The Complexity of Capitalism and Cultural Appropri...

The Complexity of Capitalism and Cultural Appropriation: My Opinion of Sephora’s Starter Witch Kit

If you have not heard, Sephora (a large chain of high end make-up, cosmetics, tools, etc.) is going to start selling ‘Starter Witch Kits’ in October. The kit will include a White Sage Bundle, a Tarot Deck, a tumbled piece of Rose Quartz, and a variety of fragrance oils.

Here is the kit:

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At first glance many Witches would agree that this is more New Age/Metaphysical than it is Witchy, but just bear with me.

At this point, essentially every public figure who identifies as a Witch has addressed this topic, and I swore I would remain quiet while this mess died down.

That is until I received several emails, and messages to my Facebook asking if I could please tackle this issue.

It’s not that I thought the issue wasn’t worth addressing, but I felt like every opinion was covered, and the unpopular opinions (some of which I hold) with logic and rationale would not be accepted because a lot of folks have tunnel vision.

I get it, people are offended and therefore they don’t want to see any other way but their own.

It’s human nature.

When did we become a culture that waits, wants and desires to be offended though?

It’s almost like some of these folks so upset over this kit are the kind of people who just wait for the next social issue to pop up, so they can be mad about something.

What are they DOING about it though?

Besides complaining?

Mind you, some of the Witches complaining about the appropriation of this kit (don’t worry we will address that) are the same Witches who will appropriate the fuck out of African Diasporic Traditions and not bat an eye.

They are the same Witches who use the word Shaman but don’t care about Indigenous People.

I figured it’s time to dive into this topic and hit it from all angles, only then can we come to any kind of understanding as a community.

This is going to be quite a lengthy blog, and I hope you take the time to read it.

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The Use of White Sage: This is probably the one part of the uproar that I understand the most.

White Sage (Salvia Apiana) is a Sacred Plant used in ritual and ceremony for Indigenous People in North America; like the use of Palo Santo in Central and South America.

The issue is not the use of a plant, it’s the use of an overharvested, nearly endangered plant.

It’s important to note that White Sage is NOT endangered according to any Federal sources—yet.

Back in 2002 a serious drought hit California, which caused a lot of plants native to that region to become scarce.

No rain = no growth

The Herbalist and Native communities asked people to source their Sage from ethical, Indigenous owned farms, or grow their own.

For my Shop, I do both.

The other issue is that this plant is an essential tool for Indigenous Spiritual Beliefs.

A belief system that up until 40 years ago they (Natives at large) were not allowed to practice.

So, it’s easy to understand why there is anger over this.

It’s a clear indication of white privilege and colonialization that we (white people) have easy access to such a Sacred plant, that many tribes are not afforded.

I was taught by a Native friend how to traditionally use Sage, and a Smudge Fan. I think it’s important to understand the history and significance of tools and traditions that we adopt from other cultures.

Through many long talks with several Native folks, the consensus seems to be this: if we are buying directly from them or growing our own (or both) and we take the time to understand the culture, care about the people and understand the struggles they face today in society (be an ally, a voice) they don’t take offense to it.

To clarify, I am not speaking for Native people nor do I believe the ones I spoke to represent the entire Native community.

I always show respect and educate myself on the struggles and adversity faced by any group of people, and above all, I listen.

Many leading voices in the Herbalist community have recently come out and asked non-Native folks to stop using Sage altogether and “stick to their own culture”.

This, to me, is ridiculous.

There are plenty of people who were, for example, adopted and don’t know their lineage, so what herbs/plants are they to use? Plants deemed white folk friendly? European Herbs/Plants? What?

Or, how about the Black Americans whose family were kidnapped and brought here through the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade? They can’t trace back their roots to a specific country of origin many times. So, they are to what? Use all plants that are part of the continent of Africa and/or associated with Diasporic Traditions?

For me, personally, the Herbalist community does not speak for the Native community and I will continue to go to the Source for my information on what is offensive and what is not.

Pinrose, the company launching the kits at Sephora, says that their Sage was sustainably harvested; we don’t know that for sure and we don’t know what they mean by sustainable. I guess we will all wait on bated breath for details.

In a dream world, they would have harvested their Sage from an Indigenous owned farm.

Cultural Appropriation is a tricky subject, and one that is hard to talk about without pissing some people off.

For me, when borrowing from another culture I educate myself by going directly to the Source; I can’t stress this part enough!


When I was called to Hoodoo and Rootwork, I went to a Mambo to help mentor me. When I was called to Hindu Deities, I went to a Hindu.

It’s important to understand a culture from the mouth of the people who represent that culture.

Oral tradition and folklore are key.

Capitalism, Trends and the Craft: Many Witches are mad that their Craft is being sold and think that it waters down “real Witchcraft”.

This is as complex an issue as cultural appropriation.

Newsflash: Witchcraft has been trendy for decades. It has its ebbs and flows but there has always been a desire for Witchy aesthetic in mainstream fashion, movies, and pop culture.

There are some Witches who may be hearing the call for the first time, and perhaps they live in a strict household (like a lot of us did) and this kit is their ticket to freedom; their first taste of Magick.

Of course, we all know Magick lives within us, and of course we would like to see young Witchlings coming to actual Witches and get their first taste through us, but it doesn’t always work out that way. And, OF COURSE, we would have loved if Sephora chose a Pagan/Witch Business to Source their kit through.

Some suggestions have been made to change the name from ‘Starter Witch Kit’ to something like, ‘New Age Starter Kit’ but people will find a reason not to like that, too.

It isn’t the name or the contents, it’s that people just want to be mad.

There has been a rise in Earth Based and Pagan belief systems for the last 5 years, even longer, but more so recently.

Sephora is cashing in on that, yes, but they are also catering to a specific market, and I for one do not see anything inherently wrong with that. I believe that Sephora launching this kit could potentially make the Craft a little less taboo, and that would be a great thing; it would lead way to growth for all of us.

Not all Witches can go to a Witch Shop or even buy Witchy items online. I have had many clients buy things from me only to ask that I hide any identifying markers of my Shop name so that their family doesn’t know what they have bought.

We must be empathetic to the circumstances of our fellow Witches who do not have the same access as ourselves.

glamour magick sephora witch kit the house of twigs thot nephillim rising

“They’re profiting off my religion!”: -insert eye roll here-

Another issue that many Witches are mad about is Sephora appropriating their religion.

Well, no they’re not because Witchcraft is a practice—not a religion.

You can have any Philosophy you choose and still be a Witch.

The designers of the kit said they modeled it after the “Wicca Religion” (and Wicca is indeed a religion).

However, they use the words Wiccan and Witch interchangeably; I have an issue with this because not all Witches are Wiccans and not all Wiccans are Witches.

Ideally, the company would have consulted with actual Witches on this and consulted with Native people to understand the impact this kit might have on these communities. We don’t know much in regards to details but, part of me believes that details will come out soon enough because Witches have made a whole bunch of noise on this issue, I think it would be hard for any company to ignore or remain silent.

Glamour Magick: This is something that a lot of Witches have seemed to overlook.

There is a huge percentage of our community who love and regularly practice Glamour Magick (using your appearance and Aura to attract and manifest what you desire).

Where do you think most of these Glamour Witches go to get their tools?


It’s easy to make blanket statements about what our Craft is to us, but those statements are not going to cover everyone.

We need to learn to look outside ourselves and see the variety of practitioners in our communities.

There are indeed some Witches who will be drawn to this kit, and that’s okay.

Witchcraft is not, has never been and will never be a one size fits all practice; it’s as unique and individual as we are.

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Final thoughts…

There is the issue of fragrance oils, which regardless if they are vegan or not, are simply not good for you. The appropriate inclusion in this kit would be Essential Oils, but even then, a huge part of the community would say that EO’s are not sustainable because of the amount of raw plant material needed to make a small amount of oil.

We have Witches mad at the Tarot deck being included, and honestly that part confuses me. Some of the other concerns raised had merit, but being mad at a pastel Tarot Deck? Really? Witches across all traditions use forms of Divination, so why are we mad about the Tarot deck?

We all must start somewhere, and there is no right or wrong starting point.

Anyone who wishes to truly pursue the wisdom of Witchcraft will learn that the kit doesn’t make them a Witch, but it might grant them the courage to step into their power.

Who are we to take that away from them?

Who are we to judge another’s path?

Then there is the rose quartz and the debate if it is ethical, or sustainable to mine for crystals in the first place; when is too much, at what point are we exploiting Mother Earth, etc.

This argument is not without some fact but until we know details, we don’t know where the rose quartz came from. It could have come from a family mine like a lot of the stones I buy for my own Shop do. We simply don’t know; jumping to conclusions and resorting to anger will not help anyone.

The entire Sephora debacle is complex as fuck. The issues being brought up are valid in some cases, and preposterous and entitled in others.

I personally believe we have much bigger issues to deal with other than a Starter Witch Kit that might help fellow Witches.

That’s just my humble Witchy opinion though.

Resources for further reading, and to see what other Witches have to say about this topic:  

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Author, Instructor for ThoT – The Nephilim Rising
Jaclyn Cherie has her roots in Upstate New York. She is an Author, Word Alchemist, Hedge Witch, Feminist, and Luciferian. Finding her Muses in the most unusual places and people, she strives to tell raw, real stories of Magick, the human condition, Sacred Sex, Women’s Issues and, her favorite topic, rebellion.
Author, Instructor for ThoT – The Nephilim Rising
Jaclyn Cherie has her roots in Upstate New York. She is an Author, Word Alchemist, Hedge Witch, Feminist, and Luciferian. Finding her Muses in the most unusual places and people, she strives to tell raw, real stories of Magick, the human condition, Sacred Sex, Women’s Issues and, her favorite topic, rebellion.
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