So I never got around, the first time everyone started flipping out about Etsy, to posting about it. After all, I don’t purchase on Etsy, and I don’t sell there. But this article (see here) kind of has me wanting to post.
See, this author is comparing Etsy’s TOS as a “witch hunt” a la Salem, Massachusetts. This is problematic for multiple reasons.
Starting first off – the fact is that Etsy just changed their terms to state that services are not permitted (i.e. prayers, spells), because you cannot guarantee a spell’s success. Objects (such as rosaries, pendants, pendulums, etc) are allowed. Those are a solid item that one can guarantee the quality of. The uproar about “banning esoteric items” is all a load of hoopla.
And this whole witch hunt hysteria is a load of crap. Etsy has an obligation to ensure, from a business standpoint, that the items sold on their site are able to be guaranteed. If they allow people to sell prayers or spells, then they are putting themselves into a position of having to account for customers who are not happy with the failure or lack of results from services. Physical items can be guaranteed and accounted for – either they look and function like what is advertised, or they do not. That is easy to account for.
Then the whole “it’s just like Salem all over again” whining. That one insults me as a historian.
Salem had no witches. It had small-town mentality, gossip, financial gain and societal pressures and prejudices. It was people utilizing their prejudices, raising, religion and financial situations to fling out at neighbors and at other citizens of the city. As to what set the children off originally, no one can definitively say. But for sure, the adults and judges all acted out of a multitude of reasons. Religion possibly one of the less important, considering how financial means and financial concerns were extremely important in many “witch trials” throughout the world in the early modern period.
A major example – (I cannot find the original article I read, but if I find it, I’ll add the link) a witch trial in Germany was started after a woman inherited a popular, wealthy business either from husband or father. She ran it well and prosperously. Her neighbor (a man in the same business who was doing less prosperously) reported her a witch, she got tried and executed. They got her land, business, and property. Remember – common was that if you reported a witch and they were convicted, you seized control of most, if not all of their assets. Financial gain was a huge reason that many were accused of witchcraft. Then there were also those who accused due to feuds or dislike of their neighbors. That also happened quite a bit – humans are human after all. Also, I would like to mention that overwhelmingly it was widows or unmarried women who were accused. Those who did not fit traditional gender roles. They were most likely to be accused.
There was no underground “witch” movement in early modern Europe. There are those who followed superstitions, or used old folk remedies and the like. But those people were mostly Christian (if not all). They would be insulted and horrified to be called witch by people trying to co-opt their deaths into propaganda for modern practices and beliefs. Because those people of 400-600 years ago were not pagans or polytheists or witches or Wiccans. They were regular citizens who followed the Church teachings, went to church and tried to get by. If they went to the local wise woman/man or used remedies, they were no different than anyone else of the time.
And now back to Etsy. Because I’m a big fan of hard facts, here is a screenshot from the Etsy Sellers Manual (Seller’s Page):
So far, no mention of targeting pagans or witches…
And here is the reasoning why (web page here):
So this is pretty straight forward. It lays out what is and is not allowed as terms of “services” provided. A service like graphic design is allowed – because it produces a tangible item (i.e. a PDF/JPG of the designed image for example). A service like metaphysical items are not allowed, because they are advertising a result (i.e. spell, prayer, etc) that could be intangible. These are things that are suggesting they will effect change or some intangible result.
“Any metaphysical service”…that’s not saying pagan. There are a lot of spiritual services that fall under that broad umbrella that are not pagan. “That promises or suggests” results. Again – nothing that says it only applies to witches and pagans. This is just the same as a service for prayer to God to get XX result. It is not saying “no witchcraft service can be done”. No. Nowhere in the rules and reasoning does it say “witchcraft”. It defines metaphysical – those things that are not physical themselves. So again, Etsy is not targeting a specific group.
So what Etsy was doing was pretty simple – they are ensuring that what is on their website produces a tangible result of some sort. Whether a physical item, JPG/PDF/image, or an object that helps you to DIY something (like a booklet on how to build __).
That means this whole “Etsy witch hunt” is a load of crap.
Etsy just decided to crack down on those who are violating their terms by selling services that do not meet the guidelines. They cannot help it if a majority of the people who are “affected” by this change are pagans. If you weren’t following the rules, and you were caught selling services, then you deserve to have your shop shut down. There are other platforms out there to sell your magical/metaphysical services. Etsy chooses their rules, and they have to be honored.
And nowhere does Etsy say they are targeting a specific group. If some Christian seller was on Etsy selling prayers to do something (i.e. prayers to God to get a job), they would be shut down, just like a pagan selling spells to make an interview go your way. Etsy is not choosing to discriminate against one group – they just wrote out in bold what services were no longer allowed.
And the article I linked at the beginning – the reason I am writing this post. Their whole glee about this “witch hunt” ban against pagans being gone. Well, two fold. One – they’re wrong. The ban on services are still there. Two – it was never a witch hunt. There was never a witch hunt by Etsy. And to claim so is just rude on multiple levels.
So really – don’t be idiots. Don’t try to sell things that are prohibited by the TOS that you agreed to by opening your store. Don’t try to claim that Etsy is persecuting you for your “religious beliefs”, when it clearly states that any such service would be against the rules. And if you get caught, at least own up that you screwed up and its your own fault. After all, if you’re going to break the rules, you have to own up to the consequences you reap.∗