Etsy’s Bullshit Ban is Angering Witches Who Sell Spells June 18, 2015

Etsy’s Bullshit Ban is Angering Witches Who Sell Spells

At some point over the past couple of months, it appears that Etsy — the website where people sell handmade goods — revised their policy on what could and could not be sold.

Specifically, they have now added magical (“metaphysical”) things to the list of services that cannot be sold:

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.

That means you can’t sell, for example, a curse on someone’s enemy even if you promise to send picture proof. You can sell crystals, but you can’t market them as having some magical power.

This is a change from what the policy used to be, says Jaya Saxena at Daily Dot:

under Etsy’s previous rules, spells and hexes were allowed to be sold, as long as they fit two criteria: They didn’t guarantee results, and they produced something tangible. So you could sell a tarot reading as long as it came with, say, a digital download, or a candle that could be used for casting spells, as long as you didn’t guarantee that the spell would actually work.

So the revised policy makes perfect sense. You shouldn’t be allowed to sell things that gives the buyer the illusion they’re getting something they’re not. It prevents con-artists from bilking gullible people of their money. More to the point here: even if you genuinely believe the spells you’re selling are real and effective, you can’t hawk them on Etsy. There’s no way for the company to verify anything is happening.

(eBay did this years ago, banning the sale of “advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions” and more.)

You would think people would be on board with this policy since it protects buyers on the site. But a vocal group of witches and Pagans are very angry that their magical items can no longer be sold:

many metaphysical sellers believe that Etsy has a cultural bias against their goods. One forum user compared the sale of crystals that could be used in meditative rituals to the sale of a rosary or a cross. Both items represent spirituality, but neither make the claim that they will heal your ills or help you speak to God.

“Etsy seems to be only targeting those items of a pagan/occult nature while allowing items of certain faiths traditionally used for protection like St. Christopher medals, to still be marketed,” said another vendor in an email. “Personally I think it’s probably unintended ignorance and failure to consider and think through what banning all spiritual, energetic and magickal claims will really mean.”

That’s not exactly true. If someone is selling St. Christopher medals by saying they’ll protect you from accidents, that’s a no-go. That seller will be removed from the Etsy site.

To be sure, Esty-ers can still sell candles and crystals. They just can’t say they have any special powers. I saw one item on the site yesterday that got around this problem by saying the following:

This little vial holds a defensive runescript, combined with gemstones and herbs believed in Wiccan and Pagan traditions to protect against the ill-intent of other people, such as liars, manipulators and users.

There you go. It’s believed to have certain abilities… but the seller isn’t actually saying it has any. Very clever.

There’s a petition to get Etsy to reverse the policy change, which strikes me as strange. You’d think the signers could just bundle all their energy together and create the change on their own. It’s as if they don’t believe in the power of their own nonsense… (I mean, even conservative Christians think prayer is the best way to fight back against marriage equality.)

The petition claims Etsy’s new rules constitute “discrimination against Pagan and Wiccan faiths, as this ban will target certain sellers and items.” Which is silly, since Pagan and Wiccan goods are still allowed to be sold. They just have to be real products that don’t suggest fictional capabilities. It’s the same reason Etsy wouldn’t allow Christians to sell, say, exorcisms over the Internet or prayers on a buyer’s behalf.

It’s not discrimination against a group of people. It’s a policy against bullshit. There’s a difference.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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