Fighting for Your business rights an interview with Lila ElWood of Wild Witchery

Many pagans think about running their own business.  They often dream about providing products and services for their faith community.  These products and services run from workshops and teaching to creating ritual tools and items for the religious practices.  Many of them don’t ever believe that someone would want to cause them stress or ill will.  When that trouble does come how does a small business protect themselves and manage to stay afloat?

I interviewed Lila Elwood one of the owners of Wild Witchery to find out more about her battle and how this has impacted them going further.

Loona Wynd: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your Business?

Lila Elwood: I have been a practicing Pagan for about 25 years now. On my mothers side of the family we are Iroquois and I was raised in native tradition. By the time I was 12 European Paganism/Witchcraft piqued my interest and I started down that path with no regrets.

I attended American University where I received my BA in Religious Studies-concentration on Ancient Mediterranean Religions with a minor in Ancient History of the same region. I am married and have 2 children and currently live in Yorktown VA- where our Business Wild Witchery is based out of.

We are primarily an e-commerce business specializing in creating Ritual Oil Perfumes, Candles, Bath & Body, Skincare, Hand Wrapped Amulets & Crystals. I have been making these items inside and out of Business for about 10 years now.

Loona Wynd: What inspired you to start Wild Witchery?

 

 

Lila Elwood: I had a business prior to this called Lady Leigh’s Apotheca, which was primarily an apothecary & didn’t focus too much on the metaphysical side, but offered similar items: bath and body, aromatherapy perfumes, plus teas and healing items. But I wanted to focus on the metaphysical. I wanted to offer really great products that were infused with Magick because i believe every aspect of your life has the ability to be infused with magick and sacredness- right down to the soap you use, lotion or perfume you apply or the jewelry you wear.

My friend now business partner and I had been talking about/dreaming about having a metaphysical shop together as our skills complimented each other, she focuses on crystals and jewelry and i on the herbal/bath body aspects. So this time last year we just went for it and started laying the foundations of what Wild Witchery now is.

Loona Wynd: You claim that you and your partner received a Cease and Desist letter. What was it for and about?

Lila Elwood:Yes, My business partner & I received a letter via email claiming  copyright and trademark infringement on 2 of our products, Amatus & Yule Ritual Perfume Oils. The letter demanded that we stop selling these items, remove them from all social media & pay the complainant $5,000 + their legal fees potentiallyThe letter also claimed issues with “Trade Dress”

Loona Wynd: Can you explain what they meant by “Trade Dress”?

Lila Elwood: I wasn’t sure what this was either until talking with our lawyer, it is the look and feel of the product.

Loona Wynd: Did they give you a further explanation about what it could entail? Feel and look of a product could cover a lot of things.

Lila Elwood: The complainant feels that our products look the same as hers – we DID at one point, use the same cap style on our bottles as theirs, and we also tie ribbons around our bottles to fill in void space. However, the bottles and caps we buy are available through multiple suppliers that sell to the public, and there are MANY other business’ who also use this same bottle/cap style for their ritual oils and perfumes as well.  in recent months however, the complainant has changed their cap style and discontinued use of the ribbon so really, there should be no conflict with this.

Loona Wynd: What actions have you taken to defend yourself and your craft?  It seems something named after a holiday such as your Yule Perfume Oil couldn’t be trademarked as holidays are open to anyone who follows those traditions, and there are many religious traditions which celebrate Yule.

Lila Elwood: We did a lot of research as to what constitutes trademark/copyright infringement. While the complainant holds NO federally registered trademarks/copyrights, they are alleging these charges based on seniority. They came out with these products first – which the law allows – sort of.

Common Names do not count in the eyes of the law – and as we all know, Yule is a common word/name/a holiday in our spiritual tradition. Many Pagans also make use of other languages when naming their products, i have half a dozen products named in various languages, which is how Amatus, which means Beloved in Latin, was named. Yet, it is uncommon enough to be misconstrued as trademark infringement.

After consulting with our Lawyer we agreed it was probably best to discontinue the use of the name Amatus, so we have removed our Amatus line from our Website and Etsy.

Yet there is another well known business who is selling a ritual oil using the same latin name as one of the complainants products of the same nature! But we want to keep the peace.

However we will NOT be doing the same with Yule. Yule is a sabbat and it belongs to everyone. No one person can trademark our holidays and the products we create inspired by those holidays.

We gathered examples of other Yule Ritual Oils from other Pagan businesses as evidence that we, nor the complainant are the only ones marketing a Yule Oil Blend

Loona Wynd: Is the Amatus line going to be discontinued completely or are you thinking about renaming it?

Lila Elwood:  We will simply rename it and re-release it.

Loona Wynd: What is the next step for you in this fight?

Lila Elwood:  Our Lawyer will be offering the complainant a settlement we discontinue the use of Amatus. But that’s it. Examples of other Yule oil products will be included in defense of out product & other business’ right to create sabbat oil blend, and we will not be paying them any money. We just released our Ostara oil so we’re honestly waiting on the other shoe to drop to speak!

Hopefully, that is the end of it. We do not want a huge dispute. We’re a micro business, small fish in the pond compared to the complainant who compared to other business’ in our niche, is a large corporation.

Loona Wynd: Given the small size of your business it must have been a shock to receive the letter. What went through your minds?

Lila Elwood: I was SHOCKED. I panicked, they were demanding $5,000 from us, we’ve made just under that amount in sales- not being that familiar with the law, I thought this was a formal lawsuit. i was envisioning us having to close up shop, being bullied out of business by the larger corporation

My business partner was not as shocked as i was. In hindsight we should have seen this coming, we had noticed in recent weeks personal friends of the complainant liking some of our social media statues and asking to join our Facebook groups.

Loona Wynd: So they had spies?  Friends checking you out and seeing what you were about?  Are any of those people still in your groups etc?

Lila Elwood: It kind of seems that way to us.   we never admitted these people to our groups and they have been blocked on social media

Loona Wynd: Are you taking any actions to protect yourself in the future?

Lila Elwood: Protection- YES! Our lawyer has implored us to trademark the names of our products – at least at the state level. In VA it costs $30 to trademark a product within state lines. My partner was apprehensive to go this route with trademarking the names of our holidays, and i agree with her, they belong to the community. However, the lawyer has assured us we do not have to enforce these trademarks, but they are there for if/when another situation like this comes about.

Loona Wynd: What advise would you give other small businesses should they receive a Cease and Desist letter or any actions along those lines?
Lila Elwood:  If you receive such a letter, research and consult with a lawyer, absolutely. Don’t Panic! It is not the end of your business, and don’t give in. Consulting with a Lawyer or having a lawyer draw up paperwork is not as expensive as you’d think. It cost us $250 to employ the help of a lawyer. But also, i do suggest researching the name you’re considering. We did not do that because we figured “we’re small & no threat to anyone” & also because we were naive thinking that no one would take issue with our business.how wrong we were! So research unique names, if a business is offering a similar product named the same thing, move on to the next name, no matter how perfect it was. And definitely look into getting state trademarks on the names of your products, if only for your protection.Loona Wynd: Is there anything else you would like to say about this situation or add?

Lila Elwood:  It is my opinion that the complainant is trying to corner the market on the type of items that we offer and is trying to scare the small business’ who offer similar items out of business. We all have a right to be here, we all have a right to create magickal products and market them – which certainly includes sabbat products named after the sabbats. To think you are the only person who has rights to these names and holidays makes you arrogant. Live and let live.

It seems like no matter what we do in this world there is always someone who will try to rain on your parade.  This author firmly believes that if you want to run a business you should try and go for it.  Live for your dreams and follow your path.  Don’t let yourself get discouraged.  Learn from articles like this and take their advice.  There is room for us all as we all have something different to offer.

If you would like to support and see the products and services provided by Wild Witchery: Wild Witchery

A Spiritualist’s View of The Dark Time of The Year and The Healing It Offers

Darkness is what is on my mind. Or really it is the light, the color and so much more that is there in the darkness. Do you realize that all we sense, see, hear and such is really all happening in the dark place of our body and mind? Do you realize that we come from within darkness? What of the womb, the egg, the seed? Darkness within them and darkness they reside or come from. We, all of life bring consciousness to the darkness. Form and light come from darkness.

But we’ve become afraid! Somehow, at some point in time or somewhere and someway, it happened. We became afraid of darkness! We became so afraid that we thought it a monster, a demon. We became afraid of our thoughts, actions and so much more. Fear in some way became our constant companion so much so, that we have lost our way. Because in our fear we have created an abyss filled with all that we have pushed away because of fear. We have become severed, separated from aspects of ourselves, each other and life.

It isn’t the darkness that I feel we really are afraid of. It is the monsters we’ve created and refuse to acknowledge, accept and hence heal.

It’s all those things we tossed into that abyss. They are still alive. Yet sadly they are cut off from nourishment of our love and acceptance. Yes they are hard to look at, to listen to and such.  They will not die, they will not go away. Because these parts of us and our collective know they are a part of the wholeness of ourselves and life. These feared, demonized and unwanted things will never give up knocking on the doors of our hearts and minds. For they remember that we need them, that they belong. They remember that they are light and from that was brought forth from the darkness of our consciousness.

At this time of year, the dark time, we are reminded over and over again to work on our mind, our stories we believe in and operate from. This dark time of the year also reminds us that we are bringing about things through the dark places of our minds. It is our job to rewrite our stories, to reclaim our lost and wounded parts of our selves. It is our job to allow ourselves to learn to love as completely as we can ourselves and one another, to let go of fear! By learning to love all parts of ourselves through conscious, thoughtful actions, words and such we can bring those cast aside things back from that abyss. It is in that dark place of the mind that we can heal and bring new life to ourselves, our communities, life and the world. This is what Winter can teach us, can help us with!

Before I go I want to share a chant/poem that you can do before a mirror. As you will see it is about setting yourself free.

Oh heart and mind

Yes! You who are lost

shackled and chained

by yours and others

fear, hate, shame

and suffering.

I know you long to be free!

I tell you, it is you that

holds the keys to

your freedom!

So go ahead right now

this very minute

this very hour!

Unlock those shackles

Break those chains

and light a flame

of Love

in your heart and mind

and walk, run and fly

your way out of that prison

of yours and others

fear, hate, shame

and suffering!

And remember the beauty and splendor

that you are!

And soar high dear one yes soar high on those

beautiful wings of Love!

For truly we are blessed when we can dance with The Light and The Dark and all points in between!

I wish you all a Blessed Winter Solstice that is filled with love and healing!

Depression In the Pagan Experience

 

Depression affects all of us at different times, and in different ways. When a loved one passes into the next world, we are often emotionally tied up for weeks or even months. A breakup with a romantic partner may lead to years of avoiding other potential mates. A traumatic event may take a toll so large, that we stop participating in life all together.

Everyone deals with some form of depression sometimes, but how can we, as Pagans, deal with these challenges more effectively? As a life coach specializing in depression & anxiety, I want to offer some insights and experience. What are some of the first things we need to know?

Depression is normal! Most of us judge ourselves extremely harshly when it comes to the reasons why we are depressed. “I should be over this by now”, “I am not strong enough”, and “I am so weak”, are all common judgements we make about ourselves.

Some that I hear from Pagans most often are, “The Gods are punishing me”, “I am not good enough”, and “This would not happen if I were more powerful”.

These are judgements upon ourselves that are self-fulfilling. The more we tell ourselves these things, the more we believe them, and the worse we feel about ourselves, and the more depressed we become.

Our psyches are extremely resilient. Going into depression gives us time for our subconscious selves to retool, recharge and heal. The problem comes about when we don’t consciously take steps to aid our subconscious recuperation.

By Baker131313 - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6539950
By Baker131313

One major problem I have encountered with depressed Pagans is that we choose to be around the wrong set of people when we are depressed. Our peers have a huge effect in how we deal with depression. If our family or friends are supportive and inspirational, we can come out of depression much, much sooner than if we are surrounded by those who tell us to “get over it, already”, “stop whining”, or “smile, it’s not that bad”.

Our spiritual group is especially important during depressed times. I  talked to many Pagans whose coven, circle, grove or temple has been there for them through both good times and bad, and truly supported them in their healing, and so they moved through the depression very quickly indeed. I  also encountered those whose group has sought to control them, isolate them, or tried to force them to get past their depression too quickly.

One woman I encountered was dealing with deep depression related to dissociative identity disorder caused by trauma in a former relationship. Her coven leader insisted that she be separated from the group until she was past it, that she allow some coven members to be present during her therapy sessions, and told the group that mentally ill people are not allowed to take part in group ritual. This is not a supportive mindset, and I was glad when she left the coven and cut off ties with those people (some of which were close friends). Unfortunately, this leader is still active and running said coven.

For those Pagans that have little or no spiritual community, depression can be especially hard, as they truly feel alone. They often feel their Gods have abandoned them, as they are not receiving the immediate relief they pray for. They often feel as if they cannot talk to anyone about their feelings, as others would not understand their Pagan perspective. Those who are not public with their faith can find themselves surrounded by friends or family who want them to seek spiritual help from an uncomfortable source, such as a priest, minister or therapist  from a religious tradition hostile to Pagans.

By Liz Locke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Cooking
For The Healing Ritual – Lola, Photo By Liz Locke
In addition to keeping one’s environment positive, spiritual self empowerment is also very important. Taking part in rituals that remind us how much control we have over our lives, and communing with empowering deities is critical to moving through trauma and other sources of depression. We are fortunate, as Pagans, that we have many powerful and assertive figures in our mythologies and pantheons. In my experience, most Pagans are drawn toward at least one very empowering figure, such as Thor, Athena, Isis or the Morrigan. This is very good thing, but can become unbalanced if one isn’t able to ride the empowering energy productively.

Overall, we Pagans suffer just as much from depression as other groups, maybe even more in some cases, but we also have some great tools for helping us get through: our faith communities, our empowering rituals and deities, and our treatment of ourselves.

So the next time you find yourself feeling depressed, do not believe that you are alone. Many of your fellow Pagans have been exactly where you are, and are more than happy to be supportive. There is nothing abnormal about be depressed, and you are not cursed. You are just like the rest of us: Pagan!

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Jerod is a Celtic mystic, practical Druid, permaculture gardener, and depression & anxiety coach in Fennville, Michigan. He can be found at www.jerodrinkus.weebly.com, and facilitating workshops and classes at Pagan events in western Michigan.