According to an article yesterday on Mashable, Ebay has basically banned the sell of witchcraft from it’s site. Specifically it’s 2012 Fall Seller Update Information article states that it’s banned the sale of “advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions” as of August 30, 2012. Online rumors indicate that Etsy might not be far behind enforcing a similar ban, though there’s no proof I can offer on that one as of yet.
In various online discussions I’ve viewed, there is much focus on the idea that this is intentional religious discrimination against Pagans. I’ll be honest, I don’t use Ebay. The few times I’ve tried it, I either received something completely not what I ordered, or received nothing and had to fight to get my money back. I have, however, wasted a few minutes of my life browsing the site and shaking my head over ads for listings for “POWERFUL FEMALE SUCCUBUS LOVER SPELL nympho sex love lust nymph magic genie FAST” and “Haunted Sexual Vitality ULTIMATE PENIS ENLARGEMENT SPELL MAKE HER BEG FOR MORE” (100% guaranteed to work!).
Crap like this makes any legitimate spell caster come off looking like a crook. It’s the difference between a tarot reader who helps counsel someone on an issue in their life, and the reader who tells a client that they can remove the curse on them for $20,000 (right before they have to mysteriously leave town). Given the huge number of these kinds of ads, and with no ability for a buyer to prove it was or wasn’t successful to get their money back, I sort of see Ebay’s point for banning them.
A quick search for “I will pray for you” only brings back one hit, a clearly Christian ad to pray to the seller’s God, the Virgin Mary, or a saint for $5-$10 dollars, so this ban will effect, in some small amount, more than just Pagan practitioners. I’m somewhat more upset about the ban on magical potions, as at least a buyer is getting something tangible for their money, though again, whether it’s legit or not is almost impossible to tell. Same with “healing sessions”, which will ban all Reiki ads.
So does this ban actually constitute religious discrimination? It certainly doesn’t narrow the ban down to “Pagan prayer” or “Wiccan spells”. I admit I’m a bit torn on the subject. While I see the possible beginning of the end for sellers on sites like this, I won’t be sad to see the sham “spell casters” go, and the end of taking advantage of desperate people with promises of something that can’t possibly be delivered. As I sell products of a magical variety, I definitely don’t want to lose my Etsy shop.
But are magic spells and potions actual religious items? As both a Pagan and a witch, there is a line for me between my religion and my magical practice. All I need for my religion is my faith in deity. I can pray with no accouterments, speak with my deities with nothing but my words or thoughts. Spells, potions and magic are a separate thing that I do to incite change in my world, or the world of a client.
I might not be thrilled at the limiting of my ability to do these things on a certain online site, but I’m not convinced that it’s religious discrimination. Thoughts?