Etsy banned magic and spells, and not everyone's happy about it
When I think of “witchcraft,” my mind automatically ventures to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, or to the Salem Witch Trials, or even Harry Potter’s own sorceress Hermione. But Etsy, the community of DIY experts and vintage retailers, doesn’t exactly come to mind as a hub for the metaphysical community.
As it turns out, Etsy has its own nook of secrets, with tarot card readings, medicinal potions, and mystical candles to grant your every wish. But after Ebay shut down the operations of its witches and warlocks in 2012, Etsy is now following suit. Earlier this month, the company announced that “any metaphysical service that promises or suggests it will effect a physical change (e.g., weight loss) or other outcome (e.g., love, revenge) is not allowed, even if it delivers a tangible item.” Etsy spokeswoman Sara Cohen told the Washington Post that the change in policy was made to ensure that the site remains a venue for the exchange of products, not services. However, Pagan and Wiccan vendors and patrons beg to differ.
“It [is] a Witch Hunt,” Brazilian priestess Iyá Ekundayo explained to The Post. “They went after people supposedly offering tangible and intangible items and services [promising] end results, but steered away from anything in the Christian and Judaism sections.”
The contingent affected by Etsy’s new regulations is calling out what they see as religious prejudice. Some have reported that shops have been closed without notice, and others, like Ekundayo, have vowed to take their clientele elsewhere. Meanwhile, Celestial Secrets’ owners, Ashley and Astrelle, have authored a petition against Etsy.
Their description reads: “Etsy has begun banning sales of metaphysical goods of all kinds. This is discrimination against Pagan and Wiccan faiths, as this ban will target certain sellers and items.”
The electronic document has accrued over 4,000 signatures and plenty of comments of support, calling for Etsy to rethink its policy.
Contessa Joy of Maine, one of the petition’s supporters, was especially adamant that Etsy should reconsider its outlook toward the metaphysical community.
“I wish that someone at Etsy that was a decision maker would simply go through the feedback, from client to seller, on any number of their now banished metaphysical sellers,” she wrote on the petition’s site. “You’ll see, time, and time, and time again nothing but shared love, praise, happiness. We make an impact on the lives of others, and you took that away from us. You’re entitled to do so, it’s your company, but, on the same token how can we not feel cast aside, yet again? We’re the ‘weirdos,’ we’re the ones that people don’t understand, and I can’t help but feel like Etsy has become image conscious, and doesn’t want to be associated with the meta community. All we have ever done is POUR MONEY into Etsy, and create a dynamic happiness in the lives of our clients. Why would you take that away from us?”
A spokesperson for Etsy clarified their ban on “metaphysical services” in a statement to Quartz, noting that it’s trying to “protect our community from business practices that prey upon vulnerable and desperate shoppers—such as those seeking a treatment for cancer or infertility, or those with self-esteem issues who are seeking a spell for weight loss or beauty enhancement (think penis or breast enlargement).”
Etsy’s spokesperson also offered this blanket statement, hoping to dispel accusations of discrimination: “At Etsy, we believe in freedom of thought, expression and religion. When we make policy decisions, we strive to strike the right balance between creative freedom, Etsy’s values, and establishing a safe marketplace for members.”
For those looking for Wiccan supplies on the site, you can still find retailers offering spell kits—though their descriptions include legal disclaimers noting their products are for “entertainment purposes only.”