In the depths of the forest, the wind begins to rush against the fragile tree branches. A shrieking howl can be heard. It starts as a bone chilling moan and continues to rise in both power and terror until it climaxes in blood-curdling horror. A sense of dread consumes you as you realize you are not alone in these woods, but it is too late. The wendigo has found you.
What is a Wendigo
The wendigo is a product of Algonquian folklore and is a beast that was feared by all. This terrifying creature was known to have its biggest impact during the winter months and was thought to be responsible for the manifestation of some of the darkest parts of the human spirit. It is winter, famine, gluttony, and cannibalism incarnate.
The wendigo is known for its insatiable greed and hunger for human flesh. The wendigo is often depicted as a demonic spirit that has power over winter storms and weather events. Because of this, the creature is often associated with the harsh winters of the North. It is said that an angry wendigo can cause the sky to darken and extreme weather such as harsh winter winds, tornadoes, and blizzards.
The wendigo is often depicted as a supernatural creature that has the ability to bring famine and harsh winter storms to bear over land. These conditions give it ideal hunting grounds and plentiful victims – both to satisfy its hunger and need to share its twisted desires.
One of the most terrifying aspects of a wendigo is its inability to be satisfied. A wendigo is always hungry and can never be filled. It takes pleasure in the hunt for prey and the act of killing, but even after devouring the entirety of a human being its hunger is not quenched. A wendigo grows with every meal it eats in proportion to the mass it has devoured. Because of this, a wendigo can never be satisfied and will always hunger for more victims.
Origins of the Wendigo
The wendigo is a demon, but some wendigos can be created from humans who have been corrupted with greed and the hunger for human flesh. These victims are often transformed into wendigos themselves (often from the touch or possession of the beast) after they give in to their carnivorous desires. With every victim these new wendigos devour, they grow proportionately in size. It is said that wendigos have the ability to grow to a size that is unfathomable by the human mind and that the sight of a wendigo who has devoured many souls is enough to make the human heart freeze in terror.
Although a wendigo is able to exist in the physical world, it is actually a spirit form. Like many spirits, the wendigo has the ability to become invisible, fly, become undetectable, or possess humans.
The wendigo is extremely selective with those that it chooses to possess. Most often, the creature will only possess people who are starving, who are gluttonous, who have had a craving for human flesh before, or who are greedy and have tendencies to display their wealth openly. Anyone who becomes possessed with a wendigo spirit will become wendigos themselves and will continue to exist as a wendigo until the spirit is exorcised or they are killed. However, as wendigos have incredible strength and are able to move with extreme strength and power, it is highly unlikely that a wendigo could be killed.
Common Wendigo Practices
The wendigo is a ruthless and savage predator. It has heightened senses that allow it to tune into every inch of its hunting grounds (which often extend for many miles on end). Its sense of sight, smell, and hearing are so impressive that it is able to track its prey and know the exact movements of its target even if it is many miles away.
Although the wendigo is always seeking to fill a deep hunger, it enjoys taking its time before a kill. It will often stalk its prey for hours on end and will reveal its presence in small ways every so often in order to make its prey fearful. A person who is being stalked by a wendigo will often feel a growing sense of dread that they are being watched or followed. The wendigo is able to sense their fear and paranoia grow with each heartbeat. This brings the malevolent spirit a sense of excitement and anticipation for the kill.
It is said that the final warning a wendigo will give before striking is to unleash a blood-curdling howl in the harsh winter winds. The warning does little to help victims – by the time they hear it, it is already too late.
Practices of a Wendigo While Hunting
A wendigo is ruthless and enjoys terrifying its prey before making a kill. The beast is known to stalk its prey for hours on end until they become impossibly frightened. A wendigo may reveal itself to its victim with a loud shriek or scream to increase their level of terror. It is said that the creature is able to sense the fear of their victims, which only adds to their anticipation and excitement for the kill. The terror of their victims is perhaps the only form of joy a wendigo feels.
Wendigos are also very intelligent compared to other similar beasts and demons. They are hypersensitive and able to stay attuned to every inch of their hunting grounds – which can sometimes stretch for many miles. They are also intuitive about their hunting needs. If they sense that they may soon run out of a food supply they will sometimes take the entrails of their victims and put them in large pots as a backup measure. These pots are then placed at the very tops of tree branches where only the wendigo can reach. If a wendigo senses that it will be an especially harsh winter, it will sometimes take victims alive and keep them prisoner in its lair until it is ready to feed.
There is little that can be done to hide from a wendigo. In fact, many believe that hiding from a wendigo is impossible. It is said that once the creature captures the scent of its prey, it will always know where the person travels no matter how far they go.
Unlike other creatures and spirits, a home will not keep a person safe from the reach of a wendigo. There are many stories that document wendigos who have managed to unlock a home from the outside and slaughter everyone inside. In these cases, the wendigo usually proceeds to convert the home into its lair and will hibernate for months (or even years) until it is awakened by its hunger and driven to eat more human flesh.
Can a Wendigo be Overpowered or Killed?
Although a wendigo is a fearsome opponent, they are not impossible to defeat. It is said that there are several measures that can be taken to protect oneself against a wendigo. The first thing that should be done is to build a fire. According to legend, wendigos will do everything in their power to avoid fire (possibly because it is thought that their hearts are made of ice). A wendigo can be harmed by fire, but their wounds will heal quickly and they will only become more angry and obsessed with their intended victim.
It is also thought that magical amulets and charms can be used to give oneself protection. As the wendigo is a creature of pure and unbridled evil, it can be dissuaded with objects that have been charmed with protective spells.
Last, but certainly not least, a weapon made of silver is required to go up against a wendigo. It is said that silver is the only type of weapon that can seriously hurt a wendigo. A wendigo can be killed with a weapon made of pure silver if it is driven through the creature’s heart of ice. Once this has been done, the shards of the creatures heart must be placed in a silver box and buried in consecrated ground. Next, the body must be dismembered with a silver weapon, slated, and cremated. The ashes must be scattered to the four winds. Failure to properly follow this procedure will result in the resurrection of the creature and a bloody vengeance.
The wendigo is a fearsome beast with a gruesome appearance. The creature is often described as having long limbs and being extremely thin (almost emaciated) due to its extreme hunger. Most of these creatures are said to be without hair (likely due to their extreme malnutrition). However, in colder regions, it is reported that wendigos sometimes have snow-white hair that is often matted with blood and other gore.
The creature is said to have hands that are withered and bony. At the end of a wendigos fingers there are sharp claws that are sharp enough to tear a person apart with a single touch. Many legends report that these claws are made of ice. This is often considered to be a testament to their control over the elements – especially winter weather.
A wendigos mouth is filled with sharp, needle like teeth that are stained in a disgusting shade of yellow. They are powerful enough to tear through flesh and break apart bones without difficulty. The stench of a wendigos breath is overwhelming and filled with death and corruption. Their tongues are said to be a terrible blue and the mouth of the creature is always covered in blood. Some tales claim that the lips of the creatures mouth are missing. It is said that the wendigo eats its own lips because of its extreme hunger.
A wendigos eyes are said to be large – much larger than the average humans. Sometimes the eyes are described as glowing yellow or red. Other versions claim the eyes of a wendigo are pushed back into the skull of the creature and constantly roll back and forth in blood. The only thing that is visible to human perception is the terrible glow of the eyes that comes from deep within the sockets of the skull.
There are other versions of the wendigo that claim the beast is a decomposing humanoid with the head of a deer. Many descriptions of this version of the wendigo claim that the entrails of the creature are sometimes visible because of the extreme decomposition of the body.
Wendigo psychosis is a term given to people who experience some sort of psychological break that causes them to crave human flesh even though they have access to other food supplies. After first tasting human flesh, victims of wendigo psychosis are unable to eat any food other than human flesh. They see themselves as an invincible man-eating monster that can’t be satisfied by anything but human flesh.
This illness was thought to occur when a person had been exposed to the malevolent spirit of the wendigo and was feared more than death itself. In fact, it was considered to be better to kill oneself than to succumb to cannibalistic desires and risk becoming a wendigo.
Those who chose to seek treatment were often fed large quantities of hot fat and grease in the hopes that these proteins would satisfy the victim’s cravings. If the cravings couldn’t be satisfied, the perceived wendigos were executed.
Cases of Wendigo Psychosis
During a particularly harsh winter in 1878, a trapper in Canada named Swift Runner was facing starvation with his family. It is unclear if his eldest son died of natural causes or was sacrificed to feed the family, but we do know that the family resorted to eating the body of the son to evade starvation.
After eating his eldest son, Swift Runner became consumed with greed for human flesh and killed his wife and remaining 5 children in order to cannibalize them. When the winter was over and he was discovered for his crimes he was put on trial for killing and eating his family. When it was determined that he was only 25 miles away from the nearest supply outpost and could have avoided starvation by simply traveling to obtain more food once the weather lightened up, he was diagnosed with wendigo psychosis.
Eventually, Swift Runner confessed to having wendigo psychosis and killing and eating his family for the pleasure of devouring human flesh. He was then executed by the authorities.
Among other powers of the wendigo, it is thought that the creature is able to cause an illness called wendigo fever. This disease is thought to be one of the ways the wendigo is able to obtain victims to eat. It is said to start with a strange and disturbing smell. The only person who can detect the foul smell is the infected person. When the victim falls asleep they will be plagued with terrible nightmares that will cause them to wake up and weep from fear. When they wake, they will begin to feel a terrible burning sensation in their legs and feet which causes them to run from their homes shrieking. All of the victims will inevitably run to the woods, shedding their clothing as they go. These victims are never seen again and are assumed to have been eaten by the wendigo.
Explanation of the Myth
The tale of the wendigo is often seen as a warning against corruption that was told to prevent people from engaging in immoral behaviors. The wendigo was also likely used to serve as a metaphor to understand terrible acts committed by other people that couldn’t be understood otherwise.
As the tale of the wendigo is associated with colder climates, it is often hypothesized that the tale was told to prevent people from engaging in the taboo act of eating human flesh. It also helped to dehumanize those who did decide to eat human flesh by giving others the explanation that they had been overcome with a wendigo spirit and were no longer human.