Do What Works!
“Life is all about doing what you feel is best for you." — Abdulazeez Henry Musa
Please be sure to read this newsletter all the way through so you don’t miss my exciting announcements!
Guitars are my favorite musical instrument. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the 1980s - the heyday of heavy metal and hard rock bands.
It was the era of electric guitar masters shredding on cool-looking guitars. They were so good that you would forget that many were effectively dressed in Halloween costumes. Perhaps that image of the long-haired lead guitarist performing a jaw-dropping solo is ingrained in my brain.
I have been taking private guitar lessons for quite a while, and I am happy to call my teacher a friend.
I bet you are wondering what type of music I play… I started with the electric guitar, playing heavy metal/hard rock. Then I switched to electric blues. Acoustic fingerstyle blues followed that. And now I am playing acoustic fingerstyle Irish music.
Throughout my lessons over the years, my teacher brought up in jest (I think) that I shouldn’t practice playing the guitar.
Now, this is counterintuitive. One would think that more practice leads to better guitar playing. In my case, the opposite seems true.
Being very busy, I struggle to find time to practice. Playing is entertainment to me, a fun hobby. I, unfortunately, have to give practicing a lower priority. Also, we sometimes go through stretches of canceled lessons. Either my teacher has a conflicting gig, or I have something going on.
Then practicing becomes out of sight, out of mind. If I am not going to have a lesson, practicing is even lower on my priority list.
In the beginning, whenever we resumed after a canceled lesson(s) and/or I didn’t have time to practice, I expected that I would play awfully. But something strange happened. After warming up for a few minutes, I would play even better than in my previous lesson. Song passages that I was struggling with were suddenly sounding much better.
To this day, I don’t know why this phenomenon happens. The less I practice, it seems, the better I get. The more I practice, I either play the same or slightly better.
So the question is, what would you do in this situation?
Would you find the time to practice regularly? Or would you not worry about practicing except when it is convenient?
Would you do what works for you, even though you don’t understand why it is happening and is counterintuitive?
Or do you ignore this phenomenon because it may not make sense to you and/or some scientist hasn’t said, “Yes, this scientifically makes sense because of …”?
My answer is that I play when convenient (because I like playing), but I do not get stressed because I will likely improve to some extent if I don’t play.
I do what works!
But what works for me will not necessarily work for everyone. That is why it is essential to have an open mind and be willing to experiment with different things.
The theory of doing what works also applies to Druidry, the Celts, and Paganism.
If a particular Pagan practice was benign but helped relieve your anxiety, would you not use it just because it is Pagan and our modern scientists have not yet given their approval? Or would you use it and suffer less?
I have been learning about the modern Druidy organizations currently operating. Here is an interesting example regarding doing what works as it pertains to Druidry.
Druidry “Group A” is one of the largest modern Druidry groups in the world. Its membership spans the globe. It was founded over 50 years ago and has a well-established curriculum for its members.
Group A is a neo-Druidry group. They state outright that very little is known about the ancient Druids. Their curriculum and practices have the best intentions and are in what they believe to be the spirit of the ancient druids.
I believe some aspects are not necessarily in the spirit of the ancient Druids, such as being open to all religions or having no religion at all. It is commonly accepted knowledge that the ancient Druids were pagans.
Druidry “Group B” is a smaller modern Druidry organization, but it is well known nonetheless. It appears that their membership is primarily U.S. based. Group B is very established but has not existed nearly as long as Group A. Group B’s member curriculum is more of an outline/task list for the members to complete. I believe help is available if needed, but it is a scholarly self-study program.
Group B is a reconstructionist group. This means they claim to limit their organization’s practices to what is known about the ancient Druids. For example, they only allow pagans as members since that was what the original Druids were.
Unless I am misunderstanding something, I have a hard time believing that everything they do is historically fact-based, or there wouldn’t be much there. There are definitely aspects that have been “filled in.” One example is their rituals. There is no knowledge of the rituals of the ancient Druids.
The above is merely background information regarding two of the modern Druidry groups. I am not opining as to which group is better.
However, I believe both groups are excellent. They both act with good intentions, mostly in the spirit of the ancient Druids and with the goal of making life better. Many people are members of both groups.
Important - If you are interested in exploring organized Druidry groups, please beware. Any group claiming lineage from the ancient Druids, having some sort of mandate, or that has some mystical leader is very harmful and is acting with ulterior motives. Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding Druidry groups.
So, where am I going with this? Some people refuse to consider anything from Group A because they are not a reconstructionist organization (meaning “not real” to them). There is no doubt that Group A is trying to act within the spirit of the ancient Druids. However, they definitely do include some material from other spiritual practice categories. This is all done with the welfare of their members and the world in mind.
Should we not accept practices from Group A because they may not be actual ancient Druid practices?
In fairness, some aspects of Group B are also not reconstructions of the ancient practices.
I believe in doing what works for you as long as there is no apparent negative impact.
I am going through Group A’s coursework. If I find something that works for me, I will use it. I don’t care whether people say it is not ancient Druidry or has not been scientifically proven.
I believe there is not one perfect path.
Exploration with an open mind is likely the road to inner peace, well-being, and happiness.
The aggregation of the best practices that work for you from various places, cultures, periods, systems, etc., is what you actually might be looking for; what you need, whether you know it or not.
This is one of the reasons why I am intent on exploring the possibility of ancient practices positively impacting mental health.
To conclude, do what works for you!
My new YouTube channel and Podcast will be making their debuts soon. Probably within the next week or so, I will have some content published.
Both the Youtube channel and the Podcast are named A Skeptic’s Journey.
There will be a link to my YouTube channel at the bottom of each newsletter.
My podcasts will be available on all your favorite services:
Amazon Music / Audible
**SUPER FANTASTIC PROGRAMMING UPDATE!**
The first two interviews for my YouTube channel and Podcast are now scheduled.
Philip Carr-Gomm - December 6th
Philip was the Chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) for 30+ years. In addition to his work with OBOD, Philip is also a psychotherapist, author, and teacher, among other things.
Paraic Donoghue - December 19th/20th
Paraic is a native Irish language speaker. He was raised on the Connemara Gaeltacht in County Galway, Ireland. Paraic is committed to the preservation and growth of the Irish language, along with the culture that is inextricably linked to it. He currently provides private Irish language lessons to students all over the world.
We will be discussing what it was like growing up and living on the Gaeltacht, his views on the Irish language and its importance, and the customs and traditions of his Gaeltacht that may have derived from the time of the Celts or earlier.
I am honored that these two outstanding people will take time out of their busy schedules to chat with me.
Be sure not to miss these special interviews!
Both will be published on my YouTube channel and Podcast approximately one-week post interview.
If you enjoyed reading this piece, I'd like to ask a favor of you. For a limited time, I will be conducting 1-on-1 Zoom calls with select members of my SubStack subscribers.
Think of this call as a Discovery Call. The goal is to discover your vision, goals, and challenges as they may relate to the Celtic way of life, druidism, and pagan practices. This call will be beneficial to both of us.
My goal with these calls is to discover a common thread so that I can best add value and serve you. It will help me focus my content and research to ensure I cater to your true vision and goals.
These 1-on-1 calls are free, of course. And everything you share on the call will be private between you and me.
If you're interested or want to introduce yourself and say hi, I'd love to hear from you.
You can reach me directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
***End of Special Opportunity***
Have a great weekend!
My name is Mike, and I am a skeptic and recovering accountant just starting to make my way through the world of the Druids, Celts, and Pagans.
Join me on my journey as I use an analytic eye to extract what I believe to be golden nuggets of truth from these fascinating topics. My goal is to find valuable ways, practices, and insights to make your life better today.
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“May the Road Rise to Meet You!”
With a skeptical mind and an analytical eye,
P.S. - I release a new newsletter every Friday. Please be sure to subscribe. My past newsletters can also be found at mikeguarneri.com.
P.P.S. - Today is Veterans Day in the U.S. A great big THANK YOU to all veterans for their service to the country!