OSM stands for Ordugh na Slighe Meadhanach, which means Order of the Middle Way in Scots Gaelic.
OSM is the founding Druid Order of Elder Grove Seminary. It is the “middle way” between Druid Revivalism and Druid Reconstructionism.
Druidry saw its re-emergence as a spiritual path nearly three centuries ago. In the 18th century, largely because of a renewed interest in archaeology in the wake of the Enlightenment, a revival of Druidry began. This revival was inspired by the works of authors like John Aubrey (1629-1697), John Toland (1670-1722), William Stukeley (1687-1765) and Edward Williams (1747-1826). In particular, Edward Williams spearheaded the Druid Revival in Wales and England. Williams is better known by his ‘Druid’ name, Iolo Morganwg (pronounced ‘YO-lo MO-gan-ug’). He founded the Gorsedd (GOR-seth), or ‘gathering of the bards,’ which still goes on in Wales to this day. Morganwg is often criticized for his tendency to invent things outright, but no matter how imaginative some of his accounts of Druid practice may have been, he was instrumental in reviving interest in Druidry. His seminal work on the subject is the Barddas.
A lot of the things associated with modern Druidry were actually created created during the Druid Revival period, and have nothing to do with what ancient Druids actually practiced. Examples of this would be the symbol of the awen, the Celtic tree calendar (invented by Robert Graves in The White Goddess), and many of the “liturgical” practices common in many Druid traditions. These were probably borrowed from Masonic Rites of the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the 1960s and 1970s a renewed interest in Druidry began, but many modern Druids rejected the Christian influences injected into the practice during the Revival, and longed for a framework for Druidry more rooted in historical accuracy.
Thus began Druid Reconstructionism. Celtic Reconstructionists painstakingly research archaeology, history, and the sagas of ancient Britain in an effort to piece together what our Celtic and Druid ancestors might have actually practiced.
They strive for historical accuracy, but are often at odds with Revivalists who don’t want to throw away nearly three centuries of revivalist Druid traditions merely for the sake of what some perceive to be dubious accuracy.
Likewise, Reconstructionists are often at odds with Revivalists because many, if not most, of their practices cannot be demonstrated to be what our Druidic ancestors might have practiced.
These two camps are often at odds, and have been for decades, if not centuries.
The Middle Way
Ordugh na Slighe Meadhanach seeks to be a middle way between Reconstructionism and Revivalism. While we value historical accuracy as much as possible and reasonable, we also recognize that much of what was invented in the Revival period, while not historically accurate, is very useful. Rather than cast aside what has become tradition in favor of historical accuracy, we prefer to keep what is useful while striving for as much historical accuracy as possible going forward.
Our Druid ancestors lived in a post-agrarian society, and today we live in a post-industrial society. No matter how historically accurate our reconstructed practices may be, we can never hope to get inside the head space of our Druid ancestors, simply because due to differences in culture, language, education, and technology we would lack a common frame of reference. We could never hope to understand them fully just as they could never hope to understand us fully.
What we can do, and will do, is to honor our ancestors as we move forward and create a new path upon the ashes of the old.