Thursday, January 17, 2013

On the nature of the Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature said to live in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. According to the legend, a woman named Deborah Leeds gave birth to the monster, her thirteenth child. Some say that the child was cursed because it was born thirteenth, and other accounts report that it was born hideously deformed.

The creature is described as a hoofed biped somewhat resembling a kangaroo, with the head of a goat, bat-like wings, small arms with clawed hands, and a forked tail. It is also said to emit a blood-curdling scream.

To start my research, I asked a friend of mine, who lives in New Jersey, for a current local perspective on the Jersey Devil. He told me that the town he lives in is about 20 minutes from the house the Jersey Devil is said, in some traditions, to have been born in. He said that when he was in high school, he and his knucklehead friends would sometimes drive out there after they'd been drinking, and throw bottles at the house, in an attempt to rouse the Jersey Devil, although most encounters with the Devil have been reported in the Pine Barrens. I asked him what the locals thought about the Devil, and he said most people were too religious to believe in any kind of devil.

I have found some basic information on the Jersey Devil on Wikipedia. In attempt to gain more insight, I have explored some of the sites that the Wikipedia article references. However, this can be problematic, as in instances like this site:

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art57572.asp

which is cited as a source by the Wikipedia article on the Jersey Devil, yet which cites the Wikipedia article on the Jersey Devil as one of its sources.

Of course, the Wikipedia article also cites sources that are apparently more reputable, such as the following article from the BBC: http://www.h2g2.com/approved_entry/A16646295. On further inspection of this article, it appears that it is not actually from the BBC. The link in Wikipedia's reference link has been disguised to give it the appearance of more credibility.

Then there is also this article from a local New Jersey newspaper, which reports alleged sightings of the Jersey Devil: http://www.gloucestercitynews.net/clearysnotebook/2007/02/in_1909_the_jer.html

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