Mystical Menagerie Column — The Ultimate Taboo by Mandi Konesni

The Wendigo is part of the First Nations of North America. This is a respectful article about the legend of the cryptid. Mandi Konesni is a paranormal expert with an avid, yet, respectful approach on the cryptozoology of this world.

Tempted A Little Too Far

Hunger beats at you, a thirst like you’ve never known before. You’re ravenous, but no matter how much you eat, you can’t satiate your appetite. 

There’s only one thing you crave, the only sustenance you know might give you a few moments of peace from the gnawing ache in your stomach, but to dare is to forsake your last vestiges of humanity…to cross the ultimate taboo. To be tempted too far is to be damned. Cursed.

A First Nation Warning

This is the tale of the Wendigo, a First Nations mythological creature. It’s a tale of what awaits those who stray from their moral compass. Wendigo stories proliferate during the winter when the season gets harsh and providing food for families becomes harder. 

Those who turn to other sources of nutrients in desperation, those who partake of their fellow man, are considered evil… monstrous. Thus, according to Native American legends, they become a monster themselves.

All descriptions have certain things in common. The Wendigo is pale-skinned and gaunt, the ribcage exposed. Sometimes, the organs are exposed as well. 

The creature is emaciated and appears starving. One look alerts any unlucky onlookers that this thing is hungry. The Wendigo stinks of death and decay, literally withering away even as it gorges itself on human flesh. 

The Hunger Games

You see, no matter how much it eats, it will never be satisfied. Many claim the Wendigo has no lips or tongue, as it will eat them in its pursuit of blood and flesh. Some say the creature is giant, far more extensive than a human, as every meal simply makes it grow, so it can never be indeed full. 

Some descriptions include antlers or horns or even an animal-like skull atop a more human body to complete the fearful picture.

Native American
Native American

The scariest claims are that sometimes, a person won’t even realize they are possessed by a Wendigo. To hunt more efficiently, they can appear to be their usual human selves to assimilate back into their tribe, unaware they’re not themselves. 

Only quick-acting family and friends of the victim can save the day after the unsuspecting Wendigo reveals its hunger, once it’s already hidden away in the confines of the community.

The Swift Runner File

In the case of Swift Runner, a Cree trapper from Alberta, he was found to have butchered and eaten his wife, brother, mother-in-law, and five of his six children during a, particularly harsh winter. 

Suspicions were aroused about his claims of starvation as Swift Runner was robust and healthy when he finally made it into town. Authorities found unmistakable evidence at the trapping cabin of his misdeeds and realized he was close enough to an emergency outpost that he could have gone for supplies. 

Ultimately, he was hanged. To the general populace, Swift Runner was a murderer. To the First Nations people, this was a clear case of a Wendigo possession. 

Swift Runner was said to be well-liked and a soft-spoken, polite man. No one who knew him believed he was capable of something this horrendous without Wendigo interference.

How Does One Becomes A Wendigo

How did Swift Runner become a Wendigo? It happens by crossing the ultimate taboo for some, by resorting to cannibalism in your darkest hours. 

No matter the reason, once you’ve done something so terrible, you are a cursed soul, damned to walk the earth, never slaking your new hunger for human flesh and blood. 

Native American — Wendigo

In some legends, however, just coming into contact with a Wendigo can put your soul in danger. A Wendigo can choose to kill you, to eat you, even to attack you. 

If you come into contact with one, pray for death. If a Wendigo attacks and you survive, their curse can be shared with their victims, like vampires or the modern-day zombie

Protect Yourself From The Wendigo

Looking at it symbolically, the Wendigo covers many integral concepts to helping a myth survive as it passes through generations. It serves as a warning, a lesson, and brings people together. You must prepare well for winter to take care of your family. 

Native American — Tomahawk

When you can’t, you have to be able to rely on your community. It teaches the horrors of what happens to people who don’t heed the warnings, a lesson to those who choose to be selfish and only think of themselves. 

The stories introduce the sins of gluttony, violence, and the darkest sides of human nature. At its heart, the Wendigo legend is terrifying because it reminds us of the thing we don’t like to face when we look at ourselves. We are our own demise. In the end, the scariest monsters are always human.

Wendigo in Pop Culture

COMIC BOOKS: Marvel Comics | DC Comics | Dark Horse | 

LITERATURE: The Kira Malone Chronicles | The Wendigo | Wendigo | Curse of the Wendigo | 

The Witcher — Wendigo

TELEVISION: Charmed | Grimm | Supernatural

MOVIES: Ravenous | The Last Winter | Wendigo | Dark Was the Night | The Retreat | Antlers

Marvel Comics — Hulk — Wolverine
Marvel Comics — Hulk — Wolverine

VIDEO GAMES: Fallout 76 | Until DawnThe Witcher

Mandi Konesni

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