The Devil’s Hole in Jersey

Gradually, over time, this island is shrinking. The vast tides. The terrible winds. The sea wants it back, all this world that we think is ours. The sea understands time in quantum. Soon. The chalk will fall before the granite. But soon, in sea terms, this arrogance of air will be curtailed.

Centuries ago in Jersey there was a hole that looked like a face. Le Creux de vis. “The hollow of the face”. Erosion took the face. Capitalism and ignorance allowed a rebrand. De vis. Misheard de ville. Devil. The creux or hollow of the devil. The devil’s hole. BUY OUR DEVILBEER. There’s a pub at the trailhead. Pablo and I, when we are close, we ask: “Are we near The Devil’s Hole?” We get: “Yes, it’s about ten minutes. And the pub too!”

We bypass the pub. We are after a caldera – something primal. We walk a short distance after having to pass through the car park, and we find a large devil standing in a pond full of algae. He is sad, this Satan. If he was ever made to look powerful, somebody has disempowered him and sidelined him.

He is guarded by fences that are strong in intention but not in practicality. He feels like he has been shunted far from his proper place and dumped here. He is obscured by branches and standing in a muddy puddle.

Pablo works with bronze. If he’s bronze, we think, it’s a terrible waste. We can’t get to him. So we decide to throw things until they connect, so we can at least hear the sound and guage what he is made of.

Crab apples. We find and throw crab apples at the devil. Our aim quickly adjusts to the fact that he is a long way from the path. Neither of us are really aware of the mythic weight of our actions, hurling our disrespectful bitter apples at this vast replica of a figure some faith structures have constructed to represent BAD. We established that this devil is made out of fiberglass. We both receive a *bonk* that definitely isn’t a clang.

When I was a child, a different statue was on the hillside, looking down into the hole. It was a powerful statement. Before I was born, another equally striking statue stood at the bottom of the hole. The early one is long gone, the one from my childhood must have had its platform eroded and fallen into its own hole. It was never replaced (elf and safety innit!). This one has been moved from the main site with all the usual bullshit reasons. “It might scare children.” If your children are going to have their life damaged by a statue of the devil, you need to let that happen because you’ve already destroyed them by cosseting them too much.

We walked to a hole that had nothing to do with the devil but art and misinterpretation. We saw how ignorance and fear of repercussions can make the world less interesting. We looked – for a moment – at a hole in the ground. We noticed how there were more people at that particular part of trail than at any other.

It’s not the Devil’s Hole. It’s a pub that doesn’t give a fuck about anything but the bottom line, that has a misinterpreted bit of land on its soil. Artists have repeatedly tried to augment the superstition of the area. The Devil overlooking the hole was chilling. I remember it from my childhood. This fat fiberglass Pan – it’s fucking stupid to try and make Pan into the devil anyway – that’s just mythic colonialism. But if he exists, at least put him where he can be seen.

I’ve been “arting” in Jersey so perhaps I’m particularly sensitive to it right now. Yeah it’s only fiberglass. But some artist that thinks of Pan and The Devil in the same breath – (and who can blame him after generations of a deliberate blurring of the two?) – that artist made something with personality only to have it dumped in a brackish pond. In order to not scare children. Bullshit. There’s more at play, and I bet you that somewhere at the top of the pile is somebody that believes in magical beardyman. Whatever they’re calling Zeus these days. With that conflation of Horus and Odin dying on the tree. And definitely not Pan, oh no because Pan is BAD because he represents nature and freedom. But yeah. The popular beardy skyperson has caused a pub landlord to sideline an interesting fiberglass figure where the myths have got confused and a fallen angel has become a faun in order to try and teach pantheists that their canon is bad and somehow we still accept that image long after the idealogical battle is over. Bleh. Myth. Another interesting thing about Jersey that I might be able to get stuck into…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

2 thoughts on “The Devil’s Hole in Jersey”

  1. Excellent post. I became fascinated with that statue after a trip to Jersey with Harriet 15 years ago. I found it atmospheric at the time. Sad to see it’s been swamped in, overgrown and neglected even further – and he’s lost his trident I think. You can find some pictures online of one of his predecessors- far more demonic and crude than big sad rotting Pan. I wonder if this was the Devil from your youth?

    Like

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