A Famous Cryptid
Today I wanted to write and tell you about a piece of folklore that you may already be aware of as it is a well-known creature/cryptid.
I am of course talking about the Jersey Devil.
The story around this creature is that in the 18th century a supposed witch known as Mother Leeds discovered that she was pregnant. This was to be her 13th child. Naturally due to the connotations with the number etc Mother Leeds decided that this child was the son of the devil.
When he was born she was disappointed to see that he was perfectly normal.
However, almost instantly he changed. He became a hooved beat that killed the midwife and ran off into the woods. As you do moments after birth.
The Jersey devil is often credited with killing livestock, though it is sometimes said to have also killed small children. It is also blamed for souring cows’ milk just by being close to the cow.
Like Bigfoot, this creature has a large following and at one point a reward was offered for its capture. There was a dramatic increase in sightings in the 1900s, from seeing the creature attack a trolley to footprints in the snow.
With the creature having such a large following there have been a great many hoaxes. But such a large following also leads to a lot of dilution, it’s difficult now to see what this creature symbolised because of the number of retellings it has gone through. Perhaps it can represent the early settlers’ fear of the unknown landscape around them which already housed large predators? It could symbolise fear of the other, which crops up a lot, even today. We naturally fear what is different to ourselves and imagination can enhance that fear.
The Jersey Devil has cropped up a lot outside of its initial folklore, it lent its name to sports teams. You can purchase models and figurines of the creature, much in the same way you can of bigfoot and other cryptids. It’s turned up in tv shows like the X-files, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Real adventures of Jonny Quest and more recently Gravity Falls (an awesome show btw). It crops up in various video games, including one named after it.