News and Commentary

Wiccans Accuse Sephora Of ‘Culturally Appropriating’ Witchcraft. There’s Just One Problem.

Wiccans and pagans are reportedly crying foul on cosmetics retailer Sephora which introduced a “starter witch kit” as part of its Halloween offerings, accusing the chain of profiting off “cultural appropriation.”

The kit, which launches in stores October 9th, retails for a cool $42 and includes perfumes, a chunk of rose quartz (Gwyneth Paltrow would approve), a deck of tarot cards, a few tiny bottles of perfume, and a “sage smudging stick” which is supposed to cleanse your home of evil spirits. The kit is designed to help women harness their “divine feminine energy” — or, at least, deprive them of fifty bucks.

Sephora is just capitalizing off a “health and wellness” trend that sees women raised on Harry Potter books (and, it seems, only Harry Potter books) turning towards “age old” treatments for their first world problems. But “real” witches, Wiccans, and pagans say they feel Sephora is profiting off their religion.

At least one witch speaking to accused the chain of outright “cultural appropriation.”

“I don’t think they’re doing it to spread awareness about the craft, they’re doing it just for profit in my opinion. Although most witches do use what’s in the Sephora box, most of us feel that it’s wrong for just anyone to grab those things and be like ‘oh hey I’m a witch now,” because it’s sacred to us,” one told the magazine.

Another: “My religion is not a trendy overpriced aesthetic.”

One “Pagan” witchcraft practitioner told Metro, “Sephora selling ‘witch kits’ actually makes me really upset. Witchcraft isn’t something you just throw around, people put their entire being into this way of life and work so hard at it. I’ve been made fun of way too much for being a witch for it to just become another trend.”

Others called Sephora’s crass co-opt of their culture “appalling” and suggested that women who want to try witchcraft frequent “local” mom-and-pop type places instead of mall chains.

But there’s one big problem with the witches’ claims. Wicca and paganism aren’t new religions and “witchcraft” as these women are practicing it is actually a collection of beliefs and practices “appropriated” from other cultures. Sage burning is a Native American practice. Gypsies popularized fortune telling and Tarot. And crystals, well, those probably originated on weird communes in the 1960s, but that’s still someone else’s culture.

And critics of the critics were quick to point out that they may want to consider their own practices before lobbing claims of cultural appropriation.

Oh, well.