NEW YORK – It was 1 p.m. in New York City and 6 p.m. in the United Kingdom, when Nick Gent, 44, a Druidic sound healer, began his virtual Druidry class on Friday, Feb. 2. The class was small — just one woman from Connecticut signed on — so Gent started right away. 

The class, called Practical Druidry, was one of a series that Gent offers online. Though he encouraged reading books and other materials to learn about Druidry, the lessons he teaches in his class are from his lifetime of practical experience. 

“I have always known the world to be alive and full of magic,” Gent said later. 

Druidry is a spiritual practice and one form of neo-paganism that focuses on having a relationship with the natural world. Druidry is often practiced alone, but there are also groups of Druids around the world who do ceremonies together. 

There is no definitive number of people who practice Druidry, but one of the largest Druid groups — the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, based in the U.K. — has more than 30,000 members in 50 countries. 

Gent, from London, is a musician and has been a sound healer for over a decade. He has also been a druid his whole life. He offers one-on-one sessions for teaching Druidry, as well as his weekly Practical Druidry classes, which don’t often get a huge turnout. The people who do show up are typically from Europe and the U.S.

In this particular hour-long class, Gent talked his student through what he called the 10 mirrors of Awen, a step-by-step process to help someone see their own mind clearly and then relate to the external, natural world. 

Each of the 10 steps involved a visualization, a three-syllable sound and breathwork, all guided by Gent. The second step, “the mirror of stream,” was about becoming aware of one’s emotions. Gent led his student to close her eyes and visualize herself walking by a clear, flowing stream. 

“Each ripple, perhaps, could represent for us an emotion, arising from the depths and then naturally flowing on its path,” Gent said. “Here, the idea is to observe how the ripples form, travel to the water’s surface and then fade away, just like the natural flow of the emotions within us.”

Like a stream allows waves to pass through it, Gent encouraged his student to accept and understand her emotions, rather than try to change or resist them. 

Gent then made a humming sound to follow the visualization, a sound he said he made up. 

“The actual sound itself doesn’t matter,” he said. 

Instead, what matters is the intention behind the sound. 

“You can use any sound that feels right to you,” he said. “We can embed our intentionality, or consciousness, if you’d like, to some degree, on the waveform.”

Later in the class, Gent explained the significance of flowing water.

“In Druidry, in a practical sense, streams and rivers are very much seen as sacred,” Gent said.
“They symbolize life, healing, purification, the passage of time, the cycles of the earth, on a physical level. But the stream, like we just talked about, is also a metaphor for the flow of emotions, thoughts.”

As the class came to an end, Gent encouraged his student to practice the skills and concepts from the 10 mirrors and to integrate them into her daily practice, or in daily life. 

“The lesson of the water is to help you navigate those thoughts and emotions, but also to understand how you might be able to manage them, using the principle of flowing, the natural flow,” Gent said.