Simply looking up “healing crystals” on Etsy will yield tens of thousands of purchasable results, with prices spanning from tens to hundreds of dollars. The funny thing is that many of the gemstones being sold aren’t particularly valuable and it’s not uncommon for the few justifiably expensive crystals to be fakes. The crystal market has boomed over the last decade, seeing a 50% increase in value from 2016 to 2021. The pandemic led to a massive increase in the purchases of spiritual and supposedly magical objects. So why has the use of objects like crystals soared in popularity?
If you’ve spent any time on TikTok whatsoever, you might already know the answer. In recent years, the app has developed a worldwide community of self-proclaimed witches, spiritual healers, and diviners, commonly referred to as “WitchTok.” Its content generally consists of spell and incantation instructions, magical advice, and content regarding crystal healing. Influencers within the community promote a combination of both modern hoax magic and real cultural practices.
Like many other online communities, “WitchTok” is strife with a substantial number of controversies. For one thing, the community has an undeniable commercial side behind its whimsical spells and hexes. As mentioned earlier, crystal sales have skyrocketed over the pandemic. “WitchTok” leans heavily into the promotion of gemstones and their healing properties, thus prompting increased sales. Spells also require a variety of magical ingredients, including anything from glass vials, to herbs, to incense, all of which are conveniently available for online purchase from individual sellers.
Additionally, “WitchTok” has repeatedly been accused of cultural appropriation. Many of the “witchy” beliefs and practices cobbled together by influencers are plucked from real cultures, the most pertinent example being Vodoo. It’s an issue when these cultural practices are treated as little more than an aesthetic, thus taking away their social and historical significance.
What’s perhaps the most worrying aspect of “WitchTok” is the spells themselves. The number of videos tagged as “weight loss spells,” is genuinely worrying for hopefully obvious reasons. There are also a slew of spells for love and romance, in which the spell-caster can supposedly cause a person to fall in love with them. An important thing to remember is that, like many communities on the internet, “WitchTok” is very divisive and multi-faceted. Not all self-proclaimed witches on TikTok agree on the same beliefs and practices, with many calling out the greed and exploitation of others. There are plenty of influencers who post to share their worldviews and to make an attempt to heal those around them. Their content helps lift millions of people out of the mundane monotony of life.