Why Etsy's Anti-Witchcraft Policy Defines the Company

Etsy draws a line (but not a pentagram) in the sand.

Flickr.com/ Miroslav Vajdić

Etsy is a mystical land where anything is for sale — ornaments! denture soap! Malibu Barbie with flesh-eating bacteria! — as long as it approximates hand-crafted. If your craft begins with “witch-,” however, Etsy’s marketplace just got a whole lot less magical: Spells, hexes, and other non-tangible supernatural services are now verboten.

What is most surprising is not that people were selling witchy things on Etsy. After eBay banned witchcraft in 2012, Etsy was a natural place for magicks to set up digital shop. What is surprising is that Etsy, which takes an approach to institutional control that would make a nihilist proud, has a line. And that line is hexes. 

At 10 years old this month, Etsy has grown out of a belief in witchcraft. Etsy doesn’t like its users selling “services,” as opposed to goods, which have been redefined to include “Any metaphysical service that promises or suggests it will effect a physical change (read: weight loss) or other outcome (read: love, revenge) is not allowed, even if it delivers a tangible item. ” It does believe in selling $1,350 handmade dreamcatchers, which is a whole different kind of magic.