Tag Archives: monsters

The Veil: The Jersey Devil

The story begins with a woman name Jane Leeds and great mother Leeds had already given birth to twelve children, but upon finding that she was pregnant for a thirteenth she cursed the child. She called it the devil and wished it would be taken by the devil. Upon the night this child was born it stormed, and it introduced the world to the Leeds Devil.

The legend described the birth as violent, with the baby ripping from her and flying around the room before escaping out of a door/open window. An alternative version says the baby beat everyone in the room with its tail before escaping up the chimney and out into the world. Another version says that Leeds was the mother, but the devil himself was the father. Both versions I’m aware of describe a priest going into the Pine Barrens to perform an exorcism. There are two versions of the story that I can tell, but there are many subs-versions that combined the details of two separate tellings mixing them around and telling alternative versions. 

Upon deeper research for this post, I discovered a third story version that says that Leeds was punished by a higher power for having a child out of wedlock with a British soldier, an enemy of the country during the Revolutionary War.

Some folklorists had identified mother Leeds as Deborah Leeds, on grounds that Deborah Leeds’ husband, Japhet Leeds, named twelve children in the will he wrote during 1736, which is compatible with the legend. Deborah and Japhet Leeds also lived in the Leeds Point section of what is now Atlantic County, New Jersey, which is commonly the location of the Jersey Devil story. One theory says that the story of Mother Leeds, rather than being based on a single historical person, originated from colonial southern New Jersey religion-political disputes that became the subject of folklore and gossip among the local population. 

According to the theorist, folk legends concerning these historical disputes evolved through the years and ultimately resulted in the modern popular legend of the Jersey Devil during the early 20th century. It contends that “colonial-era political intrigue” involving early New Jersey politicians, Benjamin Franklin, and Franklin’s rival almanac publisher Daniel Leeds resulted in the Leeds family being described as “monsters”, and it was Daniel Leeds’ negative description as the “Leeds Devil”, rather than any actual creature, that created the later legend of the Jersey Devil.
It’s an interesting and more rooted of the story, but the eyewitness accounts are not of a Daniel Leeds and him being a monster and of something very different.

The Jersey Devil is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations. The common description is that of a bipedal kangaroo-like or wyvern-like creature with a horse- or goat-like head, leathery bat-like wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, legs with cloven hooves, and a forked tail. It has been reported to move quickly and is often described as emitting a high-pitched blood-curdling scream.

With many legends dealing with crypto zoological creatures, there have been many hoaxes with people faking ‘hoof prints’ and claiming to find them in the area The Jersey Devil calls home. There seems to be details even pointing to an actual manhunt for the creature by President James Monroe in which the claim that the devil was in fact found and killed by a man named Commodore Stephen Decatur, but there’s no hard evidence that I can find that proves this manhunt even happened. For me, this story of the devil being found and killed seems to be just a story to calm the nerves of locals or even as a bragging-rights type of tale.

With, all the information that is out there about The Jersey Devil, I recommend you doing your own research as I have purposely left much out to shorten the post. It’s a interesting story with historical ties.

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The Veil: The Wampus Cat

It’s getting closer to a very spooky day, so let’s talk about The Wampus Cat. A good deal of may never have heard of it, but that doesn’t mean the legend is less real. This is an Appalachian supernatural beast with its very roots in Cherokee tales. From what I understand, the legend begins with a Native American/Indigenous hunting tribe are about to embark on a long hunting trip. They allowed no women to accompany them as it would be too dangerous and rough on them, so they were to be left behind.

The story continues that during this trip that one woman from the village went alone, anyway. She covered herself in the hide of a mountain cat, cougar, or mountain lion. She spied on the men as they asked forgiveness for what they were about to do, taking lives of animals, but also thanking them for their lives. The woman was so enthralled she stepped back breaking a stick. This stirred the hunters and ultimately they took her back to the village to let the shaman of the tribe decide her fate. The shaman turned her into the animal she wore the hide of, a mountain cat.

There are different variations of the story I know online interesting reads. One variation is that the woman was the wife of one hunter and the other was a spirit that transformed into a woman to follow them. One of the more interesting variations is that the woman was cursed to walk alone for being a witch dating the legend to a different time period altogether. 

It is said the Wampus Cat is forever to roam the Appalachian Mountains at night and some have claimed to see it. The tales are all different, as mentioned above, but primarily that it is a woman that roams the night as a half-cougar half-woman as a punishment of some sort. This is primarily a North Carolina crypto animal and tale. 

Folklorist have dated the tale going back to the 19th century with a 20th century twist turning it into a Native American woman.  In 1964 reports of a ‘ape-like’ creature seen roaming the woods came to light and they labeled it the Wampus Cat, but ‘ape-like’ and ‘cougar-like’ are very different descriptions. It is said that you know you have a Wampus Cat near if in the middle of the night you hear odd cat-like meowing or growling or if animals have disappeared from local farms. 

The term ‘catawampus’ in the south to refer to something being ‘odd’ or ‘strange’ is said to come from this legend. I’ve even used this term to describe something messed up, for example: the room was clean until the kid ran through now it’s all catawampus.

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Originally, I had wrote this long beautiful review of this story, but accidentally saved over it. I will try to recreate that review to the best of my knowledge and a new cup of coffee to help me refocus myself. Now, let’s get to the review.

I have read many of Lovecraft’s catalog. His writing is a dense/thick style which makes it difficult at times for the average reader to consume, this story is no different. Once you get use to it, the style, is completely engulfing. Though The Dunwich Horror is not my favorite of his works, it made it into the top five because it contains the elements of horror I really enjoy.

A boy, Wilbur, is born to an unstable albino mother. He is different as he grows very quickly. During the years of his growing up his grandfather teaches him of witchcraft and dark rituals. The family is shunned by the town’s folk for their odd behaviors and their foul smells. Even animals fear them.

When he becomes a man (by the time he should be an average ten year old little boy) his grandfather has him helping him in their farmhouse to summon and entrap an invisible monster. As the monster grows it becomes harder to control and Wilbur seeks a copy of a book called Necronomicon in order to find a way to do just that.

While Wilbur does find the location of one he is denied. He breaks in a steals a copy from the library housing it, but ultimately ends up dead trying to escape with it. Due to his passing the monster becomes completely uncontrollable and breaks free of the house that had been holding him. It rampages the town. The people only realize something is there because of the damage and the ‘prints’ the monster leaves behind. Near the end of the story it is stopped and revealed to be the twin brother of Wilbur. It calls out for its father, Yog-Sothoth.

Since I have read many of Lovecraft’s work since, I have learned that Yog-Sothoth is apart of the Cthulhu Mythos. It is first mentioned in the story The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. As to what it really is is at least hinted at in the story Through the Gates of the Silver Key, in which it is described to have a connection with all time and space. It is in this story, The Dunwich Horror, that you can connect the dots and see the connection to ‘The Old Ones’.

I had many assumptions about the story. It was one of the earlier works of Lovecraft I read and all the horror stories I’ve read had me predicting the twists and the storyline, but I was pleasantly surprised and have learned since not to assume anything when it comes to Lovecraft.

This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.

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The Veil: Mothman

The Mothman has been a feature of folklore and myth for many years. A prime focus of movies, books, and mentioned through television. The story goes that the Mothman appeared in the area Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966. The legend goes that it only appears right before something bad happens.

He was linked to a bridge collapse that killed over forty people, thus forever being linked with his appearance seen as a bad omen. A ‘bird like creature’ was seen near the bridge and then it collapsed leaving many to connect the dots and blame the creature. Though many believe a sighting to be bad, there are also the group that believe him to be a good omen. That he is a type of protector. This camp of people see his appearance at the bridge, before it collapsed, a foreshadowing or warning that wasn’t heeded.

He has been sensationalized throughout children’s books, but it wasn’t until the novel The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel published in 1975 that a nation became fascinated. This novel turned movie popularized him. The book, one I haven’t personally read, is a imaginative investigation of the cases surrounding the creature between the years of 1966 and 1967.

What this creature truly is no one knows. Theories range from demon to alien protector come to Earth.

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