First the facts. Wicca is a modern, pagan, New Age faith that emphasizes worship of nature and communion with it. Wicca is a peaceful faith that believes in tolerance and respect for others as well as for nature. Wicca generally incorporates a number of different elements of different faiths, and Wiccans venerate a God and Goddess pair. These are some of the bare bones of Wicca that everyone can agree on. However, beyond these facts there are some arguments about the religion’s origin, it’s age and just how viable it is when placed against other, older faiths.
The most accurate estimate that can be made about when Wicca originated is the 1930’s, with many people putting the movement’s beginning around 1939. Gerald Gardner, according to Religious Tolerance, joined an existing coven in 1939 and persuaded the members to allow him to write a fictional book entitled “High Magic’s Aid.” The book supposedly gave hints to the Old Faith as some people referred to Wicca. However, it bears showing that even prominent Wiccan authors such as the famous Silver RavenWolf have pointed out in 1998 that Wicca is “barely 50 years old.”
These facts, which can be directly traced to an origin point, are in direct violation of many of the “truths” that some places on the Internet tout and which lots of Wiccans believe. Wicca carries through elements of older pagan faiths, such as the Celtic pagans and the Druids in the British Isles, and some people incorporate a form of Norse Wicca, combining the beliefs of Scandinavians in their Wiccan practices. However, there is nothing that ties Wicca as a faith to any of these older religions in a way that could make Wicca the offspring of older faiths. A large part of this is because there is not enough evidence of these older faiths, so the actual rituals, legends and beliefs cannot be accurately known today, and what we do have is mostly theory and archaeological guesswork based off of observations and theories. While it may be possible, it is extremely unlikely that Wicca is actually older than perhaps 80 years as of this writing.
The age of Wicca is only one of a large number of myths that some people get caught up in when discussing things about Wicca and its origins. The historical fiction of the “Burning Times” when numbers that range from hundreds to thousands of persecuted witches that were killed by mobs of Christians is just that; a fiction. According to the book “You Are Being Lied To,” the witch trials and executions that did occur weren’t that numerous, and most of them were motivated by politics rather than by any religious bias. The additional myth that a “Book of Shadows” is some powerful book or ancient writ is also just a myth. A Wiccan’s Book of Shadows is nothing more than a ritual diary (as you can see here).
As with anything, it pays to be informed and to look for real sources of information. Since the Wicca explosion during the reign of everything New Age there’s been a great deal of information and disinformation about Wicca put out there. Some of it is interlaced with fact and history, and some of it is just made up whole cloth. It’s important that you check the facts before you pass on what it is you think you know.