What kind of company goes out of its way to mess with witches?
Etsy, apparently, without much warning, has begun to abolish shops that vend any items making a metaphysical promise – such as love spells, revenge hexes, weight loss potions and other objects of the like.
Previously, Etsy’s terms of service had permitted the sale of such spells – as long as sellers made clear that a supernatural outcome wasn’t guaranteed, and that a physical object was included in each transaction. (Generally speaking, Etsy says, it is a seller of goods, not services.)
But quietly, earlier this month, the company’s terms of service changed: “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.”
Given that Etsy has become home to a bustling community of Wiccapreneurs after eBay banned the sale of spells in 2012, one affected vendor told The Daily Dot that “there is great distress in the metaphysical community.” Many claim their shops were shut down overnight.
An Etsy forum thread about the crackdown counts nearly 1,000 comments, and a petition against the ban features 4,000 signatures. Some witches are even claiming discrimination, noting that Judeo-Christian paraphernalia has remained largely untouched.
An Etsy spokesperson told The Washington Post that the ban serves 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.”
She added that Etsy, which went public in April, isn’t targeting any specific religious group, and that all products promising a physical outcome would be flagged. “Etsy strongly believes in freedom of thought, expression, and religion, and we will never institute a policy that discriminates against sellers for their religious beliefs or practices.”
So what’s a beleaguered witch to do? Several high-profile Wiccapreneurs, refusing to be snuffed, told the Post that they are branching out with their own websites and perhaps, down the road, an alternative marketplace.