There is a terrible epidemic of misinformation in Wicca... because a lot of well-intended people latched onto certain ideas, and have passed them around and around without really thinking about them or digging for the source. Even the most famous authors will quote these ideas from each other, without trying to figure out where they came from.
So, I'm starting a new series here. And it will last indefinitely. And I may revisit it occasionally.
If you knew any of these, good on you. You're ahead of the game.
If you are one of those people who get sick in the stomach, or who fly off the handle, when something you previously thought is contradicted, you might not like this very much. So you're at a crosswords: you can use it to do better research and dig for facts, or you can brush it off, ignore it, live in willful ignorance and continue to be a virus in that epidemic. The choice is yours.
If you are one of those Wiccans who is not content to just regurgitate the information that seems most popular, and you really want to strive to understand where all these bits of information came from and how they worked their way into Wicca-- if you really prefer the truth and facts over romantic fancy -- this bomb's for you.
#1 Wicca is about 70 years old. It is not ancient. At all.
The 'Old Religion' Gardner believed in... it's been debunked by every reputable historian and sociologist for the last 50 years. The works he based those beliefs on have been debunked.
There was no underground Goddess-worshiping Pagan religion trying to escape persecution.
There were people who used magic, of course, but it was something done in conjunction with one's religion (be they the rare Pagan survivor, or Christian, as was most often the case in Western civilization by the 9th or 10th century). They did not consider doing magic a religion.
The idea that Witchcraft was ever a religion came from -- surprise, surprise -- Christians.
Of course, they thought it was some evil, devil-worshiping, baby-eating, orgiastic trippy stuff going on in the woods at night, but they're the ones who first connected the concept of Witchcraft and religion.
Drawing from some ancient ideas (and some mistaken ideas about what ancients believed) does not make your religion as old as those ideas... if it did, Christians could say their religion is as old as Judaism (over 4,000 years). But we know, despite the fact that Christians borrowed liberally from Judaism, it was a new religion started 2,000 years ago.
The band Iron Maiden from the 1980s is not hundreds of years old just because a medieval torture device called the iron maiden has been around for centuries. The original torture device had nothing to do with the band. The band just took the name.
Wicca is a modern religion. It just borrowed from some older sources (as well as from contemporary sources, and even fictional sources in some cases). Often what it borrows it applies completely differently than ancient religions applied it.
My Tip for You Today: Spread the word.