Mythical Creatures Series
The embodiment of gluttony, greed and excess, the wendigo is never sated after consuming a person. This creatures is constantly on the hunt for its next meal.
What is it?
The wendigo is a creature appearing in the mythology of the Algonquian people – the most populous and widespread North American native language groups. It is said the wendigo was once a man who ate human flesh. He broke one of the worst taboos. A malignant spirit will then possess them, and gave birth to the wendigo. The idea is that the spirit forces the man’s soul out during this takeover. The human body starts convulsing, feeling sick and vomits uncontrollably, losing a lot of blood. While the human side dies here, the physical body starts to transform, taking a beastly form. Once the changes is complete, no part of the human resides in the body. It’s become an evil, bloodthirsty monster.
It lives in the forests of the very Northern America and Canada.
The wendigo is known to have extraordinary stealth making it a perfect hunter. Some legends talk of wendigos being able to control the weather or call upon beasts to help them during attacks. They have supernatural strength and an insatiable hunger. It’s sense of sight, smell and hearing is heightened. Using its powerful claws and fangs, which have been described as icicles because of the area it lives in, it can easily tear through flesh and with one swipe decapitate someone. The voice of a wendigo is very distinctive – its deafening. Some say it’s roar is louder than thunder.
It seems this creature is almost indestructible. Fire is said to deter it. Some legends say the use of silver bullets or a silver blade is the only way to weaken this foe.
Basil Johnston, an Ojibwe teacher and scholar from Ontario, gives one description of how Wendigos were viewed:
|The Weendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Weendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody [….] Unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, the Weendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.|
Though the description does vary depending on tribe. The Ojibwa believe that it is an Ogre and the Canadians believe that it is a crocodile with hoofed feet or the feet of a bear. The most popular notion of the Wendigo is the spirit of a lost hunter from the myths of the Aconquin Indians.
Appearances In Culture
- While Wendigos have been referred to in literature for many decades (most notably in Algernon Blackwood’s 1910 story “The Wendigo,” which introduced the legend to horror fiction, and in Stephen King’s novel Pet Cemetery), recently they have become something of a stock character in horror and fantasy films and television, along the lines of werewolves and vampires, usually bearing very little resemblance to the Algonquian spirit. Appearances include the movies Wendigo and Ravenous (which by the way is an awesome movie!), and in episodes of the television series Blood Ties, Charmed, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Supernatural, and others.
- They also appear as characters in a number of computer and video games, including Final Fantasy, The Legend of Dragoon, and the Warcraft Universe, as well as role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. Additionally, there is a Marvel Comics character known as “Wendigo”.
- They are referenced in music as well: the Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song “The Priests Of The Golden Bull” asserts that the “money junkies” of the world are Wendigos.
Did you know? ‘The term “Wendigo psychosis” refers to a condition in which sufferers developed an insatiable desire to eat human flesh even when other food sources were readily available, often as a result of prior famine cannibalism; Wendigo psychosis is identified by Western psychologists as a culture-bound syndrome, though members of the aboriginal communities in which it existed believed cases literally involved individuals turning into Wendigos.’ Source
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