Beyond Our Realm
Gina Kruzel brings her metaphysical touch to Southeastern Ohio – and beyond
Story and visuals by Nate Swanson
Since she was a young girl in Broadview Heights, Ohio, Gina Kruzel's mother would read stories of ancient mythology to her and her sister, Alice. Their mother, Mary, a ''Catholic Pagan,'' would be the prime influence to Gina's gift with how she sees the world around her.
Beginning her career in her early twenties making money by doing fortune telling and tarot card readings at birthday parties, Kruzel would soon find how her unusual perspective on her surroundings would benefit herself and others. By picking up on the energy that others present themselves with and their aura that is carried, Kruzel soon realized she sees her fellow humans in a different way.
Diving into the paranormal world, Kruzel's work currently spans from tarot readings to property and full-body cleansings of any negative energy that has latched on. ''It's all about finding that white light,' she says, 'that white light is the opening into the other side that these spirits have chosen not to enter for reasons untold.''
Through the many years of her practice, Kruzel has become the notorious tattooed biker gal that her clientele from all corners of Ohio know, love and trust. Outside state lines, Kruzel's clients from years' past remain in touch with her, sending her letters and gifts of appreciation. It's that connection built between humans that Kruzel depends on to gain their trust and ease their nerves about the unknown and what cannot be seen in our plane. In Southeastern Ohio, where the Appalachian mountains and its peaks are millions of years old, its original enormity would practically touch the clouds in the sky where people would climb and pray at the mountain tops. The energy beneath the ground and its aging over time is what would soon attract Kruzel from her Northeast Ohio home to the hills and the spirits that lie there.
Kruzel glares into the woods at the Wisteria campgrounds in Rutland, Ohio, on the last day of the Autumn Fires festival on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.
Gina’s sister, Alice, has oftentimes teased her about her interests that were unusual in the time of their growing up in the 1970s and 80s. Alice, straying from the hobbies practiced by Gina and their mother, Mary, would soon find work with the Department of Defense. Although their interests were polar opposites, Alice remained involved with Gina and their mother’s family business, Ambergrams, the metaphysical shop selling trinkets, witchy collectables and more. She painted the front of the store with the flowers on the face, open for business and ready for the year to come with a new generation of interested customers.
After closing in the early 2000s, the items that once sat on the shelves of Ambergrams and survived Mary Kruzel’s childhood are now at Hazel Reese’s Vintage Market in The Plains, Ohio. Inside the sprawling antique store, Gina has a sectioned-off area for the memorabilia that withstood the test of time, waiting for customers to take a peak into Kruzel’s past.
Kruzel identifies pieces of memorabilia that have withstood the test of time throughout her and her mother’s lives in her sectioned-off trinket shop inside Hazel Reese Vintage Market.
A crystal ball and a bejeweled bracelet, once in Ambergrams.
Crystal balls, books, paintings of angels and jewelry make up the wood and glass shelving inside the market where Kruzel will check back on every so often. The physical glimpses into her past are all significant to her.
“My mom and her whole side of the family were hoarders and I’ve taken that on a little bit,” she mentions while sifting through the items laid in rows. “My mom would stick things inside books for safekeeping and forget where she would even put them.”
Ambergrams, seen almost twenty years apart in archival photos kept by Kruzel.
With an abundance of items that have made its way into Kruzel’s present, the story of Ambergrams and her family lives on in the stories she tells without missing a beat. The influence from Kruzel’s past is no coincidence; the mythological stories that were read in place of the bedtime stories most people were raised on and the memory of her mother practicing paganism in a time when it was dangerously taboo has inspired Kruzel’s work in the hundred-mile distance that stands between he stomping grounds and the cabin in the woods that is now built to completion with a renovated addition, making it a livable home in the Appalachias.
Still, the distance proved no obstacle for Kruzel when she packed her belongings and made her way south of the state. The photographs of her sister and the store that was once owned in her family remind Kruzel of the importance of where she is today.
“When I was in my early 20s, I promised myself to have a job I love and to work part-time making full-time money. . . here I am.”
Now in Southeastern Ohio, Kruzel has become acclimated with its biker scene and the variety of walks of life that have also found themselves in the area. With her Harley Davidson motorcycle and the alleged hauntings sprawling across the region, Kruzel found the perfect spot to spread her energy and begin a new chapter in her life. Although in a new home in a vastly different part of the Buckeye State, Kruzel’s clients from Cleveland and all of Northeastern Ohio continue to pull her back to her hometown, where she says the building that once housed Ambergrams is still standing, just painted over. The vibrant flowers that were easy to spot off the side of the road are now gone, but the memory of the times she had with her mother lives on.
“She kind of had a broad sweep, teaching us different stories, different mythologies, different types of spiritual things. So she was actually into a lot of different things: she had decks of playing cards and even a deck of a gypsy witch cards which is kind of old fashioned fortune telling cards if it’s not, not terrible, but anyway, but she was actually Catholic, so she was kind of into all that stuff in a way.”
Despite the juxtaposition of Mary’s Catholicism and her passion for paganism, the latter is what stuck to Gina the most out of anything.
Kruzel and her sister, Alice (right), on Halloween night in 1985
In her cabin in the woods, Gina always dreamed of herself residing in a secluded home connected to nature. The cabin that was once a family effort is now her permanent home that she fantasized about, carrying her family’s legacy with her no matter where she is.
Starting her new chapter into the life of motherhood began with having her son, Logan, in 1994 with her first husband. Now separated, Logan lives with his biological father up in Cleveland where “it’s good that he’s staying with him,” Kruzel claims.
While she only sees him every so often, he has warmed to her second husband, Rick, who met Gina in 2010 at the Starwood Festival held at the Wisteria campgrounds. Having a fun weekend together was the start of it all when Gina told Rick to prove it to her that he loves her and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He returned home and came back some time later with his belongings stacked in his car, showed up to her front door and said, “Missouri, baby!” Like the slogan of the state of Missouri, “The Show Me State,” Rick followed through.
“That’s when I knew that this was meant to be,” Kruzel smiles, reminiscing on the moment.
While Gina’s husband, Rick, speaks about his days in the photography world in the early 2000s, she looks up at the sky as a plane flies overhead at their home in Rutland, Ohio.
Kruzel guides seven-month-old dog Helios out of her house in the woods of Rutland, Ohio.
Kruzel leans into a moment of togetherness once more with her son, Logan, and his partner, Aurelia, at the Autumn Fires festival as the couple dances together
With dogs, cats and goats, what was once an empty property is now filled with their love for animals and each other. Inside, the cabin is decked from floor to ceiling with the memorabilia that has yet again made its way to Kruzel’s present life, reflecting her fondness of antiques, metaphysical tools and items, as well as framed portraits of her family members inside her office where she takes phone calls with her clients who wish not to meet in person now due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The framed portraits of her extended family are of ones who have inspired her with their ambition and efforts to achieve economic success. Her aunt, helping book The Beatles for a concert in Cleveland, her grandmother, who once owned a wedding dress store, and of course, her mother, owning Ambergrams.
Kruzel goes into the depth of her work as a paranormal investigator and as a wealth of knowledge with the metaphysical realm. When cleansing a house, its property and even humans themselves, “I open up the portal for the spirit to find the white light. It’s all about the light.”
Kruzel's "Tarot Queen" business cards are stacked together at the table where she regularly meets with clients
Kruzel makes her way back to her Bronco to go home to her forest cabin in Rutland, just ten minutes from the farm house.
Kruzel drives past a cemetery in Rutland on the usual route home.
With only a handful of days left before the Autumn Fire festival at the Wisteria campgrounds, Kruzel landscapes the Ancestral Mound where visitors leave objects and other offerings for their loved ones who passed.
Kruzel’s field is made up of skeptics, and those who talk about it hold skepticism near and dear to their heart. “I’m a skeptic at heart, for sure, but she read me. She’s the real deal,” says Whitney Fain, a client of Kruzel’s who met her at the Wisteria campground two years back while volunteering in its kitchen.
Kruzel drives a Wisteria performer, Tadashi, back to the main campgrounds after discovering him wandering through the campground’s fairy garden in the back of the forest in Rutland, Ohio.
“I wouldn’t offer her food without a wristband on the festival grounds, and she said, ‘ you don’t know who I am?’'
Unknowingly, Fain was speaking with Kruzel, who at the time was the president of the Wisteria council. Finding her way back to its Autumn Fires festival from October 7-10, Fain sought out Kruzel’s advice for a tarot reading. An emotional and in-depth reading took place in the woods where Kruzel’s tent was pitched for those to identify the bright turquoise canvas.
In the midst of a tarot card reading with Whitney Fain, Kruzel provides an in-depth look into the past, present and what is yet to come for Fain at the Wisteria grounds.
“I went in there with concerns about my future and if I was going to buy a house with my boyfriend of four years. She said I won’t be getting the house and then it just so happens that three days later, we break up. She told me to look out for animal symbolism in my life from there on out and I kid you not, as I was on the phone with my friend talking about the breakup, a caterpillar was on the side of my couch at my home in West Virginia. My friend was talking to me in that moment about how I am in a metamorphosis stage in my life, like how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, and here it is, right there!” Fain exclaims.
Rationalizing each card and its significance, Kruzel goes through a full deck reading with Fain. “I have never seen anyone give me a reading with a full deck,” she says.
Kruzel’s impact on those looking for answers and comfort in their lives does not fall short. The entrepreneurial spirit that runs through her veins has found itself in her own business marketing her experience as a paranormal investigator and a communicator with the metaphysical realm. That’s what inspired her to get a group of like-minded, “earth-bound” people together to start Wisteria: a place where she continues to touch lives with her powers, left and right.
Ornaments dangle from tree branches at the Fairy Garden designated space in the Wisteria campgrounds while Kruzel strolls past, revisiting the winding pathways deep in the Appalachian forest.
Black cat Venus circles Kruzel's biker boots outside her cabin in the woods.