They even had a category for Spell listings which would prove that point
June 19, 2015 11:23 AM   Subscribe

“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.”
Witches are furious at Etsy for banning the sale of spells (Previously)
posted by griphus (163 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'll happily sell anyone here spells that are guaranteed to work just as well as the ones you could've gotten off etsy. First I need to put on my wizard hat, though.
posted by item at 11:29 AM on June 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


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.

You'd hope the potential consequences of enraging thousands of witches would be a good motivator for them to have had a thoughtful meeting about this.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:29 AM on June 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


But why would you buy a spell on etsy when you can reblog MONEY CAT for free.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:31 AM on June 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


Simple, make it so the spells can't be paid in currency but rather in firstborns

the selected product won't cost much .... JUST YOUR VOICE
posted by The Whelk at 11:31 AM on June 19, 2015 [30 favorites]


Seems like they'd be smart enough to bundle their intangible devilry with something tangible, like a bat's wing or puppy dog tail or eye of newt or something. Or do what ticket scalpers do and sell "ONE ENVELOPE ADDRESSED TO YOUR HOME ADDRESS, RESERVE SET AT $500. WILL THROW IN TWO GAME FOUR COURTSIDE SEATS BEHIND THE VISITOR BENCH TO THE WINNER OF THIS BEAUTIFUL ENVELOPE."
posted by resurrexit at 11:33 AM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, this strikes me as a great foundation for a short story.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:34 AM on June 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Maybe they can trade in a digital currency.

Witchcoin.
posted by The Whelk at 11:35 AM on June 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


just gonna drive more business to Ward-Mart
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:35 AM on June 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


Oh, no. Etsy has brought down the wrath of the entire magickal community. Surely ruin and disaster will now follow them until their doom.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:35 AM on June 19, 2015 [32 favorites]


Or, you know, absolutely nothing will happen. Maybe that.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:36 AM on June 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


Amazon.com still sells flying monkeys though, right? Right?
posted by bondcliff at 11:37 AM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe they can trade in a digital currency.

Witchcoin.


You have to be careful with that, you buy some, and then it magically disappears.

Wait no that's Bitcoin.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:38 AM on June 19, 2015 [30 favorites]


Try to understand, it's a magic ban
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:38 AM on June 19, 2015 [74 favorites]


Do we really want to drive magic back into the alleyways and shadows and gingerbread houses of yore?
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 AM on June 19, 2015 [43 favorites]


Wicca was invented around the same time Scientology was, and deserves to be treated with the same respect...
posted by Sys Rq at 11:40 AM on June 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


item: "I'll happily sell anyone here spells that are guaranteed to work just as well as the ones you could've gotten off etsy. First I need to put on my wizard hat, though."

starts polishing his staff. 'Sgot a knob on the end!
posted by Samizdata at 11:43 AM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Or you could just head over to Lucky Mojo for your one-stop hoodoo shopping needs...
posted by jim in austin at 11:43 AM on June 19, 2015


I feel like if people are going to bank hundreds of dollars selling virtual earbuds on Steam and then use the money to buy a $500 spaceship that doesn't exist in a game that you can't play yet then I'm okay with people buying spells.

Look, people are going to waste their money. We have Kickstarter. IT IS KNOWN.
posted by selfnoise at 11:44 AM on June 19, 2015 [37 favorites]


I thought the whole point of the internet was to make money off unsubstantiated claims and fear-mongering? Etsy is literally (note: figuratively) killing the internet!
posted by aramaic at 11:44 AM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


resurrexit: "Seems like they'd be smart enough to bundle their intangible devilry with something tangible, like a bat's wing or puppy dog tail or eye of newt or something. Or do what ticket scalpers do and sell "ONE ENVELOPE ADDRESSED TO YOUR HOME ADDRESS, RESERVE SET AT $500. WILL THROW IN TWO GAME FOUR COURTSIDE SEATS BEHIND THE VISITOR BENCH TO THE WINNER OF THIS BEAUTIFUL ENVELOPE.""

Sort of like how I got French absinthe delivered? Apparently I got "printed materials", aka a lovely label, which happened to be attached to a bottle of pale green fluid...
posted by Samizdata at 11:44 AM on June 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


I wonder what their rate of complaints was for rosaries vs meditation crystals (if meditation crystals are indeed now forbidden as one seller in the article claims).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:45 AM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wicca was invented around the same time Scientology was, and deserves to be treated with the same respect...

Seems a bit harsh. I'm fine with whatever you identify yourself, really. It's just when you start expecting the protection of my federally backed dollars, you have to deal with the rules of the public market.
posted by Think_Long at 11:45 AM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heh. I was thinking for my next Etsy offering to make a portable Hastur triptych.

You know, for kids.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:46 AM on June 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


Do we really want to drive magic back into the alleyways and shadows and gingerbread houses of yore?

I remember that back in the day, dimestore back-alley potions were adulterated with all sorts of empirically tested pharmaceuticals demonstrating statistically significant p-values in double-blind trials.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:47 AM on June 19, 2015 [24 favorites]


Wicca was invented around the same time Scientology was, and deserves to be treated with the same respect...

Okay, okay, we're all having our fun, but that can't just pass unchallenged. Wicca is kind of loopy and its claims to be a revival of ancient pagan traditions are bullshit, but it's mostly harmless. Scientology is anything but.

A better parallel might be Unarius, a flying saucer cult founded around the same time as Scientology, which is some awesome goofball fun that never hurt anybody.
posted by Naberius at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2015 [29 favorites]


Etsy may have just pissed off thousands of witches but it turns out mason jars are effective barriers against harmful magic
posted by The Whelk at 11:51 AM on June 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wonder what their rate of complaints was for rosaries vs meditation crystals (if meditation crystals are indeed now forbidden as one seller in the article claims).

If they're banning magical items, why aren't rosaries, scapulars, tefillins, and mala beads are next on the block?

I mean I know, but...
posted by leotrotsky at 11:51 AM on June 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


One of the people in the article makes basically that point, which is why I'm curious.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:54 AM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


yeah, wicca seems more like a bunch of people who were like "hey wouldn't it be great to get naked in the woods and generally be positive about humanity's relationship with nature and the universe" whereas scientology is basically a thing made up as a joke by a fraudulent charlatan to get money from people which inexplicably blossomed into a creepy moneyhungry cult that tells you you're gross and weak and subhuman if you go to therapy.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:54 AM on June 19, 2015 [57 favorites]


Wicca was invented around the same time Scientology was, and deserves to be treated with the same respect...

Well, sort of and no. Neopaganism is a contemporary invention, yes, but, then, so are almost all modern religions -- American Fundamentalism, as an example, is very much a product of the last 100 years, and would not be recognizable as Christianity to, say, an ancient Christian any more than modern Wicca would be recognizable to ancient witches.

But, as religions go, it is a lot less manipulative and harmful than Scientology. I mean, there are some abuses that happen, as has long been the case with any sort of faith-healing, spell-casting, or fortune telling business. But I'm not seeing a raft of, say, "your money is cursed and so I must pretend to burn it while secretly pocketing it" scams, although I'm sure they happen once in a while.

Most neopagans are honest about their spirituality, and honestly try to forge a link with an ancient past where there was, they think, some good -- a less destructive relationship with nature, as an example, or an approach to spirituality that wasn't inherently sexist.

I mean, Etsy can make its own policies, but if they are going to clamp down on nonsense and bullshit, half of their inventory is going to disappear. And I say that as somebody who shops on Etsy all the time.
posted by maxsparber at 11:54 AM on June 19, 2015 [40 favorites]


I get that this sounds funny to some people, but it does border on religious discrimination - especially if vendors are being instructed by Etsy reps to rename their spells as 'prayers'. If rosary beads and crosses can be sold, then why not meditation crystals?
posted by Behemoth, in no. 302-bis, with the Browning at 11:55 AM on June 19, 2015 [31 favorites]


yeah, wicca seems more like a bunch of people who were like "hey wouldn't it be great to get naked in the woods and generally be positive about humanity's relationship with nature and the universe"

this is how you lure people to the wicker man, isn't it
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:57 AM on June 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


Man, you burn one constable ...
posted by maxsparber at 11:57 AM on June 19, 2015 [24 favorites]


Okay, okay, we're all having our fun, but that can't just pass unchallenged. Wicca is kind of loopy and its claims to be a revival of ancient pagan traditions are bullshit, but it's mostly harmless. Scientology is anything but.

Someone has clearly never seen the documentary, The Craft.

But in all seriousness, Etsy's must provide a tangible object policy sounded like a pretty good (inclusive) one I’m not sure why they felt the need to change it other than making sure the value of the item was relatively close to the price (i.e. no $500 “love spell” candles).
posted by edbles at 11:57 AM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


[muffled sacrificial cackling in the distance]
posted by poffin boffin at 11:58 AM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wicca is kind of loopy and its claims to be a revival of ancient pagan traditions are bullshit, but it's mostly harmless.
I have no idea how much people sell this stuff online for, but if there's any significant money being spent on these spells then it isn't exactly harmless. These people are essentially selling snake oil to people who have been taken in by their fraudulent claims.

There's a fine line between selling items with claimed mystical properties and straight up fraud. (I am aware that many societally acceptable organisations are toeing this line, but that's a discussion for another day).
posted by leo_r at 11:58 AM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


One of the people in the article makes basically that point, which is why I'm curious.

Really? The lack of complaints should be obvious to anyone raised Catholic.

If I'm praying the rosary, and it doesn't work, it's obviously due to my insufficient devotion/faith, and I already feel pretty guilty about that. I'm certainly not going to complain. It's not the rosary's fault; it's my fault.

it's all my fault
posted by leotrotsky at 12:00 PM on June 19, 2015 [81 favorites]


but if there's any significant money being spent on these spells then it isn't exactly harmless.

I am as opposed to snake oil as anyone, but Etsy's policy up until now has been that sellers must be absolutely clear that they make no promises about the effectiveness of their spells. I haven't seen a single case of someone, say, forgoing actual medication in favor of an Etsy spell, or being encouraged to do so.

If the harm is that they are spending their money on useless bullshit, well, that's basically Etsy's business model, but it doesn't mean I'm returning the bottle top cartoon character pin I bought last week.
posted by maxsparber at 12:01 PM on June 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


what if you took pre-measured spell components and packed them up in a little box to sell as a kit so busy millenials could cast the spells for themselves without having to do all the legwork
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:02 PM on June 19, 2015 [32 favorites]


Like I said back when eBay banned magical items from their listings back in 2012, there's an easy way around this.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:02 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]




Spells delivered to your door!

broomr
posted by The Whelk at 12:03 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


yeah, wicca seems more like a bunch of people who were like "hey wouldn't it be great to get naked in the woods and generally be positive about humanity's relationship with nature and the universe" whereas scientology is basically a thing made up as a joke by a fraudulent charlatan to get money from people which inexplicably blossomed into a creepy moneyhungry cult that tells you you're gross and weak and subhuman if you go to therapy.

There are plenty of creepy Wiccans, though, past and present. It's not as institutionalized, to be sure, but cults is cults, and a lot of the "theology", especially in the earlier Gardnerian traditions and spin-offs, lends itself pretty well to the age old dynamic of "gross old dudes pressuring young women to be open with their bodies and sexuality while shaming them as uptight prudes if they don't". Starhawk and all the generally positive, gay-and-woman-friendly hippie shit came decades after the fact, it's worth pointing out that originally, it was a stone's throw away from Aliester Crowley and similar assholes.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 12:03 PM on June 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


I wish that all those "...THIS ONE WEIRD TRICK!" ads linked to instructions on ritual magic.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:05 PM on June 19, 2015 [23 favorites]


WARLOCKS HATE HER
posted by griphus at 12:06 PM on June 19, 2015 [32 favorites]


Starhawk and all the generally positive, gay-and-woman-friendly hippie shit came decades after the fact,

Yes, but decades after the fact is still a half century ago. I think it's a bit unfair to categorize modern Wicca as somehow being uniquely likely to be made up of creepy old dudes who pressure women to have sex. I'd be flabbergasted to see any evidence that this is common in modern Wicca, which, from my experience, has mostly been dominated by women for decades.
posted by maxsparber at 12:07 PM on June 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Why ISN'T all those "ONE WEIRD TRICK" ads treated legally the same way as Pagan Magick?!?
(Ironically, I'll bet the majority of the charlatans behind them are 'good Christians')
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:07 PM on June 19, 2015


it's worth pointing out that originally, it was a stone's throw away from Aliester Crowley and similar assholes.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix 2 minutes ago [+]


Well that explains that creepy plotline in Promethea.
posted by edbles at 12:08 PM on June 19, 2015


look do you want to burn these unsuspecting white men we invited to our village summerfest or not
posted by poffin boffin at 12:09 PM on June 19, 2015 [24 favorites]


Spells delivered to your door!

broomr

I smell a Studio Ghibli tie-in here.

what if you took pre-measured spell components and packed them up in a little box to sell as a kit so busy millenials could cast the spells for themselves without having to do all the legwork

Maybe they could sell the components layered in mason jars the same way they do with bake-your-own chocolate chip cookies, and call it "decorative potpourri".
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:09 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well that explains that creepy plotline in Promethea.

Just the one, huh?
posted by selfnoise at 12:09 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


look do you want to burn these unsuspecting white men we invited to our village summerfest or not

Sumer Is Icumen In.
posted by maxsparber at 12:10 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's nearly the equinox and we've hardly done any fire jumping or folk song singing, you want the corn to fail? Get with it!
posted by The Whelk at 12:11 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


And Strange Interlude's suggestion for rebranding is good, but I'd suggest declaring an affiliation with Hogwarts or the Jedi (how many people officially identify as Jedi Religion these days?) or Norse-Gods-by-way-of-Marvel. Well, then there's that ungodly issue of copyright...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:11 PM on June 19, 2015


I'm kind of surprised at the tone of this discussion. MeFi is usually pretty good about discussing people's beliefs. Look, I also think this "witch" stuff is superstitious nonsense, but they have a point: it's unfair that Etsy would ban Wiccan items but not items from traditional religions, assuming both are following Etsy's rules on charms/spells/"metaphysical items" (they didn’t guarantee results, and they produced something tangible).
posted by Sangermaine at 12:12 PM on June 19, 2015 [41 favorites]


I also think this "witch" stuff is superstitious nonsense
...no more than the Cult of the Pat Robertson 700, and he gets a daily hour on a Disney-owned TV channel.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:14 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


My only fear is that I was hoping Etsy sellers would start manufacturing and selling the sorts of costumes found in Arcadia Britannica, but now won't be able to, and I will never be able to live out my dream of being a wren boy.
posted by maxsparber at 12:15 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like if people are going to bank hundreds of dollars selling virtual earbuds on Steam and then use the money to buy a $500 spaceship that doesn't exist in a game that you can't play yet then I'm okay with people buying spells.
Look, people are going to waste their money. We have Kickstarter. IT IS KNOWN.

Spells delivered to your door!
broomr


what if you took pre-measured spell components and packed them up in a little box to sell as a kit so busy millenials could cast the spells for themselves without having to do all the legwork

So the obvious answer is right in front of us. Virtual spells cast by Wiccans hired as independent contractors through a mobile app. Skip Etsy entirely. Call it:

Cursr
posted by leotrotsky at 12:15 PM on June 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


Try to understand, it's a magic ban

But where will I get my love potion #9?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:18 PM on June 19, 2015


The difference between magickal crystals on Etsy and traditional religious items is that one is superstitious nonsense and the other will at least send you a pretty rock.
posted by CarolynG at 12:19 PM on June 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


it's unfair that Etsy would ban Wiccan items but not items from traditional religions

Right, and I don't think anyone's arguing otherwise?
posted by poffin boffin at 12:20 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love this thread
posted by rifflesby at 12:23 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


At least this encourages folks to seek out their local pagan communities and support small businesses? I can walk out the door right now and have a choice between three different Wiccan supply shops, a dilemma I can only assume is universal.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:23 PM on June 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


I love this thread

Oh good that means the spell is working
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on June 19, 2015 [31 favorites]


I agree that it would be nice if this weren't the equivalent of a thread on Christianity being 90% made up of "lol invisible sky wizzard", which isn't allowed. It doesn't help that the linked article pretty much takes that approach itself, though.
posted by gilrain at 12:25 PM on June 19, 2015 [16 favorites]




Right, and I don't think anyone's arguing otherwise?
poffin boffin

I don't know, the mass of comments in this thread mocking and laughing at Wiccans doesn't strike me as particularly sympathetic to their treatment by Etsy. It comes across more as "who cares if they can't sell their dumb crap, these people are idiots anyway".
posted by Sangermaine at 12:26 PM on June 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


Well, that sucks. Also, I am interested in what loopholes they will figure out regarding selling their spells on Etsy. Also, more brick and mortar wicca shops please!
posted by yueliang at 12:28 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, right now my main takeaway is "Wow, they're right... there is a hell of a lot of prejudice against Wicca/ritual magick!" Which is saying something, considering Mefi usually does a better than average job at respecting people on the fringe.
posted by gilrain at 12:29 PM on June 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


I don't know, the mass of comments in this thread mocking and laughing at Wiccans doesn't strike me as particularly sympathetic to their treatment by Etsy.

I 100 percent agree with this and also want to make Wicker Man jokes, but, then, I will try to make Wicker Man jokes in literally every thread that presents the opportunity.
posted by maxsparber at 12:30 PM on June 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


I think it's a bit unfair to categorize modern Wicca as somehow being uniquely likely to be made up of creepy old dudes who pressure women to have sex.

I wouldn't say "uniquely", no, but it's definitely a dynamic that I've seen at play amongst the more hierarchical, iniatory groups and that ex-members of those groups have written about as well, that's specifically grounded in their theology and practices. The thing is that Wicca covers an enormous range, it's not like the Gardnerians and related offshoots just disappeared when The Spiral Dance came out. And to be maximally fair, I've seen creepiness from pretty much any combination of gender and power dynamics within people who ID'ed as Wiccans specifically and neopagans more generally, but it's not couched in the language of traditionalism and Mason-style hierarchy and secret-keeping the way it is with those kinds of groups, and the theology generally isn't as gender essentialist, either.

Still not as bad as Scientology, obviously, just due to sheer scale, both in terms of people and money, but it's a thing.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 12:31 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


in other news, you aren't allowed to sell papal indulgences on etsy, either
posted by murphy slaw at 12:31 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think what's driving the tone here is skepticism towards the entrepreneurs selling magic spells over Etsy, not wicca/ritual magic in and of itself.

Anyway I tried to visit my local brick-and-mortar wicca shop but the damn place got up on giant chicken legs and walked away.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:32 PM on June 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


Anyway I tried to visit my local brick-and-mortar wicca shop but the damn place got up on giant chicken legs and walked away.

i want to open a fried chicken stand shaped like baba yaga's hut SO BAD.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:34 PM on June 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


I think what's driving the tone here is skepticism towards the entrepreneurs selling magic spells over Etsy, not wicca/ritual magic in and of itself.

Anyway I tried to visit my local brick-and-mortar wicca shop but the damn place got up on giant chicken legs and walked away.


Damn Russian immigrants talking our wizard jobs and walking away with them!
posted by leotrotsky at 12:35 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


i want to open a fried chicken stand shaped like baba yaga's hut SO BAD.

I think you'll find it's not ADA complaint.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:36 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


what if the hut can crouch to allow wheelchair access
posted by murphy slaw at 12:37 PM on June 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


I agree that it would be nice if this weren't the equivalent of a thread on Christianity being 90% made up of "lol invisible sky wizzard", which isn't allowed. It doesn't help that the linked article pretty much takes that approach itself, though.

To be fair, we'd do that too, if they'd let us. We're ecumenical assholes.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:37 PM on June 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


what if the hut can crouch to allow wheelchair access

In my crystal ball I see ...3rd degree grease burns on the kitchen staff
posted by leotrotsky at 12:39 PM on June 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


i want to open a fried chicken stand shaped like baba yaga's hut SO BAD.

And a skull with a glowing gem for an eye and a straw hat as the takeaway intercom.
(Yes, this is about the time I make my yearly Quest for Glory run. Maybe next week)
posted by lmfsilva at 12:40 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


> I have no idea how much people sell this stuff online for, but if there's any significant money being spent on these spells then it isn't exactly harmless. These people are essentially selling snake oil to people who have been taken in by their fraudulent claims.

Under that logic, prayers and self-help guides should also be banned.

The LOLWicca thing happening in this thread is pretty gross.
posted by desuetude at 12:40 PM on June 19, 2015 [31 favorites]


In my crystal ball I see ...3rd degree grease burns on the kitchen staff

That's why we use zombies.
posted by Naberius at 12:40 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Your local brick and motor magic shop can be found in a little side street, anyplace where you could've swore it wasn't there yesterday....
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's why we use zombies.

WRONG it would be Koschei the Deathless, come on.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:43 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


But in all seriousness, Etsy's must provide a tangible object policy sounded like a pretty good (inclusive) one I’m not sure why they felt the need to change it other than making sure the value of the item was relatively close to the price (i.e. no $500 “love spell” candles).

Isn't that a minefield in and of itself? I mean, some of the prices for "art" on Etsy are beyond all mortal comprehension. Obviously as a lesbian with pretentions towards good taste I have a deep personal vendetta against the very idea of vulva pillows, but those suckers can go for hundreds of dollars with no relationship to quality or materials, and I've seen even more ludicrously priced things, quilts into the thousands of dollars that aren't made of particularly nice fabric and aren't even very big or intricate, etc. That's just craftsy stuff, anything vaguely close to the culturally-accepted notion fine arts and you're way off into well-established "can't put a price on it" territory.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 12:44 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


> I wouldn't say "uniquely", no, but it's definitely a dynamic that I've seen at play amongst the more hierarchical, iniatory groups and that ex-members of those groups have written about as well, that's specifically grounded in their theology and practices.

It's a thing in Wicca because it's a thing with people. It's a thing in all religions, as well as in the atheist community. There are always the segments which reinforce creepy sexual politics.
posted by desuetude at 12:46 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


vagina pillows

I can't google this at work so are these pillows for the vagina or like Georgia O'Keefe/Judy Chicago pillows that look like vaginas?
posted by griphus at 12:46 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't google this at work so are these pillows for the vagina or like Georgia O'Keefe/Judy Chicago pillows that look like vaginas?

So very much the latter.
posted by maxsparber at 12:47 PM on June 19, 2015


The latter. I should have said vulva, I fixed it in the comment. Honestly, some of them are really pretty and well-made, but it seems like there's also a cottage industry around them and some of the knockoffs are... not so much.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 12:47 PM on June 19, 2015


SadEtsyVulvas
posted by griphus at 12:48 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Master and Margarita Mix, I can't speak for the overpriced highish art, but craft and folk art are often ludicrously undervalued in terms of hours spent. Look at competently hand-knitted goods, for example. If a quilter decides that her time and skill are worth nontrivial money, good for her.
posted by The Gaffer at 12:49 PM on June 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


WRONG it would be Koschei the Deathless, come on.

Won't sell. Strangely enough, this is an area in which I have what passes for expertise. I actually pitched SyFy a concept based on Koschei once. To say they didn't go for it would be something of an understatement.
posted by Naberius at 12:49 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


If we're making a wishlist I would like to see a sitewide etsy ban on those reusable cloth menstrual pads which have Edward Cullen's face printed on the crotch area.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:49 PM on June 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Oh, sure. Sparkle maxies.
posted by maxsparber at 12:50 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


listen if he's functionally immortal and he can operate a Broaster™ i don't care how popular he is
posted by murphy slaw at 12:51 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


...but craft and folk art are often ludicrously undervalued in terms of hours spent.

I mean that's a fair point, but Etsy is also the industry home of gluing watch insides to a ten dollar costume store hat, painting it bronze and selling it for $150 as a Steampunk Chapeau.
posted by griphus at 12:51 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Master and Margarita Mix, I can't speak for the overpriced highish art, but craft and folk art are often ludicrously undervalued in terms of hours spent. Look at competently hand-knitted goods, for example. If a quilter decides that her time and skill are worth nontrivial money, good for her.

Some of it's undervalued, some of it's overvalued. My actual point, in context, was that Etsy as a business and a legal entity is already in a position of taking a value-agnostic stance on their sellers pricing schemes, and deciding to do so only in the case of magical/religious things would be a non-starter on their end.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 12:52 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean that's a fair point, but Etsy is also the industry home of gluing watch insides to a ten dollar costume store hat, painting it bronze and selling it for $150 as a Steampunk Chapeau.

That's just the free gift you get when you pay to have them cast the spell of Let's Keep This Minor Fad Going for Decades Beyond a Reasonable Lifespan.
posted by maxsparber at 12:53 PM on June 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


there's a difference between selling a vulva pillow and selling a vulva pillow by guaranteeing that it will get you laid
posted by murphy slaw at 12:53 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I actually pitched SyFy a concept based on Koschei once.

There's a Russian folklore-inspired novel called Deathless. I haven't read it, but I heard good things.

Also Orson Scott Card (yeah yeah) wrote a novel called Enchantment that deals with Russian folklore as well. I know Baba Yaga and her house are in it, but it has been years since I read it.
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on June 19, 2015


there's a difference between selling a vulva pillow and selling a vulva pillow by guaranteeing that it will get you laid

Literally none of the spells guarantee anything. That's been Etsy policy for quite some time.
posted by maxsparber at 12:55 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


griphus, for that we could just do puritan-style shunning for anyone who glues nonfunctional gears to shit or spraypaints things to look copper.
posted by The Gaffer at 12:56 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Folks, maybe just sort of stick to the bits you think are interesting about this, if you do think there's something interesting, and otherwise give it a pass if your main reaction is just "ha ha, wicca".]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:59 PM on June 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


I think it would be hilarious and cool and ridiculous in a good way to buy a set of polaroid pictures of someone performing a spell (photos of hand motions? pictures of spell components being arranged?) off of Etsy. Like, okay, I am such a deep down cynical skeptic — I'm beyond skepticism all the way to ontological nihilism, and the only way I could be more of a cynic is if I started living in a very large wine jar — but nevertheless I find myself slightly bummed that Etsy's banning the sale of spells.

also I think the displaced spell sellers should start up a new site named "Diagon Etsy."

But I'm wondering if my "selling spells on etsy is a super-cool way to perform a détournement of the etsy/handcraft capitalist aesthetic" attitude is itself kind of LOLWiccaney, in that it presents spells as art or commentary items rather than as things having transcendent spiritual value aside from the non-transcendent (immanent?) spiritual value of the spells as art or commentary. Basically, I find myself thinking that spells are cool in that they have value because of the (metaphorical) raised spirits they produce, rather than because of their ability to connect with literal spirits or other metaphysical forces, and hoping that the bulk of the world's Etsy spell-buyers think the same way. Which like if I follow that reasoning to the end, it's like I'd want to make people prove that they were above a certain hipness level before being allowed to purchase spells. Gross, right?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:07 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Okay so I actually went to etsy and searched for "wicca crystals" and "healing crystals" and "spell book" and "magic crystal" and "wiccan wand" (has its own category!) and so on, and you can still buy all of those physical objects, AND find ones that are promoted by Etsy corporate, so I think the person quoted in the original article claiming that Wiccan religious object listings were being taken down (while Christian listings for rosaries weren't) was mistaken or confused. It sounds like it's still just sell spells/readings/etc. that is the problem.

People do, apparently, sell "spell DIY kits," although not too many so that may be right on Etsy's borderline. (Spell supplies, spell not included.) Looking for people selling actual spells also buries you in absolute mountains of Harry Potter kitsch.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:10 PM on June 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


cortex casts 'Reasonable Moderator/Buzzkill'

I will say, LOLs aside, that this was a really dumb move by Etsy. Line drawing with religion and commerce is a battle you're just not going to win. Maybe prohibit things with malicious intent (curses, etc), but leave the rest alone. I'm not sure why they're bothering to pick this fight in the first place.

It also allows some enterprising upstart to open up a magick-only emporium; I imagine that the buyer feedback there would be really interesting.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:12 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also my etsy recommended items listing is now really messed up. :( Instead of hand-made science geek jewelry, I am now seeing NOTHING BUT WANDS MADE OF CRYSTALS WIRED TO OTHER CRYSTALS.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:13 PM on June 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


You gotta tie those together. You could probably pick up AM/FM.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:14 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, on the topic at hand: unless something is actually fraudulent by promising/hinting guaranteed results, it should be allowed to be sold. A spell to give someone hellish, watery diarrhea when they are 30 minutes away from a toilet? Unless it's a molecular extract from two-month old Taco Bell you put into someone's food, ban it. (Oooooon second thought, ban the Taco Bell Potion too, for health reasons).

Selling a meditation crystal to improve confidence might work for someone who believes it might work. It's not any different from any prayer or self-help book with a nature stock photo/heavily photoshopped author with big, empowering letters in the cover. While I don't believe in any of the three, as long as it is not affecting me, or being purposely deceitful, rock on.
But one thing I do believe is that people, when they are confident, they are happier and more productive and more capable of accomplishing things (not curing cancer or bend spoons, but you get my point). If someone feels happier by holding a crystal, it's none of my business *sips tea*. It's not like they come to my house and prevent me from singing Koyaanisqatsi when I'm trying to focus (no, not kidding).

(also: this talk about steampunk makes me remind of a talk I had with a friend of mine thinking about doing steampunk trinkets. I'd actually work with her if she let me put some working gears and functional bits on the stuff, instead of rustpunk GEARS GEARS GEARS cheap crap)
posted by lmfsilva at 1:19 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I will say, LOLs aside, that this was a really dumb move by Etsy. Line drawing with religion and commerce is a battle you're just not going to win. Maybe prohibit things with malicious intent (curses, etc), but leave the rest alone. I'm not sure why they're bothering to pick this fight in the first place.

I would bet a not inconsiderable sum of money that it basically boils down to the same reason that Mojang (makers of Minecraft) eventually banned charging for mods or access to microtransactionified versions of their content on private Minecraft servers: blowback from people whose kids had spent $500 on "VIP Access" to some server run by a jerk who made YouTube videos, or who confused Mojang themselves with various mod authors and demanded tech support. It was just too much hassle.

I'd really be interested in the number of chargebacks and disputes that were generated on Etsy from the sale of spells and other intangibles, I bet it's not insignificant at all.

Ultimately, you pretty much just have to follow the money. I doubt it's a dumb move at all in terms of their bottom line.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 1:20 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Their actions hint at a bit of moral panic and stigma. Yeah, they are trying to do the right thing from a fact-and-reality-based viewpoint but they are doing it with bias and that's not very cool.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:20 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole re-label-as-prayers thing suggests to me this is all about folks who are terrified by the spirital practices of others who they presume are their diametric opposition (i.e. witches and magickians). This seems to be critical to understanding this as a discriminatory practice. Requiring sellers to not oversell their product, spiritual or otherwise, seems to be a tenable position whereas mandating "prayer" vs. "spell" does not.

In the traditions I've known a spell might be a script for a ritual, a suggestion for how to keep close to an important concept throughout ones day or a procedure and a mantra. These are as much creative produces as a home-stencilled spraypaint t-shirt though the value is variable based on audience so it seems clear to me that these things ought to fit on Etsy.

In my life I've advocated for becoming one's own skilled technician, if one likes to have access to these sorts of things, but a recurrent theme in my life is that not as many people are interested in becoming skilled technicians in a variety of trades and practices as I am, so it's hard to fault anyone who really wants to outsource the work and just buy it. That's a whole thing in the world.

> But I'm wondering if my "selling spells on etsy is a super-cool way to perform a détournement of the etsy/handcraft capitalist aesthetic" attitude is itself kind of LOLWiccaney, in that it presents spells as art or commentary items rather than as things having transcendent spiritual value aside from the non-transcendent (immanent?) spiritual value of the spells as art or commentary.

This would fit in the communities I've known who also tend to have a postmodern outlook and a large number of participants who're involved in performance arts of various sorts outside the temple.

Basically, I find myself thinking that spells are cool in that they have value because of the (metaphorical) raised spirits they produce, rather than because of their ability to connect with literal spirits or other metaphysical forces, and hoping that the bulk of the world's Etsy spell-buyers think the same way.

There're quite a few practicing magickians I've known who hold this approximate view, so not all too far out there.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:21 PM on June 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


Chargebacks and disputes is a good point. Hadn't considered that. Seems like a legit reason to ban a sale of a type of item.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:22 PM on June 19, 2015


All those items on the etsy list with the possible exception of potion are services. Doesn't etsy explicity exist to sell merchandise? Do people advertise their grass cutting service on etsy?

You can still sell idols and amulets and magic daggers, right?
posted by bukvich at 1:23 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


> I'm not sure why they're bothering to pick this fight in the first place.

There may be a lawyer somewhere saying something about consumer fraud [FTC], depending on how the ads are phrased.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2015


Do people advertise their grass cutting service on etsy?

FOR SALE: Personalized bag of grass made from your own lawn's grass.
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2015 [23 favorites]


Requiring sellers to not oversell their product, spiritual or otherwise, seems to be a tenable position whereas mandating "prayer" vs. "spell" does not.

That could actually just be a function of the "we are not the customer service department you're looking for" factor, ala Mojang not wanting to waste time on tech support for mods they didn't write, Blizzard finally giving in and creating legal avenues for gold buying because of the hassles caused by illicit gold sellers, etc. Broadly constructed in Western culture, the person you go to if you want tech support for why your prayers are unanswered are God or your local religious authority; the person you go to for tech support for the hex you bought off of Etsy is ???

Man hours are man hours and they're money, too.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 1:28 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm reading through the actual discussion boards on etsy, and people are commenting that a couple months ago etsy just went through and purged a bunch of people selling things like lotions and shampoos that made health claims -- which of course you can't do per the FDA -- and some of the Pagan community on etsy think a lot of the shops and listings they've targeted have been making what could be construed as health claims (such as weight loss or improved sexual pleasure), in addition to their more long-standing refusal to let people list "services."

Etsy staff responds to one person's question: "I agree that there is a difference between making a medical or physical claim and referencing beliefs or folklore. It sounds like what you are suggesting would be OK under our policies, but we would need to look at your items to be sure. "

I think the original article here was maybe not terrifically well-researched.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:29 PM on June 19, 2015 [25 favorites]


Seems an appropriate time for some doom metal.
posted by klangklangston at 1:34 PM on June 19, 2015


Broadly constructed in Western culture, the person you go to if you want tech support for why your prayers are unanswered are God or your local religious authority; the person you go to for tech support for the hex you bought off of Etsy is ???

Am I understanding correctly that your position here is: magick practices are distinctly burdensome to etsy because western magick generally doesn't claim there is a single point-source for all creation and thus deistic practices and sacraments are less burdensome therefore spells must be cloaked as prayers to some specific entity...?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:35 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Which government agency would regulate the sale of spells?
My first guess is the FCC, simply because Witches casting spells is a form of communication that isn't open to all. The health claims however cause me to lean toward the FDA or perhaps a combination of both.

Where's the Magick issue of Consumer Reports when you need it?
posted by shenkerism at 1:44 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am as opposed to snake oil as anyone, but Etsy's policy up until now has been that sellers must be absolutely clear that they make no promises about the effectiveness of their spells. I haven't seen a single case of someone, say, forgoing actual medication in favor of an Etsy spell, or being encouraged to do so.

If the harm is that they are spending their money on useless bullshit, well, that's basically Etsy's business model, but it doesn't mean I'm returning the bottle top cartoon character pin I bought last week.


I wonder if part of the issue may be that although there is a disclaimer, the disclaimer is interpreted to be a "wink-wink" sort of concession for the overlords, and as such, no longer serves as a genuine disclaimer any more. If I were Wiccan, and thought that buying spells was possible, and also knew that disclaimers were simply there as a legal cover-our-butt, I'd feel as if the person I bought from was still making an implicit promise regarding anything that was not in the disclaimer. In other words, if disclaimers are forced for spells, and you believe in spells, then the disclaimer doesn't mean anything in terms of interpreting the viability of the product sold. As such, I wonder if Etsy realizes this and decided to pull the plug on all of it (as clumsily as it was handled). If people are interpreting your sales as being fraudulent in any way, despite the disclaimer, it's probably pretty bad for business.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:46 PM on June 19, 2015


I am as opposed to snake oil as anyone

You say that now, but don't come running to me the next time you need to oil a snake.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:49 PM on June 19, 2015 [32 favorites]


I'm switched to snakes that run on corn biofuels.
posted by maxsparber at 1:54 PM on June 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


Am I understanding correctly that your position here is: magick practices are distinctly burdensome to etsy because western magick generally doesn't claim there is a single point-source for all creation and thus deistic practices and sacraments are less burdensome therefore spells must be cloaked as prayers to some specific entity...?

It's more that, if I had to put money on it, Etsy probably gets porportionally more "institutional hassle" from the disgruntled customers of their occult/pagan sellers, or the parents/guardians/legally responsible parties of said customers, than from the customers of their New-Age-with-Christian-vibes/aesthetics sellers.

I suspect they'll eventually ban the pseudo-Christian prayer stuff too, both because it will wind up generating some institutional hassle out of porportion with the costs as the pagans and occultists use that category to rebrand, and out of a fear the pagan/occult-themed sellers would use the discrepancy as grounds for a bias suit, ie even more institutional hassle. Given that they haven't yet, I'd guess that either Angel Prayer Kits cause porportionally less trouble compared to Archangel Spell Kits, or they're really afraid legal action because Angel Prayer Kits are already positioned as being explicitly religious in a way that the occult stuff isn't.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 1:55 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually pitched SyFy a concept based on Koschei once.

There's a Russian folklore-inspired novel called Deathless. I haven't read it, but I heard good things.
A major character in one of Keith Taylor's Bard series is essentially Koschei, I think, but I can't remember which one and I can't find any plot summaries.
look do you want to burn these unsuspecting white men we invited to our village summerfest or not
Of course I do --- "bring out the free fake sunscreen, Giles!"
posted by jamjam at 2:07 PM on June 19, 2015


The whole re-label-as-prayers thing suggests to me this is all about folks who are terrified by the spirital practices of others who they presume are their diametric opposition (i.e. witches and magickians). This seems to be critical to understanding this as a discriminatory practice.

yeah, the whole "well of course it's okay if it's jesus" thing makes it extra gross and in an ideal world of logic everyone involved would realize that it makes the basis of their argument pretty ridiculous, but I don't have a lot of hopes for anyone seeing reason.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:07 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, flim-flam is a pantheistic endeavor. In a town full of psychics, the only one I've seen get busted for fraudulently taking money from clients was Lady Fatima's where the Angels said you needed to give over five grand to protect your family from curses.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:09 PM on June 19, 2015


In other words, if disclaimers are forced for spells, and you believe in spells, then the disclaimer doesn't mean anything in terms of interpreting the viability of the product sold.


The purpose of disclaimers is the protection of the consumer and the merchant. Like an EULA or a some kind of aerosol products. Buying it is like signing an agreement that you "get it".

If you know the disclaimers are there as a butt covering, how can you not understand why you need your butt covered? The disclaimer is as far as the responsibilities of the seller, or even Etsy go. If you have read the disclaimer, you have been disclaimed.
posted by shenkerism at 2:10 PM on June 19, 2015


Did we miss John Wellington Wells, dealer in magic and spells?
posted by X4ster at 2:31 PM on June 19, 2015


Do they allow vendors to sell the act of praying for a customer? Or medals and rosaries that come with the promise that the vendor will pray for you, or that the item has been prayed over?

I'm not sure how big the market for that would be, but if it's permissible, then this restriction is notably discriminatory. If that's forbidden, too, I don't see the problem.
posted by CHoldredge at 2:38 PM on June 19, 2015


> But where will I get my love potion #9?

Here. Sink.
posted by jfuller at 2:39 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seems like they'd be smart enough to bundle their intangible devilry with something tangible.

Posted by resurrexit


Eponysterical?
posted by Xavier Xavier at 2:39 PM on June 19, 2015


Are people missing that they ARE now banning listings that come with a tangible item?
Recently, however, Etsy quietly adopted new guidelines that prohibit the sale of spells and hexes. According to its new rules, “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.”
Before, if it came with an item, but did not claim results, it was okay. Now even that is banned.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:49 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder what their rate of complaints was for rosaries vs meditation crystals (if meditation crystals are indeed now forbidden as one seller in the article claims).

That's a big if. I just did a search for "meditation crystals" on Etsy and got 19,626 results. There are also results for meditation: cushion, pillow, bench, ring, altar, beads, chair, table and bracelet.
posted by layceepee at 2:54 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


In other words, if disclaimers are forced for spells, and you believe in spells, then the disclaimer doesn't mean anything in terms of interpreting the viability of the product sold.

It means that you need to consult your deity or intangible universal force of choice for a refund instead of Etsy.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:58 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


According to its new rules, “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.”
This should apply just as much to prayers as spells, so I'm surprised that Etsy's customer service is advising sellers to just relabel "spells" as "prayers" to get them approved.

(A physical book of prayer texts or something would be okay, but offering to pray for someone and send them a photo as proof is a "metaphysical service".)
posted by Rangi at 3:07 PM on June 19, 2015


Man if I wanted to get rid of some junk I should just re-brand it ....Please enjoy this m e d I t a t I o n H a I r d r y e r
posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


if your main reaction is just "ha ha ..."

Can't stop. Failed save against Tasha's Hideous Laughter.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:17 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Recently, however, Etsy quietly adopted new guidelines that prohibit the sale of spells and hexes. According to its new rules, “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.”

Before, if it came with an item, but did not claim results, it was okay. Now even that is banned.


But the paragraph you quoted is specifically about items that do claim results.
posted by rifflesby at 3:34 PM on June 19, 2015


The intrepid crew at the On the Media podcast TLDR bought a spell on Etsy.
posted by BrashTech at 3:47 PM on June 19, 2015


Spells delivered to your door!

Like Uber for Magick
posted by chavenet at 3:55 PM on June 19, 2015


Before, if it came with an item, but did not claim results, it was okay. Now even that is banned.

I dunno, I had the same idea as Eyebrows McGee and went poking around Etsy, and "love spell" gets me 112 pages of items, candles and oils and necklaces and soaps and stuff printed on parchment - the person selling a PDF download of a love spell might be headed for the chopping block, but OTOH they're only asking $1.50, so . . . . .

And some of these items are not "magickal", but a lot are. If Etsy is banning this stuff, they're certainly taking their time about it. Or maybe all the listings I found skate juuuuuuust under the "claim results" barrier.

It seems like some of the upset is due to the elimination of the "spells" category, and a lot of the sellers could pretty easily come into compliance with Etsy's new rules with a minor re-write of their listings.

TM&MM raises a good point re: "follow the money" - there almost has to be some kind of financial reason Etsy has decided to crack down on "magickal" listings.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:11 PM on June 19, 2015


I am as opposed to snake oil as anyone

FWIW, snake oil is actually a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids.

(Omega 3's are mostly bullshit, though.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:46 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a huge believer of tea tree oil.

That being said, I Geas your head.
posted by clavdivs at 4:54 PM on June 19, 2015


I'd guess that, claims of efficacy or not, people are way more likely to expect a spell to work than to expect a prayer to work, and to be angry and ask for their money back when it doesn't. A Wicca practitioner may see a spell as just a Wiccan prayer but I doubt that's true for the general public, even the segment of the general public that buys spells on Etsy. (I'd also guess that the population of people who would buy a spell on Etsy probably has more than its fair share of difficult customers.)
posted by phoenixy at 5:38 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Inside the (literal) witch hunt that's devouring Etsy [WaPo]
Notably, Etsy says their crackdown was “not the result of any external factors,” such as litigation or pressure from government regulators. (For what it’s worth, a New York man recently filed a lawsuit against a fortuneteller who promised to reincarnate his deceased love, and the FTC’s consumer blog just warned of fortune-telling scams on Tuesday.) The site also insists it will enforce the policy consistently across both pagan and non-pagan shops: If you can’t sell a headache-curing spell, the policy goes, you also can’t sell a headache-curing rosary.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:15 PM on June 19, 2015


Little Dawn: "If you can’t sell a headache-curing spell, the policy goes, you also can’t sell a headache-curing rosary."

The Christian etsy seller promising cures in the WaPo article has been suspended by etsy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:41 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Disclaimer: I'm Wiccian. I'm very involved in the community.
I'm upset by some of the outright mockery in this thread.


Many Wiccians do believe that selling spells is in bad taste to begin with. It is intangible and if given should be given for free.

The pagan community is much larger than the Wiccian community as whole.

Pretty much all major Internet money transactions limit the selling of intangible things. Period. Paypal is one of them. So tarot readings, rune readings and such are banned as well as spells. Pagan Tumblr is really into this selling of readings for money online. Maybe it is a skill maybe not. But it is concidered a valid spiritual practice by many pagan groups. But please do it in person. That's my opinion anyway. (As a clinical social worker I am really interested how the pagan community deals with mental health through these practitioners but that is for another thread)

I think one of the big worries is that paganism in general ascribes meaning to EVERYTHING. Colors, rocks, glass, time of day, moon phase, Neptune is in retrograde, herbs, smells, weather. There is some concensus in what these things mean religiously but it is massive and nobody knows all of it. So everything needs to be labeled. Everyone knows what a rosary does. But in Wicca or paganism changing the number of beads or the color or adding a stone or a symbol or making it on the full moon changes the meaning and representation of that object. And the creator needs to write this down or tell what book they used or the meaning gets muddled and the buyer cannot appreciate the work that went into it.

So these descriptions are very important or we lose sight of what our common beliefs are.

That being said no one should be making health claims for a rock. It is a rock. Can or minds make us feel calmer with a blue rock? Mine does. So whatever. Can something symbolize something? Absolutely. Do we make meaning out of all of these things? Pagans do.

Esty is within its grounds to ban things that could cause harm. I don't want them to go too far but from what I can tell they haven't.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:54 PM on June 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


> WaPo predicted the future: "we’re sure that’s forthcoming." Magic!
“It’s difficult to make sweeping generalizations in this area,” said Rich Cleland, an attorney in the advertising practices division of the Federal Trade Commission. “But if someone is making an objective claim that a crystal cures cancer, that’s something people could take seriously — and that needs to have scientific evidence behind it.”

Generally speaking, the FTC allows businesses to make claims that are so obviously false, no one could ever really be misled. (“This toilet paper will save your life!”) And it will also allow obvious expressions of religious faith, even when they appear to be phrased as facts. (Cleland said it’s unlikely that his department would, for instance, investigate the holy cards sold at the Vatican.)

But the FTC draws the line at objective claims: specific promises for specific, measurable, tangible results. You simply can’t say your $20 candle cures cancer, even if you really, truly believe it does. (To further complicate things, if you say a product cures, treats or aids any physical ailment, it’s automatically classified as a drug and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.)
also:
There are still a good many Etsy stores peddling teas and other “natural remedies” for everything from headaches to high blood pressure.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:56 PM on June 19, 2015


Folks, it's easy to create your own spells. You don't need to pay anyone to do it. When you wish upon a star, or your birthday candles, or blow on that dandelion, what do you think that is? Make up your own! The Internet can tell you how!

"I think it's a bit unfair to categorize modern Wicca as somehow being uniquely likely to be made up of creepy old dudes who pressure women to have sex."

"It's a thing in Wicca because it's a thing with people. It's a thing in all religions, as well as in the atheist community. There are always the segments which reinforce creepy sexual politics."


Yes, seconded. The only places on earth that don't have creepy old guys trying to fuck young women are nunneries. Hopefully,
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:10 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry I misspelled Wiccan above. Gah.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:21 PM on June 19, 2015


Literally none of the spells guarantee anything. That's been Etsy policy for quite some time.

Haunted Ring Charged with Magick to Draw Money Luck Wealth Success Silver Gypsy Spell

I don't see any disclaimers on this item.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:27 PM on June 19, 2015


poffin boffin: "yeah, wicca seems more like a bunch of people who were like "hey wouldn't it be great to get naked in the woods and generally be positive about humanity's relationship with nature and the universe" whereas scientology is basically a thing made up as a joke by a fraudulent charlatan to get money from people which inexplicably blossomed into a creepy moneyhungry cult that tells you you're gross and weak and subhuman if you go to therapy."

Not me! My therapist is smart, funny, a little adorably dorky, and amazingly cute. Don't think Thog would score such a therapist.
posted by Samizdata at 8:21 PM on June 19, 2015


maxsparber: "Man, you burn one constable ..."

Betcha can't burn just one!
posted by Samizdata at 8:22 PM on June 19, 2015


I am attempting to Kickstart a new app -

Covn. Social network tool to find fellow practitioners in your immediate area!
posted by Samizdata at 8:30 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


RATTLE
"St Appollonia's teeth? No.
Teeth from the comb of Mary Magdalene? St Edmund's nail parings.
Tip them in with the rest.

The man must have had 500 fingers."

-"Wolf Hall"
posted by clavdivs at 8:43 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


MeTa.
posted by homunculus at 9:12 PM on June 19, 2015


Haunted Ring Charged with Magick to Draw Money Luck Wealth Success Silver Gypsy Spell

I don't see any disclaimers on this item.


And it is gone.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:37 AM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


WTB int shoulder enchant, have mats
posted by ostranenie at 8:36 AM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


But where will I get my love potion #9?

Down at 34th and Vine?
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:18 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you point out ridiculous things people believe you are going to hurt some feelings. I wish people would just be nice. Because people aren't nice I am selling a spell that will make hurt feelings dissipate.

Only locally-sourced organic spell components used. $100 in bitcoins per casting.
posted by Bonzai at 9:01 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I already have a charm that makes ridicule nothing to be scared of.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:45 AM on June 21, 2015


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