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Wendigo: What is This Cannibalistic Monster

Learn what a wendigo is, where the legends originate and how to defeat one in case you ever encounter one

Wendigo: What is This Cannibalistic Monster

In the mythology of the United States and Canada, the wendigo is a terrifying figure (and more so in the era of creepypasta). A monstrous being, linked to cannibalism, and appearing in the literary universe of horror authors such as Lovecraft or Stephen King (especially in ‘Pet Sematary’).

If you are not afraid of monsters and want to know more details about the wendigo, where he lives, how he feeds and how a man can become a wendigo, keep reading the following report!

What is a wendigo? Definition

The wendigo is a supernatural, malefic and cannibal creature, derived from the mythology of the Algonquian Indians living in Canada. The legend of the wendigos has spread throughout the Indian folklore of North America and today, the wendigo, as a character, is part of the mythologies, tales and legends of a large number of Amerindian nations.

The first mention of the legend of the wendigo is found in the study entitled History of North America, the work of historian Claude-Charles Roy de la Potherie, published in 1722. Between 1880 and 1920, many settlers reported seeing a wendigo near the Small town of Roseau in northern Minnesota.

Thus, the wendigo becomes a form of representation of death. He is an extremely thin, even skeletal being, with fragments of flesh that are attached to his bones. It has no lips or fingers, and its skin is grey. His eyes are bright and deep, his tongue long and his teeth yellow.

The wendigo gives off a foul odour of decay and corpse that drives away the animals from the forest, hence when he approaches, he does it in silence, since no one can remain by his side.

In certain currents of mythology and popular folklore of North America, the wendigo is described as a tall creature, about 5 meters, and that would have the heart of ice; hence why many link him with the Yeti or the Abominable Snowman. Thus, the wendigo could live a long time and be several hundred years old. Some even say that it goes into hibernation to survive the rigors of winter.

It is usually fast, it is a predator and a fearsome, insatiable and almost invincible hunter, who becomes even more dangerous at dusk. It hunts nocturnally, has an insatiable hunger, and his "favorite dish" is human being. That is why wendigo is linked to diverse stories of cannibalism.

When a wendigo eats a person, his height grows proportionally to the meat he has consumed, and this is what makes his satiety endless. Sometimes this mythological creature is attributed the power to paralyze, at a distance, its possible victims, leaving them defenceless.

What are the origins of the wendigo? 7 hypotheses

As with the werewolf,  it is said that the wendigo was once a human being.  In fact, according to legend, any man can become a wendigo for any of these reasons:

1. Cannibalism

If an individual who begins to consume human flesh, for example for fear of starvation during the cold winters, may end up transformed into a wendigo.

2. Possession of the spirit of a wendigo

The spirit of a wendigo can sneak into the dreams of human beings to possess them easily.

3. Night meeting in the forest with the spirit of a wendigo

The purpose of the possession of a wendigo is to make the human being, who pays the price, become a cannibal, which allows the Wendigo spirit to satisfy his hunger for human flesh through him.

4. Curse of a shaman

In this way, he could execute a revenge, or perhaps fulfil an order.

5. Ritual of transformation

It would be carried out voluntarily, and thus a human being would become a wendigo.

6. Some extreme behaviors

The most mentioned is gluttony, but another type of excess can also make a man mutate wendigo.

7. Pact with the devil

It is said that the first wendigo arose from a deal with evil; He wanted to save his tribe and became, at his request, a fierce warrior. However, the day the tribe was out of danger, banished, the man transformed into wendigo and forced him to live as an outcast, it would be a danger to the community.

How to kill a wendigo?

According to the legends, several actions could be carried out to kill a wendigo: precipitate it in a fire and burn it, shoot bullets of silver, melt its heart of ice, pour hot sebum on it, or kill the person who is possessed by the wendigo

Some legends report cases of frozen people who would have been released from the claws of wendigo without being killed. Unfortunately, these cases are very rare, and death is often the only way to free a person from this type of possession.

As a curiosity, it should be noted that there is a mental illness called Wendigo psychosis, and the people affected would have developed an insatiable hunger for human flesh, despite the possibility of eating other foods.

The wendigo in literature and cinema

This monstrous being (which has once again had a certain impact with the arrival of the creepypasta era) has appeared in numerous accounts; perhaps ‘The Wendigo’, linked to the Lovecraft universe, is the most popular. Its author is Algernon Blackwood, who wrote it in 1910, and the piece was collected in ‘The Myths of Cthulhu’.

Stephen King, on the other hand, made it very popular in 'Pet Sematary', a book that tells how a pet cemetery allows people who are buried in it to return to life, whether it is an animal or a human. The wendigo would be responsible for the curse of those lands, the cause of evil.

In the audio-visual world, wendigo has appeared in numerous episodes of series as well as films. Perhaps the feature film where wendigo is best described is "Ravenous" by Antonia Bird, with Robert Carlyle, Guy Pearce and David Arquette. Set in the mid-19th century, it tells how a captain of the United States army is sent to a fort and in which everyone is captured by an avalanche. Therefore, they will have no choice but to resort to cannibalism to survive