Thursday, February 11, 2010

Phenomena on Trial: Jersey Devil

Defendant: Jersey Devil, popularly talked about flying beast witnessed in the Pine Barrens area of New Jersey. Described as having the head of a horse, the wings of a bat, the scaly body of a reptile, the forked tail of a demon, and red eyes.

Defense's opening statement: This creature has been witnessed for 260 years! We’re talking about an exceptionally supernatural being to have so many generations experience the same creature in the same area. Numerous credible people have witnessed this monster over the centuries and the descriptions have been consistently the same. This tells us that they are seeing the same unbelievable beast.

Defense witness: January 19, 1909, At 2:30 am, Mr & Mrs. Nelson Evans of Gloucester were awakened by a strange noise. They watched the devil from their window for 10 minutes. Mr. Evans described the creature they saw: “It was about three feet and half high, with a head like a collie dog and a face like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, and its back legs were like those of a crane, and it had horse's hooves.

It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them. It didn't use the front legs at all while we were watching. My wife and I were scared, I tell you, but I managed to open the window and say, 'Shoo', and it turned around barked at me, and flew away."

Defense Evidence: January 15, 1909: The Lowdens of Burlington, NJ, found hoof prints in their yard and around their trash, which was half eaten. Almost every yard in Burlington had these strange hoof prints in them. The prints went up trees, went from roof to roof, disappeared in the middle of the road, and stopped in the middle of open fields. The same tracks were also found in Columbus, Hedding, Kinhora and Rancocas. A hunt was organized to follow the tracks but the dogs wouldn't follow the trail.

Prosecution's open statement: What the defense has avoided telling you is the legend on which this ridiculous creature was created. A woman 260 years ago apparently giving birth to her 13th child, wished it was a devil. It was born deformed and hideous and then flew up the chimney and for the next century and a half has tormented the people of the Pine Barrens. Had they told us the tale on which the creature is based, we could have cancelled this trial right away!

Prosecution witness:
(photo above) Great horned owl. This creature has a wingspan up to 5’, eyes that glow red at night. Its tufted ears look like horns. They have also been known to attack humans.

Prosecution Evidence: The great horned owl has been in this region and breeding for more than 260 years, the likelihood of running into one of these exceeds the chance of running into a deformed 260-year-old creature that was born to a human and can fly. We do not have to prove the Jersey Devil does not exist because it is quite obvious by lack of any evidence that it is nothing but a local legend.

Prosecution’s closing argument: An epidemic of sightings were reported in 1909. Set off by one tale, a neighbor suddenly encountered the creature, on and on until thousands reported witnessing it. Then, suddenly it fizzled out and no more reports for many decades. That might sound like an incredibly reliable proof of the existence of something exceptional. It is not. You see, these thousands of reports were made during one week. One single week in 260 years something supposedly showed itself. What we can gather from this is that hysteria spread fast in a small community and then ran its course. It would never have been reported again if people didn’t read the old newspaper reports and attribute something large flying by as the Jersey Devil.

Defense’s closing argument:
Thousands of people over hundreds of years are being dismissed by the prosecution. These people live in a rural area. They know their horned owls and their cranes. They do not mistake farm animals for flying monsters. The vast wilderness of the Pine Barrens affords this creature sanctuary, as well as ample food supply and waterways. Thousands of people cannot be all wrong. Even if a few truly saw what they describe, it should make us all very afraid.


  1. It sounds awful, but i always feel kind of sad for the poor monsters!
    Why do n't you post a picture of your work. I want to see the quija board!

  2. Georgina;
    Thanks. I was hoping to put up a picture today. I just have to find out where the spare camera is because mine just finally died after lots of years of ghost hunting. I should be able to get the photo up today.

  3. I like the clever way you wrote about the Jersey Devil. I never seen it done like this before. Leave it up to you miss Sharon, lol. BTW, I would love to see your latest projects too.

  4. Thanks Julie;
    A few days ago I did the same layout for crop circles in a post. I was going to go through a bunch of phenomena this way. Hubby just told me he has my spare camera in his gym bag so I won't get it until this evening, but I'll get a picture and put it up right away. I'm already planning some wall hangings of ghost hunts and abandoned places...

  5. These are pretty cool. Reminds me of those "Opposing Viewpoints" books I used to have to study in class only this doesn't suck.

    Personally I think it's a crane or something. Fits the bill save for the parts where hysteria played a role (and added some extra features to some eyewitness statements, no doubt). Sorry, but people under stress tend to suck when it comes to accurate descriptive accounts (not that I'm saying I know what these people saw or are even discrediting them since I'VE been through some seriously weird shit myself). It just helps to look at the most likely phenomenon first. It's when things don't add up that they start to become suspect.

    You should definitely cover Mothman, shadow people, exorcisms, possession, malicious entities, energy vampires, thoughtforms, black magic, satanism, divination, and Ouija boards. There are some great arguments regarding these things out there (but I seriously doubt you need MY help).

    I also liked your Ouija board art idea in your "Embrace Your Dark Side" post. I actually wanted to do it but I don't want to ruin the only board I got.

  6. Hey Grim;
    Yeah, I definitely have a crap-load of weird stuff to cover in this series. I like to keep it open and let people see for themselves. I've been working on a series of romantic horror novels that involve a team of paranormal investigators and one of the things I love about writing it is that at each location they're searching for weird shit, you get the scene through each person's eyes and their viewpoints about paranormal from total belief to total disbelief to "it must be explainable" to "it's something natural in the science world." I love doing that because you see the scene differently depending on who's viewing it and at some point everyone reading identifies with the way one of them explains what happens. This is kind of like that. I just give both sides as if I believe and don't believe and let you figure it out. So far as this one goes--no belief, but I love the legend so I won't go after it. Kind of like Nessie--she's necessary for tourism, so I still call her by name even though I know she's not there.

    Later today, when I get my spare camera out, I'm going to take a shot of the Ouija wall hanging. I've come up with a series I'm going to do involving everything from tarot readings to HooDoo to seance to pagan altars to ghost hunts and abandoned places. This is really fun for me because I tend to think of art as intermedia or multimedia. I want texture and objects and things, especially since I read objects. This Ouija one, I'm waiting for the handerchief to dry (fabric stiffener) and then I'll adhere it and I'll be ready to take a shot of it. It came out so cool. It's like it tells a story. The board has been aged and stained and there's this creepy ass picture of a father and son and an old watch and a candle stub and the handerchief. It's like you can imagine these folks. Gives me the creeps!

  7. Ooo, great. I can't wait to see it!!! Same goes for the Tarot one since they're another small thing I'm into though I think the cards are how you interpret them rather than them being a portent of the future.

    I like your idea of education on the paranormal through fiction. Interesting concept, especially for those who may not want to be bothered by picking up every psychic and science book out there and chose to read a story instead.

    BTW, just went to go see "The Wolfman" today. Sweeeeeeettttt!!!!

  8. Grim;
    You lucky boy!!!! I can't wait to see it. I hope it's as sexy as it looks. I like sexy werewolf movies--I'm such a freak! I'm seeing it with my ghost hunting buddy on Wednesday on our day off. We both decided we wanted to see it in the daytime when no one is there so we can really appreciate it without the nasty usual weekend crowd that has cell phones and chatting. I have a big list of these little wall vignettes I want to make. The Ouija just got finished and I hope to find a black ribbon or something interesting for hanging it. I also took special care in choosing the photo and the watch with the right amount of somber male emotion. The overall effect really gets me. It'll be doubly interesting because it is a glow in the dark board so when it hangs on a wall at night and the lights are off, it'll be scary. I'd like to use that technique on all the hangings. I need to research good glow in the dark paint that's translucent in daytime. Oh, and my novella I'm writing "The Thicket" which is a werewolf one uses my theory of geology and rock holding powers. I hope to use all my theories in the paranormal series I'm doing.

  9. You need to start posting these novellas so we can read them.

    Ah, yes. It wasn't terribly sexy. Damn gory and jumpy, which was great. I may even see it again sometime. And I won't spoil it for you or anything but the way it ended, there may even be a second part. I'm not sure everyone will enjoy the ending (due in part to the oddness regarding one particular character) but I liked it. You'll understand when you see it.

  10. Grim;
    If you've seen "Wolf" was it something along the lines of Michelle Pfeiffer at the end? I can't wait to see it! I've published scenes from some of my novella back when I had the first rendition of it. Now that I've changed it, I might put a new scene on the blog. I also want to put a scene from my "The Hunt" series of paranormal researchers on. It will hopefully be a series of full-length books, at least 4 but maybe 6. Each book they hunt something new. In the first one, they hunt ghosts. Then, Bigfoot. Then UFOs maybe or Jersey Devil... don't know yet. I need to get the first one in to the publisher and see what happens then go from there. It's an ongoing romance as well as horror series so people will get invested in the characters and their relationship.

  11. The defense might want to point out that the creature (if it exists at all) inspired the legend, not necessarily the other way around.

  12. Jeff;
    I like the way your mind works. Yeah, that's true. I suppose the question is--did an owl start the legend or did a jersey devil? Hmm... Jury's out.