Etsy's Witch Hunt: Craft Site Bans Sale of Spells and Hexes

A sign advertising the online seller Etsy Inc. is seen outside the Nasdaq market site in Times Square following Etsy's initial public offering on April 16. Etsy's IPO has been priced at $16 per share, a market source told Reuters, valuing the online seller of handmade goods and craft supplies at about $1.78 billion. Mike Segar/Reuters

The online craft marketplace Etsy, in addition to offering an eclectic selection of cross-stitched profanities and cuff links bearing game console designs, has long been an unofficial coven for industrious enthusiasts of all things supernatural. But self-identifying witches will now have to look elsewhere to sell or stock up on metaphysical goods: Etsy has rather abruptly ceased the sale of spells, amulets, potions, hexes—anything insinuating some kind of magic.

Although the site formerly hosted a specific category for "spell listings," its revamped guidelines stipulate 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." Smithsonian reports that people can still purchase crystals and oils, likely because they don't purport to cause the possible physical changes that would violate Etsy's new policy. Other occult objects, including tarot readings, stones, candles and astrological charts, haven't been cast out of the site either.

Still, distressed users aren't sure what prompted the new change or exactly when the policies were instituted. One theory suggests that Etsy is attempting to curb counterfeiters selling phony goods and trying to make a quick buck on the site, while another reason may be the lawsuit that was recently filed against the site for violating trademark protections and for copyright infringement.

Or maybe Etsy simply can't get down with hocus-pocus. In an ongoing community forum, some people have alleged that Etsy's ban is simply part of a larger religious discrimination existing against people identifying as witches, pagans and Wiccans of faith, noting that some items having to do with prayer, such as rosaries, are still allowed.

Naturally, occultists aren't charmed. Users on the forum have been reporting that the site has been shuttering witchy vendor pages since last week, prompting double, double toil and trouble: "There is great distress in the metaphysical community," one anonymous member told The Daily Dot. (The member didn't mention the possibility of casting an incantation on Etsy to reverse the policy.)

Witches are also exorcising their right to free speech and have begun a petition urging Etsy to reopen the shops they've closed. As of Friday afternoon, the petition had garnered nearly 4,000 signatures.

At the time of publication, Etsy had not returned a request for comment.