Friday, February 27, 2009

The New Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil first started interesting me way back when the X-Files did an episode about it. Of course in that episode, it was a mostly human creature and the Devil most people talk about in the sightings of today is a totally different creature with huge wings, the head of a horse, glowing red eyes, cloven hooves of a deer and the body of a serpent. Most people claim it to be more than seven feet tall as well and it had been noted in police reports that the its weight is estimated to be 200 to 400 pounds from the footprint impressions left in the snow at one particular sighting.

It's interesting to note that although New Jersey is a very densely populated state, it has some very unpopulated and thickly forested areas. One of these is called the Pine Barrens, located in the southern part of the state.

So what is the Jersey Devil, really? Lets go back to the original myth which goes back to colonial days. Legend has it that this all started with a kind of self-imposed curse. An English woman, Mowas Leeds, had married a Pine Barren businessman and became pregnant with her thirteenth child in as many years. Finding herself sick of children and the whole child bearing process, she prayed to God "Lord, I don't want anymore children. Let this one be a devil". Perhaps it was out of an awful depression from hormones that never had a chance to return to normal with all those births so close together. Perhaps it never happened at all, but usually a folklorist or an historian will tell you no to discount oral histories as they were a closely guarded way to hand down a peoples family history.

Anyway, as the story goes, the newborn was horribly deformed. It looked at its mother with horrible eyes, spread its wings and flew up and our of the chimney to roam the Pine Barrens where it is reported to remain to this day.

People who have seen the Jersey Devil do report a feeling of fear for their lives and a sense of dread. Their adrenalin kicks in and they run from it, feeling their life is in danger. An age old response to threat. We can then assume this devil does mean harm. There have been expeditions to find it, but no one has come up with any evidence of its existence. I've been told that the TV show MONSTER QUEST did a show on it where some of the people who have seen it took polygraph tests administered by a retired NYPD polygraph expert. They passed with flying colors so it is safe to say that there is probably something out there. It bears further study. We'll keep watch on this one.


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