Cryptid Casefile: The Wendigo
Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Type: Supernatural entity, hybrid humanoid
Height: 15-20 feet
Appearance: Humanoid, skeletal, pale gray skin, thin & bloody lips, sunken eyes, antlers
Abilities: Super speed, super strength
Location: Northern Forests of America and Canada
In the northern reaches of America and Canada, there is a legend based on the folklore of the Algonquian peoples of a terrifying entity, feared by all. This embodiment of winter, famine, gluttony and cannibalism is known as the Wendigo...
Most sightings of this creature happened between the 1800’s and up to the 1920’s. The physical manifestation of the Wendigo is multifaceted. Some say is appears as thin, skeleton-like man. It dons ash gray skin, likened to the deathly decay of a corpse. Its skin stretches over its body in a way that bone protrusions are visible. According to some legends, it has been observed to have patches of mangy fur. If the description so far sounds inviting, you’ll love staring into its piercing eyes, which are sunken back into its skull, complimented by, thin, bloody lips and long yellow fangs. Other accounts describe the beast as being part man, part deer, sporting a pair of antlers or horns. For some this beast appears human-sized. For others, it is reported to be a 15-20 feet tall monster, stalking the frigid northern forests.
As the Wendigo consumes the flesh of the living, it is said that it grows in size. This constant growth means the creature is never satisfied and always craves to consume more people. This could explain the size discrepancy in the legends. For example, the 15-20 foot tall versions could be an older Wendigo who has eaten many people.
The Wendigo has other abilities as well. Some say it is unusually fast, and has a high level of endurance for chasing victims. Others say its agility doesn’t matter as it has the ability to mimic the human voice, luring people in from afar. Once the victim is isolated, the Wendigo is primed to feast upon his prey. Perhaps it’s most ghastly ability is that of turning people into more Wendigos. By possessing and corrupting their minds just by looking at his victim, he can turn them into blood thirsty beasts, having the same insatiable hunger for human flesh that he does.
The word, “Wendigo”, when translated from Algonquian means “the evil spirit that devours mankind.” a fitting description if there ever was one. Whether this creature or spirit was real or not, it is a historically significant aspect of indigenous folklore for the Algonquian peoples. Perhaps “Wendigo” is an allegory for the dark side of human-nature. Greed, gluttony, selfishness and violence are all traits of this being, but humans all have the ability to tap into these traits as well. Maybe it’s just a folk tale, designed to steer people away from the horrors of cannibalism and to steer away from harmful personality traits.
In a darker part of this lore, we shift to mental illness. The term “Wendigo psychosis” got its name from stories of this man-eating beast in the 1800s. This “diagnostic” term was used to describe people who had a psychotic break and began to crave human flesh. Even if they have plenty of normal food available to them they refused to eat anything but human meat. The illness was theorized to occur when a person had been exposed to the evil spirit of the Wendigo. Those who sought treatment, evidently were fed large quantities of hot fat and grease to satisfy the cravings for human flesh. Ultimately if the cravings could not be satisfied, people who had “Wendigo psychosis” were often executed, as death was seen as a better outcome.
While few reports of this creature have surfaced since the early 20th century, there are those that believe the Wendigo still stalks the forests of the north.
Possible explanations of the Wendigo:
• Folktales to scare people away from cannibalism .
• Mentally ill humans turned to cannibalism or humans forced to turn to cannibalism to survive.