The Wendigo is a mythical creature found in the legends of the first nations people, specifically the Ojibwe and the Cree tribes. It is said to be encountered by campers and hunters in the upper north american region. Native tribes tell stories of a corrupt and hateful creature named the Wendigo, roughly translated, meaning the evil spirit that devours mankind.
Without ever being satisfied, the wendigo consumes its prey during the night mostly feeding on lost or people alone in the forest, flourishing in harsh, cold winter climates.
There are many different interpretations of the creature but all of them describe it as malevolent, ravenous, and cannibalistic with the sole intent to kill and consume. Some say that when the wendigo eats, it grows in proportion to the food it just consumed so that its appetite is never sated and in turn, is always looking for more prey.
This also characterizes the wendigo as the embodiment of gluttony and greed.
Some other tribes think that the wendigo is a sign of coming doom and destruction and warns people to stay cautious after being in the presence of one. It is portrayed differently depending on the story but it is mostly said to be very tall, with its skin pulling on its bones, eyes depressed into its sockets and an air of death and decay surrounding it.
As the story goes, the wendigo used to be human but it turned to cannibalism in dire situations as a last resort to survive, therefore the wendigo spirit possessed the man turning him into a wicked and hateful creature.
There are many stories of wendigos being seen around upper regions of north america, specifically around Mameigwesse Lake, Ontario Canada by hunters and campers.
People have been claiming that they have seen this creature for centuries but there hasn’t been any evidence of sightings yet. Numerous people still believe the wendigo prowls around the woods of Canada, specifically in the coldest and harshest temperatures where the food is limited and survival is challenging and unlikely. In the past, while resorting to cannibalism was rare it wasn’t unheard of due to the many tribes being stuck in horrendous weather and climate.
Sadly because of this, food was hard to come by and could be extremely tempting to give in and eat another human, thus the myth of the wendigo emerged to prevent this from happening. There is a mental illness named after the wendigo called wendigo psychosis. Someone with this illness is said to have an intense craving for human flesh even when other food sources are readily available to consume.
One of the most famous cases of this illness is with a Cree man named Swift Runner and his family who in 1878 reportedly was starving when his son died. He was twenty five miles away from the nearest Hudson’s Bay outpost when he slaughtered and consumed his five children and his wife. This would normally be considered cannibalism, but due to the plenty supply of food at his demand and the fact that he still devoured everyone around him.
It was obviously not a last resort in order to survive so it was ultimately ruled a case of wendigo psychosis instead of just cannibalism. Another notable case that has to do with wendigo psychosis is one involving another Cree man named Jack Fiddler. Jack Fiddler became a popular shaman due to his alleged gift to protect people from spells and above all else, the terrible beast that is the wendigo. Over his life, he claimed to have “cured” fourteen wendigos.
Over his lifetime he became somewhat of a celebrity due to his ability to keep wendigos away. Many of the people thought to be wendigos came to him by choice in order to be killed. Jack had two brothers, one of which, Peter Flett was killed after he apparently turned into a wendigo and the other, Joseph helped Jack in many of his “curing” practises. Jack and his brother were arrested Jack Fiddler and his brother Joseph were arrested after two members of the police heard about his so-called “power” and took this as an opportunity to enforce canadian law on his people.
Jack Fiddler escaped the clutches of the police and was found to have commited suicide by hanging later that day. His brother Joseph went through trial and was ultimately given a pardon but died three days before getting news of it. The wendigo has become a well known figure in many games, tv shows, and books due to its unique appearance and activities. It has made many appearances in shows such as Supernatural and Charmed as well as its own movie.
While not entirely accurate, the movie demonstrates how widespread this legend has become and how its being changed and interpreted in different ways. Although the legend of the wendigo may not be true, it has influenced modern society and media today. And who knows? The legends had to have started somehow, didn’t they?
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