Leaving eBay — Last Chance Sale at Karma Zain

I am closing my ebay store. To thank you for your ten years of support, the last of my inventory is on sale. EDITED TO ADD: There was a problem with the setup I originally outlined when I posted this. I have since gone in and manually put each item on sale – you do not need to enter a coupon code. The sale price should be visible when you visit the item’s page. If it isn’t showing up yet, it will within a few hours, so check back in a bit. You must request an invoice *before paying* — mention coupon code *GOB15* in the text box area when you request your invoice (asterisks can be omitted) — and you will receive 15% off your item total. You have to request the discount *before you pay* in order to receive it.

Thanks for your support these last ten years. I will miss all of my ebay customers, and I’m sorry it’s come to this, but ebay has left me no choice. You are all welcome to shop with me elsewhere and can continue to find many of my items at other third-party sites, like Bonanza, and I carry a full inventory at my website.

Have a wonderful New Year.


farewell, ebay of christmases past

I know I have spent lots of time complaining about ebay lately, but let me put it into perspective for the curious and for those who are thinking of selling on ebay. I’ll put the math under a cut since most folks won’t care about it – buyers can skip the cut to read about how this will affect them as of December.

It actually wasn’t the “no metaphysical stuff” that put me out of business on ebay. It was other changes after all. Due to a bevy of ebay’s recent changes designed to run off small sellers, those who do custom-made and custom-finished stuff, and those who as a result cannot join their new “ship within 24 hours and offer 2-week no fault returns” parade, my sales have gone down over 300% over the last three months. (Your adherence to and performance within certain parameters determines your placing in search results and the fees you pay. I pay the highest possible fees and turn up at the very bottom of search results.) I barely turn up in search results if I turn up at all, unless you are searching specifically for my stuff, but since all my search terms and item names have changed to remove references to “hoodoo” and “conjure,” nobody is looking anyway. For nearly eight years I was a top-rated seller and a power seller; but over the last three months my sales have sunk to the point where it made no sense to keep the upgraded store. I went back to the basic subscription, which raises my listing fees to twenty cents per item. So an $8 bottle of oil earns ebay $1.23 if it only has to list once before it sells (when you carry regular inventory, it’s constantly relisting automatically – so listing fees alone on a 300+ item inventory have now become unsupportable). Paypal gets another sixty-two cents. Then ebay gets another $16 a month for the store subscription fee, and auctiva gets $10. This is all before the cost of essential oils, wax, shipping materials, papers, tape, bottles, packaging, and all the other supplies of being in business. And, you know, time.

Bottom line for the last thirty days:
ebay sales: $189.00.  Yes, you read that right.
Fees owed to ebay as of the invoice I just received for Oct 15-Nov 15: $106.92.
Net earnings from ebay for the last thirty days: $82.08. Subtract auctiva fees and paypal fees, net earnings for the last thirty days on ebay = $32. Obviously I spent way more than $32 worth of materials to make, package, and ship the last month’s ebay sales.

Ebay: fuck you very much.

So I will honor the sales I have just put up, but then the nickel and dime things are coming down. It makes no sense to carry an inventory full of $6 and $8 items, none at all. I’m losing money keeping the store open like this, and most regular customers and clients go elsewhere anyway, so all I get at ebay are occasional trickles of new buyers who often don’t know, and don’t care, what my ethos as a maker of spiritual supplies is – they just want to know why their shit isn’t in their mailbox yet when they paid for it three days ago. When the sale is over, I may still keep some one of a kind things up, and maybe some kits and lots, at least through Christmas, but the days of swinging by to pick up a packet of hot foot powder are over when this sale is over. Customers can still get everything at bonanza and at my web store, karmazain.com, but I am hemorrhaging money trying to keep the ebay store afloat, and they are making it harder every day. Message received.

They are succeeding in their efforts to run off small sellers. And since they’re treating the little guys like shit, I’m not going to shop there anymore either. I will not continue to participate in this abuse of the small US sellers who *made ebay what it is* and who now can’t compete in a playing field where ebay’s policies favor huge offshore warehouses and networks shipping cheap mass-produced stuff worldwide. eBay thinks their buyers are only interested in the lowest price on stuff they can find elsewhere. Now, many are, because ebay’s trained them that way. But that’s not the eBay I started selling on in 2002, and that’s not what I shop at eBay for. So I’m done. I’m not sure what it’ll look like when all the dust has settled, but it damn sure won’t look like my paying them $106 a month for the privilege of $189 in sales (and about $1500 worth of grief from buyers who won’t read item listings and store policies and who ebay doesn’t allow sellers to protect themselves from when said buyers violate terms of service).

It was fun for a while, but it’s just depressing now (yes, it’s their company and they do what they want, but I cannot even tell you how many hours and hours and how much sweat I put into building my business on that site over the last decade, so it’s not something like I am having to close up shop there because the market left me behind or something like that – it really feels like after all those years… well, you get it by now, or else you won’t even if I keep going on about it).

Coming up soon, to try to remediate some of the negative tone of this post: some of my personal picks and recs for the holiday season – cool stuff from independent, small companies, individual craftspeople, and artists, so you can stuff all your Xmas stockings without having to participate in any WalMart Shuffles or Black Friday Tussles or other soul-sucking, crass displays of consumerism at once rampant, violent, and impersonal. Shop small, give gifts made with love and soul, and support small business and crafts this holiday season!

Manman Brigitte bottle up for auction on eBay

I rarely do auctions, but I have one up now on eBay for an altar/libation bottle for Manman Brigitte.

Voodoo Libation Bottle + Spirit Bath ~ Manman Brigitte

Item listing is for an etched- and cut-glass hand-decorated perfume-style altar or libation bottle, decorated for and dedicated to Manman Brigitte, mistress of the large, powerful, and rambunctious Gheuede family of loa.  The neck is embellished with glass beads, ribbons, a wire-wrapped purple glass heart bead, and a pewter St. Brigid medal, secured with raffia (this raffia actually comes from Africa directly, if you like to know the little personal histories behind the components of the pieces you buy – I buy the large, lost-wax-method-cast African brass beads that I use in some of my jewelry locally, from a twenty-something kid who works at his uncle’s import shop.  The kid’s grandfather is a tribal chieftain in Ghana, he says, and wearing all that jewelry all the time is very heavy, he also says!  The raffia is what the large beads come strung on, and I like to use it rather than raffia plucked off a shelf at an art supply store.     The bottle it decorates, I’m afraid, just comes from a factory in China though.)

It will reside on my three-tiered Ghuede altar until it finds its new home with a devotee of the loa.  It comes with a four-ounce bottle of hand-blended ritual bath for Manman Brigitte.  My voodoo baths are hand-blended here from my formulas, and are the very same baths I use in my own sevis and when I perform in-person headwashings and spiritual baths at my usually-annual headwashing/spiritual cleansing events.  Like most sacred baths in Haitian and New World vodoun, these are strongly scented and contain perfumes and colognes in addition to herbs and hydrosols, so a little goes a long way; a bottle of bath mixture could be diluted in a tub of water if taking a full immersion bath, or a few splashes could be added to a basin of water for a stand-up bath, or you could use the mixture undiluted as a sprinkle or spray.

Entire piece is app. 5.5 inches tall, including the stopper.  The bottle itself is 4 inches tall and 2" wide. 

A portion of proceeds from sale of voodoo altar bottles and voodoo rosaries goes to Fonkoze.org, a not-for-profit, no-missionary-strings-attached organization designed to empower the poor of rural Haiti, give them literacy and financial skills, and help them build a firm foundation to better their lives and their quality of life through micro-banking and small-business startup help — all, crucially, while putting Haitian nationals (especially women) in leadership positions and giving them religious, artistic, aesthetic, and economic autonomy instead of asking them to reject their culture or religion of origin.

I create these ritual folk art items individually, in a ritual context and in service to the loa. Thus they are not meant just for spooky decoration or "goth chic" – they are ritually constructed, consecrated, "fed" religious items and are intended for altar use in a religious context, not to look cool or freak your mother out, ok?

Shipping is via priority mail with delivery confirmation and insurance.  If you order additional items and they will fit in the same priority flat rate box as this bottle and the bottle of bath, then there will be no additional shipping charge for the other items; feel free to write first and ask if you aren’t sure if your items will qualify or if you want me to confirm what the postage will be before you bid.

Please note handling times before bidding!!  The handling time is because nearly all of my items are custom-finished and prayed over, blessed, or consecrated before leaving my hands (so feel free to tell me a bit about the situation you’re getting this item for and I can customize the prayers or consecrations of your item as I thank the spirits for their guardianship of the ritual object and ask them to guard it and their new owner in its new home). And have a look at the FAQ and ALL of the item listing details on this page, please, before purchasing from me, *please* – it’s frustrating to put things like handling time and postage cost in the item listing but have people freak out and write me 50 messages when the item doesn’t ship within 24 hours!  I *always* answer my email and am happy to answer questions – but given the volume of messages I get every single day, it usually takes me about two business days to respond.  However, half of the questions I get have already been answered in the item listing and/or FAQ 🙂

status update and consultation/report queue; how to not get fired as a customer

I started working on reports, consultations, and emails at 10 am this morning (Thurs).  It is now 3:30 am Friday.  I am caught up on light setting reports, caught up on ebay inbox messages with the exception of two people that already got a good chunk of my time yesterday (they can wait a bit before they get more, since other people haven’t gotten any yet), and finished a bunch of consultations.  The updated queue is here.  Obviously I have not made it through my regular inbox yet.

Unfortunately, since sellers can get RATED on how quickly and cheerfully they answer ebay messages, I HAVE to put ebay messages ahead of web store and direct email messages sometimes — even when about half the messages I get on ebay every day are people who want me to answer a bunch of questions but have not bought anything and do not ever buy anything.  I don’t think most people who send me a bunch of messages mean ill – ebay has trained them to expect that sellers  just sit there all day waiting to answer twenty questions about a bottle of oil they are going to make twelve cents profit on.  But after a while, if the same person keeps trying to milk me for private conjure tutoring or free spells, I just block them from bidding and filter all their messages to the trash bin.  I realize it might sound harsh, but I do explain very politely the first time that what they are expecting of me, I cannot do, and I also give them links to places where they can go to learn more.  So the people who get canned are people who don’t listen but just want what they want when they want it, on their terms, and don’t want to hear any different.  I don’t just shitcan people with legitimate questions who are not acting out of an over-developed sense of entitlement.  Questions in and of themselves are just fine – I encourage them.  I shitcan people who don’t respect my published policies and my polite expressions of my limits.

I also shitcan people who demonstrate to me that they do not read item listings, do not read payment acknowledgment emails, and do not read the FAQ. I do not shitcan them the first time (unless they are rude or threaten to do a payment reversal or leave negative feedback if I don’t jump through X hoop by Y date – there is a special place on my altar for those people, and they also get reported to ebay as abusive buyers. And every once in a while ebay listens to a powerseller with nine years in the game).  But when the item listing clearly states the handling time (or whatever), and the FAQ does too, and the payment acknowledgment that was sent directly to the buyer’s email account does too, and yet I still get an email saying "when will you ship my item," or "where is my order," I begin to lose my temper.  I respond with a form letter (trust me , this is for the best – the form letter is sufficiently polite and even-tempered, and usually when I get these emails, I am not feeling even-tempered, because every minute I am answering emails that contain questions that have already been answered is a minute I am NOT in the altar/work room actually making the damned order that you placed). 

If it happens again after that, I usually block the buyer, just because my time, patience, and good humor are finite, and I prefer to do business with people who don’t drive me crazy, instead of chasing down tracking numbers for people who have already had the tracking number emailed to them directly, AND uploaded to their "my eBay," AND had an email and a link outlining how shipping notification procedures work delivered to their email inboxes in case they missed that info in the item listing when they ordered.

SO the majority of you are not "that guy," and furthermore have already heard this before, and in any case aren’t the type of people who do this kind of crap.  So i do beg your indulgence for trotting out this tired old pony again.  But I post this for the benefit of newer customers, just as an "in general" sort of "things you ought to know" article.  But also because I have blocked more bidders in the past six months than I probably blocked in the preceding six years combined.

If you are a newer customer and you find yourself blocked, feel free to ask to be unblocked. I am very likely to comply (after we talk) unless you were a non-paying bidder, and in many cases, I am happy to comply even (after we talk) then if the unpaid item situation was a result of an emergency or crossed wires or a misunderstanding.  I often block buyers not because I just plain never want to do business with them period, but because I need to make sure we are on the same sheet of music before we do any more business together.  eBay has sellers’ nuts in a vise, to put it crudely and yes, figuratively of course; it is simply too dangerous to let potential misunderstandings proliferate unchecked on ebay.  Blocking buyers is the only protection we have as sellers now that buyers’ feedback scores are purely decorative, utterly meaningless.

So often I block a buyer just because we need to talk and make sure we know where the other is coming from.  So in many cases it is not especially personal – I just had to "put you on hold" while I dealt with other stuff.  so if you find yourself blocked and don’t know why, feel free to ask – I am not likely to bite your head off unless you have been a jackass to me first, and if you have, I probably will just ignore you instead of answering anyway, because I have way too much to do to waste time pursuing optional, unnecessary head-bitings 🙂

this PSA brought to you by an utterly exhausted Karma Zain who is all typed out and needs to go to sleep now.

three limited edition auctions for half-ounce bottles of oil

I rarely do auctions, and if you shop with me you know I don’t do half-ounce bottles of oil at this time.

Right now, you have a chance to get a limited-edition half-ounce bottle of St. Michael, St. Gerard, or St. Jude oil at a fraction of the cost of a two-dram bottle. 

And don’t forget that nearly all my regular in-stock items are listed at bonanza, usually at a significant discount from eBay. The plan is to keep the bonanza store fully stocked and to only stock one of a kind jewelry, custom stuff, and a basic array of commonly-requested oils, salts, etc at eBay.  Every month it seems like, they introduce a new measure to make life harder and more expensive for small sellers, and they are about to make doing business on ebay even more difficult and expensive, yet again, in June, which will result in yet ANOTHER price increase if I’m to stay afloat.  I don’t like raising my prices on y’all when my material cost doesn’t go up and the cost of doing business is related to third-party site overhead and is avoidable.  So I remain confirmed in my intention to move stock and business off eBay. I’m always happy to list something for you if you don’t want to learn your way around another site, but I just can’t afford to keep a full inventory at eBay anymore. They have made it nearly impossible for me to make a profit on smaller items like medals, oils, and bath salts, so you will not be able to find everything you could want there past this summer.  And, I’m still waiting on the web guy to finish the final tweaks on the new website store that I have been promising for over six months – it has not been abandoned, just ran into some problems.  It will eventually have a full inventory list of oils, salts, and powders as well, though the eBay store will always have custom stuff and jewelry and the occasional auction (auctions are my "gift" to y’all – I almost always lose money on them, but I’m so grateful to you guys for sticking with me even though I spend so much time bitching about eBay that I like to do them every once in a while to say "thanks" – because I am fully aware I couldn’t do any of this store stuff without y’all).

I’m out of town now and will be back Sunday late, and life should be back to normal by Tuesday.  I should be coming back with a new batch of dirt dauber nest, hopefully some new bones, and a new batch of chicken feet which should be ready to go in a week or two.

Happy hoodooing!


store and site stock news/updates re. eBay and Bonanza.com

eBay came pretty close to hitting "the last straw" with me a few weeks ago when they gigged me for listing a prohibited item, removed the listing, and docked my "policy compliance" rating down to "low" (which endangers my power seller status and makes my fees higher and goes on my permanent record in case they ever want to kick me off one day).  The offending listing was not in fact prohibited and I was not in violation of any policy whatsoever, but attempts to get a human being to use a brain cell on this matter were doomed.  Here’s how it worked:

I got an email saying my Five Around the Fifties bath salts were removed due to the listing being for a prohibited item. In the portion of the form letter that was customized to tell you what prohibition you violate, it said "salvia divinorum may not be sold on eBay."  Since none of my listings mention salvia divinorum, I was perplexed and picked up the phone.  I was assured by a very nice but completely impotent customer service person that he would look into it and let me know what was up (and if you know me at all, you know that I have to be pretty pissed off to pick up the telephone if email is an option).  A week later I called again, as I’d had no return call.  I’m deferred again.  They finally get back to me with an email. Here is the glorious computerized, search-form-enabled, utterly freakin’ stupid and illogical manner in which my bath salt listing gets removed:
read the whole ridiculous saga here

ebay customers, mine and others’, please read

I get about twenty messages a day just on eBay, on average, including weekends when I am not open (so Mondays suck).  Half of them are people going "I’m just writing to check on the status of my order."  The time it takes me to deal with those ten messages, by going back through my files to locate the proper stack of 60 receipts that has your shipping label in it, or going through my in-house orders to locate yours amongst the other 100 items in queue to be prepped and shipped, is time I am not spending filling the orders in-house. 

Here’s how the math works:

[Ten of these emails]
X times
[the ten minutes it takes me to track down information *that buyers have already been given, in the FAQ, in the payment acknowledgment, AND in their "my eBay" through the shipping label data that is uploaded]
= equals
a blocked bidder. 

So if you have found yourself blocked on eBay, feel free to write to ask me why and/or to unblock you – the overwhelming majority of folks I block, I block because they are costing me way too much time (=money).  If you want to order from me, I am probably happy to have you as a customer, if dealing with you isn’t a pain in my ass and more trouble than it’s worth.  I know eBay courts and rewards sellers with larger setups, higher priced inventory, and multi-person employee structures, making the burden on smaller sellers heavier and heavier every day; they do this at the same time that they cultivate in buyers the impression that every seller on eBay has a separate customer service desk and runs the kind of business where spending ten minutes tracking down info that has already been sent is just part of a day in the life of customer service.

Nonetheless, that’s not how it works for a lot of folks on eBay.  As eBay raises the bar higher and higher, and raises its costs to sellers more and more, it simultaneously punishes sellers – who are worker harder and harder – for not acting BOTH like a small mom-and-pop operation with someone knowledgeable standing by to be friendly AND like an outfit with more than one person running it.  So your favorite sellers, who once upon a time could perhaps take time every night to answer every message in their inbox, now cannot afford afford to take a single night off from packing orders lest they get less than 5 stars in the area of "shipping."  (Yet they also cannot simply bust out all their orders in one night, either, because they can’t go too long without answering emails lest they get less than 5 stars in the area of "communication.")

I say this not to whine – it takes me a lot less time to block a buyer who’s pestering me than it does to answer their message yet again, and I’d rather take care of and keep the customers I’ve got who are happy with my work than chase after customers who are already not happy with my work and with whom I’m already unhappy.  I say it because at the root of all this kerfluffle is deep, continuing, and crushing change at eBay that pulls smaller sellers into an awful lot of directions at once.  We are supposed to have the service and speed of a larger store but the "personal touch" that means the person answering the emails knows every single end of the business, from shipping to taxes to relisting software to Fiery Wall of Protection spells to vodoun loa.  (Hint: if ever I do have someone solely in charge of the emails full time, that person will not be me, and that person will not be able to make custom recommendations about products anymore. It really does come down to a choice between personal attention/knowledge OR speed/assembly line/instant answers.)

A store like mine is *just barely* too busy to run by myself given all my obligations, but it is not nearly profitable enough for me to quit my day job, nor to hire anyone else that wants to actually be paid reliably, thanks in part to eBay’s drastically raising the listing fees and making $5 items – the majority of my sales –  profitless for me.  I am FAR from alone – these things affect hundreds of sellers just like me, who are stuck at that awkward spot in their growth and are paying through the bloody nose for it.  So I say this on behalf of all ebay sellers who don’t have five digit ratings and an 800 number but who are working beyond the flea market and garage sale levels.  If you want them to stay on eBay, take a moment to think about what you value in their items or services, in fact about what you value about eBay’s variety and convenience, and take a moment to think about what that attention or item or service they rendered or sold you costs in terms of time. And multiply that by a hundred people *just like you*. And think about what eBay will be like when smaller sellers are gone because they have been nickled-and-dimed and pestered to death.

Let me make something perfectly clear:

I DO NOT MIND answering customer and client emails.  Helping people apply spiritual remedies to their problems and challenges is at the center of what I do, and if I didn’t like doing that, I wouldn’t be doing this work.

I LIKE being able to make each item by hand, myself, when ordered, customizing when applicable and praying over each one.

If I am to be able to continue to do this kind of thing (and please understand that the overwhelming majority of my professional time is taken up answering regular old client and customer questions, for which time I am only indirectly, at best, paid), I have to prioritize that time (and make sure that I am earning enough money from *somewhere* to be able to spend all this time answering emails and questions).

I understand that dealing with folks with different temperaments is part of owning a business, dealing with customers, and providing services.  And dealing with eBay as a platform means that a lot of those customers expect "mom and pop" customer service even while they expect lightning-fast shipping speeds and miracles.  One of the few useful tools that eBay has compensated sellers for their fairly enormous trouble with is the blocked buyers list.  And I am quick to use it when my extremely limited time is taken up for no good reason.

But since I still answer the overwhelming majority of the emails, and make 95% of my products, and generally package and ship all of them myself, and generally keep all the records myself, I am also usually aware of why I’ve blocked a buyer and am happy to unblock said buyer if we can just have a little conversation first and make sure we’re both on the same page.  My blocking a buyer is not personal; it’s one of the few means by which eBay allows me to protect my time and, maybe more importantly, my sanity, so that I can still provide the goods and services I set out to provide, with the attention and quality I set out to provide them with.  A blocked bidder is someone with whom I am not comfortable doing business unless and until we can talk about some issue, expectation, or tendency.  I have blocked people I know personally and genuinely like as individuals – not because I suddenly wanted to be nasty, but because we can’t keep doing business for some reason until we have a chat.

I’m sure the same goes for very many eBay sellers out there.

Thank you for your indulgence as I made a wearying but necessary addition to the "ebay issues" series of posts.  In partial compensation, I’ll have a post on St. Michael ready soon; I’m translating a prayer to St. Michael from a medieval manuscript, for the benefit and use of you St. Michael devotees and fans out there, and I’m nearly done; there’s just one small phrase still giving me some trouble.  If I can ever get through these eBay emails, I hope to work through the knots on it this week and post it.  (And you won’t ever get anything like *that* from Sears, or amazon.com, so keep it in mind when you’re wondering "why can’t she just look my damned package tracking up instead of sending me a form letter?")

Happy hoodooing,

Karma Zain

New items at ebay and bonanza

New items:

Cursing/Crossing Sour Jar Spell Kit ebay or bonanza

These are the ingredients to do a nasty cursing/crossing spell jar.  It can be used on a single target, on a couple, or on multiple targets.  Depending on how you treat several variables, you can use this as a serious hotfoot spell, as an extra-strength breakup spell, as a DUME working, as a revenge working, to cause sickness, etc.  This kind of spell is not a first line of defense and it’s not very nice, so it’s used only after other measures have failed or been too slow to work in cases where someone is threatening someone else’s life, family, children, etc.  If you use this on a neighbor for parking on your side of the street, you’re really shooting a tiger with an elephant gun, for instance.

Kit includes all your herbs, oil, instructions, and nine pins, nine needles, and nine coffin nails.

Coffin Nails – ebay or bonanza

If you know anything about modern funeral practices and mortuary laws, it’s probably occurred to you that most of the coffin nails you see for sale on various websites and in various occult supply stores could not possibly have come from an actual coffin in which somebody was actually buried.  The days of being able to access those old-school types of graveyard materia magica are over. So no, I did not rob a grave in order to provide these traditional hoodoo curios, and it’s highly unlikely that coffin nails you get anywhere are going to have come from an actual coffin – not if you’re paying a few dollars for them, anyway. Modern coffins are often not made of wood anyway, and when they are, they are generally constructed with wood glue, screws, and joint fasteners (like big industrial staples) – NOT with nails. (If there are any nails in a modern casket, they are likely to be put there by the upholsterer who does the fabric lining, and are more likely to be technically "brads" rather than "nails."  They most certainly do not look like the traditional "coffin nail" curio.)  So don’t get all hung up on whether or not your coffin nails have come from a real coffin – chances are they haven’t.

However, that does not mean you can’t use the old-school spells that call for them anymore.  Modern practitioners adapt and adjust to the times as necessary in creating and obtaining their curios.  The difference with me is that I’m up front about what I change or adjust, how, and why (hence my long and numerous posts on black cat bones, various animal curios, etc.)


These coffin nails are made from the appropriate type of wood nail which I then antique for that authentic rusty look, and "bury" by interring them in a box of graveyard dirt on the appropriate altar.  The finished product thus has the association with the resting place of the deceased that is appropriate to their use.

Listing is for 9 nails.

Hoodoo Nails –
ebay or bonanza

This is a packet of 5 Hoodoo Nails.  Where Coffin Nails are for use in works of malice, crossing, causing sickness, breaking up, etc., sometimes nails are called for in old-time spells for other uses, involving binding people, carving candles or other things, "nailing down" a person, object, or even property to keep hold of it, etc.  I call these Hoodoo Nails for lack of a better name.  They can be used in the famous "railroad spike" protection spell, if railroad spikes are too large, obtrusive, or difficult to get.  They can also be used in Protection workings to call on St. Michael, and dressed to serve as a token of St. Michael’s Sword in mojo bags, spell bottles, and amulets or paket charms.

These are large, square-cut nails about three inches long. If you aren’t familiar with woodwork and nails and the like, they are not a proper square – more rectangular – and the end is fairly blunter than what you probably picture when you think of a nail.  But they go into the ground easily, and with the right hammer or mallet you can pound them into other things as well, such as trees or lumber.

Listing is for five nails.


new formulas – oils and baths/washes

New formulas on ebay:

Revenge Oil
Banishing and Cleansing Spray
Hot Hands – bath/wash for sex appeal and gambling luck (John the Conqueror Root Version)
Queen of Hearts – same as above (Queen Elizabeth Root version)
Knucklebones Bath / Handwash (black cat bone version)
Knucklebones Oil (black cat bone version)

Also, I’m auctioning off a small decorated altar paket which is a chance to get a nice piece of custom juju for a deep discount!

What eBay buyers need to know about DSRs and ratings

I have posted quite a few things on eBay policies and Detailed Seller Ratings over the past year, in an effort to educate eBay buyers about the complicated and often misleading Detailed Seller Rating system – that little "star" system they ask you to leave ratings in after you leave your regular Positive, Negative, or Neutral feedback.

To nutshell some of the major issues by means of a vivid example, here’s a for instance: If you are leaving a rating, and you hover over the Fourth star out of Five, the system will tell you that the Fourth star is a pretty good rating.  Works like this:

                                                 one star                          two                       three                        four                        five

Description                            very inaccurate              inaccurate          neither*                    accurate                very accurate
Communication                    very unsatisfied            unsatisfied         neither                     satisfied                very satisfied
Shipping speed                    very slowly                     slowly                   neither                     quickly                   very quickly
Shipping charges                 very unreasonable       unreasonable   neither                      reasonable          very reasonable

[* the middle column consists of such mysterious possibilities as "neither inaccurate nor accurate," "neither satisfied nor unsatisfied," "neither quickly nor slowly," and "neither reasonable nor unreasonable."]

Now, one might think that four star ratings are good – the buyer is satisfied and considers the shipping fees reasonable, etc.  BUT, while the language of these four-star DSRs may sound like "good" ratings, eBay punishes sellers for receiving them. Remember how in school, a 3.5 GPA might’ve got you on the A/B honor roll?  So a solid mix of As and Bs was considered a good report card, got you a quarter from Grandma, maybe even got you on the Dean’s list in college?

Well, a 3.5 GPA on eBay is BAD NEWS.  eBay considers that sellers receiving less than 5 star ratings are not satisfying their customers.  If ratings fall below 3.5, even if they’re all accompanied by positive feedback, eBay has a number of nasty fee hikes, search listing downgrades, and other surprises in store. The bottom line is that you if you are satisfied enough with the seller to consider doing business with them again, and you are not interested in seeing their eBay shops or listings shut down and them out of business on eBay, then a Four Star Rating is the equivalent of a bad rating.  Anything below a four star rating sends a clear message: "I am dissatisfied."  Many sellers realistically see anything below five stars as a message along the lines of "I will not be shopping with this seller again."  And there’s a very real contribution to a very likely consequence, which may be summed up thus: "I would not mind seeing this seller gone from eBay." 

Anything less than a 5 star rating is a punishment for your seller.  If you do not have it in for your seller, then please consider contacting him or her if you are less than "very satisfied" and giving him or her a chance to address your concerns.

None of this is news to any of you who have been reading this blog for a while, and if you are a regular eBay shopper, it’s probably not news to you either, regardless of whether you read this blog.

But here’s something newer that you might not know about.  Before, eBay confined itself to raising sellers’ fee rates, lowering their placement in search results, and similar tactics designed to punish sellers who get less than 5 star ratings.  Now, however, PayPal is in on it, in some cases taking money out of sellers’ hands and holding it until the buyer leaves positive feedback.

For larger sellers, those industry giants who sell thousands of dollars’ worth of items a week or month, this might not be a big deal. They have bigger "cushions" in their bank accounts and it doesn’t make them suffer as much to have to ship an item before they have received their funds.

But picture a smaller seller, someone who sells handmade items or gently-used electronics, for instance.  Imagine you buy a heavy piece of electronics equipment from that seller, for $200, and the shipping fee is $70.  If PayPal chooses to freeze those funds pending your leaving positive feedback, then the seller not only does NOT get paid for the item yet, he or she also has to find $70 from somewhere in order to pay the postage on your item.  In some cases, the seller might not get reimbursed (in the form of having the funds released into their accounts) for weeks.  If you are not the kind of buyer who leaves feedback right away or at all, your seller may have to wait 21 days to have the funds released.

There are several factors involved in PayPal making a decision to freeze funds until the buyer had given evidence of satisfactory receipt of the item, but DSRs below 4.5 are in that short list of reasons.

Obviously this makes eBay a much bigger risk, suddenly, for smaller sellers who are just getting established, for occasional sellers who scour flea markets to bring a few unique and interesting items to your desktop, for folks on fixed incomes who sell on eBay to have enough money to buy a new book or new area rug for their apartments once in a while.

Bottom line: less than 5 star ratings will drive sellers like this off of eBay, meaning that eBay will increasingly be dominated by mega-sellers.  Goodbye, internet flea market and funky gift shop, hello Online Strip Mall.  Goodbye, pleasant discounts and surprising "steals," hello smaller sellers’ item prices skyrocketing because buyers must now purchase their own insurance, pay higher listing fees, keep enough money free in their PayPal or banking accounts to cover fee freezes and pay shipping out-of-pocket, etc (I could go on about how much more it costs to run an eBay store than it used to, but just trust me – it’s a lot).

For those of you who have noticed it’s harder to find cool, funky, unique gifts on eBay at a reasonable price, or gently used clothing at a fraction of the mall price, or whatever it is you used to shop on eBay for, you may find that your sellers are leaving eBay and going to places like the following (and sellers, if you’re frustrated with the way eBay and PayPal are treating you as a small seller with a low profit margin, then you might want to check these places out):

Etsy.  "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade."

Bonanzle: "Find Everything but the Ordinary."





More on this later, I’m sure, but this is a newer development that has probably affected your favorite smaller eBay sellers, and you need to know.