Wicca could be considered among the oldest of the world’s traditions. The history of it is somewhat disputed by experts, but it’s possible to find overlapping information to draw conclusions from. Most experts on the subject view Wicca’s historical origins as quite short, or relatively modern. The religion, however, has its roots in paganism which is more ancient than many religions. Paganism makes Christianity appear absolutely childlike in terms of age and maturity.
Paganism is very ancient, and was a term coined by Religious manics who wanted to label everything that was not their own religion as something else. They referred to any other beliefs as Pagan. However, specific sects of Paganism appeared, and many were nature based. These nature based forms of Paganism are what influenced and gave rise to modern day Witchcraft and Wicca.
Though when exactly it began may never be known, we can assume that Wicca is very ancient, and people who study religion can trade the origins of this belief system, in its current form, back to the 1800s. The religion as it exists in modern times, can be traced back to some specific sources. Some of these sources include:
Charles Leland (born in 1824 and deceased as of 1903)- Charles was an author who was interested in folklore. He lived in Philadelphia, USA. In the year 1899, he produced the written work titled Aradia: Gospel of Witches. This book outlined the story of the goddess Diana. The man claims that he received the information necessary for publishing this piece from a sorceress based in Italy, though it’s unclear how true that is.
Margaret Murray (born in 1863 and deceased as of 1963)- Margaret was an author who published books detailing “the burning time”, which refers to the witch burning that took place at the hands of Catholicism and Protestantism, repeatedly throughout the history of mankind. Murray expounded thoroughly upon ideas that detailed witches being remnants of an old religion in Europe which pre-dated Christianity. Many academic professionals who study anthropology and other various subjects dispute her claims. Regardless of these disputes, her written material has been a major foundation for the idea of modern day Wicca.
Gerald Gardner (born 1884 and deceased as of 1964)- This man was based in Britain and became the member of a coven in the year 1939. He wrote extensively upon his experiences in the coven, and described these as being “Old religion”. In his written works, he also described various rituals, symbolical concepts, other religious material, and magical subjects. The books he published were titled Witchcraft Today and The Meaning of Witchcraft. These books outline the historical development of Wicca in the North regions of Europe.
These three influential figures are hailed as the creators or discoverers of the contemporary version of the Wiccan religion. Although these writers exited not so long ago, in the 1800s, and helped shape the modern version of the belief system, they drew upon ancient sources, so it can be assumed that these beliefs are not as new as they seem.
It is only today’s interpretation which is new and modern. There also exists evidence of underground societies of Wicca practising people, who needed to stay secretive in order to survive. For this reason, a lot of information as to the history of the craft remains, and perhaps shall remain, unknown.