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Post  Admin on 10/27/2008, 2:46 am


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Wendigo is a spirit in mythology. It has also become a stock horror character much like the vampire or werewolf, although these fictional depictions often do not bear much resemblance to the original mythology. Since the word appears in different Native American dialects, there are dozens of variations on its spelling, Wendigo and Windigo being the most common.
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The Wendigo in Native American mythology

In the mythology of the Algonquin tribe of Native Americans, the Wendigo is a malevolent supernatural creature. It is usually described as a giant with a heart of ice; sometimes it is thought to be entirely made of ice. Its body is skeletal and deformed, with missing lips and toes.
The first accounts of the Wendigo myth by explorers and missionaries date back to the 17th century. They describe it rather generically as a werewolf, devil, or cannibal.
The Wendigo was usually presumed to have once been human. Different origins of the Wendigo are described in variations of the myth. A hunter may become the Wendigo when encountering it in the forest at night, or when becoming possessed by its spirit in a dream. When the cannibalistic element of the myth it stressed, it is assumed that anyone who eats corpses in a famine becomes a Wendigo as a result. The only way to destroy a Wendigo is to melt its heart of ice. In recent times, it has been identified with sasquatch or bigfoot by cryptozoologists, but there is little evidence in the indigenous folklore for it being a similar creature.
This myth was used as a deterent and cautionary tale among northern tribes whose winters were long and bitter and whose hunting parties often were trapped in storms with no recourse but to consume members of their own party. It is also indicative of starvation that the Wendigo is said to consume moss and other unpalatable food when human flesh is unavailable. Thus the Wendigo myth is a personification of the hardships of winter and the taboo of cannibalism. Its physical deformities suggest starvation and frostbite.
Actual Wendigo murder trials took place in Canada around the beginning of the 20th century. The alleged clinical condition of believing oneself to be a Wendigo has been described as Windigo Psychosis (note the spelling in this context: Windigo, rather than Wendigo).[edit]

The Wendigo in literature

  • Algernon Blackwood's horror story The Wendigo introduced the legend to horror fiction. Blackwood's story eschews the aspect of cannibalism in favour of a more subtle psychological horror; a central theme is that whoever sees the Wendigo becomes the Wendigo. The reader never sees the Wendigo, though we witness the progressive dehumanization of a character who has seen it. Blackwood based his story, he claims, on an actual incident of Wendigo panic in a lonely valley while he lived in Canada. He worked many details of the Native American legend into the story. Blackwood's Wendigo:

    • stalks hunters in the forest
    • can be heard crashing through the trees
    • leaves distinctive tracks
    • has a terrifying voice
    • is associated with insanity
    • eats moss.

  • Robert Colombo has collected a whole book of stories and poems on the Wendigo, many inspired by Blackwood.

  • Ogden Nash wrote a humourous poem about the Wendigo, where the appearance of the Wendigo is characterized with the lines:

Its eyes are ice and indigo!
Its blood is rank and yellowish!
Its voice is hoarse and bellowish!
Its tentacles are slithery,
And scummy,
Its lips are hungry blubbery,
And smacky,
As Canadian author Margaret Atwood points out, Nash's description is only partly true to the legend.

  • In Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary, the eponymous graveyard marks the path to another, older burial ground, which in centuries past had been cursed by the Wendigo. Any corpse buried there would be re-animated within the day, but as a cannibal. At one point in the novel the protagonist believes that the Wendigo has passed in front of him in the woods; but it is a foggy night, and he is fortunately unable to see it.

  • The 1944 mystery novel Rim of the Pit by Hake Talbot features a windigo as a possible explanation for a murderer who appears to be able to fly.

  • In the Cthulhu Mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft, the Wendigo is another title for Ithaqua the Windwalker, one of the Great Old Ones who seems to be restricted to those parts of the earth that are predominantly cold, favouring Alaska and North America.


The wendigo in film and television

  • Due to the prevalence of Native American themes and beliefs in Twin Peaks, some fans have speculated that the main villain Bob is actually the Wendigo.

  • The Wendigo is also referenced in the fantasy television series Charmed, when Piper Halliwell turns into a wendigo in the episode "The Wendigo".

  • Despite the title, the movie Wendigo [1] does not bear much resemblance to the legend. The movie Ravenous is arguably closer; the term windigo is mentioned by a Native American scout. In that film, a crazed cannibal preys on the staff of a military outpost in the Sierra Nevadas.

  • The werewolf curse in the Ginger Snaps movies originates from the Wendigo.

Other culture

  • In the role-playing game Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Wendigo are a clan of Garou (werewolves) with almost exclusively Amerindian kinfolk. They claim Canada and the northern United States as their homeland, and are locked in the almost hopeless struggle against the encroachment of Wasichu society and it's effects. This same tribe follows the spirit of "The Great Wendigo", a mighty spirit of the winter and the wind who takes the form of a great white wolf and aids his people in their times of need. The spirit is known to be a cannibal spirit, and many garou of the wendigo tribe likewise have a temptation to eat human (or garou) flesh.

  • In Marvel Comics, the Wendigo is created by a curse that may derived from the demonic "Elder Gods". Anyone who eats human flesh while in the Canadian woods becomes a Wendigo. This Wendigo is a huge, apelike being of white fur, without human intelligence. Its strength is great enough to battle Marvel heroes like The Incredible Hulk or Wolverine. The curse can be transferred from one person to another by a shaman who knows the appropriate spell; the former victim of the curse will not remember what he did as a Wendigo.


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