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  • Amber Rose Ostaszewski

Cincinnati/NKY Regional Witch Kit



When I saw Via Hedera’s post about creating a regional witch kit, I couldn’t wait to gather up my stuff to represent the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (NKY) region. I’ll admit I’m usually a little jaded when it comes to social media challenges, but this one literally had it difficult for me to fall asleep because I was thinking about everything that I wanted put in it to show off my region, and while I probably could have whittled it down to fewer items, there’s just so much I wanted to include.


I’ll note that originally I’m from Detroit, Michigan, but Cincinnati/NKY has become my home for the last decade, and the culture and spirits of the land here has definitely added to my practice. I tried to give a lot of thought about what I was including and why, and it was extremely hard for me to try to separate my personal practices, which are informed by my Detroit upbringing, my own folk heritage, and a leaning toward the fiber arts, from that of my Cincinnati/NKY home.


Just to clarify I live in a very liminal space. My home is situated in one of the Kentucky rivertowns that dot the banks of the Ohio River, across from the City of Cincinnati, which is where I work. This area is actually referred to as one of America’s Tri-State areas, as Cincinnati sits on the borders of not only the states of Ohio and Kentucky, but also Indiana, which lends to its very interesting history, especially when we look at Civil War era and the role it played in the Underground Railroad. I also want to make it clear that the area in which I currently live is unceded and stolen land from the Hopewell, Adena, Myaamia (Miami), Shawandasse Tula (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), Osage, and Kaskasia peoples.


So with pride, and much deliberation, I present to you my regional witch kit of Cincinnati/NKY. I have provided short snippets of context for some items, but know that I could probably write an entire book on these items if the universe could afford me the time. Feel free to ask me any questions and use these as research points into your own practice, and I am looking forward to learning about all the other regions from all the amazing practitioners across the country, and maybe even the world! Of course, another huge thanks to Via Hedera for initiating this really cool idea, and make sure you read her brilliant book Folkloric Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience: A Crucible at the Crossroads and all her other educational and inspirational outlets like her instagram, youtube, and blog.

To participate, post a photo on instagram that highlights the toolkit of magic where you live and tag it with the following hashtags: #regionalwitchcraftchallenge #witchregionchallenge


Oil lamp

A carry over from our neighbors in the Appalachians, perfect for prayers and petitions. Found at the World Largest Yard Sale that cuts through Cincinnati/NKY.


Father-in-law’s pocket watch

Ancestral veneration, keeper of time, and horse motifs for Kentucky’s motto of “unbridled spirit” and abundant folklore around witches in Kentucky enchanting horses and “spirit riding.”


Iron horseshoe

While I have a horseshoe on my wall for protection, this is actually a cast-iron trivet I found at a local flea market that I couldn’t pass up with the pentagram and “good luck” sentiment. A fun play on the protective and lucky qualities of an actual horseshoe.


Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Fun fact: Kentucky has more bourbon barrels than people. NKY is known as the “Gateway to Bourbon Country.” The Kentucky limestone water is perfect for creating bourbon and the spirits love it.


Fresh Mint

For clarity and a fine, derby-day mint julep.


Goldenrod-dyed handspun yarn

Goldenrod is the state flower of Kentucky, it grows EVERYWHERE. Super medicinal, my favorite use for it is as a dye, but has lots of lore around luck in gambling…


Bicycle playing cards

For some old-school divination by cartomancy, but also harking back to NKY’s gambling obsession during the early part of the century. The Kentucky rivertowns were famously known for gangster gambling hangouts, especially the town of Newport. Bicycle has been printing cards since 1885 and is based in the NKY town, Erlanger, Kentucky.


Red Thread Cross

A play on the traditional rowan-cross, made this from some woody-stems of basil from my garden and wool I handspun and dyed with pokeberry dye I foraged. Pokeberry use in this area has SO much history as a dye, ink, poison, and sallet. Harlan, Kentucky actually has an annual festival dedicated to Poke Sallet!


Peach pit

From my neighbor’s peach tree, a classic southern, summer stone-fruit with the pit as a powerful charm for luck and love.


Acorn

Charm for prosperity, but also a substitute for my lucky buckeye, which I couldn’t find (that can’t be a good sign...)


Cardinal feather

Found this beauty in my garden one day, Cardinals are the state bird of Kentucky and carry lots of lore around spirit messengers. They are named after the bright red robes of Catholic cardinals.


St. Joseph Statue

I dug this statue up in our garden when I went to put in a rose bush. This area is predominantly Catholic because of the German immigrants who flocked to this area, and burying a St. Joseph statue upside down in your yard is a folk tradition to help you sell your house. Although, once you sell the house, you’re supposed to take the statue with you. When I unburied this one, I took it as a sign that we had found our forever home.


Ohio River Skipping Stone

Smooth and perfect for skippin’. Found in a creek in Boone County and likely made of limestone.

Cicada wing

“Mulberries are poisonous in the year of the seventeen-year locusts.” Get ready, Brood X is upon us this year in spring of 2021!


Lodestone

Complete with iron fillings.


Silver mercury dime

For creating silvered water. Got this one from occult blacksmith Marcus McCoy of Trollcunning Forge who marked it with a skull and crossbones for Cthonic Hermes.


Crossroads dirt

Folk witch staple, need I say more? This vial also has remnants of red brick dust, found abundantly in this area because of all the Italianate Victorian architecture this region is known for.


Rookwood Pottery offering dish

Rookwood Pottery is a legacy in this area. One of the first women-owned manufacturing businesses and is now featured in art collections all over the world. While they have moved their manufacturing studio to downtown Cincinnati in the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood, their original pottery studio still stands on top of Mt. Adams, one of Cincinnati’s seven hills, which I can see across the Ohio River from my house.


Silver spoon

I use this spoon (with this amazing caduceus) solely for my tea readings, but has lore in calling in wealth, health, and prosperity.


Magnifying looking glass

Who needs matches when you have the hot Kentucky sun and a looking glass.


Other items:

Garter snake shed

Hawthorn Thorns

White cotton handkerchief

Beeswax and yarrow dressed candle

Local honeycomb

Pocket knife






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