're slowing down, you can slow down more.

Speaker 3:

And it doesn't feel natural. No it feels weird.

Speaker 1:

That's how you know you're doing it right For me with the anxiety I feel. Every eyeball individually, every person has two. I felt both. I felt that from every person in the room and I just wanted them to stop looking at me. So I was speaking fast, so we'll get to the next person faster and they would look at them Right. And that's why I had to learn that you have to slow down, just let it happen. And that goes into the second tip I got, which was breathe. You have to breathe, yes, and slowing down and breathing do go together very well. That calms the nerves. The first time I sat in the East I'm sure you probably have no idea what I'm talking about, but some people out there do I do get nervous from time to time, Do you? I've never seen it.

Speaker 3:

Well, the key is don't let it show. But if you don't feel the nerves, man, you're not alive.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I guess there's nerves and there's like what I'm talking about is I was about to pass out. I'm sitting in the East for a new degree for the first time and my first words from the East ever were whoo, like that's what I said first, because I couldn't get words out. My vision was tunneling, I started to see white and I knew I was about to pass out any second, and so I remembered I got to breathe. I think I had stopped breathing and I was suffocating or something and I was losing my vision. And so those deep breaths take some time also for you to think.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and it gives you, it solidifies the speaking slow. When you breathe in between your sentences, you're going to speak a little slow and all that stuff gives you little moments to think Because you know when you're doing ritual work, you're saying something, you're thinking about what's coming up and you're beating yourself up for the mistake you just made, all at the same time and you need to give your brain a second to process all of this crazy information that's going through it in that moment. And you got to slow it down and you got to breathe to make that work.

Speaker 3:

It's funny. You should mention that, because my second lesson is don't think.

Speaker 1:

Don't think, don't think. I've heard that before.

Speaker 3:

And let me expound on that. So we've heard the degree so many times. We actually know it. We just don't realize we know it. That's problem one, and that's where the practicing goes in getting off the book so that we can create the muscle memories of transferring it from our brains to our mouths. You know you want that repetition of doing the words, of getting away from the book, because that's a crutch and creating the mind. It's no different than writing. You know they. It's proven that when you write something down you incorporate it into memory better than you type it. Right.

Speaker 3:

And that's because of the muscle memory of writing the different letters. Type in a key. A key is if you can hit a key it's the same key. You know it doesn't matter what letter, it's the same action for writing the letter B R. You know they're all different.

Speaker 1:

You're like visualizing it in your mind too.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, and so you're creating muscle memory. So by practicing the ritual and the words and stuff you're, you're converting it from just sitting in your head to a muscle action, to the point where it becomes second nature. You get, you get into a groove and you just, you just run with it. There was a one time, many years ago, I was there was a degree and our good friend right where's for Juan de la Rosa, was degree master and Juan is a great Mason, a great leader, but he's not a ritualist.

Speaker 1:

Oh, really, not a ritualist. Okay, I've never seen him do ritual work.

Speaker 3:

He's good at what he does, Like he does the second section senior deacon amazing. But he was sitting in the East for this degree and he didn't. He had a rough go and I walk up to him after it because I was his junior warden and I go, Juan, what happened? He goes. Well, I was thinking and I cut him off. I said that was a problem. You were thinking, you want to, you want to try and clear your mind as much as possible and let the muscle memory do its work.

Speaker 3:

Yeah because, like you said, you're beating yourself up over another mistake or you're thinking it's kind of like you're playing football Ball is three being thrown you and it's an easy pass. So you're thinking about the run afterwards before you've secured the ball and you drop it. It's true.

Speaker 3:

Same idea. You think ahead, you're going to make a mistake in the moment and then it's going to cascade, because there's a momentum factor here too. Yes, you make a mistake, then you make another and then it starts cascading. It's no balls, you start losing the composure. Yeah. So the key is clear your mind as much as possible and it takes the extra practice of learning those words and so that the muscles know what they're doing and you can just fly through and you just ride the weight. It's the momentum weight, just ride it. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, okay, we've given four tips. Now let's go back to the first one Slow down. Now here's what's going to happen when you slow down in your lodge. You both know this is going to happen. The second you pause, someone's going to yell words out from the sidelines. Okay, it happens to everybody that does dramatic pauses. It happens to everybody that takes a moment in between sentences. People feel like they got to fill that dead time. Even if it's a millisecond, they're ready to give a word.

Speaker 3:

There's so many cooks in the kitchen. How do you deal with?

Speaker 1:

that? How do you tell someone to prepare for that, because we know it's going to happen?

Speaker 3:

Well, in fact I was talking to the guy who's practicing to be degree master for this degree. Traditionally, at Sarasota we have our senior deacon do the degree from the heat?

Speaker 1:

Travis Travis Tabani. Could it be the degree master?

Speaker 3:

He's working on it and he's working hard. We have private weekly sessions over the phone where he gives me stuff and then we get together and work on it again at the lodge. So we're working together quite extensively and he's getting there. It's a lot. It is a lot. It's a lot. We're only a month into the year. Is he there yet? No, he's not.

Speaker 1:

He didn't know he was going to be senior deacon until a week before installation either. So he couldn't, really he didn't know how to prepare all this stuff at the time.

Speaker 3:

It was not planned for him to be, senior deacon. Circumstances change at the very last minute, to the point where the installation program didn't even have money.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, of course we had to. We're full of Zach. He printed his installation program and I think there were three positions that changed him between the print and the actual installation.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's not awkward or anything, no, it happens, though.

Speaker 1:

I mean, this is free masonry. That is not out of the norm. I think for most lodges it's very fluid.

Speaker 3:

You got to be flexible and you got to roll with the punches, especially as a worshipful master. You and I both know that you just got to turn the other cheek. Yeah, move forward. Yeah, just move forward. But he's working on it, he's practicing Travis is a great.

Speaker 1:

He's going to be great mason. I see the greatness in him and I'm really excited. He's part of the line at Sarasota Lodge. We have a strong line in Sarasota Lodge of young men who are going to be great masons in the district and the state and he's one of them. So shout out to Travis to fire.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, Travis is great. He's a great role model. He is. He's the best of his work ethic.

Speaker 3:

Some guys don't even have to try and the ritual just comes naturally. Others have to work harder, but he's putting in the time and the work to try and be the best. And there's a few guys there. Mario Charles is another guy who works really hard. Wade Vodkin works really, really hard to learn this stuff. And I want to call them out by name because these guys they're shown up to practices or asking for stuff outside. That's what a good mason does. He may not be the best ritually, but ritual acumen is not an indicator of a good mason. It's the effort they put in to try and be the best that they can be.

Speaker 1:

You, as the Lodge instructor, can't instruct them if they don't show up prepared to learn.

Speaker 3:

You know from experience that it's definitely a point of frustration. I'm dealing with it this year with some guys. I mean it happens every year at every Lodge. Some of those guys just don't show up to practices enough.

Speaker 1:

They're like. Either they're in their mind or like I got it, I don't need the practice, or they're like I don't have time for this. But in either of those situations you need to be there. If you committed to do the degree, don't commit unless you're prepared to show up to most of the practices, if not all of them, if you can.

Speaker 3:

Even if you know it because they need you there.

Speaker 3:

Exactly. Not only are you hurting yourself, you're hurting your teammates. We do our practices on the off Tuesdays, and we do that because, aside from that, you can just say one day out of the week okay, that's Lodge, nuts, it's going to be Tuesday. We want everyone there. One you're as strong as your weakest guy, and that's like most team sports. You know team activities. You are as strong as your weakest guy, so if you have someone who's struggling with ritual, you want them there to help prop them up. Two it's a confidence thing. If everyone's there working together, it builds confidence. That's right and that's reflected in how you perform ritual. We practice. We perform it 80% of how we practice. So if we practice poorly or not at all, we're not gonna perform well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah there are not. Not everybody's comfortable with improvisation and a lot of people think free masonry should involve improvisation. But it shouldn't.

Speaker 1:

We should be doing the same work every time, all the time. But I know, I know because I have I, as a goal card, active goal card holder over the years, have accepted that you have to improvise. You don't know what the other person's gonna say or do and you need to be prepared to give your lines, no matter what they say or do. And so, even if they're out of order and you've got to somehow get back into the order, if you do it by the book it's gonna be a little harsh. So sometimes you can improvise a little bit to get us back on. So now we were talking about slowing down and you were saying that this is something you wanna do in preparation for the fact that you're gonna slow down. You wanna tell somebody they need to.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, a side of fact, to slow down, don't think you wanna make sure that you have one guy said as your prompter, because otherwise all those past masters or anyone else who thinks they know the part they did not even know it, they may think they know it We'll start throwing words at you and you don't want that. That throws you off, that breaks concentration and all that other stuff.

Speaker 1:

Plus, your confidence level drops like 10 notches every time someone has to give you a word.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly I mean, if you want someone specifically to break your confidence, designate that guy as the local dream shatterer and let him ruin your life instead of everyone else doing it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but that guy knows he's not gonna give the prompt unless somebody looks at him and asks him for help.

Speaker 3:

Well, yeah, you get it Before the degree. You get on the same page like I'll say prompt or I'll look at you Something to kind of give a cue, to give a word, because I was working with we talked about Mar I mentioned Mario earlier. I was working with him yesterday and there are times where he has to go back into the memory banks and pull the line out and he'd be like don't tell me, don't tell me. So with him you kind of learn how to work with different people. I'll tell him.

Speaker 3:

I'll wait a little bit and then give him a word or something like that. So every person's different in how they handle it. Sure. That's part of being a large instructor or someone that's designated to be a prompter. You gotta know who you're talking to and their nuances. You have to know your brothers. That's where it comes down to know your brothers.

Speaker 1:

Mario Patrick Charles Sr, as he likes to be called, is a perfectionist and I work with him in his catechism. He is the type of Mason that puts the anxiety of perfection on himself and that'll go away in time. It always goes away in time. We all wanna be perfect and stress out about it, but after you've made enough mistakes and you accept that, no matter how hard you try, those mistakes are still coming, you give yourself permission to not pre-beat yourself up for mistakes you haven't made yet.

Speaker 3:

Right, I'm the degree master of the ninth and 10th degrees for Scottish Rite and I have one of the parts that has a long model off. I don't think I've ever done it the same way twice and I've done it for a few years, so it's just sometimes you just have to accept it. You do the lectures. Do you ever do it the exact same way twice? Probably not. No.

Speaker 3:

There's at least something in there and the key is it's not about the perfection of the words, it's about the presentation. If you present it well, people may not even notice it, unless they really know the work and the candidates or whoever's going through the degrees sure as heck doesn't know. It's all about presentation. If you make a mistake and you just run with it, yeah.

Speaker 3:

And you say that instead of a they or just something like something, and you just run with it, they're probably not even going to notice. It's when you beat yourself up and make it visible that people are going to start, and I've done that before. I've made a verbal.

Speaker 1:

Oh, we all have done that one.

Speaker 3:

And then I kind of wits because I knew immediately I made the mistake. Yeah. But as we know from ritual competition, you never go back, just keep going forward.

Speaker 1:

I have seen brothers beating themselves up in lodge during the ritual work, saying god damn it, or they're cursing at themselves and it's like worst, worst situation, worst mistake, worst action. Save it for the car, ride home and beat yourself up on the way home. You've got to move on when you're doing the work.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, because, remember, we're doing that degree work, especially the entered apprentice degree. For those candidates, this is their first impression in masonry. Yes, I think actually having a flawed degree is not a bad thing. It goes back to the fact that we're not perfect. It's talked about in the lecture. We're striving for perfection but we're not there. I think it's a great opportunity to personify that and while we can't change what's in the lecture, we can use maybe vocal inflection to kind of highlight that we are imperfect.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 3:

And later you can reflect on it.

Speaker 1:

Those pauses, those are all ways you can make it your own in a sense. Even though we're both seeing the same thing, we can present it in different ways and emphasize different things, and it almost gives emphasis to the meanings of the things that we're influencing, makes them think about it a little more. I've seen it many times. I was in a lodge and I saw a fellow craft lecture. I timed it done in 15 minutes. Can you imagine, wow, what that sounds like. I saw it with my own eyes. It was like you ever see those commercials for the micro robots and the micro machines.

Speaker 1:

And it was like that for 15 minutes, and the words that you're using in the fellow craft lecture are not easy words to grasp sometimes, so it's just nothing of it. None of that sunk into those guys when you do a 15 minute lecture, no. No, it's actually funny.

Speaker 3:

You mentioned the micro machines guy. I got I'll bring that up when you're done. What?

Speaker 1:

go go.

Speaker 3:

I bet this was actually the last lodge meeting at Sarasota. I'm pro temming is in the treasurer's chair. We're in the process of electing a new treasurer, so the dispensation is kind of the in-between. So I've been doing some work to just help hold, hold the fort down as past treasurer, just so we get the new guy in and you know, trained and stuff. But I'm sitting next to the secretary and I actually reference the guy from micro machines Because how fast people were talking and he didn't quite catch what I was. Of course I was born 1982, so I had micro machines you play with micro machines?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I knew exactly about these commercials. I don't remember the guy's name, but I remember the commercials. This guy could talk a mile a minute. I mean he was like a world record. Yeah, a linguist as far as how fast he could speak, and he was articulate too. Yeah, it's not even just like mush mouth, it's not very articulate.

Speaker 1:

Yes, but yeah, it gives you anxiety, though, to hear it like without the pauses, and you know that much information it's like I don't think he's alive anymore, but maybe he died of a heart attack or something.

Speaker 1:

Good Lord, Wonder what his last words were. A lot of them, probably it was a commercial. I just like to say thank you to my mic, but, sister, no. So listen, slow down, breathe. I think we're getting into one of the tips we both probably share with people, which is you got to own the work, you have to. You have to know it enough that you can interpret it in your way when you do it, and the greatest example of this is third base in the second section of the master.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, something that you and I both have experienced dealing.

Speaker 1:

And we've all seen other people do it too, and we see how differently everyone plays that role there. I've seen Like right worship will do, or if you're familiar with the man is six foot a million and Bear claws for hands.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, when he grabs you, he's got your whole body and he's screaming and shaking and it's you hear it from outside the lodge when he's playing third base. And then you, on the other hand, take a more. I would describe it as more of Someone who has Put in a position where they have reached their breaking point and they're almost like Since has left them. They're just like acting on instinct and the person is Is a maniacally trying to get. What he needs from you is how you kind of play third base pure desperation.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, desperation, that's a good word, pure desperation and and that's actually something that that has always worked me is, you know, I think sometimes we misinterpret the personality of that character and you know, when we do especially the second section we kind of have to become the roles to a certain extent. Yeah, so one. It doesn't sound like words on a page, it's a play. You know we're in a play, so you know, if we can sell the role you know and and make people believe we are who we're playing, I think actually creates a better experience for everyone, or not just the guy going through degree, but the people around it. Uh, russi would tell me he's like man. The way he did is like there's one, there's, there's a vocal inflection. I do that. He's like man. I just can't replicate it, but it's something I do every single time. I do it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah just to show the, the, the pure desperation of this man.

Speaker 1:

They're out of options. Yeah, it's him or nothing. Now he's like uh.

Speaker 3:

I am out of options. It is no longer just I'm trying to do this, it's it's bleeding over to the extreme. Yeah and you know, but it's, it's a little more of a cerebral or poach, because, yeah, I mean Lou Orr, it is 6465. I mean, he's a big man. I'm 510. Yeah. I'm not a big guy. Yeah I'm. I'm stocky. I'm like 215 right now, after you know, being on the shelf with a torn Achilles. So I got a little bit of weight to lose, but you know.

Speaker 3:

I Wrestler so low center of gravity, but as a result, I have to play it a little bit differently.

Speaker 1:

You know and you um, it's not just like you use the words to express yourself. Your we're taught not to be rough with people in the third degree, specifically right, and we're not gonna talk about anything we're not supposed to talk about here, don't worry. But we are told don't get rough. This is for instruction. This isn't for you to play with somebody and you use your body in such a way as to try to put them off their bearings. Yes, yes, I've seen you Alternating ears. I've seen you moving your.

Speaker 3:

I do my head and my body, yes, way it back and forth. Yes and people have told me it throws them off. You know which is part of my objective. You know, right, you're overloading the senses, yeah, and you know this guy is very desperate. He's, you know, in freak out mode because nothing has worked. So to kind of, you know, kind of convey how bad things are, I want to throw somebody off. You know, I want, I want them to kind of get a sensory overload and be thrown off. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

I wonder what's going to happen next.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and you want to get them out of themselves because they're playing a.

Speaker 3:

They're playing a role.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, in their mind they're, they're, they're in part of the play, but they're also, like, very aware of the stuff's going on. That is confusing and it can make you feel awkward and it can get you in your own head. So those sensory Things that you're adding really sucks them into the moment that you're sharing with them and brings them into the moment with you. I think it's really critical to play on more than just the words but try to impart, like you said, inflection. I Touch people in ways that make them uncomfortable, like you're yelling, you're upset, and then there are moments there where he's like, okay, listen to me now, and it gets. It comes down to like a quiet moment where I'm stroking the back of the head as I'm talking, like you need to listen to me.

Speaker 3:

I, I pat him like like you know, like on the chest, like okay okay, Okay, yeah okay, it's like Breathe. All right, here's the deal, brother.

Speaker 1:

Oh you go WWE on.

Speaker 3:

No, that's lose approach. I take a very, a very quiet, like you get like a almost like a seething thing, where you can, just you can feel the Pot is about to boil over. It's just, yeah, last little bit of surface, like All right.

Speaker 1:

I think here's the deal, man, that is. That is. This is what we're talking about.

Speaker 1:

When you, when you know the work, when you're trying to understand the motivation of the person that you're representing, you have to bring it to life. You can't just stand and Make it sound like you're reading from a book. That's what it sounds like a lot of the time. People are just in their head, they're seeing the words and they're reading it as if they're reading it from a book. And if you slow down, you breathe, you know the work enough that you can represent the meaning of it through your words, your body, your actions. Now you're making an impact on somebody and making a lasting moment that they're gonna come back to. And when it's all over and they're alone at night, think about that and go wow, that was Wonder what that was all about. Like, what was, you know? It forces them to think more about what happened. I think, and the moment they're alone and thinking back, that you need moments Because they don't remember everything. It's free. Masonry is like war long, boring, punctuated by moments of extremeness like that's loaded with product dump.

Speaker 1:

Very masonry. You're not gonna remember everything when you're an entered apprentice, but there are moments you will never forget that you'll think about from day one and keep thinking in your mind like wow, that was thought-provoking, or I got sucked in and I felt something. And those are the moments people remember For the rest of their masonic career.

Speaker 3:

I mean, I were. You know, I don't remember much of my E8 degree. I remember two different bits and and part of it. One of them was the way I was spoken to. It was almost like a teacher, a stern teacher. Hold them holding the pencil, talking at you like this, talking to you like this, and I remember that yeah. You know it's, you know you all the other stuff, yeah, that's a lot of gone, it's right.

Speaker 3:

It's been almost 19 years, but though that where it wasn't just words on the page, there was inflection to it, there was motion to it, there was something more.

Speaker 1:

You remember your feeling in the moment, all these years later.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, we remember feelings, and usually the negative one. So you, we usually remember like that's true, like one of the first memories I have as a kid growing up is the alarm set in the alarm off of my house because I went to the garage to grab a soft drink. And I remember that as One of my first memories because the alarm was going off, it was loud, I'm crying, you know. Then you know stuff. Yeah, three, between three and four years old, yeah, but yeah, you need something that's unusual, that's different to remember.

Speaker 3:

You know there's I don't remember the exact name of the law, but it's, it's. You remember something? You only notice something when it's wrong. Yeah, yeah, if everything is true, if everything's wired, I guess, is people.

Speaker 1:

we focus on them, we focus on the negative more than possible in memory.

Speaker 3:

So if things are very bland, you're not going to remember any of it. You need something to kind of. You know, stick out. You know you need something that stands out and in the case of the second section, the master may screw. You know it's a play. Have fun with it.

Speaker 1:

So many opportunities in that second section. So many opportunities because in most of the other degrees it's quite formal, it's very stiff and rigid, there's not a lot of wiggle room to express emotion, but in the master Mason degree section you're really representing people with all the flaws, all the, all the things that make them unique, and you get an opportunity to bring that to life. I never thought I could do acting until I joined pre Masonry and the first meaty role I got was playing first base in a master Mason degree and I took it so seriously. I was practicing in the mirror in the bathroom, I was trying out different faces, even though you know whatever and you know what I settled on. That it felt right to me was Heath Ledgerst the Joker.

Speaker 3:

If you ever hear me?

Speaker 1:

do jubilee. If you ever hear me do the first base in the second section, I'm channeling his Joker performance. I'm going to sound real creepy with my words, but smooth like butter and it's going to be like you're going to love it and also be creeped out and want it to go away right away. I'm not touching you, it's just the cadence. It's just the way that you make your voice sound in a creepy way and that can make somebody put, because that's going to put him in a position where they're like they've never experienced. This is the first guy talking to them in this way of all the degrees that gotten right, that first base guy, and I think it really sets the tone for the rest of the degree that first base guy can really and it bugs me to hell when I eat, somebody's just like and then this happened and you know that I am not happy and he's talking like this Well then, go away. It's like what happened. What did you just do with that role?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, throwaway moment.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, could have been. You could have just had a recording there. Make it alive, man. And when you do live, you know, there's like one of the things I like to do when I play the third base. I've tried a lot of different things, sometimes in the same night, if we have multiple people, but what I've settled on is, like you, this is a person that doesn't want to do the things he has to do, but he's in a position where he has no choice. So I will stutter to express that I don't know what's happening here, but I have to do something, and that stutter isn't necessarily breaking. I'm not innovating because people do stutter. I didn't say a full word, but the stuttering creates an effect of. This seems real to me, right, it's like what? Well, then right, and then you move on, and that little bit of stutter is like what the hell's going on.

Speaker 3:

Like oh my God, the frustration. Yeah, you can't even keep your thoughts together. Right, you're so frustrated at how things are going. You know you're basically on the verge of throwing a tantrum and how like like this is not going to play.

Speaker 1:

What am I going to do? I got to do something and that works in the section section of the master Mason degree. That isn't going to work. If you're the senior deacon and an enter apprentice degree. You've got to look at these roles for what they are Right Now. There are things you can do. The senior deacon. One of the things I like to do is, for example, you're saying all the words we all say, but I think the senior deacon is quite upset that their business meetings being interrupted and that they have to deal with these candidates. So I sarcastically call them candidates every time I have to say the word, like these candidates, and you know you sound annoyed when you're speaking on their behalf as you go around. But once they become brothers, your tone changes and you call them brothers and you start talking differently, kinder gentler, because now they're brothers and there's an arc to that character that you could play, even though you're not really changing the work or the words.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, like what I do when I do senior deacon for the main parts of the degrees, is I over accentuate the gaps in commas to kind of make it sound important?

Speaker 1:

More dramatic.

Speaker 3:

The other thing is and you know, is I actually talk with my chin up a little bit, because it changes how you talk One of those nonverbal things is kind of proud yeah, I did it. You said, I got these guys and this is this is why they're here and this is what they want. And by you know, talking with them like this, as well as adding, you know, some gaps, some pauses, some dramatic pauses, I think it's a different style from from from what you do, which you know obviously there's there's no right or wrong. It's just, you know, we all have our own styles and kind of it just falls in the place.

Speaker 1:

It's great. The candidate will feel something. Whether you're doing it or I'm doing it, they're going to feel something and that's ultimately the goal is to get them emotionally attached to the content that you're giving them Right.

Speaker 3:

We want them to create an experience they remember. Yeah. And that, in turn, they want to do the same thing for others in the future. Yes, so that's why it's so important to to practice these degrees, to do these important things, to have a good performance of these degrees, so that we give these new brothers a good experience. They want to come back, they want to pay it forward, they want to be involved. Those could be your future worshipal masters. Yeah, you never know.

Speaker 3:

You never know what the future holds. But if you give them a bad experience where it's obvious you don't care, why should they?

Speaker 1:

That. That leads to another tip. I got off the Internet that I practice religiously, which is? It ain't about me or you, it's about those guys. So forget everyone else is there. Forget other parts. Focus on the guys. Look at them, focus on them and make them the center of everything you're doing, and a lot of the pressure goes away from your performance and you as a person when you're just trying to make it good for those people over there and you're focusing your attention on them. That helps me a lot and I don't have to think about the eyeballs on me because theirs aren't.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's not about us, it's about the guys who are who are who are experiencing this. Yeah, we want to impress the guys on the sideline? Sure, of course we want to do that, but in the end of the day, it's about the people going through the degree. That's really what it matters. Everything else is just, you know, extra icing on the cake.

Speaker 1:

I know that you are out of time right now and that you've got things you've got to do in your life, so I we can wrap this one up. This is great. This has been great episode. I think you've provided a lot of thought provoking things for people to think about that are new to masonry and maybe haven't done a lot of ritual. I think these are things that they can actually take back into their lodges and try out and practice. So I do appreciate you taking the time to come on and share all of your experiences with the listeners.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely Anytime.

Speaker 1:

And I would love to have you back because I know there's more we can talk about here.

Speaker 3:

So we barely scratched the surface. There's so much out there in the masonic world.

Speaker 1:

Oh and then. Yeah, in the masonic world in general she's. I mean, we haven't even talked about I'm in year three of doing this stuff weekly. We haven't talked about any pendant bodies yet. And I'm a member of a number of them. 100%. This has been all blue lodge stuff in three years and I haven't even gotten through all the blue lodge stuff we need to talk about. But yeah, I know you can talk about the grotto. I know you can talk about the Scottish right. I know that you're a red hat Congratulations. Now KCCH. Yeah, I appreciate that Quarter-bottom and the Scottish right.

Speaker 1:

So you know there are so many brothers out there that have so much to share and it's a privilege to get to bring their voices to outside their local communities. You know, because people, when you're in a community for a while, people just take you for granted or they stop listening. But you know, the more I do this, the more I see like the most basic things I think are things people need to hear in their day, and so it's really good to have different voices and different opinions, and all of this is geared towards making people better maces.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, the key is there's. It's not a one size fits all thing.

Speaker 1:

That's a great part of this fraternity. There's something in it for everyone and you can experience it. However works best for you. You don't have to do it the way I did it. Please don't you have to do it the way a worst for Glukov is done. Please don't. We did our own thing.

Speaker 3:

You can be a great mason.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you can be much better than us, so do it your way and you'll be good. And at the end of the day, like you said, this is all for the brothers that we're bringing in and we're trying to help. Help them help themselves, become better people.

Speaker 3:

It's all about the experience. It's all about the experience with that.

Speaker 1:

Yes, thank you. Thank you, good job, good job, and we will. We will see worship of Glukov back on on the level podcast and we will do some more ritual talk and maybe we'll get into some other things. You do a great speech at the Scottish Rite that you're pretty well known for locally that I would love to talk to you about on another podcast.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and so I have a whole series of Judaism and Maestria, because I'm a good little Jewish boy. That topic.

Speaker 1:

I would love to do a whole episode on.

Speaker 3:

I've done a whole series on them. There's nothing esoteric in any of them because they're all done in a public forum. So whenever you feel like you know doing we can, we can go into one of those. I have a bunch of them that we can, we can talk about.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, I'm stoked and we are going to do it. So thank you again and until next time on the level podcast.

Learning From Mistakes in Freemasonry
The Journey of Self-Improvement in Masonry
(Cont.) The Journey of Self-Improvement in Masonry
Effective Ritual Performance Strategies
Imperfections in Masonic Ritual Work
Third Degree Acting Techniques
Enhancing Masonic Ritual Performance

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