Etsy infuriates the witch community with its ban on selling spells

Buyer beware.
Buyer beware.
Image: Creative Commons/Flickr/Fernnando Dutra
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Etsy, the online marketplace for buying and selling all things quirky and handmade, is also home to a vibrant witch community.

Those witches are fuming over Etsy’s new policy of rigorously enforcing its existing ban on sales of “metaphysical services,” which is to say spells and hexes. As The Daily Dot reported, previously witches and other purveyors of the supernatural got away with selling such services as long as they didn’t guarantee results and also offered the buyer a tangible product. You could sell a spell offering (but not guaranteeing) better sex, for instance, if you included actual photos of the spell being cast as part of the purchase. Evidently that’s no longer the case.

Listings for fertility spells on Etsy
Where will shoppers turn for their next priapic wand?
Image: Etsy

“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’s policy reads.

In response, a small group of witches—no, not a coven—has taken up an online petition to stop what it views as a new ban on its merchants.

Etsy tells Quartz its policy has always prohibited selling services and that it didn’t change the rules; it just clarified them.

While the public may chuckle, there is actually a very small, but apparently growing, Pagan and Wiccan population in the US that may or may not identify as witches. In the absence of a local witch outfitter, Etsy offers this group a way to buy and sell their wares to each other and the general public.

The Etsy petition claims the ban is religious discrimination.

“This is discrimination against Pagan and Wiccan faiths, as this ban will target certain sellers and items,” it states. “Many stores have already been closed!”

Comments left on the petition echoed the sentiment. “I think it’s awful that you are discriminating against the Wiccan, Pagan, and all Metaphysical communities,” wrote one petitioner from California. “Are you going to ban Kabbalah items next?”

A spokesperson for Etsy, which went public in April, says the reasons for the “clarification” of its policy are twofold: It wants to reiterate that it doesn’t allow services, and 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).”

“At Etsy, we believe in freedom of thought, expression and religion,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

Etsy isn’t the only marketplace to ban metaphysical goods and services.

Previously many witches congregated on eBay, until it banned spells, potions, and other products back in 2012.

But whither to witches, and seekers of their remedies if they can’t sell on Etsy?

Amazon has been so eager to snap up Etsy merchants that it has dispatched emails inviting them to sell on its new “Handmade” marketplace. In the very least, it would offer more convenience: Your next love potion could delivered to you by drone in thirty minutes or less.