Metaphysical Shops, Payment Cards, Authenticity, and Fraud

Photo credit Pexels.com. https://www.pexels.com/photo/money-coins-cash-currency-33692/

This post is inspired by this article.

For a little background, there’s a growing trend in companies that offer e-commerce or payment processing, in which Pagans are forbidden from selling spiritual supplies.  (For example – in this story, Square terminated their agreement with an occult shop owner.  Etsy is also famous for delisting occult products.)  Predictably, many Pagans are bent out of shape over this – they feel that it’s discrimination, because Christians are able to sell spiritual supplies.

On the other hand, in the article above:

A representative from Square told me that the company prohibits “occult” items because they have a high number of “chargeback” rates, where customers go to their credit card company and get their money back because they feel they didn’t get what they paid for, or that the product was fraudulent.

I raised some questions about this in the Facebook post where I originally found it, and my questions and concerns were shouted down and drowned out by people wanting to be victims of discrimination, or who seemed to be incapable of stepping outside their beliefs for a moment to consider the possibility of fraud.

Hence this post.

The Pagan Angle

Christians sell rosaries, holy water, etc.  Why can’t Pagans sell crystals and spell kits?  And what about hoodoo services, or charms and talismans?

Just for complete transparency, I am close to several people who operate occult shops.  I love occult shops.  When I was a baby-pagan, I spent hours every week hanging out with the owner of the local metaphysical shop.  (It was called Mystic Pathways.  It closed due to complications arising from cashflow problems.)  I would love to see more people providing the supplies I need to practice my spirituality.

Furthermore, I am thinking about going into the occult supply business myself.  I have some ideas about crafting things in my wood shop for use as talismans, which I’d like to offer for sale.  So I’m watching this controversy pretty closely.

So why is it OK for Christians to sell their spiritual supplies, but not Pagans?

Well, one answer is that for Christians, it’s simply culturally appropriate.  Where I live, you can go into a Mormon bookstore and pick up all sorts of ritual supplies.  I don’t know where they buy their special underwear, but around here it’s a normal part of doing things, and it’s culturally appropriate.  (No matter how weird it might seem for a non-Mormon.)  As Pagans, we just haven’t had the saturation in modern culture to normalize this stuff.  (There is also a faction that seeks to demonize these things, but that’s a subject for another post.)

Another reason is that, even though society collectively agrees on scientific materialism as a core belief, we all agree to suspend that belief for Christian supplies.  In other words, we all agree that gravity and electricity follow scientifically-proven laws, and that most everything in the universe obeys those laws.  Now, whether or not someone literally believes Jesus watches you masturbate, it’s normal and culturally appropriate to allow Christians space to believe their relics have power.

With Paganism though, there’s a dominant belief in American culture that still associates Pagan with Satanic.  Or thinks that it means kinky sex and orgies.  Or dirty, barbaric rituals.  “The public” doesn’t know enough about our practices to suspend the dominant belief in scientific materialism to permit them.  Think about it like this – if you still have to explain to someone that casting a circle “is sort of like going to church and praying,” then mainstream culture doesn’t understand and accept Paganism as normal.  (Yet.)

Furthermore, witchcraft and magic have a fairly sordid history.  Think of the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

For most of history, magic has been about getting revenge, getting sex, or finding a husband.  (Or a wife.  And I’m exaggerating.  Maybe only 90% of magic is about these.)  It’s only with Gerald Gardner that we begin to see magic “rebranded” as a religion.  That was less than 100 years ago.  Macbeth was written over 400 years ago, and it shows an entrenched view of magic and witchcraft.  Which is not a happy one.

So even though we, as Pagans, have a legitimate spiritual practice which we believe works, it’s harder to sell the idea to mainstream culture.  We can say that a rosary works for a Catholic person because the Catholic believes it.  It’s way harder to convince people that a spell works, because science A) doesn’t have a mechanism to describe it, and B) has spent centuries trying to disprove it.

Now, I have no doubt that magic works.  I have no doubt that there are intelligences and entities that do not conform to regular physics.  I do not claim to know how those things work.  I am certain that scientific materialism is unable to explain the deeper mysteries I experience as a Pagan.  But I love participating in those mysteries.

But I think it’s important to remember that society doesn’t share that view.  And in fact, the way I do things is probably kinda scary to a lot of people.

I think a lot of people need scientific materialism to feel safe, so that they can say “Well, it’s all just in your head.”

Which is fine.  Someone else’s beliefs don’t affect my practice in the least.

The Business Angle

Business doesn’t work the same way magic works.  We don’t just cast a spell for customers to buy stuff.  We can’t magic our way out of paying rent.

In the business world, the scientific method works exceptionally well for discovering the things that work and build business, and the things that generate excessive cost.

Real businesses don’t operate on bluffing, threats, or wishful thinking – they operate on data.

So when a payment card company refuses service to an occult store (like this situation), and the explanation is either:

  1. They’re associated with a higher rate of chargebacks
  2. The company deliberately decided to discriminate

I’m going with option 1.

First of all, large businesses typically can’t get away with discrimination.  Smaller businesses, sure.  I’ve seen it first and second hand in my little hometown.  But once a business gets to be a certain size (with a certain level of profits), breaking the law becomes a huge liability.  If someone can get a lawyer and prove discrimination, you’ve just given them a 6-figure payout.  Not to mention the expense of legal fees for defending the case.  No medium or large business is going to take that kind of risk for the tiny benefit of being able to discriminate.  (Unless they’re stupid.)

Second of all, chargebacks are a very serious issue.  Here’s a brief excerpt from this website explaining chargebacks (though I encourage you to read the whole article):

For obvious reasons, it is best for your business not to get involved with chargebacks. With situations like these, the merchant stands the risk of losing products or services that have already been sold, the payment, the fees incurred for payment processing, money for chargeback penalty, or even possible commissions for currency conversions. It is thus best to avoid chargebacks at all times. Also, note that merchant accounts receiving too many chargebacks can be labeled by credit card companies as fraudulent, and this can be potentially damaging to the image and the existence of your business. Know also that credit card issuing banks take chargebacks seriously, because they are at the most advantage. They don’t only levy fees, but they can also hold merchant remittance up to three months to cover the fraud, or increase their commissions if they choose to label your account “risky.”

Now – if you ask me (and you’re reading this, so I assume you are) – do I believe that payment processing companies are discriminating against Pagans, or do I believe that they’re trying to limit financial liability?

Without a doubt, they are limiting financial liability.  I’ve worked for a tiny, family-owned business, and I’ve worked for an enormous, global computer corporation.  Neither would go asking for trouble discriminating against clients.  And if they did, they probably wouldn’t be in business very long.

So I hate to break it to all those Pagans who feel they’ve been discriminated against, but it’s just not true.  I’m not trying to invalidate your feelings – it’s totally OK to be upset about your payment processor not letting you sell occult supplies!

But let’s suspend emotions for a short time, and look at some facts about the occult business.

Authenticity vs. Fraud

Have you seen the show Shut-Eye?  It’s about a fake psychic who defrauds people for a Gypsy crime family.  Until one day, his fake powers become real.  Let’s set aside, for a moment, that the protagonist’s powers become real.  This is a show premised on the idea that people commit fraud by giving fake psychic readings.  That is to say – fake psychics are enough of a trope in our culture, that a whole TV show was written around the concept.

Take another example, from The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading, by Ian Corrigan.  First of all, if you do any sort of spiritual service, I strongly recommend you read this book.  For me, it was a big help in determining how to avoid the parlor tricks of seances and tarot readings, and how to give an authentic reading.  It’s also an extremely good book to teach you how to be more discerning in your practice – which, if you want to operate a successful business – is a good idea.

In Full Facts, the author speaks of his years of experience as a cold-reader on both sides of the table.  He outlines a series of behaviors people use to convince others of his “psychic powers,” which are fake.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why am I harping on this?

Because there are fake psychics out there committing fraud.

Let me say that again, because I think there are some people out there who don’t want to believe this.  There are fake psychics out there committing fraud.

Still don’t believe me?  Read a few chapters of Full Facts, then watch Long Island Medium.

Let’s go a little deeper.  You might be saying, “Sure, there are some fake psychics out there.  But I’m a real psychic/witch/Pagan!  I actually enchant my stuff!”

And to that I say, “Awesomesauce!!  Can you prove it?”

I’m not saying that do be a dick.  I’m genuinely asking.  If you put some herbs and tokens in a pouch and pray over them to Hekate 10,000 times under a full eclipsed moon, how do I know you’ve actually done it?

Unless I watched you, I really don’t.  I have to trust that you’ve actually done the work.  Problem is, some dishonest people could just say they’ve done the work, and sell you a pouch with some basil and oregano and a couple of made-in-Pakistan tchotchkes.  Which, apparently and according to credit card companies, some people are actually doing.

Now, it’s my understanding that in the Hoodoo community, a practitioner is judged on whether their stuff actually works.  So if someone orders something from you, tries it out and it works, you’re in good shape.  (I think this works for non-Hoodoo magic too.)  In this case, you’re cultivating a long-term business relationship with your clients, building trust that you’re honestly and genuinely negotiating with the Unseen World on their behalf.

But what if it doesn’t work?  Do you have a disclaimer on your service page that says “For entertainment only,” or “results not guaranteed,” or “I guarantee to perform the working, but I can’t guarantee results”?  Those might be an option ahead of time, to hedge against the unpredictability of magic.  But what if it’s a client who ordered something that didn’t work, and they want their money back?

Will you honor that and give them their money back?

Will you hide behind the reputation of all psychics, real and fake, and tell them “You pay your money, you take your chances”?

Will you leave a dissatisfied client to stew over it, decide that you’re a fraud, and file a chargeback against you?

I think these things are important to think and talk about.  I mean, clearly there are fraudulent psychics out there.  In the absence of scientific proof, how do we prove to our clients that our services are real, in an ocean of frauds?

Personally, I think that building relationships with people is a great start.  I’m not sure I have a better answer.  If you do, I’m interested to hear it in the comments.

Is it necessary to be a martyr?

No really, I’m genuinely asking.

I feel like a lot of Pagans have a chip on their shoulder and a persecution complex.  I’ve seen it here locally.  Pagans go on about discrimination and “teh Burnering Timez,” but when you ask them exactly how they’ve been discriminated against, they waffle.

Most of the time, either they read something on the Internet, or they “know a guy who knows a guy” who was discriminated against.

I’ve never experienced it.  I’ve experienced a difference of opinion on various topics, religion included, but never discrimination for being Pagan.  But then, I don’t wave my Paganism in people’s faces and make it a central issue.  Even when Mystic Pathways was open and got picketed by the local Crazy Christian sect, that wasn’t really discrimination.  I think the owner actually got a bump in business.

But I think some people want it to be a central issue.  And if I’m really being honest, I think some people want to be martyrs for Paganism.

Martyrdom – by which I mean social martyrdom, not the literal martydom of actually dying for your cause – is a well-documented issue with motherhood.  Think “mommy-martyr,” sacrificing everything on the altar of devotion to her children.  Only with Pagans.

It’s a quick and easy trick, to complain a little and get sympathy from your social group about how hard your life is.  I’ve done it.  I’ve seen it used and abused in our little Pagan group.

But here’s the thing.  How are we supposed to be self-empowered, spell-casting, reality-changing witches, if we’re complaining about what other people may or may not have done to us?

I mean, complaining is kind of the opposite of being empowered.  It’s whining about how unfairly you’ve been treated, in the hopes that some authority figure somewhere decides to step in and make things fair and give you what you want.  (Read that again.  It’s an appeal to an authority.  Which is the opposite of being an authority.)

Look – when you signed up for Etsy, it said clearly in the Terms of Service that the sale of occult items was prohibited.  In the case of Square, I’m certain their terms spell out prohibited transactions.  You agreed to those terms.  Then you broke them.  It doesn’t matter if you “didn’t notice that,” or if you didn’t read the contract.  You signed and agree to be bound by the terms.

Don’t like the terms?  Find a different payment processor.

Or – and as I’m suggesting with this article – figure out a way to build trust with your clients and your payment processor, so that you reduce your chargebacks.

So no, it’s not necessary to be a martyr.  In fact, it’s disempowering.  Own your shit, face the facts, and take action.

How do we solve this?

I’m really asking.  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter.

Learn how to spot a fake psychic.  Then don’t do those things.  I know this is probably more work than you want to invest in your practice (at least for most of you), and I’m not sure what to tell you.  It goes hand-in-hand with my position on being discerning and educated.  But at the end of the day, I think the only way to be different from fake psychics is to understand them.

Build trust with your clients.  I’ve said this above.  If you sell a $5 item in your shop that works like gangbusters, your clients don’t need to make a huge investment before they can evaluate results.  Speak openly about what you do, and describe your process.  Give details about the workings you are promising to do on clients’ behalf.  See if you can get some testimonials from happy clients.  Be clear about return and dissatisfaction policies, so clients can decide if it’s worth the risk.

Consider a disclaimer.  One of my favorite authors, Jason Miller, uses a disclaimer on his services.  Lucky Mojo has a similar disclaimer against guaranteeing results, but discusses the traditional value and properties of their products.  Other suggestions include a clear description of what you do, what you don’t do, what you can’t guarantee, and what the client can expect.  Transparency and clear expectations ahead of time help prevent people from feeling misled or taken advantage of.

Consider rebranding.  Do you have to call it a “spell kit?”  Can you call it a “meditation focus” or a “spiritual focus”?  Can you label it a “luck charm”?  In short, is there a way to label your products and services in a way that is culturally appropriate?  Calling a tarot reading a “spiritual coaching session” might seem like semantics, and it might be skirting the spirit of the law.  But if you know anything about coaching and tarot readings, you might find a slimmer difference than you’d expect.

Talk with your payment processor.  Tell them that you’re part of a community that believes in the intrinsic power of items to help create change, and that you’re selling to other people who believe this stuff.  Explain that people use these things as part of a spiritual path, much like Tibetan Buddhists use singing bowls, or Catholics use rosaries.  Ask if they have any concerns about your offers, such as guaranteed results.  Ask if they have any advice on how to navigate the fraud aspect, so you don’t run afoul of their terms of service (or of perceived fraud).  A conversation ahead of time will A) show that you’re serious about trying to work with them instead of under the radar, and B) show you whether they’re willing to be flexible, or whether you need to find a different payment processor.

Do the work.  If you’re just making a talisman, just say, “This is the talisman that I made.  Look how pretty it is.  Buy it for $19.99 plus shipping and handling.”  You don’t need to make any other claims.  If you do do other things to your products, say so.  “This ritual knife was consecrated under a full-moon eclipse, a new-moon solstice, and anointed with a candle flame, spring water, sandalwood incense, and volcanic ash.  Then a mantra to Hekate was recited over it 1000 times.”  If you’re making a “spell kit,” describe exactly what your client will receive, and maybe something about how “we believe that this combination of objects and suggested actions will help improve your situation.”  Be transparent about what you do, and what your client is expected to do.

Consult an attorney.  I am not an attorney.  What I know is based on my experience with business, terms of service, and personal research.  If you are concerned about the legality of something, please consult an attorney.  For some aspects of business, it’s a good idea to get an attorney’s help.  (This would be things like terms of use, work contracts, stuff like that.)

Check your bias.  We all want to believe in our Awesome Powers™.  I could argue that for some paths, belief in self is central to the work.  But let’s not delude ourselves into thinking we’re the center of the universe.  Or that our beliefs are somehow more valid than other people’s.  (Or more valid than scientifically provable facts.)  If you can honestly say to yourself, “I might be wrong,” that’s a good start.

Final thoughts

So…chances are I’ve pissed more than a few people off with this post.  I can hear the echoes now, through my DSL line – “How dare you accuse me of being a fraud??!?”

Not my intent.  But I do want to challenge each of you reading this to please question your beliefs.  Are you playing a martyr/victim?  Do you need to be more clear about your services?  Are you getting a bunch of chargebacks?  Don’t you think maybe we, as Pagans, should spend some time talking about how to prevent fraud?

I’m interested to hear what you think!  Do you own an occult store?  What’s your experience with payment processors?  Have you ever encountered a fake psychic?  Do you think I’m way off base, and that anyone who self-identifies as a Pagan should be explicitly trusted?  Comment away, good readers!

About the Author

I live in the sagebrush desert of southern Idaho, in a little town perched above a deep, rocky canyon. I've been pagan for a little over two decades. I've dipped my toes in Wicca, Rosicrucianism, Yoga, Reiki, and Qabala, only to settle into an Earth-based Neopagan Buddhist path. My credentials (if you care about such things), include an MA in English, an apprenticeship with Jason Miller, and a few publications here and there. I run a small Pagan group with my lovely wife, where we encourage people to show up, do pagan stuff, and live empowered and ethical lives.

Author Archive Page

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for covering this topic. I didn’t realize this could fall under the umbrella of Pagan Ethics, but fraud among Pagans and psychics and occult suppliers really does trigger some important questions about Pagan Ethics and ethics in general.

    I own an occult shop and sell online and sometimes locally. I take precautions, as best as I can, to describe my products in a way that protects me from fraudulent claims. I have never had a chargeback or customer even ask for a refund. I try to be very, VERY transparent about my work and products and put clear language and disclaimers into my listings that limit my liability.

    For Christian shops, while they do sell ritual supplies, they usually are not selling ‘services’ the way Pagan shop owners do. For example, you could buy a service from an occult shop that promises to reunite you with your ex, or to bring you prosperity and success in money. A Christian shop selling a rosary or wall hanging of Jesus on a cross is usually just selling the item, without making claims that you will get anything but enjoyment out of it. It’s implied that owning the item will get you closer to god, or make praying easier, but they don’t generally make promises of the ‘supernatural’ variety the way occult sellers do. So, while I do think it can feel unfair to a Pagan that ‘they’ get to sell their religious items and ‘we’ can’t, it’s not really that black and white as far as I’ve seen.

    The other thing is I totally agree with you about the Pagan martyr. Good grief, the Pagan martyrs!! Yes, too many folks within the Pagan community seem to want to be victims while simultaneously bragging about how empowered they are and how strong their magick is. The two just don’t go together. You’re either in charge of your life or you aren’t. Pick one. It’s also a little ridiculous to see folks in the Pagan community claiming discrimination left and right over petty slights that might just be in their head, or to identify with discrimination based only on something they read or was told by someone else. It isn’t usually their story or experience but they take it on as if they themselves were personally persecuted. And don’t get me started on ‘the burning times’ and how many folks have a great-great-great whoever in their lineage who was killed at the Salem Witch trials.

    As Pagans, we *should* want to make sure we don’t have fraudulent practitioners, and when we learn of them, we need to have the guts to call them out and let folks know these frauds do not represent the Pagan or occult community. We need to stop tolerating it. And yes, there are frauds out there. My own belief is that most folks are not intentionally fraudulent, but they aren’t necessarily authentic either. I am skeptical of psychics in general, and have read too much about cold reading and seen those techniques used by famous ‘psychics’ to really believe in it. Yet so many do, especially other Pagans. They are so eager to believe everything and I wish they were more discerning and cautious about it than they are.

    For the online shops who struggle with occult ‘discrimination’, I agree with the author here. The restrictions are to protect the company financially, not really about limiting your freedoms or rights. I would recommend shoring up your legal disclaimers and speaking to an attorney to get the language just right in order to cover you from liability, and consider moving your legitimate occult business to somewhere like Shopify, where you have more autonomy than on Square or Etsy.

  2. Effectively, if not by “official definition,” witchcraft has historically been applied to mean the Professional Practice of Magical Maleficence for hire or personal revenge. That is, when it’s not being used to discriminate against unwanted women or others as is presently being done in so many parts of Africa and India.

  3. “So…chances are I’ve pissed more than a few people off with this post..”

    Well, one at any rate, and not because you challenged some cherished “burning times” narrative but because you de-legitimize reasonable concerns about discrimination, assumed the worst about our movement and offered an uncritical apologia for the practices of corporate America. It’s certainly the case that this issue has more dimensions to it than intentional religious discrimination aimed at Pagans, but you have fallen very short of the mark in demonstrating that there is no discrimination involved and that our concerns are baseless

    Concerns about excessive chargebacks and fraud are certainly legitimate. Those concerns may justify changes to selling rules, but they do not justify arbitrary and selective enforcement of such rules. What you call “culturally appropriate” ie cultural familiarity goes some way toward explaining why Christian items would be treated differently, but it is nowhere near an acceptable justification for the practice. Blocking access to publicly available commerce based on religion is unreasonable, and in fact unlawful, and that is true whether or not the party engaging in the discrimination consciously “has it in” for Pagans or not.

    The allegations that these marketplaces are engaging in such discrimination are not unreasonable. Enforcement against Pagan/”occult” items has been very swift and unyielding and consistent. Little, if any action has been taken against Christian oriented items which are essentially equivalent.

    Here is an explanation from Etsy director of communications Sara Cohen, as found in a June 2015 Motherboard story on the issue”

    “What’s not allowed (and never has been) are services and promises of future outcomes, regardless of connection to any religion. A prayer that cures cancer would be just asprohibited as a spell that cures cancer,”

    That certainly sounds equitable. And yet, on my first cursory Etsy search performed this afternoon on a short work break, I found dozens of listings for….prayers to cure cancer. And you can get them for very specific tumors as well such as breast cancer. These are not merely the contrivances of sellers either. Christian, especially Catholic, traditions make very supernatural and specific claims about the powers of certain relics, prayers and items, all of which are found for sale on these sites in vast quantities. I don’t buy the assertion that Pagan items stake inherently more far-fetched claims of effectiveness.

    Your claim that big business doesn’t violate the law for fear of lawsuits is demonstrably not true, at least in the United States. Large corporations routinely risk, and pay, fines and settlements ranging from millions to billions of dollars for blatant and staggering violations of environmental, safety, harassment and discrimination laws. They happily do so because the perception and often reality is that such payouts are paltry compared to the profits made by such malfeasance. The idea that a payment processor or major market would be cowed by the prospect of a “six figure payout” is laughable. That’s not even couch cushion change to them. Even if an Etsy or other company wanted to deliberately discriminate against Pagans, it would be a very low risk venture for them. Few of us have deep pockets for litigation. We have few legal aid groups and none with the huge war chests of Christian culture war advocacy outfits.

    These are just points of argument. What pisses me off is the insinuation that our community is especially given to nursing false martyr complexes. You infer that because you have not personally suffered discrimination for your religion that it must not be a real thing. That is the hallmark of someone who has lived in a well insulated bubble of privilege and not bothered to to venture out of it. I too, have not suffered appreciable discrimination either, but live in a major metropolitan area in the northern U.S. Many of of our brothers and sisters in the Bible Belt and more traditional rural areas live a very different reality.

    I don’t need to have been a victim to know it is real. I am old enough to remember the “Satanic Panic” when simply being Pagan, or perceived to be, was probably cause for criminal involvement. People lost decades of their lives to false imprisonment for this. I took part in the Pentacle Quest, a decade long fight to secure the simple right for our veterans to be properly buried with their religious symbol. There are many more recent cases in which Pagans have faced discrimination in tax laws, child custody, access to chaplains and zoning laws. We have people who lose their livelihoods for being publicly Pagan. This is not some Medieval fantasy witch burning. This stuff is real. It is documented, it is substantial, and it is ongoing. If you don’t think it worth your time to help pull on the right end of the rope with these problems, you might at least refrain from mocking those of us who do.

    Things have generally improved, and we are by no means the Jews of Warsaw in 1938 or even the most discriminated against religion in this country (that dubious honor surely falls to Islam these days). But we have real problems as a minority religion, and it is not in any way unreasonable to suspect that this pattern might underlie the metaphysical shop decisions.

    I also fail to see how the act of registering a complaint and appealing to authorities is a mark of weakness or disempowering. When we seek redress under the law, the authority we appeal o is in fact our own. The fairness we seek is in fact our right under the Constitution and the promises of a nation we and our ancestors have earned with sweat and sometimes blood equity. Those authorities are elected or otherwise hired to serve us and all of our claims to justice.

    1. Kenneth,

      First of all, I wanted to offer my sincere thanks for your reply. It seems rare in the Pagan community for someone to express dissent or criticism, and I appreciate your willingness to do so.

      You’ve made some excellent points about cases which are, in fact, reasonable concerns about discrimination. And I agree that the issue is deeper and more complex than I addressed in this blog post.

      To clarify my position – my claim is that SOME Pagans are committing fraud, or are claiming discrimination when there is no provable discrimination. In other words – are occult shops being denied service because of chargebacks or discrimination? I don’t know, but my experience with business suggests the former. Did a Pagan lose custody because they were Pagan, or because they were a shitty parent? I don’t know, but I have personally witnessed questionable parenting by Pagans. So I’m not saying ALL Pagans are frauds, but I think that SOME Pagans are demonstrably frauds.

      By the strength of your opposition, you seem to be claiming that ALL Pagan claims of discrimination should be considered legitimate. Could you please give some support for this argument, or clarify your position?

      If that’s the case, then I have to disagree with you. I personally know some Pagans who wave their freak flag loud and proud, with a chip on their shoulder, daring someone to take offense. Whenever they catch a whiff of anything resembling discrimination, they let fly with a hue and cry of “Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!”

      My intent is not to discourage actual victims of discrimination from seeking redress for grievances. Rather, my intent is to encourage Pagans to check whether, in fact, we are actually being discriminated against. Did we lose our job because we’re Pagan, or because we’re scaring customers talking about Our Lord Baphomet all the time? Are we being denied custody because we’re Pagan, or because we’re actually shitty parents?

      I was a card-carrying member of the Witches’ League for Public Awareness back when that was a thing, so I totally get the fight for equal rights. And kudos for your help in getting Pagan symbolism on military graves, as well as all the other Pagans around the world working for legal recognition of Paganism’s religious status.

      But come on. You have to know some Pagans out there who are just scary, freaky people. Or who are frauds. I mean, I live in rural Idaho and I’ve personally met both. And people like that – who either pick a fight that’s not a fight, or who make people uncomfortable, or who aren’t good at their jobs, or who aren’t taking good care of their kids – do we really want them representing the Pagans who are actually stable human beings with a contribution to society? Am I mistaken if I interpret your comments to mean that Pagans should be entitled to commit fraud or child abuse under the guise of “Paganism,” and defend it under “religious freedom?”

      I hope not. In fact, I hope you’d agree with me that fraudulent Pagans claiming discrimination are a hindrance to the greater cause of religious equality. I totally understand if you have a different opinion, but if you honestly can’t discern the difference between an authentic Pagan and someone playing the victim to get special treatment, I’ll just have to disagree with you and leave it at that.

      1. Of course not all Pagans are legitimate, nor all claims of discrimination, but any claim should be taken seriously enough to warrant investigation. Based on the available facts I am in no way convinced that the claims of discrimination in this case can be dismissed.

        1. Fair enough.

          Part of my point with the article is to say, as Pagans, we have actions that we can take that don’t depend on an investigation or action by an authority. Because a) we’re supposed to be personally empowered to take action in our own lives, and b) an authority is likely to be biased against us.

          What kinds of actions would you suggest the shop owner could take in this particular case, to allow them to continue operating their Pagan/Occult shop?

    2. Kenneth, reading some of your comment, I wanted to reply to part of what you said. As a Pagan Etsy seller I would challenge you to also look up occult services on Etsy. They can only monitor and enforce so much, and while yes, there are other religions violating Etsy’s rules, so are many occult/Pagan shops on Etsy getting away with it. It’s not consistently enforced not because they are discriminating the way many want to believe, but because they are so big they can’t read every listing, they likely have algorithms and depend largely on complaints or customers (and even other sellers) flagging prohibited material.

      Second, I don’t believe this author, who I realize can speak for himself, said there is no discrimination in the marketplace against Pagan sellers or occult shop owners. I took this article as a personal challenge to question whether all cases are in fact religious discrimination and consider the possibility of there being other reasons more to do with the company’s bottom line.

      In no way did I read anything in this that suggests the author is denying actual discrimination, only challenging perceived discrimination. I applaud the author for encouraging Pagans to be more discerning and not buy in to the mass hysteria (my words) that seems to permeate our community when it comes to the topic of persecution.

Comments are closed.