There is an abundance of monsters in traditional stories and legends that have influenced many modern tales as we know it and the Wendigo is one of them. Wendigo is a demonic man-eating beast or spirit that is said to possess the ability to possess and curse humans. Throughout Native American folklore, terrifying things about Wendigo have been spoken of, making them one of the most terrifying and strange examples of monsters in history.
The Wendigo legend has assumed many forms over the years, but it has managed to retain its ability to instill fear in the hearts of people. This savage creature is considered to be the world’s first zombie. Below are the things you need to know about Wendigo, its origin, and its history.
Terrifying Things About Wendigo Origin and History
1. Wendigo As An Evil Spirit That Could Possess Humans
The very first version of the scary legend of Wendigo was circulated from a native American tribe called Algonquians. According to members of the tribe, the Wendigo is a demonic entity, an evil spirit that has the ability to possess humans, and in extreme cases transform into humans themselves. The malevolent spirit would then take over the mind of its victims, forcing them to become more violent, coldhearted, and easily susceptible to evil.
It is believed that anyone who resorts to cannibalism even as a desperate act of self-preservation during harsh winter months would become possessed by Wendigo. Similarly, anyone harboring feelings of greed, envy, and other corrupt intentions could become overcome by the evil entity. Any human who is possessed by this ancient monster would become a mindless, flesh-craving zombie.
2. It Has Supernatural Hunting Abilities
One of the most terrifying things about Wendigo is its supernatural abilities. Whether it assumes the form of a spiritual entity or a humanoid beast, it’s strong, vicious, and coldly calculating whenever it happens upon a prey. Wendigo is unnaturally fast, powerful, and huge with super sharp senses and endurance. If a human ends up facing a Wendigo, the chances of them surviving the encounter is next to nothing.
Thanks to the centuries the beast has spent parading the world in search of humans to devour, it has become an excellent hunter who can survive in the harshest climates. The Wendigo relentlessly stalks its prey and can often lure victims away from safety by mimicking human voices. It enjoys making people lose their minds, then driving them deep into the wilderness where it either possesses them or feasts on their flesh.
3. The Beast Takes On A Putrid And Horrible Physical Form
Although in some cultures, the Wendigo usually assumes spirit form, many Native American tribes believe it could also take on the shape of a beast. Like its spirit entity, the beast could also target and infect a person it considered to be full of excessive greed or someone who has committed the taboo of consuming human flesh. The creature would poison the minds of its victims, turning them into a Wendigo and forcing them to constantly desire to consume human flesh.
Most descriptions of the beast claim it is an emaciated creature with a stag skull head, eyes set deep into its sockets, and skin stretched tight over its gaunt frame. Another terrifying thing about Wendigo is that in some versions, the skeletal, zombie-like beast can grow in size until it is a towering giant. In addition, the Wendigo is tall, fragile yet impossibly strong, and it emits a rotten stench because its body is decomposing.
4. No Matter How Much It Eats, A Wendigo Is Never Satisfied
According to the legend, after a Wendigo consumes a human, its size increases in proportion to the person it just devoured and it immediately becomes hungry again, so the beast is never sated. Wendigo is the embodiment of gluttony and greed. It is always desiring human flesh, constantly eating as much as it can, yet is never full and remains on the brink of starvation.
Since hunger is at the very core of its nature, a Wendigo can eat and eat and eat but it will always be unable to fully satisfy itself. It is exactly because of this terrifying nature that the beast always looks like it is starving even though it voraciously consumes humans to stave off its hunger.
5. Wendigo Fever Drives Victims Mad Before It Possesses Them
One of the truly terrifying things about Wendigo is the way it takes over its host. If begins slowly, tormenting them little by little as it takes over their body and mind. Some say the creature begins by inducing strange smells that only the victim can perceive. Then it follows this with gruesome nightmares, stripping sanity away from their sleep-deprived minds until their sense of reality dissolves.
Afterward, the victims will experience a burning sensation that spreads through their legs and feet, building up until it becomes unbearable and they are forced to take off their clothes and run naked into the forest, screaming like a mad person. Once they lose themselves in the forest because of the Wendigo affliction, such a person is never seen again. The few who have managed to find their way back to civilization after suffering Wendigo fever usually come back completely insane.
6. Wendigo Gets Deadlier As It Ages
According to the stories told by Native-American tribes, the more time a Wendigo spends roaming the earth, the stronger and more powerful it becomes. Depending on how long the creature has existed, it will eventually develop the ability to manipulate the weather and can summon darkness at will even before the sun goes down. The creature’s bloodlust increases, as does its propensity for violence, its strength, endurance, and malevolence.
In the same vein, the older a Wendigo gets, the more it acquires the ability to control other creatures in the forest to do its bidding. It can also call upon other predators and compel them to attack at its command. A Wendigo’s speed grows with age and so does its ability to heal itself, so any injury it sustains fades very quickly.
7. A Cree Man Murdered His Family and Blamed His Actions On A Wendigo
Believe it or not, while the effect of the Wendigo may not be potent in recent times, it once had so much sway on the people that the creature was sometimes blamed for terrible crimes that were committed. One example occurred in 1878 when a man who went by the name Swift Runner was somewhere close to the supply post of the Hudson Bay Company when he was suddenly overcome by the desire to butcher and eat his entire family.
The authorities later found the mutilated remains of his wife and five children, and immediately arrested him. Swift admitted that he had indeed killed and feasted on the bodies of his family, but he claimed that the only reason he did so was because he had been possessed by a Wendigo. Since the authorities could not bring the creature to trial or even prove its existence, Swift was put to death at Fort Saskatchewan.
8. Tribes Performed Ceremonies To Chase The Evil Away
Ancient tribes were so terrified of Wendigos that they held sacred rituals and ceremonial dances to ward off the curse of Wendigo and keep it from affecting their people. Another purpose that these ceremonies served was to remind people of the danger that was out there and encourage them to band together in order to ensure their survival. It also served as a warning to reinforce the threat the creature poses and prevent people from conceiving evil notions like killing or eating their fellow humans. These ceremonies were more common during times of famine and in harsh winters or unfavorable seasons.
9. A Wendigo Slayer and Medicine Man Once Killed 14 People
An example of the terrifying things about Wendigo can be seen in the case of a Cree Chief named Jack Fiddler. The Canadian authorities arrested him and his brother for the murder of 14 people. When charged with his crimes, Jack stated that the reason he slaughtered those people was that they had either transformed into Wendigos or were about to do so. He claimed he had acted in their best interests and that of the community. Jack was a powerful medicine man who was believed to possess enormous powers including the ability to kill Wendigos and put an end to the ancient evil.
However, Jack was unable to escape the long arms of the law. Unfortunately, he committed suicide shortly after his arrest, before he could stand trial. His brother, Joseph was convicted as an accomplice and sentenced to death. Three days before he was to be executed, Joseph was granted a pardon because the community had interceded on his behalf and begged for him to be released.
10. There Is A Real Psychological Disorder Named After Wendigo
Wendigo psychosis is a very real disorder that derives its name from the legend and it refers to a state where a person develops a strong desire to eat human flesh. Unlike the mythology where people consume human flesh in order to survive, those afflicted with this disorder are different in that they have access to normal food, but still feel compelled to eat human flesh.